When to Go
The ski season at Hakuba 47 and Goryu is a little longer than at other resorts in Hakuba Valley. For both resorts, the season begins in December - as a matter of fact, the lifts to the top section of the mountain can be the first to open in Hakuba Valley. The first few weeks of December can be a bit hit or miss, but by January winter is in full swing. The most powder days fall between January and February, which is peak season, and you’re going to see that in rising accommodation prices!
During March you’ll enjoy plenty more bluebird days, but it’s a coin toss as to whether you’ll have fresh powder or more slush on the slopes. The tail end of the season in April brings with it spring conditions, with some white stuff left on the slopes but little in the way of fresh snow. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds then steer clear of Christmas, New Years and Chinese New Year (which usually falls between late January and mid-February and lasts about a week).
Hakuba 47 and Goryu share 17 lifts and 2 gondolas for you to reach their wide range of courses.
The first port of call in Hakuba 47 is the 47 Express Line 8 gondola, where most of the skiing and boarding starts. To reach the top of the mountain you’ll need to then take Quad Lift Line C followed by High-Speed Chair Lift Line E. This will get you as high as 5,295 ft, close to Zizou Peak, from where you can ski down into Goryu or Hakuba 47. Most lifts in Hakuba 47 will stay open during windy weather because the trees on the lower slopes offer protection, however it’s worth paying attention to wind direction. South easterly winds can play havoc with the lifts on the upper section of the mountain which are more exposed, with the possibility of closing both Quad Lift Line C and High- Speed Chair Lift Line E. When this happens the terrain accessible at Hakuba 47 is severely limited, so the runs left open can get crowded fast.
To get close to Zizou Peak from Goryu, take the Goryu Express gondola, ski down a little and link to the Alps 1st Chair Lift to reach the top spot at 5,413 ft, and from here it’s a short hike to reach the peak. You’ll find a small shrine up here, along with truly spectacular panoramic views, so it’s well worth the climb!
Crossing Between Ski Areas
Crossing between ski areas is always fun but crossing between Hakuba and Goryu should be left to experienced skiers and snowboarders. Crossing between Goryu’s Toomi and Iimori zone, on the other hand, is fine for those who can control their speed and turning.
There are a couple of ways to cross over from Hakuba 47 to Goryu, but none of them are easy! At the drop off point of Quad Lift Line C is the double black diamond Adventure Course that leads into the Iimori zone of Goryu, which should only be attempted by advanced skiers and snowboarders. The other way to cross between ski areas is from the very top of the resort, after taking High-Speed Chair Lift Line E. From here it’s only red runs down, but if you're not confident once up there you can bail out by taking the Goryu Express gondola down to the Escal Plaza base area.
To ride over into Hakuba 47 from Escal Plaza base area, take the gondola express up to the Alps- Daira and link onto the Alps green run to reach Minamisawa Peak. Try to keep your speed up as it does get quite flat leading into this mountain intersection. Follow tracks after fresh snowfall and be prepared for a short walk of 55 yd or so if you do stop. Once you reach the crossing point, you can then choose between the straight and steep Route 1 red run, a leg-achingly long trail that stretches all the way to the Euclid base area. It stays consistently steep throughout and can be icy on the lower section so make sure you control your speed! Alternatively, take the long and winding Route 8 green run to explore Hakuba 47, but it’s a long cat track that leaves little room for turns so snowboarders might struggle with it.
The two ski areas on the lower part of the mountain at Goryu, Toomi and Iimori, can be easily crossed by skiers and snowboarders who are comfortable with speed control and turning. There are easy green trails to connect you, although they are popular runs and can get quite busy so watch out for others on the slopes! The quickest way to cross is using the Toomi 1st Chair Lift, from which you can ski or board onto the lower part of the Iimori 6th Chair Lift Course in Iimori, and then turn into the Merry Land Course nursery slope. You can also take the Toomi Sky Four Lift and cut across the Sky Four Course to reach the start of the Iimori 6th Course on the Iimori side. To come back, you’ll need to slide aboard the Iimori 6th Chair Lift and cross back over onto the Sky Four Course.
Closing time of each lift is signposted at the bottom of each lift. If you get caught out on the wrong side, shuttle buses circle between the resorts after closing time can take you home.
Dodge the Queues
There are fewer lifts in Hakuba 47 compared to Goryu, so queues can be a problem. The biggest issue is with Quad Lift Line C, which can get very busy as it’s at the base of many advanced runs and the terrain parks and the only connection to High-Speed Chair Lift Line E. In Goryu, Toomi Sky Four Lift is the busiest lift. Avoid both lifts when possible, particularly at the start and end of the day.
Another to watch out for is the Alps 1st Chair Lift in the Alps-Daira ski area. It is often the first top mountain chairlift to open across the whole of Hakuba in December so this early season lift gets swarmed until other ski resorts in the valley are fully opened.
Be warned that the narrow Woody Course can get jam-packed at the end of the day when skiers and snowboarders are heading home, turning it into a very slow and difficult route. Taking the Goryu Express gondola back down is sometimes a wise choice! For altogether quieter lifts and slopes on the lower section of the mountain just head over to Iimori.
Weekends see plenty of Japanese skiers and snowboarders flock to Hakuba 47 and Goryu to enjoy their time off, making queues almost inevitable, so Saturdays and Sundays are a great time to explore other smaller ski resorts in the valley!
Where to Ski - Best for Beginners
Ski and snowboard newbies aren’t particularly well catered for at Hakuba 47, but there are a couple of runs for beginners to cut their teeth on! Route 6 and Route 7 are both easily accessible from the 47 Express Line 8 gondola, they’re excellent green runs but still a bit of a handful for early beginners.
For true beginner-friendly terrain, the best spot has to be the Merry Land Course on the Goryu side, at the Iimori base area. The mellow pitch is just right for getting comfortable with the snow plow and learning how to switch sides on your snowboard.
After you’ve built up your confidence, get ready for slightly more challenging terrain up the Sky Four Course, a long and wide green run that gets steeper the further up you go. Start with the Toomi 1st Chair Lift, which drops you off halfway up, to practice on the lower end of the slope. When parallel turns are within your repertoire of ski skills take the Toomi Sky Four Lift up even higher to really put yourself to the test!
If you’re visiting Goryu with children, the lower slopes above the Escal Plaza base area are a great place for youngsters to start. There’s both a beginner run and a kids-only run here, along with the Kids Wonderland area, which comes complete with a mini slalom course and hoops to slide through, making skiing and snowboarding even more fun for the little ones!
It’s a wise choice to start at Goryu and build your confidence before moving onto the beginner runs at Hakuba 47 for something more challenging!
Best for Intermediates
While Hakuba 47 does offer intermediate runs, Goryu is an intermediate skier’s heaven! Much of the ski terrain at Goryu is accessible for intermediate skiers and snowboarders, both on the lower slopes and the higher slopes. Head to the top of the Toomi 2nd Chair Lift and enjoy the entire Sky Four Course, which starts off narrow before opening up into a wide piste perfect for big turns and carving. Session this slope until you’re ready to step things up a notch!
For your next slope, take the Goryu Express gondola then the Alps 1st Chair Lift up to Zizou Peak, which is the highest lift-accessed point on the mountain! This red run leads back down to the Alps-Daira Station and onto the Super Course, with plenty of steep for you to see just how much speed you can handle! Session this part of the Alps using Alps 3rd Chair Lift.
If you're looking for a quiet run where you can practice without having to worry about crowds, ski or snowboard over into the Iimori area and try out the Iimori 6th Chair Lift Course. It’s the perfect place to work on your slope skills, and you can use the Iimori 6th Chair Lift to quickly get back to the top of this surprisingly underused section of the mountain!
Over at Hakuba 47, one of the best spots for intermediates to test their skills is on Route 5, reached from the top of the 47 Express Line 8 gondola. The run itself is a short but challenging groomer where you can notch up the speed and test your limits, while the nearby off-piste open tree zone is the perfect place to try out powder riding! Use Chair Lift Line A-B to session this part of the mountain.
If you want to try a different spot in the valley then Iwatake is an excellent resort for intermediate skiers and snowboarders, in fact around 70% of the slopes here fall within the intermediate category, so there’s not much you won't be able to ride!
Best for Advanced/Experts
Hakuba 47 and Goryu both offer a range of exciting runs for advanced skiers and snowboarders! Starting off with Hakuba 47, getting the most out of the terrain requires you to push yourself, so advanced skiers and snowboarders will love it here! Start with Route 1 to get warmed up. Just hop aboard the 47 Express Line 8 gondola and Quad Lift Line C to reach the top. Steep, straight, and long, racers can really fly down this piste, just watch out for ice near the bottom!
Two other trails not to miss are Route 2 and Route 3, which also start at the top of Quad Lift Line C. Route 2 is an advanced black run, while Route 3 is an expert double diamond black, so work your way up! Both offer plenty of steeps to tear down, and they are often left ungroomed after snowfall, so expect fresh powder if you're up there early. If moguls are your thing then you’ll find them here after a few days of no snow!
For Goryu, skip the lower section of the mountain if you're a seasoned skier or snowboarder, everything for you is found right at the top. Get yourself from the Goryu Express gondola down onto the Alps 1st Chair Lift and you’ll be all set to start the Grand Prix Course, which you can connect up to other trails for a full top to bottom mountain run! Despite the fact that it is marked as a red run, it is actually quite steep for intermediates and we’ve seen some people get into bad situations!
From the start of the Grand Prix Course the gradient gradually increases, making it just right for wide turns at top speed. There’s plenty of space and it rarely gets crowded. When you reach the Champion Dynamic Course it starts getting steeper and steeper, so get your speed under control before the Champion Expert Course, which is a great slope for trying out some adrenaline-pumping jump turns! You can take the Toomi Sky Four Lift Course back down to Escal Plaza.
Now over to the Iimori ski area, where there’s the Cosmo Four Lift that’ll whisk you up to the top of a few different superbly steep runs. These trails are often left untouched by the snow groomers so you could find powder on the piste here after fresh snowfall. Otherwise expect bumps, which could be precisely what you’re looking for if moguls are your thing!
Off-Piste & Backcountry - Hakuba 47
When it comes to off-piste, Hakuba 47 serves plenty of it up within their ski area boundaries! There are a variety of open tree zones, which are fantastic spots for off-piste newbies to get a taste for powder skiing or snowboarding, along with a few jump turns between the trees! There are also a couple of tree riding members zones, altogether more demanding and thrilling terrain that requires registration at the ticket office before you ride. Attend a briefing, sign a waiver, get your red bib, then go find those freshies!
Be cautious on your first time through, the trees are packed together tightly in some spots, becoming dangerous obstacles if you’re unsure which way to go. Once you’ve tested your route and are familiar with the terrain, go at it again with all you’ve got! For true backcountry, you’ll find plenty of it over the back side of Hakuba 47, and the gates leading to it are open for all. Our advice is that you only venture over there with a qualified guide or a local who knows the area well. Take the wrong route down and you can expect a few hours hiking to get out, along with the possibility of having to cross a river on your way!
With so much ungroomed terrain within the ski area boundaries at Goryu, you don’t have to look far to find your powder fix! One of the sweetest spots for off-piste skiing and snowboarding is just to the sides of the Grand Prix Course, where there’s excellent tree skiing to be had. After a big powder dump you could find yourself waist deep in the white stuff up here! The beauty of riding this sidecountry is that you can easily escape back onto the piste if you get too tired, become bogged down in the powder, or just find it a little too difficult.
Use the Alps 2nd Chair Lift and Alps 3rd Chair Lift to session this part of the mountain, if you miss the start point for these two lifts you’ll have to ski or board all the way to the base area and take the Goryu Express gondola back up. From these chairlifts you’ll be able to scope out the terrain before you ride it. It’s worth making a mental note of spots that get tight with trees, you can use the lift tower numbers as markers for open areas and obstructed sections. Choose your line through the trees and get prepared for plenty of face shots as you bounce through the powder!
If it’s freshies outside of ski area boundaries you’re searching for, you’ll find a backcountry gate at the top of the Alps 4th Chair Lift. Drop over this back ridge and pick your line down the mountain! Powder nirvana doesn't come without its risks though, as this is an avalanche prone area. Take all the essential backcountry gear and a guide if you want to ski or board here. After lots of snowfall and when visibility is poor it’s not advisable to use this backcountry gate, just wait until the powder settles and the sun comes out!
No other ski resort in Hakuba Valley trumps Hakuba 47 when it comes to terrain parks, their Route 4 Big Snow Park is the biggest and the best! Everything the most discerning freestyler would expect is there, kickers, rails, tabletops, hips, banks, and the only superpipe in the valley. Even a boardercross course is set up here sometimes. It’s all big at Route 4, where local amateur and pro contests are held, so unless you’ve already got the skills you’ll need to start off somewhere smaller.
Luckily, around the corner at Route 6, there is a smaller terrain park built specifically for skiers and snowboarders still learning freestyle tricks. A lot of fun and much less serious than its bigger brother, the Route 6 Snow Park has all sorts of features, from mellow tabletops to flat rails, more than enough for you to practice jibs, butters, and airs!
In Goryu, you’ll find a bunch of small jumps on the Sky Four Course or for more features like rails and tabletops you should check out the snow park next to the Milky Four Chair Lift. It’s a beginner terrain park, so there is nothing big here, but there’s enough to practice jibs and 180s.
You won't find any night skiing at Hakuba 47, for that you’ll have to head round to Goryu. Toomi Sky Four Lift is kept open for skiers and boarders who want to keep riding after dark, and usually it’s fairly quiet on the floodlit green run. Just remember to pack on those layers, it’s likely to be around 14 °F!