Backcountry Skiing in Japan - Western Hokkaido - Alumni


9 days


18+ yrs



See Dates

Japan’s Hokkaido island is home to one of the world's deepest snowpacks. Combined with steep terrain common on volcanic islands, Hokkaido is a playground that is becoming legendary among backcountry winter enthusiasts worldwide. NOLS will take you to untouched ski areas for first tracks in some of the most famous powder terratin in the world. Alumni, friends and family on this incredible trip to Western Hokkaido for a world class experience coupled with our favorite Japanese cultural traditions.

Photo Credit: Zeno Wicks

The backcountry in Japan is not for beginners. Skiers/Boarders who are advanced, proficient in powder, and have avalanche training will likely enjoy this trip the most. While we do use lifts on a couple of days to gain access to the mountains, participants will need to be in good shape to spend many hours skinning up hills and skiing/boarding in deep powder. The reward of a downhill run is well worth the effort and days often end with a Japanese onsen (hot thermal bath).

Photo Credit: Zeno Wicks

The trip begins in Niseko in the shadow of Mount Yötei. The sight of this awe inspiring volcano will accompany us throughout the trip. We will meet up for an orientation, avalanche review day, and spend our first couple days on the exceptional slopes that rise above this quaint town.

Photo Credit: Zeno Wicks

We will quickly leave the frenetic Niseko behind and start our tour of the more rural areas that give us access to pristine mountain snow. Spending time in these rural areas does not mean rustic living but it can be very simple. Learning and living into Japanese culture is a significant part of this trip and as you visit onsens, ryokan's and sleep in tatami rooms you'll get to experience our favorites parts. Over the centuries Hokkaido has had a relatively low population density compared to the rest of Japan. The island is more rural, farming and fishing are Hokkaido’s biggest economies. We will have the chance to dine on fresh, local seafood, specialty ramen and soba noodle dishes, different types of crab, and local dairy products.

Photo Credit: Dylan Hatch

This is a great trip to bring friends along on whether they are NOLS grads or not. Our participants tell us that the group is a huge part of the fun and sharing an adventure like this with a close friend of family member will be unforgetable.

Photo Credit: Zeno Wicks 

Accessing the backcountry on this trip allows us to avoid the crowds at resorts and explore exceptional snow. Days will be spent working hard before enjoying the unmatched thrill of first tracks in deep powder. Evenings will be relaxed and restful. For those looking for physical challenge, cultural immersion, and great group atmosphere this is a trip to put on your radar.

Overall Difficulty*:

*You will be spending lots of time skiing uphill and then downhill in deep powder, top physical shape is a must!

Course Dates

1 course

Jan 20 - 28, 2025


5 spaces Apply Now

Backcountry Skiing in Japan Media