Spring Skiing, Helicopter Skiing and Onsen

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Spring Skiing & Helicopter Skiing & Snowboarding Tour, Asama Onsen (Nagano Prefecture)
Tour Code: OK0320
Tour Fee: 23500 Discount Price: 18500

Date: Saturday/Sunday, March 20th-21st 2016 (1 night/2 day stay)

Flying over the Tsugaike Ridge in Hakuba. Sea of Japan in background.

Flying over the Tsugaike Ridge in Hakuba. Sea of Japan in bacground.

One of the advantages of spring, is that the excellent expressway network of central Japan is free of snow and ice making transport easy, while the alpine areas still have 3-4 meters of snow depth. This is usually our last ski trip each season. Leaving early Saturday morning, with departure points from JR Okazaki, Meitetsu Higashi Okazaki, and JR Nagoya, we drive through Nagano prefecture to Tsugaike in the northern alps.

In the spring the snow is softer, good for snowboarding and for beginners. The snow cover is still deep, and the Tsugaike ridge gives good protection against the winds common at this time of year. There are extensive runs for all levels, and spectacular views of the scenery.

On the Saturday, we advise those planning to participate in the heliskiing option the following day to check equipment. There is often some ice above 2500 meters altitude (feet) and you may want to adjust the bevel and get a tune up). For those who haven’t been out in the backcountry before, it is a good chance to get in some runs on the advanced and intermediate slopes.

Our lodge is “in snow”, with the nearest gelande only 150 meters away. After dinner there is an optional activity. The full moon is the previous night, so a snowshoe hike under moonlight is scheduled (subject to weather conditions). Participation in the snowshoe hike is free (the snowshoes are also free), but we will need to know your shoe size in advance, and you will need hiking boots and warm clothing. There are no major cities anywhere near the Hakuba valley, so very little light pollution. Enjoy a little stargazing (we will have a tripod mounted telescope) with a champagne toast before a long hot bath.

On Sunday, you can ski, snowboard, snowshoe, or for a separate fee (10,000 yen) take a helicopter deep into the back country. You don’t need to be an advanced skier/snowboarder, but you do need at least intermediate proficiency. The scenery is amazing, with good views of the Sea of Japan, and it is a great way to experience and enjoy Japanese winter landscapes and for the keen eyed (or lucky), some wildlife, mainly the Japanese serow.

Fee includes all transport, accommodation, Saturday evening and Sunday breakfast and onsen. It does not include lift passes or equipment rental. Lift/helicopter passes will cost 3500-13500 yen depending on option. Rental will usually cost about 4500-10000 yen depending on what you require.

On Sunday afternoon we will leave Hakuba around 4:30pm and head to Asama Onsen to enjoy a long soak under the stars in an outdoor rotemburo, before making our way home via Matsumoto.

Departs: East Exit, JR Okazaki Station, 06:45am. Returns: 9:00pm (approx)
Mode of transport: Minivan or Microbus
Deadline for Discount Price: 14 days prior
Tour Code: OK0320 (needed for application form below)

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