Hokkaido Explorer Tour

Iwanai Cat Skiing Day Package - Reviews

Iwanai is a must!

Gareth
19/04/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Home Country
    South Africa
  • Month:
    March
It's going to be hard to beat a day like we had at Iwanai. The team behind the operation are awesome and we lucked into the most epic conditions which turned out to be more of a standard than luck. The powder quality is insane and Iwanai itself is something special. If you're in Japan, this is the only cat skiing mission to go on. More vertical, amazing sushi lunch, fresh donuts and an epic cat to boot.

Cat skiing on the ocean

Tim
09/04/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    51-70
  • Home Country
    Usa
  • Month:
    January
While skiing in Niseko we stumbled upon Iwanai Cat skiing and quickly decided to give it a try
Wow we had a great day...it happen to snow heavy the night before and we had a day of deep powder on a private mountain. Great crew from the States who ran the operation and had been there for decades. Great sushi at the end of the day with a refreshing beers.
Give it a try .....you will love it!

A Great All-Rounder

POWDERHOUNDS.COM
07/04/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month:
    February
Up to the eyeballs in powder Powder on the former piste Nice views (when it's not dumping with snow) A good looking cat Open piste run
We were fortunate enough to go out cat skiing with Iwanai for two days: the first was fun but the snow not primo; whilst the second day we experienced Iwanai Cat Skiing in all its snowy magnificence!

NB Our ratings are relative to international snowcat skiing operations, including BC Canada where the terrain is significantly larger and extensive safety standards are in place.

Pros
• Iwanai, along with its neighbour Niseko, is renowned for receiving huge snowfalls.
• The vertical skied each day is typically greater than other Japanese cat ski outfits, so it’s great for greedy powder hounds.
• It’s a great all-rounder Niseko cat ski operation in that it has good terrain for strong intermediates as well as advanced riders.
• No powder hound really wants gorgeous views because that means it’s not dumping, but on the infrequent bluebird days, the views across the sea are pretty special.
• The snowcat cabin has been kitted out rather nicely, and it has huge windows so that you can appreciate those views (or at least watch it puking with snow!).
• Some powder hounds like to snort powder for morning tea, but you’ll also get a nice snack and a fabulous lunch.
• The day lodge is a pleasant spot to hang at the start and end of the day, and also to potentially have lunch. You can meet some of the charming locals.
• The proximity to Niseko is a huge pro. You can combine everything that Niseko has to offer with a serene Iwanai experience. And if you stay at one of the local ryokan for a night or two, it provides a lovely quiet Japanese experience.
• NOASC used to run cat skiing at Iwanai but it only involved skiing on the piste (zzzzzzzzz) and the snowcat had an open platform on the back rather than an enclosed cabin (brrrrr). The current operation is soooooo much better.

Cons
• The cat skiing terrain isn’t particularly big. At least it’s a little larger than a couple of the Niseko cat skiing operations, and it’s likely to grow in coming years. And thankfully considering the massive snow dumpage at Iwanai, the resets are frequent, so the terrain size isn’t generally that big an issue.
• The guiding lacked some finesse but this should evolve reasonably quickly over time.
• There is no super challenging terrain, but this is common to most Japanese cat skiing companies.

Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
• It’s a little more expensive than the other Niseko cat ski operations but you get more vertical for your yen.

You can see our full Iwanai Cat Skiing review here.

Iwanai

Michael Mah
27/02/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Home Country
    China
  • Month:
    February
This was my first ever time going Cat Skiing and it was phenomenal. What essentially is a disused/underused municipal ski resort turned into a powder heaven. Without the lifts to take masses of people up to the top, you can have first tracks all day! One would dread the time when a lifts work again and it may feel like a much smaller bit of paradise.

The Snowcat was done nicely and the interior was clean. Look forward to the doughnuts and hot coffee during the break. Also you can have a choice of resort food and sushi from the Town for Lunch.

Iwanai Cat Skiing

N Friesen
01/02/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Home Country
    Australia
  • Month:
    January
I went for my first ever day of cat boarding with Iwanai and I was completely blown away with the terrain, quality of powder, and enthusiasm of the staff. The operation has just opened up last year and the cat is brand new (when I was there in late January it was only around two weeks old). The day begins with a pick up from your accommodation and quick briefing about the area. You then warm your legs up on some open runs (they run the tour on an old ski resort so the lower parts have open areas previously cleared of trees) and then move up higher to sections with bowls and tree runs. There are plenty of different options to keep you on a different section for the whole day...and all of this includes a view of the ocean below. I had untouched powder for most of the day and the terrain would suit all levels but is perfect if you're an intermediate/advanced boarder who wants untracked powder rather than super steep faces. I really liked the enthusiasm of the staff and they went way beyond what was needed to ensure i had one of the best days ever. I can't recommend this operation enough...I will definitely be back!