• Overall Rating
Hokkaido Backcountry Club4.6 out of 5 based on 11 reviews
Wagner Custom Skis
 
Want to ski Hokkaido POW like this?
Want to ski Hokkaido POW like this?
Hokkaido Backcountry Club: Shiribetsu Heli Skiing near Rusutsu
Hokkaido Backcountry Club: Shiribetsu Heli Skiing near Rusutsu
It snows a lot at Shimamaki, the cat skiing location
It snows a lot at Shimamaki, the cat skiing location
The heli skiing is located near Niseko and Rusutsu
The heli skiing is located near Niseko and Rusutsu
Hokkaido Backcountry Club: Shiribetsu Heli Skiing
Hokkaido Backcountry Club: Shiribetsu Heli Skiing
Shiribetsu heli skiing terrain
Shiribetsu heli skiing terrain
The heli skiing terrain overlooks Mt Yotei
The heli skiing terrain overlooks Mt Yotei
HBC Heli Skiing
HBC Heli Skiing
The heli ski terrain includes sub alpine terrain
The heli ski terrain includes sub alpine terrain
Shimamaki Cat Skiing
Shimamaki Cat Skiing
The cat skiing lodge is located right on the coast
The cat skiing lodge is located right on the coast
Shimamaki Snowcat Skiing
Shimamaki Snowcat Skiing
It dumps a lot of snow at Shimamaki
It dumps a lot of snow at Shimamaki
Staying at the cat skiing lodge provides a great Japanese experience
Staying at the cat skiing lodge provides a great Japanese experience
The cat skiing tenure will continue to expand
The cat skiing tenure will continue to expand
Shimamaki Snowcat Skiing
Shimamaki Snowcat Skiing
Comprehensive safety briefings are included
Comprehensive safety briefings are included
HBC Heli Skiing
HBC Heli Skiing
Fantastic Hokkaido powder!
Fantastic Hokkaido powder!
Heli skiing terrain
Heli skiing terrain
The Hokkaido Backcountry Club is Japan's first modern, helicopter, snowcat, and snowmobile adventure company. The Hokkaido Backcountry Club is unique in that they offer helicopter, snowcat, snowmobile, and backcountry touring under the supervision of professionally-certified mountain guides (ACMG, IFMGA, AMGA). HBC is the only Hokkaido heli skiing club, and the only club in Japan to combine both helicopter and cat skiing for members.

With the combination of highly qualified and experienced guides, thorough safety protocols, and impressive terrain, Hokkaido Backcountry Club offers Canadian-style heli skiing and cat skiing - something very unique for Japan.

The Hokkaido Backcountry Club is a spin off company of the very reputable guiding company, Black Diamond Tours.


Niseko Heli Skiing After searching for suitable Niseko heli skiing terrain, HBC selected the main peak of  Shiribetsu-Dake (1,107 m / 3,632 ft) as a location for its new helicopter skiing program. Adjacent to the Rusutsu Ski Resort, Shiribetsu is a dormant volcano that offers runs varying in length from 550 to 850 vertical metres, and with some pitches between 40 and 50 degrees.

Niseko Heli Skiing can be fabulous because it offers the perfect combination of the best powder in the world and the ultimate lift, a helicopter! Unlike a couple of other Japan heli skiing outfits that offer very lame helicopter accessed skiing, Hokkaido Backcountry Club offers “real” heli skiing that includes qualified backcountry guides and some fabulously steep terrain and long runs.

Cat SkiingHokkaido Backcountry Club also offers Japan cat skiing at its finest from the tiny town of Shimamaki in southeast Hokkaido, which is about a 2 hour drive from Niseko. With a population of less than 2,000, Shimamaki is a sleepy, seaside fishing village that is vastly different from the bustling Niseko. The cat skiing area is flanked by the beautiful and impressive Kariba mountain range, shooting up 1,489 m / 4,885 ft to the main peak of Kariba-yama from the nearby Sea of Japan. The area is also home to world-class offshore salmon fishing along with traditional Japanese hot springs.

The cat skiing is an amazing opportunity to ride some of the deepest untracked powder away from the ski resort masses!

Hokkaido Backcountry Club Packages

Shimamaki Snowcat Adventures DETAILS
GUIDED CAT SKIING ADVENTURE (2 or 4 days)
Stay in a Traditional Japanese Inn Inc All Meals
From price based on triple share 2-day package.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
From price based on triple share 2-day package.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 1,305
Book by June 30 2016 and get 10% off advertised price
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
This is the best Japan cat skiing! Departing from Niseko, the trip offers incredible snowcat accessed powder skiing & boarding, staying in a traditional coastal Japanese inn. Ride deep untracked powder all day, feast on Japanese cuisine and soak in the hotel's onsen in the evening. More
View inclusions & Add-ons
Inclusions
  • 2 or 4 days of cat skiing (max group of 12)
  • 2 or 4 nights accommodation with all meals
  • avo safety gear rental
  • max 1:6 guide to client ratio
  • transfers to/from Niseko (2 hours drive each way)
Add-ons
No optional extras to display
Location: Japan | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Click here for rates, dates & availability
Future rates & dates are currently not yet available for this operator. Click here to enquire.
You can request a custom tour for your own private group within the date period shown Custom Booking Period
The number of days for this tour can be customised however must be a minimum as shown below Min Days
Please enquire for a price for your custom tour Price
It is not possible to know the exact availability for custom tours so please enquire here and the operator will let you know of their availability. If the availability is flagged as "Filling", "Almost Full", or "Sold Out", it means that dates are filling up or are fully booked. Availability
Jan 01 - Mar 31, 2018
From 2
Enquire
Enquire
Future rates & dates are currently not yet available for this operator. Click here to enquire.
Chisenupuri Cat Skiing DETAILS
CAT SKIING NEAR NISEKO (1 day)
From price based on 1 day package per person.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
From price based on 1 day package per person.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 298
Ability: Strong Intermediate
The cat skiing near Niseko is at the former ski resort of Chisenupuri and is ideal for those learning to ski or snowboard in powder. For any apprentice powder hound heading to Niseko, Chisenupuri cat skiing is a lust-do! Finish the cat ski day with a soak in an amazing onsen. More
View inclusions & Add-ons
Inclusions
  • 1 day of guided cat skiing (max 2 groups of 13)
  • Transport between Niseko & Chisenupuri
  • Hot spring entry
  • Lunch
Add-ons
No optional extras to display
Location: Japan | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: On-Piste
Click here for rates, dates & availability
Future rates & dates are currently not yet available for this operator. Click here to enquire.
You can request a custom tour for your own private group within the date period shown Custom Booking Period
The number of days for this tour can be customised however must be a minimum as shown below Min Days
Please enquire for a price for your custom tour Price
It is not possible to know the exact availability for custom tours so please enquire here and the operator will let you know of their availability. If the availability is flagged as "Filling", "Almost Full", or "Sold Out", it means that dates are filling up or are fully booked. Availability
Jan 01 - Mar 31, 2018
From 1
Enquire
Enquire
Future rates & dates are currently not yet available for this operator. Click here to enquire.
1Total Results: 2Total Pages: 1

HBC Terms & Conditions

HBC requires all fees at the time of booking for all trips if booking within 60 days of the trip. If booking in advance of 60 days we will take a 25% deposit. We will require the full amount if you are getting an early bird discount.

Full payment for Shimamaki Snowcats is due by October 15th.

HBC does not offer refunds on snowcat tours for weather related problems (extreme avalanche condition, torrential rain etc)

If HBC is asked to find a replacement for the cancelling guest, payments will be refunded once the seat is filled with another guest less an administration fee of 25,000yen You may sell your seat to another guest, but in order for HBC not to charge you the 25,000yen administration fee, you must collect the money directly from the replacement guest. HBC will not be involved in the transaction.

For non-mechanized tours, cancellation between 60 and 30 days before the trip will result in a 50% cancellation fee. Cancellation within 30 days of the trip for any reason, including injury, will result in a 100% cancellation fee.

Heli bookings cancelled on our part for reasons of weather or safety qualify for a backup lift assisted tour at Rusutsu for 35,000yen. The remainder will be refunded. If you decide not to join this program, you will be refunded 20% of the total.

Runs not skied in our helicopter program qualify for a refund of 13,000 yen per run for 6-run guests and 8,580yen/ min for private charter guests.

Additional heli runs will be billed at 16,000 yen per run for 6-run guests and 8,580yen/ min for private charter guests.

Heli guests not flying or delayed due to weather will be offered a backcountry / resort / or slackcountry tour with the prospect of flying if the weather changes. Guests can also re-book for the following days if there is availability.

Minimum group numbers apply for all tours. In the case of low numbers, we will attempt to reschedule.

Included in all ski packages is the use of backpack, avalanche transceiver, probe, and shovel, as well as avalanche and helicopter safety briefings.

A set menu lunch and apres ski appetizers are included in all heli programs.

We recommend you purchase your own trip cancellation insurance in case you need to cancel for injury or any other unforseen circumstances.

PAYMENTS

You will receive an invoice email with payment instructions via international bank transfer or PayPal credit card. You do not need a PayPal membership to use this credit card service.

Due to service fees, our preferred method for larger transactions is international bank transfer. All bank transfer details are available on your electronic invoice.

If you choose to complete a bank transfer, please ignore any service charge listed on your invoice and only transfer the amount owing on the balance line of your invoice.

All customers are required to read a release of liability waiver and medical information form before departing. Failure to do so will result in cancellation of the tour without refund.

All participants under the age of 19 must also have a parent or legal guardian sign their release of liability. All minors must be at least 13 years of age and accompanied by a guardian or parent while on the tour.

All tour pricing listed on this website is based on a minimum group size of 3 people, unless otherwise stated. If your group is smaller or larger than 3, please ask about availability.

HBC reserves the right to cancel any tour at any time, typically due to inclement weather or unsafe backcountry travel conditions.

We ask members to be honest about their skill levels. If you have booked and paid for a trip with HBC, but your skills are insufficient for the trip you have booked, we will try to accommodate you with another program if possible but we will not issue refunds.

Reviews

Epic Day at Chis!

Ian Stuck
25/01/2017
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • RiderType
    N/A
  • Rider Level
    Intermediate
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Home Country
    Australia
  • Month:
    January
We went to The House Of Powder on the last day of our trip. I was hesitant to go after reading the PH review but I'm so glad we did!

There were 5 of us; 4 snowboarders, all strong intermediate with plenty of days spent off piste and riding powder, and my wife, an intermediate skier, new to off-piste skiing. 20cm of new snow overnight.

Okay, so you're not going to get the massive runs you get heli skiing in New Zealand and anyone who has skied at Chisenupuri when it was a ski resort knows it is not the most challenging terrain, but it is man is it fun!

We spent the first couple of runs riding under the old chair lifts and, once our guides Gavin and Charlie were happy with everyones competence we hit the trees. There were loads of pillows and natural features for us to jump off and we even found an old kicker that was covered in powder and put that to good use too. The trees to skiers right of the main cat track are spaced nicely and the pitch is pretty mellow so it made for some great high speed party runs with the crew. Closer to lunch we moved to the trees on a steeper section above the thermal pools which feed the onsen at the base. This area had more natural features to play with and was a heap off fun. My wife even skied backward off a pillow by accident which was gold! The stoke was high all day.

Later in the afternoon the sun started to warm the snow up so we headed to more densely treed areas. We got good snow all day. I think all up we scored 12 runs which is pretty decent. It's not a huge area they're using but with only 12 people on the mountain each day we were finding fresh lines right up to the end.

A few other points; The cats are almost new and its a comfy ride for 12. It was a fine sunny day when we were there So Clayton fired up a 2nd cat with an open box on the back and we did a few laps back up the hill on that which was sick. The guides were pretty laid back but very safety conscious, I think they nailed the balance perfectly. Lunch at the restaurant at the base was good japanese food.

I'm pretty certain we'll be back!!

Shimamaki cat skiing

Jan welkerling
12/04/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Rider Ability
    Advanced
  • Country
    Canada
I went cat skiing at shimamaki with HBC and it was a blast, the snow was deep the guides where friendly and made us feel safe all day. The lodging was very traditional and comfortable, the food was amazing and the hot spring at the end of the day was perfect. We will be back next year for sure.

Face Shots Galore

POWDERHOUNDS.COM
06/04/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
Face shots galore The snowcat The coastline Powder score After another face shot
Hanging out in Niseko was fun, but it was so nice to get away from the hubbub with a 2 day adventure to a remote and unique part of Hokkaido. And all that deep powder out cat skiing was a whole different level of fun – our experience was truly amazing! After the cat skiing we were on an amazing powder high. If you’re addicted to snorting white powder (the healthy type!) and you’ll be in Niseko, and you’ve saved up some yen, then cat skiing with Hokkaido Backcountry Club is a must-do experience.

See our comprehensive HBC cat skiing review for more information. Keep in mind with our ratings that we are comparing the operation on a global scale, and 5/5 equates to absolutely outstanding.

Phenomenal

POWDERHOUNDS.COM
06/04/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    February
Cold powder Our lift
We had an absolutely phenomenal day out heli skiing with Hokkaido Backcountry Club. It was the last day of our 2 month Japan skiing research odyssey, and what an amazing finale!!

See our comprehensive HBC heli skiing review for more information. Keep in mind with our ratings, that we are comparing the operation on a global scale, and 5/5 equates to absolutely outstanding.

The fun factor wasn't a 5/5 - it was off the Richter scale!

Epic powder adventure

Dan
26/03/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Strong Intermediate
  • Country
    Australia
Door to door service with a smile :)

Well I was lucky enough to book for the 2 day cat trip and found one of the most amazing trips I could ever of hoped for. The powder was deep, the terrain was awesome and the staff were helpful, knowledgable and clear and concise with the safety precautions.
The team at HBC will do all they can to help you get the most out of your day. They push to get as many runs in as possible and mix up the runs as best they can, with the terrain on offer to them at the moment. They are looking to try and expand the area. So I'm sure that this team will only get better with what they do and offer.

The accomadation is very traditional and quiet. I really liked it! The onsen is looking out over the Sea. and the food was very good with fresh fish and a varied array of dishes. It actually makes a nice change from the more western type experience that you now get in Niseko.

I would highly recommend this trip to anyone looking to take their boarding or skiing to the next level. The only problem will be, is that you'll only want to ride amazing backcountry powder after!

You might well see me there again next season too!

1st experience in Heliskiing

Max
22/03/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    51-70
  • Rider Country
    France
  • Month Visited:
    March
First ride March 15 2016 Shiribetsu March 15 2016_A nice group Shiribetsu March 15 2016_A sunny day
Finally, I did it. Moreover with a very good friend, and the day of my birthday (63)! First Heliskiing in my life, first time in Hokkaido ... Great time, good weather conditions. Sure, I would like to do it again. Hopefully next winter.

Thank you to Shin, and the HBC Team.

Great new operation

Peter
19/03/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Country
    United States
This new operation leaves all other cat operations in Japan in the dust. While most are operated on resorts which closed because their terrain could not satisfy skier's needs (making them poor locations for cat skiing), this area is a Canadian style tenure of raw mountains, forests and pow. The government has been slow to grant the operators permissions to access the terrain, but they're slowly budging at the behest of the local community and the future seems bright. Really enjoyed carving out my own piece of Hokkaido powder on my two day visit last February. I recommend you do the same! (don't try to go for just a day, it's too much driving).

Awesome Backcountry Pow!

Keith Bernstein
12/03/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Age
    51-65
  • Rider Ability
    Advanced
  • Country
    USA
Did two days with Hokkaido Backcountry Club (HBC). It was awesome! The powder was great and we squeezed in almost 10 runs per day.
It was definitely the highlight of our 10 day trip to Hokkaido.
My nephew and I joined other groups of 2 & 3 to make up a group of 12 that rode/skied together for the two days. We all got along great.
We spent the night at a quaint, authentic, Japanese hotel with both natural indoor and outdoor "onsens". They were great (but *hot*!).
The hotel isn't very high end, but I don't think there *are* any high end hotels in Shimimaka :-)

We rode open areas at the top, great tree runs throughout, and had constant powder. There were some "steeps" too, which where a blast.
The second day the snow had completely "reset" from the day before, so we had another day of virgin powder.

Trevor, our lead guide was awesome, did a great job of safety education, terrain description, keeping away from flats, breaking trail, and taking us through great terrain. Super nice guy too.
Valerie was a great tail-guide and driver.

Shin, the Operations Manager who I dealt with for reservations, payment, and questions was super responsive and helpful.

There's no question I'll be doing this again on my next trip to Hokkaido, and next year they hope to have permission to sno-cat on a lot more terrain, so it should be even more epic!

Best day of my life

Andrew Snelleksz
09/03/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Rider Country
    Australia
  • Month Visited:
    February
Easily the best day snowboarding in my life.

Not only was the snow and mountain incredible but we pulled a perfect bluebird day in a fortnight full of overcast snow storms. Unbelievable!

We got picked up from our hotel by Keith and Shin and headed off. At the heli zone and were kitted out with transceiver and backpack with a shovel and probe. After some Av training we were on our way.

Groups were split up into twos and threes according to weight and friends. My group went first and loaded into the chopper.

Our guide Sandy was a champion and seeing someone that does it for a living being stoked sealed the deal that we were on a winner.

The mountain was amazing. The terrain varied from open runs to small gullies and amazing tree runs.
The powder was boot to knee deep and magic to board on. Although we were lucky to go first a few times it didn't matter. You could go last and never cross someone else's line. It was an epic free-for-all.

Some pickups were by heli but the majority were pickup by van that took us straight back to the heli. There were nine guests that made four groups. And how the HBC team made the pickups work like clockwork is beyond me. We did the six runs that was included and bought one extra for 12000 in the afternoon once we knew it was on. Five runs in the sun and two in the shade all up.

Did I mention it was Bluebird!!

Lunch was provided at the restaurant back at the Heli zone and was good. I could easily have skipped the meal for an extra line in the sun. But no complaints. This was a well planned day that was run efficiently and professionally and was just awesome.

Everyone was peaking. And we all had a beer together at the end on Greg. The Top Dog here at Powderhounds who was on the same Heli trip as us with the unforgettable Lyndell.

I'll be chasing another perfect day like that for years I think................ or I could just book in again next season.

Best Cat Ever

Andrew Snelleksz
08/03/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Rider Ability
    Advanced
  • Country
    Australia
This was the best Cat trip I've ever been on. O.K, it's the only Cat trip I've ever been on, but now I'm hooked.

Our group of three got picked up at 7 AM. The trip out took around two hours. Our driver Valerie was very hospitable and was willing to stop for food, coffee and photos opportunities whenever we asked. The drive took us along with the Japanese coastline and the scenery of the snow on the beaches was spectacular.

Hokkaido backcountry club (HBC) are very professional company and safety was always a priority. On arrival to the Cat area all guests received backpacks with probs shovels and a transceiver. The HBC team then took us through our av training. Once everybody was up to speed with safety we were loaded up and on our way up the hill.

The Terrain varied from fun open playgrounds to well spaced tree runs. But it didn't matter where you were it was all covered in beautiful Japanese powder. The Group took turns of going first on each run. Everybody got at least one or two goes of going first each day. Not that it mattered because there was enough terrain for fresh tracks for everybody on all the runs.

Our lead guide Trev was informative, helpful and experienced. He was very keen and we even did a run that hadn't been done before.
It ended up being the run of the day for me.

Our tail guide Valerie who also swapped between Cat Driver and Van driver (very flexible) was a lot of fun and super friendly while still maintaining a professional approach to her job.

The Snow was the winner on the day. Boot to knee deep powder, not super dry but definitely not wet and very forgiving if you come unstuck. But the best bit was its abundance. No runs skimped on the JPow.

The accomodation for the one night between cat days was on the ocean and went above expectations especially with the food they served. Dinner was a delicious assortment of seafoods with lots of other extras. Breakfast was a mix of western (eggs and bacon) and Japanese and was quite substantial.  Rooms were traditional japenese tatami floors with futon beds. The hotels outdoor Onsen has an amazing ocean view but is a little small (max 4 people). There is a more room in the indoor pool.

Overall I highly recommend this Cat trip. We did two days but obviously you can do one or more. Along with the Heli we did the following day this trip was reasonably priced. And anyone that gives you end of day beers in the Cat is worth recommending.

As chance would have it we did this trip with Powderhound team Greg and Lyndell. It was great to shred with you guys. Catch you for a beer some time.

Andy

HBC BACKCOUNTRY CLUB

Daryl Hoffman
29/02/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Country
    USA
Ok so I'll start with the riding portion then I'll fill in the logistics. This is an overall new operation so they have exponential potential to grow when they sort out the permits with the forestry service. The guides are some of the most experienced I've been around. The zone to ski was pretty good, not difficult for an expert but still fun and good terrain for a large group of all skill types. The snow was straight perfect "ja-pow" and wind exposure was minimal. There's a nice variety of runs, The tree runs being the best , were super fun with nice spacing and the open faces were fast with a nice flow.

Overall it's a great intro to some nice clean backcountry and you'd be hard pressed to not get at least one poster shot on the trip. Like I said, there's quite a bit of meat on the bone for the operation to expand their zone to the really fun stuff which is something to look forward to. At the end of of the day, everyone was all smiles and The beers in the cat ride back was a nice touch.

Logistically if your driving yourself to Shimimake and don't know a lick of Japanese or have a hotel reservation with an exact gps address, your gonna be in for a rough day. Basically don't do what I did. Set up a reservation for accommodations and you'll be sorted. The food was unexpectedly good having been given a full crab to chow on was cool.

If you want to get gnarly then think about a guided sled tour or heli trip, otherwise enjoy a fun cruisy day with some buds.

Cheers to the staff at HBC they got a good crew and look forward in where they are taking the Shimimake zone in the future.