Shiribetsu Day Heli Skiing Overview
NB Hokkaido Backcountry Club Heli Skiing is not operating for the 2016-17 season.
Niseko Heli Skiing is ichi-ban because it offers the perfect combination of the best powder in the world and a helicopter, the ultimate lift! Unlike other Japan heli skiing
outfits that offer very lame helicopter accessed skiing, Hokkaido Backcountry Club
offers “proper” heli skiing that includes qualified backcountry guides and some fabulously steep terrain and long runs. The Hokkaido Backcountry Club helicopter is your ticket to the exclusive Shiribetsu-Dake volcano.
All Hokkaido Backcountry Club heli skiing packages include professional guiding and safety instruction, along with all required snow safety equipment, including backpack, avalanche beacon and probe. The package also includes guided resort or backcountry skiing in case of inclement weather, plus gourmet fare at the beautiful base restaurant.
Ideally you will have a group of 3, 6 or 9, however you can enquire if your group consists of other group sizes (including solos) and they will do their best to combine you with another group.
The 6-run package includes 6 heli runs on your booked day and you can purchase additional runs if others in your group are also up for more powder. Any unused runs due to inclement weather are refunded.
Where is the Hokkaido Backcountry Club Heli Skiing?
The heli skiing is on Shiribetsu-dake, which is just north of the Rusutsu Resort
and only half an hour drive from Niseko
in Hokkaido Japan. Mt Shiribetsu is just southeast of the very imposing Mount Yotei.
The heli skiing package includes complimentary transport services between Rusutsu, Niseko or other local accommodations, and the heli staging area.
See our Rusutsu travel
and transport to Niseko
pages for information on getting to these resorts.
Heli Skiing Terrain
There is one helicopter landing zone on top of the Shiribetsu-Dake volcano, from where there are nearly 360 degrees of lines available. The terrain is pretty impressive with steep ridges, bowls and a few cliff drops, and there is a mixture of open powder lines and tree skiing amongst widely spaced birch trees.
The gradient pattern is fairly typical for a volcano, with steep pitches of 30-40 degrees (and up to 46 degrees) at the top, that taper down to very mellow slopes that terminate at the road surrounding Mt Shiribetsu.
Hokkaido Backcountry Club claim that the average vertical per run is 650 metres (2,130 metres), although when the Powderhounds reviewed HBC heli skiing
the runs were an average of 800 metres of vertical bliss!
The minimum ability level for the heli skiing is that of strong intermediate (off-piste ability, not on groomers), although the terrain is best suited to advanced riders and above.
Well by now you’ve probably heard the Powderhounds raving about Hokkaido having the best powder in the world, and Shiribetsu-dake is no exception. And in addition to quality powder, there’s certainly quantity with frequent powder resets. The nearby snow factories of Rusutsu and Niseko score about 14 and 15 to 18 metres of snow per season on average respectively, which gives you an indication of the huge volumes of snowfall for heli skiing!
You can see our Hokkaido Backcountry Club heli skiing review
for more information.
Japan Heli Skiing Hokkaido Backcountry Club from Powderhounds.com on Vimeo.
You will be picked up from your accommodation in a private mini-van around 7am in Niseko or 7:30 am from Rusutsu, and driven to the helicopter staging area and restaurant near Mt Shiribetsu.
Over a coffee, you’ll sign a waiver, be weighed, be given a briefing of what to expect during the day, and get truly psyched for an amazing experience! You’ll be given instruction on the use of your avalanche safety gear (provided by HBC) and a helicopter safety briefing.
The weather can be quite fickle in Hokkaido (because all that abundant powder doesn’t fall from blue skies) so the aim is to get in as many runs as possible as quickly as possible, so lunch time might ultimately be determined by the weather conditions on the day. Lunch is generally a 3-course affair, which is taken in the comfort of a cosy restaurant next to the staging area.
In the event of no-fly hours, guided resort, slack-country or backcountry tours are provided as a back up activity.
At the end of the day you can have a few beers whilst you high-five your ski and snowboard buddies, and then you will be driven back to your accommodation in Niseko or Rusutsu.
The ultimate ski lift...
..safety briefings included.