Rusutsu Resort on the course!
Welcome to the Rusutsu Resort official web blog! Today we are going to talk about the many varied courses that you can ski and snowboard here at Rusutsu!
Did you know that Rusutsu is not just one mountain, but actually three separate mountains connected together by 37 trails? That makes Rusutsu the resort with the most trails in all of Hokkaido! The Total trail length combined is 42 km also number 1 in Hokkaido and there are 4 gondolas, 7 quad lifts and 7 pair lifts!
Lets take a look at the details of the three mountains the resort is built on. The Original gem is the West mountain standing at 715 meters above sea level it is the western most mountain and most of the courses face east making for beautiful morning sunlight and protection from the harsher south and western afternoon light. That means great snow conditions even through the elevation is lower than the other two peaks.
Now lets go across the road to East Mt. the entrance way to the dramatic kingdom that Rusutsu is! 868 meters elevation, the East No.1 gondola takes you to the peak where you can access the steepest trail on the whole mountain. “Super East” max incline is 40 degrees which can be a real wake up first thing in the morning!
Finally the highest peak is Mt. Isola at 994 meters above sea level. From here the view of Lake Toya and the Pacific ocean is superb and the selection of courses you can access may leave you wondering what to do!!! Ok lets take a detailed look at the many courses starting with the area furthest from the resort center!
Heavenly it is!
The prized powder and long cruising zone called Heavenly! Everything is Heavenly out here! Including all the course names. Heavenly Canyon, Heavenly Spirit, Heavenly Trail, Heavenly Ridge-A, Heavenly Ridge-B and Heavenly View! Try to say that three times as quick as you can!
Heavenly Canyon and Spirit are both graded as advanced courses and neither of them are groomed! That means deep powder and tree runs on many days of the snow season. Many of the famed Hokkaido powder skiing and snowboarding photos have been taken in and around these courses! The beautiful birch trees mixed with a scattering of Hokkaido pine and fir trees make for picturesque scenery.
Looking for a long cruising trail with great views and minimal crowds? Try the heavenly View Intermediate trail. This long course runs down the eastern ridge of Mt. Isola with views of Lake Toya, then wraps around to the left crossing several small valleys and winding through pine tree forests. At the bottom you will have two lift choices.
The shorter Isola No.4 quad or the longer Isola No.3 quad to get back to the peak. Advice for the powder hunter! Try to ski the Heavily Canton early morning as this Easterly facing course catches the sunlight first, then head over to the Heavenly Ridge-A course and pick a line that drops in to the valley skiers left of the course. This steep westerly face stays in the shade until later in the day and the snow will be dry and fresh!
Advice for the carving skier and snowboarder! Make your way to Heavenly View and Heavenly Ridge-B anytime of the day! You are sure to find some fresh corduroy sections here. The Rusutsu grooming crew prides themselves on making the best corduroy in Hokkaido.
The center piece in the Rusutsu crown! Steamboat! The Isola No.1 quad runs straight up the bottom of the main bowl. The powder lover will be licking their lips while staring out of the hooded quad!
As for the trails, well they are hardly visible from the lift so you will have to ski them to see them! From the top, go skiers left to access the Steamboat-A course. Stay left all the way for a long and winding trail that makes a dog-leg turn right near the end. This section has several large banked sections giving it a race course feel. Looking for powder but not ready for the tree skiing in the bowl? Check out Rusutsu No.1 a double black diamond course that veers right and exits at the base to rejoin Steamboat-A.
Steamboat-B is not the longest trail at Rusutsu but it certainly is one of the more dramatic trails. Varying widths throughout and an S-curve design that slowly reveals the views as you ski through it.
You won’t see the base Cafeteria Steamboat until the final dog-leg left turn through a stand of Hokkaido pine trees. The combination of curves and undulating ups and downs on this course make for a great cruising or carving experience. A course not to be over looked at Rusutsu!
The Steamboat Cafeteria is a great place to take a break or enjoy lunch. A large menu featuring a variety of Japanese food classics like Ramen, Curry and Rusutsu pork bowls will satisfy any appetite. The Huge panoramic windows provide a breath taking view of the Steamboat bowl and it is fun to relax and watch your fellow snow lovers coming and going!
Lets get a birds eye view from the drone high above Mt. Isola! Here we can see the longest course on the resort, “Isola Grand” at 3.5 km you will feel the burn if you take this one non-stop top to bottom!
If you are a beginner skier, but still want to experience this long course you can use the “Top” and “Grand” bypass trails that allow you to avoid some of the steeper sections of this intermediate course.
At the bottom of Mt. Isola you will find the station for Isola gondola and the Cafeteria Isola 2000. You might want to take a break and enjoy a “Rusutsu Love Beer” to celebrate the long run.
Now back on the gondola it is time to plan your next move. Isola features 4 exciting trails that branch off from the main “Grand” course. Isola A, B, C and D. A and B are both ungroomed steep powder courses graded as double black diamond expert trails!
A note to the expert rider or skier. Many of Hokkaido’s storms come from the northwest and move over the area with strong winds. The Isola ridge line runs South to North and this means the top of the ridge can get scoured by those winds leaving it almost bare of snow. Don’t let the hard packed entrance to the courses deceive you! Once you are past this section you will find a powder filled trail waiting for you to leave your mark! Take any of the four trails and at the bottom you will reach the Isola No.2 quad. This lift exits right at the entrance of Isola-A trail and provides that fastest access to these fun trails.
If you are a beginner to intermediate skier you will want to explore the C and D courses and even the lesser known Isola-D bypass. Looking for a unique photo opportunity? Maybe bring your phone or camera and try to find an angle to capture both skier and the icon Mt Yotei in the background! You will find this angle in sections of both Isola-C and D trails!
Here we can see one of Rusutsu Ski school instructors making a high speed turn down the lower section of Isola-D. As the course widens near the bottom the incline increases offering intermediate to advanced skiers the chance to make some deep carves and show off for those waiting in the lift line at the bottom! This photo was captured from across the valley at the top of “Across-B” course.
In review, the Isola section of the resort is fulls of choices! Long and winding, steep and deep or fun and photogenic! Take your pick and make the mountain yours!
East Mountain the exciting entrance
East Mt. is an area of opposing opposites! The steepest course “Super East” is here and yet at the base you will find “Easy trail” for the very beginner! From the base area you will have to make an important decision right away in the morning! Take the East No.2 gondola all the way to the top or jump on the East quad which only reaches the mid-way point of the East Tinges trail. This decision depends on where you are headed and how fast you want to get there!
Taking the East quad will give you faster access to Isola, Steamboat and Heavenly areas as you will be able to ski down to the Isola No.2 quad faster than those who choose the East No.2 gondola. Then again if you go to the peak on the gondola you will be able to get first tracks on Super East! Ahh so many choices in life!
On a deep powder day you will find the majority of the advanced skiers and snowboarders at the top of Super East checking the conditions before dropping in! On both sides of the course you will find beautiful tree runs through the Hokkaido birch trees, and lower down two more options for steep ungroomed powder skiing. The Across-A and B courses!
Depending on your plan for the day the East Tignes and East Vivaldi trails will be the first or the last run of the day! Either way you will be treated to long intermediate runs with great views looking back at the West Mt. and Resort center with Mt. Yotei beyond.
The East Center Station houses the Cafeteria Lone Pine where you can find a great lunch and snack menu. The K-Winter pass holders lounge area and a small shop selling snack and other nessecities.
West mountain the original gem!
Well as you can see there is a lot to talk about when it comes to the courses here at Hokkaido’s No. 1 resort! 37 trails in total and 11 of them on the original West Mt. The beginning of the resort you see today was right here 40 years ago! The Yotei gondola was built in 1983 and then the West No.2 Quad and Went No.1 Quad were added in later years.
Despite its smaller size, the West mountain holds some of the more advanced terrain and steep skiing. Looking for groomed and steep skiing? You will find it on the “Giant” course and the “Elite” course and the “Dynamic” course. Every season both ski and snowboard races, camps and technical level competitions are hosted here at Rusutsu and the reason is the quality and pitch of these very trails!
Even though the Eva and Bambi trails are groomed each night you might get lucky with an early morning snowfall and find conditions like those featured in this photo! A layer of fresh powder on top of perfectly groomed corduroy!
Here a 5th grader makes some of the best powder turns of her life! An experience which will not soon be forgotten!
If you didn’t get enough skiing in during the day or maybe you arrived later in the afternoon, don’t forget the night skiing that is offered at Rusutsu Resort. With both the West No.1 or No.2 quads operating until 8pm you will be able to ski late into the night. A great experience for the beginner is night riding on the “White Lover” or “Family” courses, while the advanced rider will be happy to know the “Dynamic” trail is open and lit up for night time as well!
Where to start?
Well that is a good question! There are a lot of options depending on the ski experience you enjoy and your ability level!
This may be the secret ingredient that keeps so many satisfied customers returning every winter season!
In 2019 Rusutsu triumphed for the third consecutive year a the World Ski Awards and in 2020 Rusutsu Resort was chosen as “Japan’s Best Family Ski Resort 2020” by Australian magazine “Holiday with kids”.
So you see with 37 trails and the lift capacity to carry 30,728 people per hour plus an average seasonal snow-base of 2.95 meters & average snowfall of 13 meters per season, how can you not be satisfied!
So you see it doesn’t really matter what course you start on in the morning. We can guarantee that you will have a wonderful experience exploring the many varied trails spanning three mountains here at Rusutsu Resort!