Resort Review - Tsugaike Kogen Hakuba Valley Resort
Tsugaike Kogen is powder heaven, thats what the stickers say anyway and who can argue with its 12 metres of annual snowfall. When we visited in January 2019 it did not disappoint, with 43cm forecast over a 3 day period we were greeted with powder conditions and some incredible terrain.
Taking the gondola from the base of Tsugaike is an eye opener, everything to the mid station looks fairly normal and from mid station up the gondola takes a path through the trees and you can see all the options that are available to you. The tree riding here is limitless and is the reason that Tsugaike is a mecca for snowsports enthusiasts from around the world.
Also worth noting upon arriving in Tsugaike you can see that it is a fully fledged resort, with lodging, restaurants and bars. This place would be a pretty great base for any trip to the Hakuba Valley.
Tsugaike offers access to some incredible tree skiing through its gated DBD terrain. You will need to attend a course at Jacky’s Kitchen to be allowed into this area but it is well worth it. The four gates along the ridge of the top lift offer plenty of options from some fairly mellow terrain in Gate 1 to steeper terrain through Gates 3 and 4. The trees are well spaced but you should be aware that there are a number of hazards in this area, including lift towers and electric pylons to add to your normal avalanche considerations. It is highly recommended you ride in a group.
Out of the trees Tsugaike offers some long runs from the top of the Gondola all the way down to the base. At the base there is a short chairlift that accesses flat terrain where beginners can practice their turns before heading up the mountain. There is nothing overly steep on piste at Tsugaike but the terrain park offers some challenge for the more advanced rider.
What we love about Tsugaike…
The trees. They were the reason that I visited Tsugaike more than any other resort in the valley. Without the lift cues faced at Cortina, Tsugaike offered tree skiing with incredible snow and when all four gates were open you would have plenty of options for exploring.
What we dislike about Tsugaike…
The gondola is quite slow, meaning after a lap through the trees back to the mid station you have to catch the gondola then a chairlift to be back at the good stuff. Worth it though.
Travel to resort
Accessible via the free shuttle bus there are a few routes that head to Tsugaike. Be prepared to cue for this route, especially on a powder day as it is one of the most popular. Aim for the 7:30 bus from the Happo Bus Terminal if you are looking to make first tracks.
Tsugaike although popular is still fairly unknown in comparison to Cortina. This means the whole resort gets far less traffic on powder days.
We stayed in Hakuba Village where there is numerous accommodation options. If you want to stay at Tsugaike there is plenty of lodging options available. This will mean you are closer to Cortina and Tsugaike for those big snow days.
We would recommend this place for…
Backcountry riders who love evenly spaced trees and endless options in incredible snow conditions. Who wouldn’t want that?