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Free hiking itinerary in Japan: Mount Annupuri

If you're looking for a great place to freeride in Japan, Hokkaido is the perfect destination. The region is famous for its world-class ski resorts, pristine snow slopes and varied terrain suitable for all levels of skiers. Among the best places for a freerando ski experience in Hokkaido is Mount Annupuri, which offers a breathtaking view of the Sea of Japan.

Organise your freerando ski trip.

Arrival in Niseko

Most skiers who come to Annupuri choose to stay at one of the nearby Niseko ski resorts, which have a wide variety of accommodation, restaurants and equipment rental shops. These include Moiwa, Niseko Annupuri, Niseko Village, Niseko Grand Hirafu (the busiest), and Tomamu.

You can fly into Sapporo-Chitose airport and then take a bus or taxi to Niseko. Once you have dropped off your luggage at your accommodation, you can go directly to the Annupuri ski area, which is part of the Niseko area. Remember to take an all-mountain ski pass.

Equipment for freeriding

Before setting off on a ski tour, it is important to ensure that all equipment is in order. It is not essential in Niseko - but highly recommended - to be equipped with suitable ski touring equipment including skins and climbing knives, suitable eye protection and safety equipment such as an avalanche transceiver (ATD), shovel, probe and an ABS® or Reactor® avalanche backpack.

It is also important to check the weather and avalanche conditions before setting off, either by checking local forecasts or by asking the guides for advice.

Itinerary ideas to do Mount Annupuri in ski freerando.

Exploring the Annupuri trails

To get your feet wet, you can explore the slopes of Annupuri and get a feel for the mountain. Annupuri is a great place for beginners and intermediate skiers, with many well-groomed runs and stunning views of Mount Yotei and the Sea of Japan.

You can also take the time to scout out the off-piste areas that interest you for the next few days. The off-piste areas are accessed through gates, which are opened or closed by the piste service depending on avalanche conditions. Never go under a rope, and never cross a closed gate.

Hiking to off-piste areas

Once you are familiar with the terrain, you can venture into the off-piste areas of Annupuri by taking the lifts to the mountain peaks. Hiking to the off-piste areas is a great way to experience the mountain's snow-covered slopes and enjoy the stunning scenery. It is important to note that you will need to follow off-piste safety rules and carry safety equipment to avoid the risk of avalanches.

The north-eastern flank of Mount Annupuri

Accessible without walking through Gates G1 and G8, you can descend the north-western flank of Mount Annupuri through the cove called Annupuri Bowl. This area offers a technical off-piste descent with a variety of terrain and challenges for advanced skiers. You can follow the route recommended by the local guides or explore the area on your own, taking care to avoid dangerous areas.

Climbing to the top of Mount Annupuri

You can take Gates G2, G3 or G4 and walk with your skis on your shoulder or on your pack to reach the summit of Mount Annupuri. The hike can take about 20-30 minutes depending on your fitness level. Once at the top, you can enjoy the breathtaking views of Mount Yotei, the Sea of Japan and the surrounding mountains.

Please note that some routes require skins for the return journey! If in doubt, Annupuri Bowl (on the left as you ascend the ridge to the summit) will take you back to Annupuri Station by gravity.

The most extraordinary not to be missed

If you are equipped with ski touring equipment, you can choose to go off-piste down the north-northeast side of the mountain, stopping at the Goshiki Onsen in the middle of the mountain for a hot bath, before sticking on the skins to reach Moiwa Bowl or Annupuri Bowl.

What to do après-ski?

Exploration of the Niseko area and Mount Yotei

The following days can be spent exploring the Niseko area. There are several interesting ski touring routes in the area, including the climb to the nearby mountains of Mount Yotei or Mount Shiribetsu.

You can also ski on the ski slopes or off-piste routes of Rusutsu, which offer a variety of runs for skiers of all abilities, or on those of Kiroro.

Relaxation after skiing

If you need to relax after a day of skiing, visit one of the many onsens (hot baths) in the area to unwind and recharge.

On your return to Niseko, you can continue your trip to other parts of Hokkaido or return to Sapporo. Be sure to take time to rest and relax by visiting Hokkaido before your return trip.

In general, it is highly recommended to be accompanied by a mountain professional, either a ski instructor specialised in off-piste skiing or a high mountain guide, for your off-piste skiing trips. Some organisations offer the services of such professionals, and organise ski trips to Japan on the island of Hokkaido such as PowderWeGo, an agency specialising in off-piste skiing, heliskiing, ski touring and ski touring to the four corners of the world...

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