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  • Writer's pictureAllan Mori

Niseko Grand Hirafu - How to successfully ride the peak of Mt. Niseko Annupuri

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

This blog is a helpful guide for conquering the peak of Mt. Niseko Annupuri, which is known as the best run at Niseko Annupuri Mountain. It provides tips on preparing for a successful day, beating the crowds, organizing lift sequences for a speedy ascent, navigating the route to the peak, and setting expectations for the journey.

Preparation for the day

  • Lift tickets, do not buy them on the day! The ticket office opens when the resort opens, so by the time you get your ticket, you will be at the back of the line. Buy them the day prior in-person or online and use the ticket dispensing machines to skip the queues.

  • Arrive at Hirafu Gondola a minimum of 30 minutes before it opens. Yes, you need to stand in line for 30 minutes - it's worth it to be at the front of the line. The mornings are very busy at Niseko, especially after snowfall.

  • The weather plays a significant role in determining whether you can reach the peak. In fact, I'd say it is closed about 25% of the time due to poor weather conditions. Additionally, the optimal time to climb is usually only the mornings, as conditions can worsen significantly by midday.

  • Please check the weather forecast before heading up the mountain. The conditions at the top will be twice as extreme compared to the mid to low parts. Ensure that wind conditions, visibility, and avalanche risks are low if this is your first time.

How to get to the peak

  • Start at the gondola which is at the Grand Hirafu Mountain Center side. Take the following lifts in this order: Gondola, King 3 lift, and King 4 lift.

  • Head up toward gate 3! It’s just a few meters above the top of King 4 lift, you cant miss it.

Below is a picture of King 4 single chair taking you above the clouds.

Preparing for the climb to the peak

  • The hike up is quite steep but relatively easy. It takes about 20 minutes. A groomer runs all the way to the peak, providing a clear path to walk up. Keep your hands free and strap your skis or snowboard to your backpack and hike at a comfortable pace. There is a platform and beacon checker at the top of king 4 lift, so you can quickly prepare for the climb up.

  • As you approach the peak, follow the ridge to the right towards the hut. Upon reaching the hut, congratulations! You have successfully reached the summit of Mt. Niseko Annupuri.

Skiing the peak and getting back to the resort. Excuse my drawing skills however its quiet simple.

  • Blue: This color run your dropping into the bowl which is the most popular run, it's usually tracked out pretty quickly. You essentially ski into a huge wide bowl and ride it out until the extended blue line and exit by riding it out under Hanazono 4 lift.

  • Red: You have lots of options, you can go further out to the left from my picture as long as you get back to the green cat track which gets you back to the ski resort.

  • Green: This is a groomed cat track that leads you back to the resort. It has a gentle upward slope, making it suitable for walking or skinning. The purpose of this track is to provide a safe and easy way for skiers or snowboarders who drop in on any of the red lines to return to the Hanazono side of the ski resort.

Want to do that again?

  • Quickly get back to Hirafu by catching Hanazono 3 and 4 lift. You will then see king 4 lift again.

  • I recommend either going out gate 4 which opens at 10:30am, which might align with your timing. Otherwise try go up gate 3 again and just venture a little further to the left (skiers left) for fresh lines.


Looking for a guide to help explore central Hokkaido, Japan, away from the usual tourist crowds and find untracked powder? You can contact me through my website at

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