NISEKO-OTARU, JAPAN

IMAGE QUEST POWDER SKI TOUR

Experience The Legendary Deep Snow of Niseko-Otaru Japan with Pro Photographers Tom Winter & Jeff Cricco. Ski The Deepest Snow of Your Life Captured on Film!

  • Have you wanted to ski in Japan’s powder capital of Hokkaido but don’t want to deal with the logistics, finding the best snow everyday and opportunity to ski snow cats? If so, then our Niseko-Otaru ski tour is for you. Experience 4 nights in Niseko, 5 nights in Otaru and as much powder as you can handle with our private 4x4 vans for the group to search for the deepest snow. See the real side of Niseko and Otaru with our guides and enjoy an epic trip for your soul.
  • This is an advanced guided tour where we spend the majority of our time off-piste in the lift accessed side/backcountry of each resort, skiing the birch trees of Japan and the open bowls. After skiing a full day of powder and a relaxing soak in the onsen you’ll get to enjoy some of Hokkaido’s delicious food and lively bars.
  • Some of the deepest snow on the earth covering wide open bowls, perfectly spaced birch trees, and endless side country and backcountry options to explore. With an average snowfall of 15+ meters or 50+ feet per season, it’s no wonder that the Niseko and Otaru area are a perfect snow destination. Our guides have some secret spots that rarely ever see tracks and have been skiing these areas for over a decade.
  • Enjoy access to soak in the hot Japanese Onsens at every hotel we stay at. The hot springs have long been revered as a cure for ailments such as muscle aches, sickness, and other medical conditions. Its a great way to relax after a day of skiing powder. The hot onsen water rises from deep underground and usually contains a blend of many different minerals and are nutrient rich. Soaking in the onsen is one of the best ways to relax one’s body after a day in the mountains.
  • Featuring a 4 to 1 student-to-instructor relationship, participants in IMAGE QUEST JAPAN enjoy the unique opportunity to work with and learn from some of the most talented and recognized individuals in the action sports industry today, while experiencing the unparalleled outdoor location of Niseko & Otaru, Japan.

Dates: Friday, January 5 – Sunday, January 14, 2018
Location: Niseko Resort & Otaru Japan
Tour Length: 10 Days | 9 Nights | 8 Ski Days
Level of Difficulty: High Intermediate and Above
Guide Ratio: 4 to 1 Client to Guide ratio
Hotel: The M Hotel & Dormy Inn Hotel
Included Meals: Breakfasts, Welcome and Farewell Dinner
Price: $3495 per person

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • 4 Nights* Lodging at The M Hotel, Niseko (twin / double share)
  • 5 Nights* Lodging at Dormy Inn, Otaru (twin / double share)
  • Airport Transfers & Private 4×4 Van Every Day for Group
  • 10 Guided Days Around Niseko & Otaru Resorts and Backcountry
  • All Lift Tickets & Skiing with LGA Professional Local Guides
  • Skills Sessions with Professional Photographers & Guides
  • Hotspring tours to our Favorite Japanese Onsens
  • Breakfast Every Morning with traditional Japanese and Western Favorites
  • Welcome & Farewell Group Dinners at our Local Favorite Restaurants

*Hotel Rooms are based on 2 people per room. If you would like a room to yourself please contact us.

THE RIDING EXPERIENCE

IMAGE QUEST JAPAN is based out of Otaru and Niseko, Japan. A skiing and snowboarding epicenter, Niseko is an ideal “base camp” for mountain and snow experiences. There’s a wide variety of terrain and skiing opportunities in and around the Niseko & Otaru zones. Media + Marketing track participants will enjoy fantastic potential for content creation and photography, while those who participate in the Athlete Experience component of the camp will experience some of the best snow conditions in the world.

During the day, participants will be on snow. Mixed weather conditions, changing lighting and other forces of nature will offer up exceptional chances for photography, regardless of if you are in front of the camera skiing for glory, taking photos yourself or creating your own branded content. Because of the varied terrain, participants should be at least strong intermediate skiers or snowboarders with the ability to ski mixed snow conditions and out-of-bounds slopes of moderate difficulty.

The on-snow experience is complemented by Image Quest’s Aprés Ski Seminars. These informative group sessions will include the essentials to take your brand to the next level, regardless of if you’re hoping to become a sponsored pro skier, find a dream job in the ski industry or make the breakthrough to a career in professional photography.

Deep Japanese colder powder and home to some of the best snow in the world. Every day we lead guests on a guided exploration of the beautiful Niseko Area ski resorts such as Hirafu, Moiwa, Rusutsu and untouched backcountry areas. The Otaru area is well known for having some of the deepest snow on average every year and our guides know the area very well. There is always powder to be skied! From perfect birch tree glades to deep powder fields too long backcountry runs, Japan has something for everyone. Untracked powder awaits you after short lift lines, easy hikes, and secret spots only our guides know. There is nothing like skiing or snowboarding in Japan and our team is ready to take you there!

Niseko Annupuri is part of the Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru Kaigan Quasi-National Park and is the most eastern set park of the Niseko Volcanic Group. Seasonal winds from the Eurasian continent pick up moisture over the warm currents of the Sea of Japan to form snow clouds and in turn some of the driest, lightest powder in the world.


THE CULINARY EXPERIENCE

Japan, home of amazing fresh sushi, seafood, and delicacies from the sea as well as its traditional dishes of soba, udon, yakatori, curry and more. The seafood quality is known around the world but we bet after trying some of their local specialties you will leave with a whole new respect for Japanese cuisine. Sample a wide variety of local and regional cuisine, from Wagyu beef, Yakatori BBQ cooked on the table, Shabu-Shabu, Bakeries & Coffee Shops, incredible curries, and of course no trip to the Japanese isles is complete without a warm and hearty fresh made soba noodle bowl.

The growth of the area over the last couple of years provides an ample selection of small independent coffee shops, restaurants, breweries and sake bars. Visitors have every chance to dive into the local cuisine like never before. Included in your experience is a daily breakfast at the hotel, as well as a Welcome and Farewell group dinners at a couple of our favorite restaurants.


THE LODGING EXPERIENCE

Our hotel partners welcome you with friendly service and an unmatched experience that you will never forget. Our location is ideal to access several ski areas in the region with our private 4×4 vans so our groups are always skiing the best conditions that day. Walking distance to a wide variety of restaurants, shops, and bars. The Niseko and Otaru area offers a wide variety of natural Japanese Onsens (separate for men and women) having both outside and inside areas. Free WiFi, daily breakfast, and comfortable twin rooms await you at our favorite hotel in the area.

SAMPLE ITINERARY

Day 1 – Arrival Day

Fly into New Chitose Airport (CTS) by 1 pm where the group will be there to transport you. In some cases you may need to plan your arrival the day before. There are many hotels near the airport offering shuttle service so it is easy to meet the group back at the airport at 1 pm. We suggest using Booking.com to find a nearby hotel.

Le Grand Adventure Tours welcomes you to Japan! Upon landing at New Chitose Airport (CTS) you will have a private 4×4 van transfer-by our guides to your hotel. Settle into your comfortable room and get to know your new crew for the week. The evening offers your first chance to explore, dine or relax at the hotel with new friends. Relax, enjoy local cuisine, and get ready for a week of powder skiing!

If rentals are needed, we can arrange snow equipment for the week through local shops. If you wish to rent ski/snowboard equipment please let us know so that we can coordinate your rental. It is advised that you try to arrive with enough time on the arrival day to be fitted. Please advise the LGA Team before the trip if you will need gear.

Hotel: The Green Leaf Hotel


Day 2 – 9

On the first day, we will be exploring Niseko ski area. We’ll be hunting out some powder stashes and warming up for the week ahead. Celebrate an awesome first day on the mountain with the Welcome Dinner and a great Apres with the Image Quest team.

Our guides will take you to the best places to ski powder around Niseko. Hike the peak at Niseko, ski into the back bowls, explore the surrounding resorts’, and tour into the backcountry to ski one of those legendary deep JaPow days. Finish your day soaking in a traditional onsen outside or go for a walk through town for Apres . Over the course of the camp, we will guide you through the trees and bowls of Hokkaido, teach you the tips & tricks from the pro’s, and at the end of the day, we will share the photos of the group to reminisce about the great powder we skied. There is a reason why they call Hokkaido the powder mecca and our Image Quest team is ready to show you around!

Pack your snorkel and powder skis as we are heading to Otaru for the second half of the trip. This powder gem has some of the best backcountry terrain and deepest snow in Hokkaido. This coastal town is a great base for the next couple of days as we take you to the nearby resorts and backcountry this area has to offer. This is truly one of the deepest places we have ever skied as it has some of the most consistent powder on Hokkaido. This is a great location to experience the culture of Japan after an amazing powder day as there are dozens of unique restaurants, the canal area with all of the local businesses, and some secret local hangouts if you know where to go. This is one of the best backcountry areas in Japan to ski deep powder! 

On the last day, we will have a farewell dinner party to round off your Image Quest powder experience on Hokkaido. We will share photos, videos, and stories from the week at our last Apres session with gifts for each participant. Tonight enjoy the last group dinner at a traditional Japanese bbq on the canal. Our guides will show you some great spots around town to spend your last night in Japan! 

Hotel: The Green Leaf Hotel Niseko & Dormy Inn Hotel Otaru
Included Meals: Breakfast Every Day | Welcome and Farewell Group Dinners


Day 10 – Departure Day

Time to check out and say goodbye to your new friends and transfer to Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport for your flight home with memories to last a lifetime!

Included Meals: Breakfast

NOTE: This itinerary is an example. The tour may be altered to adjust for weather and conditions. Our guides will plan the tour around the conditions to make sure you have the best trip possible.

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED

  • Airfare
  • Lunches: Guests will be able to have lunch at local villages and ski resorts during the week
  • All Dinners (except 2) are left open for the group to explore town together or experience the local cuisine with new friends. Recommendations will be provided.
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Gratuities for Guides
  • Travel & Trip Insurance: We require trip insurance for all trips abroad.
    We recommend World Nomads as they are the ultimate in travel protection and global emergencies and evacuations.
  • Gear: Skis, Backpack, Avalanche beacon, Probe, Shovel, Skins and Helmet. If you have your own equipment please bring it. Avalanche safety gear is required on all of our tours and is available to rent for $150 for the duration of the trip.
  • Rentals: If you need to rent ski/snowboard equipment please let us know so that we can coordinate your rental.

FAQ

Check out our General FAQs section. Here you will find answers to your general questions.

What Should I Bring With Me?

Ski/Snowboard Gear:
Skis/Snowboard, boots, poles
Goggles
Helmet – stay safe on the slopes!!

Misc/Recommended:
Backpack
Avalanche Transceiver
Shovel/Probe
Touring Gear and Skins
Packable Puffy
Climbing Harness (that fits over ski pants)
(We can assist with some gear, please feel free to contact us)

Après Clothing:
You will be in the Alps for a week so please bring proper clothing for when you’re not on the slopes.

Travel Requirements:
Current Passport
Credit card, cash and/or traveler’s checks
ID or driver’s license
Medical insurance cards
Prescriptions or other medications
Important phone numbers
Proof of Travelers Insurance


Can I Reserve My Trip With a Deposit?

Yes, you can reserve your trip with a Deposit for all tours. Reservations are available immediately once a trip is announced and up to 90 days prior to the Date of Departure. The Deposit amount is twenty percent (20%) of the Tour Price. When booking within 89 days or less prior to the date of departure, the full amount is due at time of booking.


When Should I Make My Travel Arrangements?

Please wait until you receive confirmation from Le Grand Adventure Tours before making any travel arrangements. Our team is happy to assist you with any travel needs.


When is The Final Payment For This Tours Due?

Final payment is due no later than 90 days prior to departure, or 7 days from booking confirmation if booking is within 90 days.


What Is Your Cancellation Policy?

  • 90 days or more prior to Departure: LGA will retain the deposit as an “Adventure Deposit” for a future trip. Full refund will be given.
  • 89-60 days prior to Departure: LGA will retain 50% of the total Tour Price and the deposit will be held as an Adventure Deposit for a future trip.
  • 59 days or less prior to Departure: LGA will retain 100% of the total Tour Price.
    Le Grand Adventure Tours cannot be held responsible for snow and/or weather conditions. Trips cannot be cancelled or amended on the basis of snow and weather conditions.

What Is Your Refund Policy?

No refunds, reimbursements or discounts will be granted if, for any reason, Client misses the Tour, fails to join the Tour, leaves the Tour, is dismissed from the Tour, or cannot fully participate in the Tour. Any Refunds will be at the discretion of Le Grand Adventure Tours if you are involuntarily forced to leave a tour for any reason.


Hotels Before & After Your Trip

There are a lot of great hotels in the Chitose area close to the airport if you plan to arrive early, a day before the trip start, or if you plan to stay for an extra night before you leave. We suggest using online resources like Booking.com to check availability. We are always happy to help and offer recommendations for all of our guests.


 What Type of Skis To Bring?

A ski with roughly a 100mm to 110mm is the best option. If you want to bring a wider pair of skis please feel free or we can rent these if needed.


Do I Need Ski Touring Equipment?

It is highly recommended but not mandatory. If you have a new pair of touring bindings (Dynafit, Plum, Marker, Salomon, etc) and are comfortable skiing a wide variety of terrain on them, please feel free to bring them.


Do I Need Backcountry Safety Gear?

Avalanche safety gear is required on all of our tours. If you have your own equipment please bring it. Ski backpacks including beacon, shovel and probe are available to rent for $150 for the duration of the trip. (Option available to add-on at checkout. If you wish to add later please feel free to contact us.)


Ski & Gear Rentals

If you wish to rent ski/snowboard equipment please let us know so that we can coordinate your rental. Please advise the LGA Team before the trip if you will need gear.


What is the Best Way to Get There?

Fly into New Chitose Airport (CTS) by 1pm where the group will be there to transport you. In some cases you may need to plan your arrival the day before. There are many hotels near the airport offering shuttle service so it is easy to meet the group back at the airport by 1pm. We suggest using Booking.com to find a nearby hotel.


What Is The Weather Going To Be Like?

For the most accurate weather please check the Niseko Weather Online a few days before your trip. If you want to experience the best snow in the world, you need to be prepared with good gear, as it can get cold. It’s not unusual to receive 30cm to 50cm+ (12 to 20″+) of snow overnight! Many storms will drop upward of 100cm’s plus or basically 3 feet every couple of days. We will be in the mountains so bring clothes that will keep you warm in a wide variety of conditions. We will guarantee you get the most out of your ski holiday as we have a wide range of activities that we can add into the trip incase there are down days due to snow storms or weather.


What is The Group Size?

Small group sizes that don’t exceed 10 guests.


Do We Need to Tip Our Guides? If So, What is Standard?

Gratuities are not included. Tips are accepted at your discretion based on the overall trip experience provided by our team.


Do I Need Trip Insurance?

Trip Insurance is Not Included: We require trip insurance for all trips abroad. Protecting your trip & safety is our priority!
We recommend World Nomads as they are the ultimate in travel protection and global emergencies and evacuations.


How Long Does It Take to Fly to Japan?

Flight time from the West Coast of the United States to Japan is approximately 10-16 hours depending on if you book a direct flight or a flight with stops.


Are There Any Rules/Traditions Pertaining To The Onsens (Hot Springs)?

Onsens are usually dedicated as either male or female baths. An onsen is a natural thermal hot spring. A word of warning – if you have tattoos you may not be allowed to enter. However, if you are a foreigner and the tattoos are not particularly obvious then you will generally be OK. Make sure you wash and rinse off your body before you get into the water. Note: Ritually these are full nudity baths, there are small towels to cover your ‘modesty’.


Can I Use My Credit Card in Japan?

Japan is mostly a cash based society. Most larger restaurants and bars will probably accept international credit cards (non-Japanese), a lot of smaller restaurants, bars and convenience stores will only accept cash. As crime in Japan is one of the lowest in the world, most people carry plenty of cash with them. A lot of ATMs in Japan do not accept international cards.


Which Languages are Spoken in Japan?

Japanese is the native language of Japan. The amount of English that is spoken varies considerably in Japan. A good rule of thumb is that English is much more widely spoken in destinations that are popular with international tourists.


Is It Safe to Travel to Japan?

In general Japan is one of the safest countries in the world to travel around. This is due largely to one of the lowest crime rates in the world and the incredible hospitality of the Japanese people.


Why Does Japan Get so Much Snow?

The abundance of powder in Japan is a result of the Siberian snow stream, the largest example of lake-effect snow in the world. High pressure over Siberia and low pressure over the Western Pacific leads to a constant flow of cool air across Japan. As this chilled, dry air flows over the Japan Sea it attracts moisture and becomes overly-saturated. This air hits the mountain ranges of the Northern Alps and Japan is blanketed with powder snow. These cyclical weather patterns last for weeks, guaranteeing regular dumps of the lightest and fluffiest powder imaginable.


What Are The Japanese Mountains Like Compared to Europe and North America?

This varies somewhat between resorts and the different islands but generally the major Japanese resorts are not as high and steep as their counterparts in Europe and North America. Ultimately one must always understand the snowpack as it can change rapidly in the mountains and is safest to travel into the backcountry with a guide.

Niseko, Japan

Happy Customers.

Testimonials

Engelberg/Andermatt Freeride Ski Trip

I spent a week in Switzerland with LGA and had one of the best weeks of my life on all and every level. Jeff and Crystal go above and beyond to insure all aspects of the tour are top tier and amazing. They are not only great people but have in depth knowledge, insight, and information to make the trip fun, safe, and memorable. Skiing in places like Japan, AK, and Argentina I thought I had seen it all, but Jeff showed me some amazing skiing that marked as some of the best of my life. A truly great trip.
Ryan M.

Japan Ski Trip

Japan Powder Tour – Unreal! This is an absolute unbelievable adventure. If you want to ski big pow and are also looking for an incredible cultural experience, this is the trip for you. I’ve skied my entire life (last 18 years in Colorado as well as 3 years in Switzerland / Austria) and this was by far the best ski adventure I have ever taken. Some of the most memorable and best runs of my life. In addition to the incredible snow and terrain, Jeff and Crystal are true professionals both on the Mountain and off. This trip was butter smooth thanks to Le Grand Adventure Tours. A bucket list item for sure!
Ryan P.

Swiss Road Bike Trip

Wow this was really special. We road during the day and then went on wine or brewery tours, or we went to great restaurants every night. Jeff and Crystal were really impressive. Our group was intentionally small – just 4 of us. The private guiding was amazing because they knew SO much about the country. Even with just 4 of us, the rider ability was very different and they made it fun for everyone. We saw so many amazing sights we never would have found without Le Grand Adventure Tours.They coordinated the lodging, restaurants, rides, trains, etc. At 47, this was the best trip of my life. Jeff and Crystal have great energy and that is contagious. Jeff is the best cyclist I have ever seen and he can lead anyone. Crystal is an absolute joy to be around and the two of them are an unbeatable pair. I strongly suggest them.
Rich M.

Murren Ski Trip

Our Murren Switzerland Ski Trip was amazing! Jeff and Crystal did an awesome job creating a perfect trip with great skiing, incomparable ambiance, and the European Ski Vacation we had on our bucket list for years. They took care to find the best snow each day in an enormous valley full of choices, while maintaining the romance (our 20 year Anniversary) and adventure (cliffs, zip lines, Alp vistas) of an epic European vacation. If you enjoy great, challenging skiing, and well planned trip in a beautiful place, I highly recommend a trip with Le Grande Adventure Tours.
Casey T.

Chamonix Ski Trip

Beyond all expectations! These guys rule. The guides were incredibly knowledgable. The skiing was phenomenal. Decisions about where the best snow would be for the day’s conditions were always spot on. The terrain we skied matched the advanced level of the group, so that everyone was comfortably challenged. Accommodation was a lovely private chalet, super comfortable, and cleaned daily – a convenient short walk to town. The hot tub was a huge bonus. Private chefs provided exceptional feasts. Private daily ski transportation made travel easy. The professional photography came out amazing – such a nice treat to leave a trip like this with. No corners were cut. I always felt in good hands. I traveled solo and felt incredibly welcomed. I highly highly recommend joining a Le Grand Adventure Tour.
Judith K.

INQUIRE NOW

Fill out the below form to book your trip of a lifetime. An LGA team member will be in contact with you to discuss the trip to ensure a proper fit! Please note: You will not be confirmed to book a trip until speaking with a trip consultant.

NISEKO-OTARU PHOTO SERIES INQUIRY

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“But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies”

~ Jack Kerouac