Hiking options in Niseko are endless, whether you enjoy hiking trails in the summer or you are looking for a bottomless powder experience in the depths of winter. We recently went for a mix of the two, hiking Mt Weiss in the last week of April.
Weiss is a smaller mountain to the north west of Mt Annupuri which is home to the Hirafu, Hanazono, Niseko Village and Annupuri ski fields. It was once operated as a skifield and still has the original lift system from this time which is now rusty and defunct.
Weiss is now home to a cat skiiing operation, Niseko Weiss Powder Cats run by the Hanazono company. The sking here during the winter is excellent with plenty of powder and lines down the old ski runs that were cut for the original ski field. The terrain here is oriented toward those beginning to ski powder and intermediate skiiers and boarders looking for all you can eat powder! A days cat skiing here will literally provide you with an entire mountain of fun.
Above we see the view to the east starring Mt Yotei, Mount Annupuri and Mount Iwaonupuri (closest to the dog). To get to this point with snow shoes in spring conditions took just under 2 hours, during the winter the hike would take a little longer as powder snow is a bit harder to trek through. Given it's quite mellow pitch it would be easy for touring skis and split boards too.
After a false summit or two you find your self at the very top, with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, the Sea of Japan, Iwanai Town, and the Shakotan Peninsular out to the right of the picture above. To the true summit the hike wasn't too strenuos with just 1 mildly steep pitch to get us puffing, and worth every step for the views and sunshine we were greeted with.
It is rumoured that one day the lift will be replaced at Weiss and there will be a new lift system put in place that will start from the base of Hanazono connecting the two resorts. This will open up 1000s of acres of beginner and intermediate terrain which is great news for everyone who enjoys skiing in Niseko. If you'd like to know more about Weiss or you'd like to add cat skiing to your next Niseko adventure please feel free to get in touch (email@example.com).