New Hirafu Gondola

Niseko is no stranger to progress especially in recent years with new hotels and developments popping up in and around the area.  Along with new developments have come new lifts such as the new gondola and plush leather, heated seat 8 seat chairlift at Hanazono.

A pile of scrap metal with Mount Yotei in the back ground
Center 4 remains

Not to be left behind Hirafu has also begun work on a new lift which will replace the original Ace 2 Quad / Center Four Lift. This trusty work horse of a lift served locals and visitors a like for as long as most can remember and is said to have been one of Japans oldest quad lifts beginning operation back in 1985.

Center four ski lift base area
Center four farewell

Center Four accessed the upper mountain of Hirafu and could be ridden to explore the awesome terrain of Onne or Super Ridge which lies to lookers left of the chair as you ascend. This is a unique steep bit of terrain that is flocked to on a powder day and could be ridden by traversing straight across under the top of Center 4. It is also another stepping stone to get to the other resorts such as Niseko Village and Annupuri or to access the King Hooded quad.   

A view down center 4 chairlift with Mount Yotei behind
The lift may change but not the views

There were certainly some incredible memories made on Center Four, albeit chilly ones for those that are more accustomed to the shelter of bubble chairs and gondolas. The good news is we will be shivering no more and hopefully waiting in line a little less too thanks to Center Four's replacement a luxurious 10 person gondola. The Gondola will follow the same line as the original lift and according to Niseko United will increase lift capacity from 1,800 skiers per hour to 2,800.

The gondola won't be just whisking skiers and snowboarders to the top either as it will also be fully equipped for passengers with mountain bikes and will provide lift access to the areas quickly expanding trail network. Stay tuned for more..