Muikamachi Hakkaisan resort review (Minamiuonuma City, Niigata)

Muikamachi Hakkaisan
Minamiuonuma City, Niigata
Submitted by Metabo Oyaji on 24th January 2015
Fresh moguls, come and get 'em!
Weather forecast was not the greatest: rain. I hoped it would be snow at the top. As it turned out, while most of the day it was raining at lower elevations, at upper elevations it was indeed occasional, wettish flurries. So that was good. Looking up from the lower base station after parking in the first parking lot, clouds hid the top of the resort.

I didn't realize that the ropeway station is actually up the hill from there. One should park in the #2 parking lot, up above the first parking lot, for quickest access to the top of the mountain. Or just take the chair lift up from the lower building, and ski down to the ropeway station.

On skier's left from the top are the mogul-fest Expert Course, and the beginner's RakuRaku course.
Visibility up top was... lacking. The Expert Course was... closed? Taking the RakuRaku course around to the side revealed the reason for the closure of the top part of the Expert Course: glide cracks. But only the topmost part of the course was closed. Fortunately, most of it was still accessible from the RakuRaku Course.

On the other side, skier's right, are the mogully Champion Course, and an intermediate, groomed Technical Bahn.

Where the two sides meet midway down the mountain is a restaurant, and a chairlift going back up to the top. At the bottom are a couple of lifts serving beginner and intermediate cruising runs, and a park set-up.

This was not a day for views, but the reason I have always wanted to go to Hakkaisan is its reputation for being mogul heaven (or hell, depending on one's preferences). I'll admit I'm crap at moguls, but have always considered that a character failing of mine, and was up for the challenge of learning how to deal with them. Hakkaisan seemed a good sink-or-swim way to do so. Plus I'd had my carving and powder fixes over the previous two days.

So I mostly looped the Expert and Champion courses during the day. I found the Expert Course, while I could get down it, had moguls just a bit too big for me to manage. The Champion course was more my size, with moderate bumps. At the lower part of the Champion course/upper part of the Technical Bahn, someone had put in some artificial training moguls -- those really deep, evenly spaced ones. I tried, but those were the hardest for me of all. I could do maybe two or three turns, then would build up too much speed and get thrown off to the side. Just couldn't get the hang. But the Champion course was quite nice, with more naturally-shaped bumps. I even ended up preferring that to carving on the groomed runs, partly because the groomed runs got a bit iced up higher up.

I do like the way the place is laid out -- not much fluff there, and you don't have to spend time on flat run-outs or other time-wasting bits if you don't want to. Can't say I really got the hang of moguls, but I spent some good time at it, and would like to go back to Hakkaisan some time for more. Ideally when the weather is a bit less of a challenge in itself. The views on a good day should really add to the experience.
Date visited: From 29 December, 2014
Snow condition on visit: Spring-like conditions due to rain
Things I liked: Good choice of challenging runs, and efficient access to them.
Things I didn't like: Rain and fog (not the resort's fault, of course).
Recommended for: Beginner riders
Intermediate riders
Advanced riders
Ungroomed courses
Not recommended for: Apres-ski
General score: 90
Snow conditions: 50
Courses/Terrain: 95
Lift system: 90

Muikamachi Hakkaisan

Minamiuonuma City, Niigata
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Average Rankings

General score: 77
Snow conditions: 69
Courses/Terrain: 73
Lift system: 70
Apres ski: 7

Basic Resort Statistics

Max. elevation: 1147m
Min. elevation: 355m
Vertical: 792m
Steepest slope: 38°
Longest course: 5500m
Number of lifts: 4

Location of Muikamachi Hakkaisan