After a gap of a few years, Kandatsu Kogen has had 5 reviews in 2 months and here's another! First off, a BIG thanks to SnowJapan and Kandatsu Kogen for the free ticket - much appreciated!
This was a Sunday trip from Kanagawa with fellow SJ member, onehunga. We had planned to go to Kagura in a bid to avoid the forecast rain but when we popped out of the tunnel on the Kan-etsu expressway we could see Iwappara ski resort on the right hand side, looking very inviting in the morning sunshine. We therefore decided to exit the Kan-etsu earlier than planned and make good use of our Kandatsu tickets! There was plenty of both snow and cars around, and we were directed to an overflow car park upon arrival, an indication of how busy the place was (it subsequently transpired that parts of Kagura and Gala Yuzawa were closed, so perhaps that made things busier than normal). Neither of us had been there before so once we headed up one of the Tozawa pair lifts from the lego-like base building, we decided to work our way through the lifts from left to right, starting with the Musawa quad lift. This gives you access to the Milky Way course which runs down the far skiers' right of the resort. Actually, you could see some lines off the skiers' right side of the Milky Way, presumably heading down through the trees to the base but not knowing the terrain, we decided to save that for another day.
On-piste conditions were decidedly Spring-like and although there were signs of a decent, recent dump, the warmer temperatures weren't doing the snow any favours. Back up the Musawa quad, we came down the Andromeda and Pegasas courses to the next quad lift (sorry, not sure of its name), which we lapped a few times before trying the third and final of the 3 lifts that access that side of the resort, namely the Shiraitayama pair lift. This takes you to the highest point of the resort, with 3 different courses down: 2 ungroomed black runs and the red Subaru course. The former looked very bumpy so we did the latter before finding a 4th way down, namely through the trees to the skiers' left of the Orion course which pops you out at the top of the Onakadaira quad lift, the lift that gives access to the beginner slopes and park. There was a lot of snow in that treed section - a good 30cm in places - but it was quite heavy-going with the warmer temperatures. It would be an excellent run in better conditions though!
After pit stops for refreshments and removal of layers, we spent the afternoon running up and down the three main lifts, sniffing out any remaining/rideable powder off the sides and trying to avoid the increasingly sticky patches on-piste. Although the weather didn't do us any favours on the snow front, it was a lovely day and the views from the top of the resort were stunning, with lots of mountain backdrops to be snapped. & although it was very busy at the base area and main restaurant, it didn't seem too busy out on the slopes and the lift lines weren't bad at all, with the exception of the Onakadaira lift which we didn't use.
Overall, we had a great day at Kandatsu Kogen. The bowl-design makes it very compact and easy to negotiate, with the lifts giving you various choices of runs to get back down. Not the biggest or most challenging of resorts but there were moguls and a park for those so-inclined, and some interesting-looking tree runs which I would like to explore further another time. Probably a resort more suited for beginners and intermediates than advanced skiers/riders.
Thank you SnowJapan and Kandatsu Kogen for what was, by all accounts, a bonus day!
From 22 February, 2015 To 22 February, 2015
Snow condition on visit:
Spring-like due to unseasonally warm weather.
Things I liked:
Compact design; interesting-looking tree runs; great views; easy access from Tokyo, resort logo.
Things I didn't like:
Crowds at the base (though to be expected on a Sunday).