Tuesday April 29 was a holiday, weather forecast looked reasonable for Gassan, so we made the early morning road trip, planning to get afternoon tickets (11:30-16:30).
The drive up was relatively uncrowded for a holiday, and we got to the parking lot around 10:30. 500 yen parking fee, which goes towards conservation efforts, and in return for which one gets a Gassan sticker, which went straight onto the kid's snowboard.
After hearing good things about Gassan from some Japanese friends, I bit the bullet and decided to head down for opening weekend. My friends were not lying and I was not disappointed.
Driving up from Yamagata city on Sunday morning, it took about an hour to get there. The last part of the drive was spectacular going up the mountain, hairpin after hairpin with snow walls up to 8m high surrounding the narrow road corridor.
You really only go there so as to say that you have done some summer skiing. The snow is dreadful, the lifts are very poor and the price expensive... having said that I just had to go to know what it is like.
You have to walk up half the mountain and get very wet in the process. The only reason I went was because for 2 years I could see the mountain
It might be better to think of Gassan not as a ski resort but as a huge snow covered mountain that just happens to have an old double lift running up ONE part of it.
That said, if you are willing to hike, you can access some beautiful areas. The scenery from the summit of Gassan (about a 1 hour hike from the top of the upper T-bar) is spectacular. I haven't seen anything better in Japan.