Pirika is a small ski hill located in Imakane-cho (town) and overlooking Lake Pirika – in the region between Niseko and Hakodate city on the northern island of Hokkaido.
It certainly is not a particularly well-known ski hill in Japan, but there are some interesting developments there for the 2017-2018 season.
Until this season a pair lift took skiers and snowboarders up to the top of the hill to enjoy the four courses on offer. But starting with the upcoming 2017-2018, the ski lift will no longer be operating.
Instead of the ski lift, skiers and boarders will be taken up to the top in a snowcat vehicle. As Wikipedia explains, a snowcat is 'an enclosed-cab, truck-sized, fully tracked vehicle designed to move on snow'. In the case of the ones being used at Pirika, each will hold up to 10 people. They seem to be planning to have four vehicles operating and leaving the base area every fifteen minutes.
The former 'A Course' at the ski hill will be used exclusively by the snowcat vehicle and will no longer be available for skiing and snowboarding. On the way up, the snowcat vehicle will stop off at the top of each of the four courses (the last one being the top of the ski hill) to drop off people who want to slide down each course.
The ‘Family Course’ will be groomed while the other three courses – 'Challenge', 'Exciting' and 'Special' - will remain ungroomed for some fresh snow action.
Tickets for adults will be 2,000 yen for a day and 300 yen for one trip, with a season ticket costing 6,000 yen.
One other thing worth mentioning is that on weekdays when school groups are using the facilities, Pirika will not be open to the general public. So if you plan to go on a weekday, it is probably best to check opening status beforehand.
The season at Pirika is planned to start on Saturday 23rd December and run through until Sunday 25th March 2018.