Geto Kogen resort review (Kitakami Town, Iwate)

Geto Kogen
Kitakami Town, Iwate
Submitted by meenie on 12th December 2005
Geto Kogen review by meenie
I grew up skiing on Mount Ashland, Oregon, USA, where most intermediate runs would be considered advanced in Japan. I learned to ski steep, often icy slopes. Before coming to Japan, the most powder I had ever skied in was about 25 centimeters. I had never heard of "fat" skis.

Geto is the polar opposite of Mount Ashland. That is, its "steepest" course is all of 36 degrees, and its longest run takes all of a few minutes if you're taking it easy. That said, Geto is a powder magnet - a f-n' meteorological phenomenon. It can be sunny in Kitakami (the closest city, 30 minutes away) and dumping powder at Geto. It consistantly blows away the neighboring ski resorts in terms of snow volume every year (a 4-meter average yearly snowfall). Iwate's famous (don't know why) CRAppi Ski Resort gets half of the powder Geto gets every year. Even Hachimantai Ski Area, boasting the best terrain in Iwate, can't match Geto's powder volume.

Out of over 30 days on Geto's slopes last year, I spent at least half of them in at least half a foot of fresh powder. Two feet plus is not a rarity.

While I'm on a positive note, I'll add that the facilities at Geto are awesome. The lodge design is cool and original. The staff is really friendly and helpful. (I've had to deal with problems such as a broken binding, lost keys, dead car battery, etc.) Even on weekends, lift lines, especially at the second gondola and the quad lift, are practically non-existent. The music that they play on the lifts has gotten much better as of the 2005-6 season. The cafeteria has a wide variety of relatively cheap, hot, tasty dishes. There are plenty of well-maintained restrooms as well as heaps of vending machines and coin lockers. My favorite thing about Geto is the new onsen. After a long day of deep powder turns, you can soak in a natural onsen that has an outdoor bath with a gorgeous view and a nice, post-onsen relaxation lounge (beer on tap). Being relaxed, clean, changed, and warm before the ride home is a huge plus.

I now have to mention why exactly Geto is simply not capable of reaching 5-star status, and why some may argue that 4-stars are too many.

First, the gondolas are slow and the courses are short. You spend five times more time riding lifts than you do riding on your board(s). That's enough for four-star demotion right there, but I must continue criticizing.

Second, other than a few (and I mean less than 5), short stretches of 30-plus degree pitch on the "advanced runs", it's hard to find any kind of challenge on the actual courses. Sure, there's a terrain park with a rather large tabletop for the acrobatically inclined, but if you're looking for steep powder bowls and cornices, you've got to look very hard off-piste and risk getting yelled at by Ski Patrol - who are, ostensibly, otherwise useless.

If you want some hints, my personal favorites are under the quad lift, the trees to the skier's left of the 1st gondola, and the trees between the B-3 and C-1/2 courses.

Lastly, I figure that I should mention the fact that Geto may not be a great place for fair-weather-skiers (read, little kids and big pussies) because the massive amounts of powder are often and only naturally accompanied by wind, bitter cold, and low visibility.

In conclusion, I think I've been extremely lucky to live 40 minutes away from a ski resort such as Geto for the llast few years. For Japan, Geto is a good place to ski. Compared to resorts in the Sierras, Cascades, and Rockies in the USA and Canada or the European Alps, Geto is a fluffy, powder-filled Hello Kitty doll.
Date visited: From 2004
Snow condition on visit: POWDER
Things I liked: Consistently the most powder in Iwate, great facilities
Things I didn't like: No long steeps, slow gondolas

Geto Kogen

Kitakami Town, Iwate
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Average Rankings

General score: 80
Snow conditions: 92
Courses/Terrain: 77
Lift system: 75
Apres ski: 25

Basic Resort Statistics

Max. elevation: 1070m
Min. elevation: 640m
Vertical: 430m
Steepest slope: 36°
Longest course: 3000m
Number of lifts: 5

Other resorts nearby

Himekayu 38.50km
Namari Onsen 41.10km
Choei Yuda 42.50km
Kunimidaira 47.20km
Shigarai 50.70km

Location of Geto Kogen