It was my first time to Ishiuchi Maruyama. The overall experience was great, given the fresh 50 cm of snow. The day ended badly, not because of the ski slopes, will tell the tale later. So, here goes my day.
We arrived from Shinjuku in an overnight bus at about 7am at the Birdland lodge. It's a small lodge with an onsen, tiny changing rooms, a rental shop, and souvenir shop. They were closed when we arrived but with enough peeking through the windows, the owner came out and let us in out of the snow. It had snowed the last couple of days and was going to snow more that weekend.
We were one of the first ones out on the slopes. There was gobs of fresh powder everywhere. The groomed runs were crisp and sweet. The off-piste parts were left with a deep powdery finish. We knew that we would be one of the first ones through that powder. The first lift from Chuo was good. Not too short, but not so long.
The lifts : Most of the lifts felt rather short, compared to the lifts in Madarao and Goryu. The lifts were laid out a little poorly also; we had to scuffle a good 50m or so between some lifts, sometimes uphill, to get to the next lift up the mountain. The lift ranged from old wooden benches to the newer soft cushion benches.
The slopes, courses, snow : Good snow, as with the Yuzawa area. Nothing extremely challenging. We took a ride through the advanced courses, which turned out to be an intermediate course with mini mogul hills... a very very short course. The rest of the courses were decent intermediate and beginner courses. There were many great parks, however. A beginner park for newbies like me and an intermediate park for veterans. There were also two half pipes. I was surprised at how big the parks were. When we arrived in the morning, there was NO ONE in the parks, so we were able to play and enjoy them.
Verdict : Good beginner park, but the slopes seem a bit narrow. There are no wide beginner courses at the bottom like some other ski resorts. We had a great time, despite my friend messing up his ankle on the advanced course. I also lost my smartphone. It's still sitting out there on the slopes, so if anyone finds it, let me know! I'm utterly depressed because I know exactly where it is, but I'm miles and miles from the slope.
From March, 2014 To March, 2014
Snow condition on visit:
Late storms brought lots of fresh snow!
Things I liked:
The two parks, one intermediate and one beginner. The 50cm of fresh snow.
Things I didn't like:
The distance between some of the lifts. Losing my phone.