A Winter Wonderland
Nestled on the side of Nishimeya village, Mt. Iwaki is the symbol of the Tsugaru Shirakami mountain district. With a maximum height of 1625m, it may be a small mountain, but due to its wide base, conical shape and independent standing crest, it has been dubbed the Fuji of Tsugaru. Mt. Iwaki’s summit is split into 3 peaks. Depending on which direction you look at it from, its shape can completely change. In 1966 the Tsugaru Iwaki Skyline lift was extended 80 percent of the way up the mountain. Mt. Iwaki has great powder for skiers and snowboarders in the winter and dynamic mountain biking courses to enjoy in the spring. Despite this, Mt. Iwaki remains one of Japan’s few remaining secret snow areas. It also has ten popular onsens at its base.
The close by Mt.Hakkoda which contains a gondola capable of taking riders to the mountains peak at 1300m is a bit more reputable. However, this does mean that runs are over crowded. Entry for Mt.Iwaki’s back country skiing is quite strictly regulated, meaning there are lesser number of skiers leaving you to enjoy the amazing powder snow in peace. Hyakuzawa Ski Resort and Naqua Shirakami Ski Resort have many courses available during the winter season, but also offer some extra fun for those willing to hike up past the resort’s summit. Track-free powder snow is available for those willing to make the extra effort. Mt.Iwaki is amazing for steep slopes, shutes, giant bowls and back country riding. However, due to the inherent dangers and risks of riding on unchecked snow, back country riding requires a guide.