Rusutsu ski resort review

View of Mt Yotei from Rusutsu

Rusutsu Overview

Rusutsu kicks ass. It’s in the same neighbourhood as Niseko (on a clear day they’re visible from one another across the flank of Mount Yotei) so gets the same awesome snow, but it isn’t nearly as busy so you get more of that lovely dry powder to yourself!

Mountain stats
Highest lifted point: 994m
Lowest skiable point: 400m
Vertical drop: 524m*
Lifts: 18
Runs: 37
Total run length: 42km
Longest run: 3.5km
Ski area size: 523 hectares

(* = max vertical drop available for a single run; not the same as the difference between the highest and lowest points, as those are in two different areas and not directly connected by skiable terrain)

Homepage and piste map

Skiing at Rusutsu

As with most Hokkaido resorts, the terrain at Rusutsu ( ルスツ ) isn’t particularly steep or challenging; yet it has the best tree skiing I’ve ever experienced (along with Teine). If you’re staying in Sapporo, I’d always recommended Rusutsu as a day-trip ahead of Niseko – it’s a bit closer so you waste less time on the bus, and I always had a much better day at Rusutsu than I did at Niseko. On the other hand, if you’re staying in Niseko I’d recommend taking at least one day to head over to Rusutsu – you can usually arrange a transfer through your accommodation in Niseko, or you can just use the public Donan Bus ( 道南バス ). Another option is to hit Rusutsu en route from Niseko to Sapporo, taking the morning Donan bus, shoving your stuff in a locker at Rusutsu while you hit the slopes, and then taking the evening bus from Rusutsu to Sapporo station – schedule here, but make sure to double check the departure time at the customer service desk before you start riding!. I did this on a short Hokkaido ski tour while I was living in Kyoto (a tour with a very eventful return leg featuring a cancelled ferry, a scissor-wielding lunatic, and the grave of a legendary hero)

A downside to Rusutsu is that it probably isn’t a very good place to stay. There isn’t really a resort there, just a couple of massive hotels; if you’re on a budget then it definitely isn’t an option, but even if you do stay there it’s probably extremely boring once you finish riding for the day. The weird and wonderful stuff in the main base area hotel (an ersatz Swiss Alpine village, various themed restaurants and shops selling random tat, and a demonic singing tree) is quite amusing while you’re waiting for the bus back to Sapporo, but probably not for much longer than that!

The ersatz Alpine village inside the Rusutsu hotel

The weird Swiss village scene in the hotel

Sweet powder spots at Rusutsu

The sweet spots you want to be hitting are basically anywhere through the trees on Mount Isola; cutting into the trees from the top lift station down to the bottom of the no.3 and no.4 quad chairs will see you floating in deep pow and putting in lovely big turns through the nicely spaced trees.

Rusutsu access information

Coming from Sapporo, get the combo bus & lift ticket from the tourist information travel desk in JR Sapporo station (north-west corner of the main concourse). From Niseko, ask your accommodation if they can arrange transfers, or use the local Donan Bus.

Summary

Rusutsu isn’t a place for a challenging day’s riding, but it’s an absolutely brilliant place for that heavenly feeling all riders crave of floating in the driest and fluffiest of powder, with off-piste freshies available all day long. It has never let me down.

Resources and Useful Links for Riding at Rusutsu

Search Agoda for hotel deals in Sapporo, and the hotels at Rusutsu are here.

Travel insurance with snow sports cover from World Nomads. Their flexible insurance can be bought even if you’re already in Japan – I once found out the hard way (in Thailand) how important this can be!

Homepage and piste map

Snow Forecast for Rusutsu (snow-forecast.com does exactly what it says on the tin – my go to for accurate snow forecasts!)

Use Hyperdia to work out the train schedules in Japan (guide to using Hyperdia here)

Click the banner to pre-order a JR Pass for a 40-dollar saving (read more on whether you should get a JR Pass):

JR pass banner

Have you been to Rusutsu? What did you think? Does my information need updating? Do you have any questions about skiing in Hokkaido? Leave a comment below!

This page contains affiliate links i.e. if you use them to book accommodation or purchase travel insurance, 4corners7seas will receive a commission from Agoda or World Nomads; this commission comes out of their profit margin at no extra cost to you. I’m linking to them because I know, use, and trust their products. If you’ve found this page helpful, please consider using my links; thank you in advance should you choose to do so!


Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.

*

Top