Madarao already has so much snow and so few crowds that you are unlikely to need to get off-resort. But if you are looking for a change of pace, and have a strong sense of adventure you might be looking to get even further off the beaten track and do some hiking!
There is nothing quite like earning your turns, but where are you going to go to find those untouched turns?
You have two main options:
Ask around and find out about some great spots, and grab some topographic maps, and start adventuring.
Take a Back-Country guided tour (see information below about North Nagano Outdoor Sports)
There are more than a few scenic hiking areas around Madarao and Togari Onsen that offer great views on the way up, and fantastic turns on the way down. Your best bet is to ask around to get some advice from some of the local seasonal workers to see if anyone is planning a hike around the time when you want to go. More often than not, there will be someone with local knowledge who will be more than happy to give you the scoop on the best places to ride, taking into account the current weather and snow pack conditions.
You are also going to need some tools, namely topographical gradient maps of the local area. Luckily the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan has published free maps of the entire country. You can find Raicho Lodge and Madarao Kogen here on the gradient maps. In case you are interested, the steps at the front door of our lodge are 974m above the sea level of Tokyo Bay, or TP974 (You can read more about how heights are measured in Japan on the GIA Wiki Page).
Once you have picked somewhere to go and scoped out the maps, it’s essential that you let lodge staff know where you are going, and when you plan to be back. If you don’t get back by the end of the day they can contact the appropriate people. Always carry a phone and make sure you have the number of an English/Japanese speaker you can reach out to.
Another thing to note is that you should be sure to check out NADARE.JP each day. This is the local avalanche forecast and analysis site. It’s worth checking it out even if you cant read Japanese as the risk levels and other important information are all provided in english. Make sure you bookmark it!
If you don’t have your back-country gear with you on this trip, there are a couple of places you can rent equipment from in the Madarao Village. We recommend The Mountain House and Shaggy Yak for snow-shoe, stocks and miscellaneous gear.
Another great option is to go on a back country guided tour. Aki from North Nagano Outdoor Sports is a local from Nagano that knows a heap of secret spots and back country routes around the area. You can get more information about his guided tours here. Don’t forget to mention to them that the team at Raicho Lodge sent you!
North Nagano Outdoor Sports organizes back-country tour which is held at Mt. Madarao. The purpose of our organization is to introduce the wonderful powder snow and provide more adventure to our guests. Madarao mountain resort is famous in powder snow, and provides tree courses that will not let you bore. Our backcountry tour will take you to even more free and adventurous tree run courses! You might imagine the hard hiking up in back country tour, but our tour take the lift and can easily reach to the marvelous view point in 20-30 minutes. Our tour is assembled based on our guests, so that each and everyone could enjoy our place. We can also assemble a tour that is enjoyable for beginners.
Remember, when venturing out into the side or back country, it’s critically important to have the skills necessary to know what you are doing, so that you and those with you can get back safely. The best thing will be that each person in your group has taken an avalanche safety course and a first-aid course, so that you can help yourself and your friends. But most importantly have a great time and take a heap of photos to show the crew when you get back!
Please be sure to carry all your rubbish out so that we can ensure those coming after you can enjoy the same scenic vistas that you did!