THE wait is over – Niseko Village’s much-anticipated Mizuno no Sawa run is now open to the public.
We have enough snow coverage following the recent storms, so a small group of keen skiers and boarders were lucky enough to poach the first ever tracks of the epic run today. It was the first time the area has been legally rideable for some years.
Unfortunately, due to poor weather conditions, Mizuno no Sawa was then closed after only one group was able to ride through. However, it will reopen whenever winds die down.
Mizuno no Sawa was scheduled to open on New Year’s Day, but due to extreme three-day storm conditions over the New Year break, opening was delayed until today.
Mizuno no Sawa is located to the skier’s right of the Niseko Gondola, marked in yellow as ‘Avalanche Control Operation Area’ on this season’s course map.
Access to the controversial run has been at the centre of debate for years, but this year’s opening will undoubtedly offer 67ha of the best ridable terrain in Niseko.
Despite huge public pressure to open the terrain within Mizuno no Sawa, it has for years been a ‘no-go zone’, off limits to the public due to avalanche risks and government regulations.
The much-anticipated run will offer smiles all-round this winter, thanks to its delicious bowl of long, steep and deep terrain, from open walls to tight tree runs, giant mushrooms, fallen trees and natural booters.
If you want to ski or board Mizuno no Sawa you will be allowed access after a 20-minute safety and awareness lecture to give a rundown on the area, dangers, and off-piste safety tips. Then you will be required to enter and exit the run at specific points in a small group.
Niseko Village says its governance of the Mizuno no Sawa area is for safety of the public, but ‘will not get in the way of a great ski or ride’.
For continued access throughout the season, skiers and riders can pay ¥2000 for a season pass card once they have attended the safety lecture.
Mizuno no Sawa will only be accessible at certain times of the day throughout the season, and this will be dependent on the right safety conditions.
Increased ski patrollers in the area, dynamite blasting, skiers and boarders compacting the slopes, and the public obeying the Niseko Rules should ensure the area is safe to ride this season.
Niseko Village says if you are caught ducking ropes and breaking the rules, the same penalty applies – your pass will be taken.