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Miyagi Zao Sumikawa Snow Park: Snowcat Skiing & Snowboarding in Japan's Backcountry

Miyagi Zao Sumikawa Snow Park: Snowcat Skiing & Snowboarding in Japan's Backcountry

Date published: 14 November 2019
Last updated: 16 January 2020

At M’s GUIDE & SCHOOL, located at Miyagi Zao Sumikawa Snow Park, you can join in what are called the “Cat Tours” - one-way rides to the top of the mountain via a snowcat.

On these popular Japan ski tours, you will ride a Snowcat - a truck-sized, fully tracked vehicle - to the top of Mt. Katta. From here you can the choose between the Snowshoe Tour, where you can walk along the icy fields wearing snowshoes, or the Back Country Tour, where you travel using skis or snowboards (advanced reservations required).

For both tours, you will be accompanied by a guide. Tours are seasonally available from late December to late March.

Applying for a Snowcat at Miyagi Zao Sumikawa Snow Park

Applying for a Snowcat at Miyagi Zao Sumikawa Snow Park

When we arrive at the school at the top of the slope, we head to the reception, fill out the entry forms, and listen to the explanation as provided by the accompanying guide.

You can rent backcountry equipment (backpacks, snowshoes, beacons, and retractable poles), as well as skis, snowboards, and snow wear. Since you can rent anything you need here, it is convenient for people who don’t have any gear of their own. Once we are ready, we follow our guide out to the snowcat.

Getting on the Snowcat

Getting on the Snowcat

We store our skis, snowboards, and snowshoes in the basket attached to the side of the snowcat, and off we go!

It is an easy ride physically, as the snowcat takes us up the mountain. It takes about 40 to 50 minutes to arrive at the 9th station of Mt. Katta. When we get off, we follow the guide’s instructions and get ready for departure.

Miyagi Zao Sumikawa Snow Park Tour #1: Walking Snowshoe Tour through Frost-Covered Trees

Miyagi Zao Sumikawa Snow Park Tour #1: Walking Snowshoe Tour through Frost-Covered Trees

The Snowshoe Juhyogen Course. This Snowshoe “Juhyogen” walking tour begins at a different location from the “Juhyo Kansho” (frost-covered tree viewing) tour. On this tour, you will walk through the icy fields in snowshoes, while also taking in the view of the surrounding frost-covered trees. Following your guide, you travel a new path over fresh, new snow.

On this tour, you can choose your course according to the conditions of the day, as well as your level of experience.

Miyagi Zao Sumikawa Snow Park Tour #2: Back Country Course According to Experience Level

There are several courses to choose from: the Entry Course (5,300 yen/approx. 2 hrs), begins from the slope where you first got off, or you can try the Step-Up Course (7,300 yen/approx 3 hrs), where you can hike back up on your own after coming down.

There is also the Original Course (9,300 yen/3hrs), which is chosen for you by a veteran tour guide according to the conditions of that day.

As you can see there are a variety of courses available, so feel free to consult with the guide at the time of application to find one best suited to you.

Because Miyagi Zao is located inland, you can enjoy the low-moisture powdered snow unique to this area. You will have fun and feel the excitement as you watch the snow kicked up right before your eyes as you ride down the slope.

Just one ride down is enough to become addicted, so if you want to continue longer, I highly recommend the Step-Up Course, where you can hike back up again and again.

Soaring above the icy trees!

Our path along the Back Country Tour. It feels great to create a fresh path in a snowy field. Looking back, I feel even more impressed just knowing I created that path.

This tour takes you down the slopes, and finishes back at the school. After enjoying the fresh, powdery snow of Sumikawa Snow Park, you will find that this tour is definitely one you will want to experience again.

  • Miyagi Zao Ski Resort Sumikawa Snow Park
    みやぎ蔵王スキー場 すみかわスノーパーク
    • Address Kuraishidake-Kokuyuchinai, Togatta-onsen, Zao-machi, Katta-gun, Miyagi-ken, 〒989-0916
    • Nearest Station Access to Miyagi Zao Sumikawa Snow Park

      Bus:
      About 2 hours from Tohoku Shinkansen Sendai Station East Exit via paid “Juhyo” Shuttle Bus (reservations required)

      Car:
      Via Tohoku Expressway: Take Shiroishi IC towards Togatta Onsen to the Ski Resort (approx 45 min); Take Murata IC towards Togatta Onsen to Ski Resort (approx 40 min)
      Via Yamagata Expressway: Take Miyagi Kawasaki IC towards Togatta Onsen to Ski Resort (approx 45 min).
    • Phone Number 0224-87-2610

    Hours: 9:00-16:00
    For snowcat reservations: https://msguide-mt.com

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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