New gondola, mountain center in Hirafu
As a resident of Niseko there’s always some new development to see, but there hasn’t been much change to basic infrastructure on the mountain lately. This summer, however, we’ve watched as construction workers drove cranes and tractors up the mountain to install shiny silver poles for a new, improved gondola, but up until recently there hasn’t been much else to look at, since cloths and scaffolds covered all the construction.
Well, the covers have come off the buildings! Both the gondola base and summit stations are bigger and renewed, there is a new mountain center right near the gondola, and the new cars for the gondola have arrived. I took a trip up the mountain to take a few pictures. They fit 8 people and offer fantastic views, as you can probably see in the pictures below.
On our way down, we had to take a short detour, so I snapped a shot of the new gondola station with all its little cabins lined up. If you look behind the station, the trail up to Miharashi is visible. Since it used to be an immediate right to start climbing that trail, you can really tell how much larger the station is.
From the mountain, you can see the Grand Hirafu Mountain Center below, which really looks great from the slopes. I’m sure that it will make a fantastic focal point and can’t wait to see it lit up at night. The bigger triangular windows are designed to frame in Mt. Yotei on one side and Mt. Niseko-Annupuri on the other. Looks good!
Now this isn’t something we’ll really see the results of for a couple of years, but it’s still pretty exciting. These holes at the top of Hirafu’s main street are the first step in a plan to bury all of the power lines and install road heating along the entire length of the road. We won’t see the results until the very end (they’ll dig holes and install all the conduits before starting to pull replacement cable), but it’s something to look forward to. It will make a huge difference in the feel of Hirafu in the years to come.
Less than a month until skiing starts!