Off-piste skiers obliged to use GPS app at Tomamu ski resort

This winter, the Hoshino Resort Tomamu Ski Resort is obliging users of off-piste areas, which are limited to experienced skiers, to register with the ‘Yukiyama’ GPS app on their smartphones. The appeal of the restricted areas is that it allows skiers to ski in an almost pristine natural environment, but the visibility is not as good as that on other groomed slopes. The use of the app is intended to help rescue people quickly in the event of an accident, and to help prevent such accidents. According to the resort, there have been rescue requests from lost skiers in the past.

 ‘Yukiyama’ was introduced in late January. Those who wish to use the restricted areas must first inform staff at a special counter at the resort and obtain a password for the app. They are also required to wear helmets that will be loaned to them. “We hope that the GPS app will be used to locate people in case of injury or accident, leading to prompt rescues,” said a spokesperson.

 Meanwhile, every year in Hokkaido, backcountry skiing accidents occur in areas outside those controlled by ski resorts. In some cases, it can take almost a full day from the time of the accident to the time of rescue because the exact location of the person in distress is not known.

 Tomamu Ski Resort does not condemn backcountry skiing itself. In restricted areas, they offer tours for novice backcountry skiers. However, the ski resort also displays search and rescue costs (per hour) in the event of a person becomes lost outside the controlled areas. The fees are clearly stated as being “from 20,000 yen per patrol member and 50,000 yen per snowmobile,” and that those using the areas are responsible for their own safety in the event of an accident.

 Hoshino Resort Tomamu states “We want to preserve the culture of skiing and enjoying the natural terrain under the conditions created based on domestic and international rules and the user’s own responsibility.”


Hoshino Resort Tomamu Ski Resort