After a nice powder day at Niseko, our next day was going to be a blue bird, and since I had booked a private guide with Niseko Photography, after chatting with them we agreed that our chances of getting fresh powder on the next day, weren't going to be very good. Elsie ended up offering to upgrade our guided tour to a private cat tour on nearby private land and with a partner they work with for such occasions. To be honest, it wasn't cheap, around $500 per person, or half the price of a heli skiing day where you get more vertical and steeper runs, but this was by far our best option for the day, and Niseko Photography provided good guides, one of which also took professional pictures of us, which were excellent (a very nice bonus)
If you're curious about slope and vertical, you can use this:
This shows we had 10 runs, one was a ride back down away from where we were on less steep terrain and the first few runs were short. The longest runs were 210m vertical and a total vertical of around 1500 meeters. For comparison, heli skiing usually costs $1000 for 10,000ft vertical in a day on typically steeper terrain. So no, we didn't get the best vertical deal ever, but there was no heli option available when we were there, and despite the limited vertical and slope, we still had a good time, the pictures being a great bonus.
The minus was that the snowcat was old and slow, and took a long time to painstakenly get around via a slope at low pitch it could barely climb (and our first cat overheated and died, and had to be replaced during the day).
That said, we had some good runs:
Jeff, a coworker, joined us for the trip
nearby Mt Yotei volcano
our guide photographer
our tired little snowcat
our new snowcat after the first one broke
Some great pictures from our guide:
the powder was very nice, I could grab it on the way down
there also were a few natural ramps, great job getting this shot
So, despite the cat failure, we got 10 runs (the first ones were a bit shorter) plus an extra one I got by climbing up a steep slope while waiting for the replacement snowcat to show up. Below are 3 different run videos (in 4K if you watch full screen):