Stories, pictures and video from the mountains of Hokkaido

General

Riot Skis

For the second half of this winter, I was riding new skis. Thanks to a random meeting in a ski bum bar in Sapporo on New Year’s Eve, I got talking with the owner of Riot Skis. I was wearing an Ezopow hoody and as he’d seen our Instagram and site, he wanted to know about us. In talking, we decided to work together with a view to launching Riot Skis in North America and Europe over the coming years.

Riot Skis are a Japanese company based here in Hokkaido. They make really unique skis which are aimed predominantly at freeride and freestyle. Their main pro rider, Tsubasa ‘TBS’ Tanimura is a style ninja with a unique flow to his skiing that I really haven’t seen in many other skiers. He’s the main influence on the design of the skis, which are super fun to ride.

I’ve been riding the IMK which is the widest ski in the lineup and suited to my preferred playground, the powder and trees of Hokkaido. Currently the models have been designed with the Japanese body shape in mind, so mostly in shorter lengths. We’ve been working on the range, to include longer lengths in all models, and wider designs too. Big things to come.

The biggest thing happening for Riot recently has been signing Canadian pro skier Corey Vanular to the team. This is super exciting and will bring awareness of the brand and the skis to a huge audience. I’ve been a huge fan of Corey’s style ever since he was in the early Level 1 movies from winning the Superunknown contest. His segment in Long Story Short has to go down as one of the most stylish 90 seconds of skiing ever recorded.

As of now, the Riot website is still under construction, but a full launch is imminent. Keep an eye out for Riot Skis in the coming years.

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100 Day Season and an East Hokkaido Roadtrip

April

We haven’t really been riding much recently. We’ve had a couple of visitors, and some weekends of rainy weather. I did have one really good day down at Nakayama Touge last Monday. The park down there is in good shape and due to stay open for the spring period and into May.

Spring Park at Nakayama Touge

I also bagged my 100th day of the season. It’s the second time I’ve managed a 100 day season here in Hokkaido. The last time was in 2011/12 when I got 102 days. I’m hoping to comfortably break that record by the end of the month!

At Sapporo Teine, 100th day for the season.

We missed a weekend skiing when we headed out to Eastern Hokkaido with my brother who was visiting earlier in April. We were lucky with the weather and saw some really spectacular scenery. A few photos:

Kurodake. They say there’s no steep terrain in Hokkaido.

Oakan-dake at sunset with Meakan smoking in the distance

Lake Kussharo from Bihoro Touge. Shari dake in the distance.

Not eastern Hokkaido, but Lake Shikotsu, near Chitose. We hiked Fuppushi-dake straight after picking up my brother from the airport. View of Yotei, Shiribetsu-dake and Rusutsu resort in the distance.

After some crap weather last week, the forecast is looking more promising for the coming weekend. Hoping to get a final lift access day at Teine, and then a park session at Nakayama Touge. After that, we’ll be hiking for turns.


Back to the Snow

We’re  back in Hokkaido. And as you’d expect its snowing. A blizzard was raging last night, giving us around 30-40cm this morning, drifting much deeper in places thanks to the wind.

View from the apartment this morning

 

Snowed in

Walking to work

I’ve been hitting the Greenland for the past couple of nights. Feels great to be back on skis! We’ve got a three day weekend from tomorrow so we’ll probably hit Mount Racey and Teine.

Hitting the park at Greenland


Crap. Injured already.

Broken 4th metacarpal

Not the way I’d planned to start the season. Turned out that ‘sprained’ hand from last weekend is actually broken. I’m going back to the doctor next week and they’ll pin the bone together. I won’t be skiing the weekend immediately after that, and then I’m heading to the UK for Christmas and New Year. So it looks like my season is on hold until early January. Bugger.

4 ski days so far. I’ll have some catching up to do.


The Waiting Game

November 19th 2013

Snow can come and go very quickly in November

After the initial high of getting such a big dump of snow last week, we’re back to the autumn waiting game. Checking weather forecasts and webcams, and hoping for more snow. Hopefully for now the rain has passed. We had a full day and night of heavy rain and thunderstorms, which has washed away alot of snow. The webcam up at Nakayama Touge is at least showing that some snow has survived the downpour, but they still need alot more. The forecast suggests we’re in for some light snow everyday until the weekend, so fingers crossed (I’ve been saying that alot recently) it’ll build up enough for an opening.

Our K-Winter Pass covers 5 ski areas, 3 of which could potentially open this weekend – Nakayama, Sapporo Teine or Rusutsu. We’ll just have to wait and see where we’ll be heading to on Saturday morning.


Winter Making an Early Appearance in Hokkaido

On Monday (November 11th) we woke up to a dusting of snow. Probably not more than 5 centimetres or so, but it was earlier than normal for snow to be falling in town and the forecast looked like we were due for another day or two of cold weather. It’s always good to see the first snow, but I’ve learned over the past few years not to get my hopes up in November, as cold snaps are often followed by warm wet spells.

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The view from the balcony on Monday morning

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5 centimetres on the car

Then on Tuesday morning, we got 35cm of new snow! Things were starting to look very wintery. Thoughts tuned to shredding, and plans were hatched. An early start, turns before work? When’s sunrise? 6:22, that’ll work. It’s on….

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The car on Tuesday morning. 35cm to clear.

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The wintery walk to work