Locals Only March
Here’s the edit from the past few weeks. March in Hokkaido is always good as you still get decent dumps of snow but also more sunny days. And all the tourists have gone home!
Shot at Sapporo Teine, Rusutsu and Yubari Mount Racey
Come in mid-February. Guaranteed pow….. ?
Is what I said to my friends Sam and James when they were planning a trip to visit us in Hokkaido. I should’ve known though. The last time all three of us were on a mountain together was 10 years ago in Whistler. That year, the Pineapple Express hit, giving us rain, wind, and generally crap snow for the majority of our 2 months in BC.
This time would be different though, wouldn’t it? It’s Hokkaido after all. Well, we had a bit of snow, but generally nothing like you’d usually expect for February. Pretty disappointing for Sam and James to have travelled from Hong Kong and the UK respectively for not amazing snow, but we had a good couple of weeks and made the best of a bad snow situation.
Straight from the airport we headed to Mount Racey. Not much powder but we gravitated towards the park like the park-rats we used to be! We were treated to a classic Yubari sunset to welcome the boys to Hokkaido.
We had a good couple of days down in Rusutsu. A little bit of fresh snow to keep the trees interesting and an amazing bluebird day with views of Yotei, Lake Toya and the Pacific Ocean. Plus a sweet night park session, with confidence boosted by the addition of chairlift cans of Sapporo Classic!
We were able to scope out some decent stuff at Teine too. The less obvious lines in the trees and out in the bowls were still fun, even without recent snow. And the park was also always an option!
We had a random half day at the unheard of Bibai Kokusai Ski Hill. (Kokusai means international in Japanese. Interesting choice of name for a one lift ski hill in a dying former mining town!) It actually turned out to be a great time though. We found lots of short but fun lines through the trees, some powder and even a park! And other than a few army dudes in leather boots, we were the only ones there.
Sam headed back to Hong Kong slightly earlier than James, leaving us to have a sweet final park session at Mount Racey. A sunny day, with no crowds had us lapping the park with the essential Go Pro on a pole.
Thanks for coming out to visit boys. Now Sambo, you’ve got all the footage, get working on that edit!!
Yubari Park Session
February 20th, 2015
So February has been pretty crap in terms of snowfall! Not really much more to say than that. We’ve had friends visiting from the UK so have been travelling around trying to get the best out of the bad snow situation. Sometimes, that meant just skiing park! Here’s an edit from a beautiful sunny day lapping the park at Mount Racey
Since the New Year vacation, the weather has been pretty mixed, and quite abnormal for Hokkaido. Warmer temperatures than average and longer gaps between snowfall has been the trend, we even had a very depressing day of rainfall a couple of weeks ago. BUT, we’ve still been able to get a good amount of riding in, and have been able to track down the best snow at the weekends. Not really much text to go with this blog post, just a load of photos, so, here you go…
It seems like the weather is back to a more normal trend for this time of year. Much colder, with regular snowfalls in the forecast. Hopefully that’ll continue. (Till April, preferably!)
Video – Christmas and New Year
Edit from Rusutsu, Sapporo Teine, Kamui Ski Links & Mount Racey
Christmas and New Year in Hokkaido
Dec 20th – Jan 4th. Rusutsu, Teine, Kamui Ski Links and Mount Racey
What an epic couple of weeks! Usually over Christmas and New Year we take a couple of weeks off to travel somewhere outside Japan. This year, we took the time off, but stayed in Hokkaido to travel around with a few friends and ski.
There’s no denying we had a slightly slow start to the season this year, and this was very apparent at Rusutsu over Christmas from the amount of sasa bamboo and tree branches still poking through the snow. But the snow started really cranking when we arrived on Christmas Eve, and just didn’t stop. It got so good that we decided to book another night in a hotel there to squeeze in an extra day skiing as the snow was so damn good.
After Christmas we had friends, James and Daphne, arriving from the UK. We’d lined up a mix of Sapporo before New Year followed by a trip up to Asahikawa for a couple of days in early January.
Initially the snow at Teine was up there with the best snow they’d ever had in Europe, although to us it was decidedly average. We still had fun picking our way through the trees to find decent powder stashes, but unfortunately it wasn’t the best Teine has to offer.
After a big night out on New Years Eve, and a mellow New Years Day, we drove up to Asahikawa. On the first day at Kamui Ski Links the snow was good and a lot lighter than Teine. We hit the backside and the lines down the spine under the gondola. Even with relatively long lines for the gondola, the trees and backside areas remained largely untracked.
By day 2, after a solid night of snowfall Kamui was even better. The snow was really deep and confidence was soaring. Some bigger drops were going down, and pillows were getting boosted with deep soft landings.
Heading back home from Iwamizawa, we caught the negative side of Hokkaido’s insane snowfall. The Expressway was closed and the main north-south road was gridlocked thanks to 1 metre of snowfall in Central Sorachi. Eventually we got home and dug ourselves back into our parking space. Looking around at all the fresh snow, we figured that the following day, the last of the holidays, would be a pretty good time to hit Mount Racey at Yubari.
It turned out to be one of the best days we’ve had in Hokkaido. The snowfall in Iwamizawa area had continued Eastwards and intensified as it hit the mountains at Yubari. The ski area got absolutely pounded and to top it off, the sun came out in the morning to give us the dream combo of snow and sun. Lap after lap on the gondola gave us chest deep blower powder in the trees and incredible faceshots in the steeper terrain in Happy Valley. A perfect day to round off James and Daphne’s trip and one for us to remember for a long time.
I took a load of video over the 2 weeks, and will try to edit it down into something watchable. Hopefully. For now, here’s a mini edit from an insane day at Mount Racey.
Back to ‘work’ and ‘reality’ as of yesterday. But we have a three day weekend coming up and another big snowstorm brewing tomorrow…….
Hokkaido Season Edit
This isn’t all skiing, but a general Hokkaido winter edit, by Dan Andrews. Nice work Dan, great edit. Shame about the Coldplay soundtrack.
March video edit
My friend Sam Brotherwood visited Hokkaido for 5 days in mid March. He just finished putting together an edit with the footage he got.
Here it is. Enjoy.
Final Park Session at Mount Racey
The park at Mount Racey has been getting bigger and better as the season progresses. Unfortunately though, all good things come to an end, and this weekend was Racey’s closing weekend. We’ve had some great days in the powder and the park at Yubari this year, and we finished off with a beautiful sunny day lapping the park.
Mike was hitting the biggest kicker in the park with ease by the end of the day, but it took him a few slams to get it right…
The snow has really suffered from all the sunshine we’ve had over the past week or so. There were quite alot of bare patches showing through and one really long stretch of grass, which I just had to ski!
It was a wicked final session at Racey. It’s a real hidden gem that very few visitors know about. We haven’t had a bad day there all winter!
Mount Racey Powder Day
Feb 1st 2014
We had planned to go to Teine on Saturday, but the forecast had strong winds which we thought might close the upper lifts. So we decided to go to Racey, which is more sheltered from the weather. As soon as we arrived, we realised we’d made a good decision. Probably 30cm of fresh snow had fallen overnight, ontop of a load of untouched snow from the previous snowfall. We lapped the gondola, finding new lines filled with deep light snow.
After a late lunch we hit the park for an hour or so. It’s starting to look really decent with 2 very nice sized kickers and some creative jibs. I’m looking forward to a few sunny park days over there in March.
Racey isn’t a particularly well known ski area, especially with foreigners. So when it does snow, there’s never any competition for fresh tracks. It’s not huge, but it has some really decent lines and bowls if you know where to go. It’s a real hidden gem, but don’t tell anyone!
Teine and Racey Again
This was more or less a repeat of last weekend. If it ain’t broke, right?! Saturday it was Teine, with a crew of mostly skiers, plus Toshi holding it down for the snowboarders. Weather was pretty decent so we had great views over the city and the bay. The snow was still nice and deep, especially further out in the bowls.
There was no new snow on Saturday night, but plenty of sunshine in the forecast for Sunday so we decided to head for Mount Racey. We mostly stayed on piste and in the park. The incredible weather more than made up for the lack of fresh snow.
Video edit from the weekend. The Africa Edit
A Deep Weekend
The January snow keeps coming. We had a three day weekend and each day the snow got deeper and deeper. This is what Central Hokkaido is all about.
Saturday 11th at Mount Racey in Yubari, a town famous for $10,000 melons and a bankrupt local government. It doesn’t often get as much snow as elsewhere, so I usually only go there in the spring for their excellent terrain park. Saturday was different though.
On Sunday we headed to Sapporo Teine. It was dumping all day. Poor visibility meant we only ventured into bowls 1 and 2, but we still got fresh lines well into the afternoon. The camera was pretty much useless in the bad weather.
Monday was back to Teine with Grady and Meghan. The visibility was better so we ventured further along the summit ridge. Bowls 4 and 5 were chest deep and we had our choice of lines all day.
It was good to meet another skier, Urban from Switzerland. He’s finished his post at Hokkaido University and is taking a month off to ski. Great timing!
An awesome weekend, and the deepest turns of the season so far. The snow looks set to continue, so next weekend should be equally good!