Stories, pictures and video from the mountains of Hokkaido

Sapporo Teine

A false start….

Hokkaido went back to autumn after the November snowfall

December 4th 2014

We’re back to the waiting game. After my last post and the excitement of early powder turns, we had a week of waiting, expecting more snow. By the following Saturday the lifts did open at Teine as expected. What wasn’t expected was that we were riding the first chair of the season with the hood down, protecting us from the rain. Not exactly the most stoked we’ve ever been on opening day.

Forced smiles on a rainy first chair of the season

Opening day was ok. Skiing is skiing and is always fun. But with soggy outerwear and snow slow, we didn’t last more than a couple of hours before retreating to the lodge to pore over weather forecasts on our phones and promise ourselves that tomorrow would be better.

A gap in the clouds. The view from Teine is always good, whatever the weather

However, as we were consoling ourselves over a beer that evening, the news came in. Lifts closed until more snow falls. More snow didn’t fall. For another 10 days. A few ski areas in Hokkaido (Kiroro, Kokusai and Kurodake) had enough snow to stay open for that period, albeit with only one or two trails open, but everywhere else – closed.

Which brings us where we are today. Snow is falling, and has been for the past 48 hours or so. Hopefully bases are being rebuilt in the hills and we’ll have enough to get skiing this Saturday. The waiting game sucks.

 

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Kicking off the 2014/15 Season

November 16th. Sapporo Teine

After a disappointing trip out to our local ski hill to find not enough snow to build a kicker or even make turns, I was browsing Instagram on Saturday evening. I knew it had been snowing a bit at Teine, but the pictures I saw showed people scoring deep snow and powder turns. A few texts were exchanged and we quickly decided to head down to Teine for a hike the next morning!

Skinning up the access road that I ran up two weeks ago when it was all gravel!

There were quite a few tracks on the hill by Sunday morning, but we still got our fair share of fresh lines after hiking to the summit. Hiking for an hour is definitely worth it when you can get powder and faceshots in mid-November!

Mid November powder turns!

Clare with cold hands, but a big smile!

Dan looking photogenic in his new outerwear!

Hopefully this’ll bode well for opening day next Saturday. There is about 40-50cm of snow currently, and a bit more is expected to fall in the week. There is the dreaded rain cloud appearing in the forecast for Friday, but that should turn to snow by Saturday morning. So fingers crossed we should have a fun opening weekend!

Ezopow crew kicking off the winter at Teine. (Next time we’ll take that chairlift!)


Pre-Season Hiking

With the season just around the corner, the snow is starting to fall and accumulate on most of the taller mountains around Hokkaido. The past couple of weekends we’ve been hiking in the hills, getting some good training for our legs and enjoying great views of snowy peaks and autumn colours.

October 19th. Mt Teine (1,023m)

Last weekend we hiked Mt Teine. Instead of going up the frontside where the ski area is, we took the hiking trail around the back of the mountain. The trail follows a beautiful valley past a load of waterfalls and then takes a steep course through a boulder field between the cliffs on the backside of Teine. From the summit we had the classic Teine view of the city and Sea of Japan. Further to the north, we could see the snow capped Daisetsuzan range in the distance.

View over the outskirts of Sapporo to the snowcapped Daisetsuzan range

Close up of Asahidake, Hokkaido’s tallest mountain

To the south we saw the peak of Mt Yotei rising above the hills around Jozankei. I took a very similar photo to this back in April when we had a spring day skiing at Teine. There was a fair bit more snow on the hills then!

Ezo Fuji with a light dusting of snow

We climbed one of the large aerials at the summit, which gave us an awesome birds eye view of the ski area and down into the bowls which we’ll be shredding in a couple of months time.

Birds eye view of the old ropeway station and the Teine ski area

October 25th. Sandanyama (1,748m)

Daisetsuzan in the early morning

This weekend we were up in Asahikawa and I went for an early mission down to Tokachidake with original Team Daiso member, Ross Nixon. We only had a few hours, so decided to hike Sandanyama, one of the smaller peaks in the range.

Sandanyama summit under grey skies with Ross Nixon.

Although the hike was short, the surrounding terrain is spectacular. From the top of Sandanyama, Tokachidake and Furanodake towered above us. We had overcast skies and flat light on the way up, but soon after reaching the top, we had a break in the clouds and were treated to views of real alpine gnarly mountains in every direction. A plan has already been hatched to get back here in the early spring for some touring.

Tokachidake 2,077m

Amazing views of the surrounding peaks when the clouds broke

Not long to wait now before the season gets going. We’re expecting snow down to lower levels this week. Last year our first turns were November 13th, lets hope for similar this season……


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.


Spring days at Teine

Sapporo Teine. April 13th

Although the season is winding down and the deep powder days of winter are long gone, a few hills in Hokkaido remain open. Sapporo Teine is open at weekends all the way until early May, and Nakayama Touge’s lift will keep turning as long as there’s snow, sometimes into June!

We had a great day at Teine at the weekend. The snow wasn’t amazing, but for this far into April, we weren’t complaining, especially as the sun was shining and the views were fantastic.

View of Mount Yotei, or Ezo Fuji, from the top of Teine 

We went to check out the bowls, and although there wasn’t powder, the snow was nice spring corn which is a good second best. We weren’t hitting anything crazy, but just riding around and having fun. Once the sun hit the ‘Nature Zone’ it softened up nicely and we spend a good couple of hours lapping the Panorama lift getting some photos and working on the goggle tans.

Mike scoring a new Facebook profile picture

Mt Muine. We hiked this in the autumn. It holds snow well into the summer, so its a target for a spring ski tour.

Spring snow in the bowls

Looking down the Summit Express chair and over the coast to Shokanbetsudake in the distance

With Dan and Mike. Photo thanks to a guy from Tokyo who had hiked from the valley up the summer hiking trail that runs up the backside of the mountain.

Last run of the day through Shangri La in the late afternoon sunlight

The snowpack up in the hills is still very deep so will stick around for a long while, despite the warm spring sunshine that we’re having. We’ll still be riding for a good few weeks to come before we put our skis and boards away! An added bonus from this weekend was the bike ride we squeezed in on Saturday. It was one of those awesome Hokkaido weekends when ski season and cycling season overlap!


Gaper Day at Teine

March 21st

Video from late season Gaper Day at Teine. We had been hoping for sunny weather, but mother nature didn’t cooperate. Still a fun time!