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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
November 14th 2014
Finally, we’re getting the first real snowfall in Iwamizawa (and all across Hokkaido.) It snowed through last night and is continuing now. About 10cm has accumulated. If the forecast is correct and it continues for the next few days, we might get some skiing in somewhere this coming weekend….
Skis are waxed and ready, season passes are bought, winter tyres are on the car. All we need is more snow!
Perched on the pass between Sapporo and Rusutsu, Nakayama Touge is one of Hokkaido’s smaller ski areas. Thanks to its position in the mountains, it is usually one of the first hills to open and almost always the last to close. It’s somewhere we rarely go, except in the autumn, when they have decent early snow, and late season, when they have a legit terrain park. It only has a single chairlift and a short, relatively mellow slope.
At this time of year, and with the warm weather during the week, I was more than happy to make the drive out to Nakayama to get our first lift served skiing of the year. With only a few hills open (Kokusai and Rusutsu being the other two options) it was always going to be busy. The lift line was 10-15 minutes or so for a chairlift ride of about 5 minutes!
We got there early, so the snow was still decent through the morning. Boot deep powder at the edge of the piste. Lots of lumps and rollers all over the place so we had fun jumping around and making the most of the short run.
We were riding with Hattie, Dan and Mike who also got the K-Pass this year. Hopefully this’ll be our regular crew for the winter.
A fun morning, good to get back on the snow and start finding our feet again. Hopefully after some rain on Monday, we’ll get some decent snow through the week. Teine should be open next Saturday, so we’ll be heading there if mother nature cooperates…
November 19th 2013
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.
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.
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….