Stories, pictures and video from the mountains of Hokkaido

Posts tagged “ski

Video – Christmas and New Year

Edit from Rusutsu, Sapporo Teine, Kamui Ski Links & Mount Racey

 

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Winter is back!

Snow rolling in from the Sea of Japan

December 6th and 7th. Kiroro and Sapporo Teine

Finally! After seeing most of our snow disappear over the past week or two, winter returned and we had our first full weekend riding for the season. On Saturday, we hit Kiroro. First time we’ve been there for a couple of years despite always promising ourselves we’ll go. The Otaru area has been receiving most of the snow so far so we were hopeful of good conditions. Heading inland over the mountain pass from Otaru and down to Kiroro was like travelling forward in time to mid January – heavy snowfall and big snowbanks on the side of the road. The snow on the hill was awesome, deep and light. Still a little bit too much sasa to venture too far off of the marked trails, but it was knee deep on piste so we were more than happy!

On piste at Kiroro!

Dan spraying snow

I’ve said this too many times, but we really have to head down to Kiroro mid season when the whole mountain is open and the snow is really cranking!

On Sunday, on our way to Sapporo Teine, we got the word that the lifts were shut because of the strong winds. This is the biggest drawback for Teine, as it’s so close to the sea, it often gets really strong winds. Waiting in the lodge with a big crew, a decision had to be made between heading out to do something, or staying inside for morning beers. Mike, Cory and I decided on hiking a small way up the hill and building a kicker. We found a nice little windlip, built a takeoff and set up a pole jam type feature. We were soon joined by our buddy from Mount Racey, Shinya. Even though the landing only had sketchy snow cover, some decent tricks were going down.

Cory, shifty to late 180 on the pole jam

Eventually the lifts opened up, so everyone got out for the afternoon. We had nice little patches of powder in the trees and under the lifts. The sun came out too at points, so the mood was good. Especially for those that got stuck into the birus at 10:00am!

The crew enjoying an afternoon shred in the sun

Dan and Clare in front, Beth and Kyla behind

Video from the weekend:


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.

 


Getting stoked for the coming ski season

The K-Winter Pass. Good for 6 months worth of Hokkaido shredding

Our Season Passes arrived in the mail at the weekend. Usually we’d go up to Teine to pick them up in person, but because we pre-paid for them at the end of last season, they were sent directly to us. We also got 10,000 yen’s worth of food tickets, so that’s about 10 katsu-currys or omu-rices!

We’ll still be heading to Teine this weekend for a hike, which is kind of a pre season ritual. The stoke is building, there’s snow on the peaks of a few mountains around Hokkaido now. It won’t be long….

Snow in Daisetsuzan


First Snowfall of the 2014/15 Season!

Asahidake, September 16th 2014

Asahidake’s webcam this afternoon

I think this is the earliest first snowfall we’ve had in the past 5 years that I’ve been in Hokkaido. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, winter is still a looooong way off. Yesterday, less than 40km from the summit of Asahidake, the Ezopow crew were enjoying the sunshine and jumping into a mountain lake!

Not quite winter yet! Photo by Gin Saito

But its definitely cool to see the peaks covered in a little dusting of snow. In around two months time, we’ll hopefully be getting our first turns of the winter.

Asahidake and Daisetsuzan from Asahikawa.
Photo by Andy Seward


Hiking for the final turns of the season

Muine-yama. May 2014

View of Yotei-san from Muine

Although all the ski hills in Hokkaido have now been closed for a good few weeks, there’s still snow on the higher mountains. In some places more than enough snow for skiing. From my balcony on a clear day, I get a view of Muine-yama which is the far side of Sapporo and about 1,460m tall. The snow always sticks around on Muine well into the spring, so with a sunny weekend in the forecast, we decided to head out to Jozankei and hike with skis and snowboards for our final turns of the season.

The view of Muine-yama from my balcony

Leaving home with the sunrise at about 4am got us to the trailhead by 6 ish and gave us plenty of time to get up to the snowline and hopefully to the summit. We were pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t long before we reached the snow and I could get my skis on. Skinning is a far more efficient means of uphill travel than hiking with skis strapped to a pack.

Skis on and a quick and easy skin to the top

Dan and Mike making slightly slower progress but enjoying the views

We made quick progress up the ridgeline to the summit, enjoying the incredible views in every direction. Once we got to the top it was a quick Snickers before skis and boards were on for a few very pleasant runs on perfect spring corn snow.

Happy days

Mike heading down from the summit

Perfect spring corn

The large snowfield we had to play on

A little further down the snow was a bit more sun and wind affected, but we found a few great windlips and rollers that we shaped into a bit of lip for our last jump session of the year.

Mike going for spins

Staying cautious with safety grabs

After getting down below the snowline it was a bit of a hack through the bushes and bamboo to make our way back to the car, but totally worth it. A great bonus day of skiing and a nice way to end another amazing Hokkaido winter.

A view back towards our old friend Teine


Finishing the Season at Nakayama Touge

Nakayama Touge

Yotei from Nakayama Touge

We finished off the 2013/14 season just before Golden Week with a park session down at Nakayama. This is where we had our first lift served day almost six months ago. A very different vibe down there this time. T-shirts, sunglasses and park hits were the theme of the day. The park setup was looking really nice, a solid jib line and small rhythm jumps high up, leading down to a couple of nice large step down jumps lower down.

Park hits and slush. Good times

Two large step downs at the bottom of the park

It was fairly busy with local riders getting their last fix for the season. There was some real talent on show, especially some of the young rippers, probably half our age but going twice as big!

Local kids lining up to hit the bottom kickers

We had a good days riding though, slowly building up to hitting the biggest features and finishing off the season on a high.

Mike spinning and getting corked

Dub 10 from┬áRiot Skis Rider Tsubasa ‘TBS’ Tanimura

The old favourite, 360 mute. I’ll learn some new tricks next year, definitely

Down at the bottom of the slope were a load of different demo tents and the smell of grilled meat wafting from the numerous yakiniku BBQs. A very pleasant way to spend a spring day.

Demo tents and barbeques

So that’s it for the resort skiing, but definitely not the end of the season. There’s still turns to be earned with some spring touring. Even with the super warm weather we’ve had in Hokkaido through May, the snow sticks around in the hills for weeks after the lifts stop turning. Stay tuned!