Stories, pictures and video from the mountains of Hokkaido

Posts tagged “ski

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.

Grady getting the scenic shot dropping into Bowl 1

View over Ishikari Bay

Top of Bowl 4

The park has been set up at the top of Highland, and for a change, it doesn’t suck!

Grady getting deep

Dropping pillows

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.

Panorama from the top

Hitting rollers

Still a few pow stashes to be had

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.

Cold light Hokkaido powder at Mount Racey

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.

Clare in bowl 2 at Teine

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.

A glimpse of blue sky as Grady drops into another pillow line

Deep in bowl 4.5

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!

Urban on the mellow run out to the traverse

Superhero snow!

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!


Greenland is Open!

A terrain park and a theme park. Greenland has everything!

Iwamizawa Greenland (also sometimes called White Park) is one of the dozens of local ski hills to be found all over Hokkaido. Almost every larger town has a hill with one or two lifts, cheap or free lift tickets and usually night skiing. Iwamizawa actually has two ski hills, the other being Haginoyama, whose claim to fame is that it’s ‘Japan’s widest ski hill.’

Greenland is by far my favourite local hill. It has a nice steep slope, a decent park, no crowds and being in Iwamizawa it gets a ton of snow.

The view from Greenland towards Sapporo and the sea in the distance

The glow of the floodlights a couple of nights ago alerted me to the fact that Greenland has now opened for the season. Normally I’d be there after work, lapping the kickers and getting the odd powder run between the trees.

Getting faceshots after work

Sliding sideways

Not the case this winter though. My hand is still pretty well bandaged up, with four pins supporting my broken matacarpal, so skiing is still off the cards until January. Reports of deep powder from friends hitting various ski hills last weekend were tough to hear! The doc says my op went well though and so far things are healing up nicely. I’m itching to get skiing again!

Latest X Ray!

 

 

 


North to the Links

Kamui Ski Links, December 7th 2013

We headed north this weekend, following the snow. Driving up through Sunagawa and Takikawa, the snow was pounding down so it looked like we’d made the right call.

Driving north through a classic Sorachi snowstorm

Arriving at Kamui Ski Links, near Asahikawa, there was still a real lack of snow low down, but higher up we could see the trees loaded down with fresh snow. Kamui is a gem of a hill, with loads of tree skiing and rarely any crowds. We know the place well having spent a lot of time there and we always seem to run into a few Asahikawa locals who are keen to shred. Today we met up with the southern hemisphere boys, Ross from South Africa and Andy from Oz.

Looking up from the base at Kamui. Lots of bare patches still showing.

From the top of the gondola, only a couple of runs were officially open. Of course, they were tracked out very quickly. But, turning left out of the gondola and ducking the rope gave us several options of wide open untracked trails, running all the way down to the base of the mountain.

Ross powering down the closed trails

Sending a 180 off a cat track

Despite the sketchy bottom section, our boards and skis remained unscathed. We continued to lap the gondola getting fresh lines every time.

Andy dragging a hand

Anything the snowboarders can do…

Clare getting in on the action

Slash turns in deep powder

An awesome day, but sadly my last for 2013. Operation on Thursday then a trip to the UK. We’ll be back in January, all healed up and ready to go. By then, the snow will have filled in all of the off piste areas, and we’ll be hitting some genuine Ezo pow!

Heading north after Kamui through northern Daisetsuzan. Beautiful empty landscape.


Opening Weekend at Teine

Sapporo Teine, November 30th & December 1st

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Riding fakie overlooking the coast (Photo by Dan Andrews)

Not a bad couple of days up at Teine. Far more terrain available than last weekend at Nakayama, and no crowds. In fact, we didn’t have to wait in a liftline once.

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Looking up at the summit from the Highland Lodge

A good crew from the Hokkaido Cartel came up, stoked to be getting the season underway.

Crew from the Hokkaido Cartel (Photo by Dan Andrews)

The peer pressure got the better of me on Saturday morning, leading to a crashed front flip and injured hand, meaning I rode the rest of the weekend no poles Harlaut style!

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‘Get upside down by Christmas’ was the challenge laid down over a few beers back in September

There’s a lot of sasa (bamboo leaves) still above the snow, but we found some decent powder stashes under the chair. The real highlight of Teine is the summit ridge, below which a number of bowls and chutes give some of the best steep skiing in Hokkaido. It’ll be a couple of weeks before they’re filled in with enough snow to be rideable.

Shredding pow no poles

Rory Bryce


Nakayama Touge, November 23rd 2013

Nakayama Touge. Busy carpark and cars parked all along the access road.

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!

Quite a wait for the lift. 10-15 minutes, for a short uplift.

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.

Having fun on the small lumps and rollers

Soft snow in places

Clare, first day back on skis this winter

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.

The K-Pass Crew. From left Hattie, Mike, Dan and Clare.

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…


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.


First Turns of 2013/14

Iwamizawa Greenland. November 13th 2013

A 6:00am start for some turns before work. I headed down to Greenland with Dan and Mike. The snow was quite deep and crusty which made hiking a challenge for our unfit legs.

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Dawn at Iwamizawa Greenland

A short steep hike up the small bowl to the lookers right of the main lifts gave us a nice pitch for our first turns of the winter. Not the best snow, or location, but considering the date, we were happy with it. And for Mike, starting his first winter in Hokkaido, this was one of the deepest powder days he’s ever had! He’s in for a treat this winter.

Skis on and ready to slide

Skis on and ready to slide

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Dan (right) and Mike (left)

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First action shot of the winter!

We did a run down the side bowl, and then back to the top and down the front slope. It looked like someone had made a jump on one of the kicker mounds the previous day, so we headed over to hit that, with mixed results. ‘Unfortunately’ the GoPro video didn’t come out so there’s no footage of our jumps.

Not a bad start to the winter, but looking at the forecast, we’ll be waiting a little while for our next session. Hopefully more snow will arrive in time for Rusutsu and Sapporo Teine to open on the weekend of November 23rd/24th.

Stay tuned.

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