Stories, pictures and video from the mountains of Hokkaido

Posts tagged “snowboard

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 Riot 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!


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!


Final Park Session at Mount Racey

March 29th/30th

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.

Shinya 540 blunt

Rory on the flat box

Wallride

Downrail

Mike getting comfortable in the air

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…

Eating snow

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!

Not always Ezo pow!

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!