Stories, pictures and video from the mountains of Hokkaido

Posts tagged “springskiing

100 Day Season and an East Hokkaido Roadtrip

April

We haven’t really been riding much recently. We’ve had a couple of visitors, and some weekends of rainy weather. I did have one really good day down at Nakayama Touge last Monday. The park down there is in good shape and due to stay open for the spring period and into May.

Spring Park at Nakayama Touge

I also bagged my 100th day of the season. It’s the second time I’ve managed a 100 day season here in Hokkaido. The last time was in 2011/12 when I got 102 days. I’m hoping to comfortably break that record by the end of the month!

At Sapporo Teine, 100th day for the season.

We missed a weekend skiing when we headed out to Eastern Hokkaido with my brother who was visiting earlier in April. We were lucky with the weather and saw some really spectacular scenery. A few photos:

Kurodake. They say there’s no steep terrain in Hokkaido.

Oakan-dake at sunset with Meakan smoking in the distance

Lake Kussharo from Bihoro Touge. Shari dake in the distance.

Not eastern Hokkaido, but Lake Shikotsu, near Chitose. We hiked Fuppushi-dake straight after picking up my brother from the airport. View of Yotei, Shiribetsu-dake and Rusutsu resort in the distance.

After some crap weather last week, the forecast is looking more promising for the coming weekend. Hoping to get a final lift access day at Teine, and then a park session at Nakayama Touge. After that, we’ll be hiking for turns.

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Locals Only March

Here’s the edit from the past few weeks. March in Hokkaido is always good as you still get decent dumps of snow but also more sunny days. And all the tourists have gone home!

Shot at Sapporo Teine, Rusutsu and Yubari Mount Racey


Rusutsu Pond Skim

March 22nd, 2015

With the season coming to an end and temperatures creeping up, it’s pond skim time! Rusutsu was hosting the ‘Splash Cup’ so we headed on down on a beautiful bluebird day to join the party.

Some of the competitors lining up

The ‘pond’ was more like a paddling pool, so didn’t present too much of a challenge. The water looked really icy though, so none of us fancied taking an unwanted dip. Everyone only got one judged run, so we had to lay it all down on our first try.

Mike looking very stylish

Yours truly

Andy Foster, superman-ing out

Dan, spraying the judges

More by luck than any real skill, I managed a 180 out of the pond and that was enough to score me 2nd place! I was stoked, and quickly eyed up the prize table, looking at six packs of Sapporo Classic, tshirts, vouchers and all kinds of swag. My prize – a second hand snowboard, with LED lights in the base. Kind of cool, but not much use to me. Luckily I was able to explain this to the judges who were happy to exchange the snowboard for the aforementioned sixers of biru.

Power rangers presenting me with a LED light up snowboard. Very Japan.

The day continued with a few slushy runs through the trees, and lots of grilled meat in the yakiniku area set up next to the pond skim. An excellent spring day.


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