Stories, pictures and video from the mountains of Hokkaido

Posts tagged “winter

Come in mid-February. Guaranteed pow….. ?

Is what I said to my friends Sam and James when they were planning a trip to visit us in Hokkaido. I should’ve known though. The last time all three of us were on a mountain together was 10 years ago in Whistler. That year, the Pineapple Express hit, giving us rain, wind, and generally crap snow for the majority of our 2 months in BC.

Last time we were all together on a mountain was Whistler in 2005

This time would be different though, wouldn’t it? It’s Hokkaido after all. Well, we had a bit of snow, but generally nothing like you’d usually expect for February. Pretty disappointing for Sam and James to have travelled from Hong Kong and the UK respectively for not amazing snow, but we had a good couple of weeks and made the best of a bad snow situation.

Welcome to Yubari, James

Straight from the airport we headed to Mount Racey. Not much powder but we gravitated towards the park like the park-rats we used to be! We were treated to a classic Yubari sunset to welcome the boys to Hokkaido.

I’m still doing the same old school tricks. James’ photo skills have improved a bit though

We had a good couple of days down in Rusutsu. A little bit of fresh snow to keep the trees interesting and an amazing bluebird day with views of Yotei, Lake Toya and the Pacific Ocean. Plus a sweet night park session, with confidence boosted by the addition of chairlift cans of Sapporo Classic!

Sambo dropping a cornice at Rusutsu

James taking on a side hit on Hollywood Cliff at Rusutsu

Still some powder stashes

We were able to scope out some decent stuff at Teine too. The less obvious lines in the trees and out in the bowls were still fun, even without recent snow. And the park was also always an option!

Classic Teine views dropping into bowl 1

James at Teine

Slash turns in Nakazawa, Teine Highland

If all else fails, there’s the park

Jibbing

We had a random half day at the unheard of Bibai Kokusai Ski Hill. (Kokusai means international in Japanese. Interesting choice of name for a one lift ski hill in a dying former mining town!) It actually turned out to be a great time though. We found lots of short but fun lines through the trees, some powder and even a park! And other than a few army dudes in leather boots, we were the only ones there.

Mellow powder and pillows at Bibai Kokusai

The ribbon jump at Bibai. We got shouted at by the lifties for this!

Sam headed back to Hong Kong slightly earlier than James, leaving us to have a sweet final park session at Mount Racey. A sunny day, with no crowds had us lapping the park with the essential Go Pro on a pole.

Go Pro on a stick chairlift selfie!

Follow cam screen grab

Critical grab

Wallride

Sunset 180 safety

Thanks for coming out to visit boys. Now Sambo, you’ve got all the footage, get working on that edit!!

Advertisements

Good morning snow!

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!


Hiking Asahidake

February 15th 2014

The summit of Asahidake from the base of the ropeway

Asahidake, an active volcano, is the tallest mountain in Hokkaido at 2290m. There is a single ropeway which ascends to about 1500m, from which you can access a ton of different lines, from pillows in the trees, to alpine style chutes. On Saturday morning the sky was clear, the wind was low and the ropeway was busy, so we made the call to hike for the summit. From the top station, there is a mellow skintrack to a hut at the base of the crater, followed by a steep hike up the ridgeline around the crater to the top.

Heading up the skintrack

The volcano still pumps out smoke, and stinks of sulphur

Fumeroles billowing steam

The wind had been strong during the week, so the ridgeline was windblown and very icy. We abandoned our skins once we got higher up and bootpacked the rest of the way to the summit.

Bootpacking up the south ridge

Lone climber taking ‘route one’, going straight up the middle of the crater

Final push for the top

The wind really picked up by the time we got to the summit and the sky had turned overcast. We didn’t stick around, just enough time for a couple of quick photos before clipping into our skis and heading down the backside of the mountain. The wind scoured snow was pretty unpleasant skiing, with only a few pockets of powder in the gullys. It was worth the effort though to bag the summit of Hokkaido’s highest mountain in mid-winter.

On top of Hokkaido. 2290m.

Hiking buddy and Team Daiso member, Ross Nixon

Stoked summit photo

 


A few shots from Sapporo Teine

Sat Feb 8th

It was a stunning day at Teine on Saturday with incredible views over the Sea of Japan and downtown Sapporo. There wasn’t too much fresh snow, and the bowls were quickly tracked out as it was a busy day for powder hungry foreign riders. We didn’t get too many powder shots, but hit the park in the afternoon, where the bottom kicker has been set up to give an incredible backdrop for photos.

Toshi styling it over the city

Scrappy looking jump, beautiful backdrop

View of downtown Sapporo from Teine Highland

 

Tues Feb 11th

Tuesday was a public holiday, so we got a bonus day on the hill. It turned out to be a real bonus. Alot of Hokkaido has been hurting for snow for the past few days, so we didn’t expect great things from Teine. But we were wrong. Snow had been falling steadily overnight, so we had 30cm or more of light powder. It seemed like we were the only people lapping the bowls, so we got line after line of faceshots.

Clare in bowl 4

Deep untracked powder. This is what Teine is all about.

Grady laying down a slash turn

Grady and I found a nice big drop that neither of us had hit before. It’s way out beyond bowl 5, so the landing was totally untouched and deep. We went for it, and caught it on video:

 

 


A Weekend at Rusutsu

January 25th and 26th

We skied at Rusutsu both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. We stayed at Iwanai overnight on Friday and Saturday, giving us an easy drive up to the ski hill each morning. The weather had been really warm, with rain on Friday. Saturday it was still warm, with a dusting of new snow with a hard crust underneath. Sunday was way better, with 10 to 15 centimetres of new snow.

Clare skiing crusty snow on Saturday

Mike taking too much speed into a natural hit and getting off axis!

We headed over to West Mountain after lunch on Saturday to check out the new Sidecountry Park. With the crappy snow and bombed out landings, we weren’t going anywhere near the features. It’ll need a deep powder day for most of the drops and jibs to be rideable by even the best amateur riders! We headed further down West Mountain and spent a couple of hours at the end of the day lapping the terrain park. First time I’ve been in there and I was impressed with the setup. Although the landings were surprisingly hard! I’ll be back in the spring for sure.

Mike getting more comfortable in the air

With more snow on Saturday we had alot more fun. Lots of nice lines in the trees, and a few drops. Plus, I was using poles again, so I felt more comfortable and balanced on my skis.

Powder lines in the trees

Hitting the classic Rusutsu chairlift drop

Also on Sunday, we saw the crew from Nimbus Independent who are in Hokkaido for a month or so skiing and filming. I got a photo with a skiing hero of mine, Eric Pollard. Stoked to meet them, and to see them shredding at one of our home mountains!

With Eric Pollard. Getting photo bombed in the background by Pep Fujas

The wind really picked up on Sunday afternoon and it got pretty unpleasant on the mountain. We called it at around 2, and hit the road. Hopefully the wind and unsettled weather will bring more snow this week.


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

20131204-122517.jpg

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.

20131204-123452.jpg

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!

20131204-123746.jpg

‘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