Friday, January 20, 2017

Epic day on Mt Yotei!!!

From Teine, we moved towards Kiroro.
This rather flat resort has been having the best start of the season in all Japan, so we figured out it would be a great option.

As we got there, we realized it is now a fairly hectic process to register for the backcountry around Kiroro.
A little bit disgusted by all of the process, we headed out in the backcountry behind the hotel. No one is there to verify that you have register and is not as crowded as the rest of the backcountry available from the top of the resort.

To head to the backcountry, just start near the newly build church. From there, the climb is pretty much just straight ahead until you hit a cat-track that you follow until the end of the ridge. From there, just climb the ridge to access some fairly nice terrain.
It was really nice to hit some nice terrain not as bushy from what we experienced down in Honshu!
                                                  
We lapped different lines around this ridge.
Some were treed, some were steep, but all of them shared the same nice powder!
This is certainly a great option for nice soft skiing in low visibility!
 

We caught up with Alexa and Jerome a the end of the day, two fellow Quebecers, that we met on the plane and that we bumped into again the day before in Teine.

They had in plan to climb the Mt Yotei the following day.

Mt Yotei is a really aesthetic volcano that is possible to see once in a while from Niseko.
With the weather calling for a really nice high pressure the following day, we decided to join them.

Since we had not brought up our crampons nor or ice axes, we figured that we could climb until the conditions would be too hard to climb any higher and ski down from there.

We were certainly not the only one who have made the plan to climb up this iconic peak!
The climb start in a forest for about 600-700m, then, as we were getting out of the trees, we also made it out of the clouds and above of a pretty cool inversion!
 

We kept on skinning for a few more hundreds meter before we had to change to bootpack to make it to the top.  The conditions to climb were really not as hard as expected and with the amount of people on the mountain on this day, the bootpack was nicely packed!
 

We decided to have lunch break a few meter from the top and to enjoy the view. 

After stripping the skins from our skis and preparing for the descent.

As we make it to the edge of the crater, we saw multiple lines starting from the nearby rim and dropping down into the crater of this extinct volcano!
 

The snow looked really nice and after a pretty relax climb, I got pretty excited!!!
We hadn’t even plan to make it to the summit and we were now getting ready to ski down in the crater!
 

The best part is that the snow was as nice, dry and good as it looked!
We were all really stoked about the day so far and there was still a nice 1500m of ski to be done!
 

The climb didn’t exactly promise for a great descent, but we quickly realize that the snow would be better than expected!
 
Even if the gully was fairly tracked out, there was still room to track  some nicely untouched powder.
 
We’ve had enjoy the day so much that the view and the light got really, really cool.
 

Our eagerness to track some untracked snow veered us a little bit away from everyones track.
We figured that if we skied just a little bit off from everyone tracks, we could make it back to everyone’s tracks just by traversing a little bit.

We were quickly blocked by a steep gully. We skied in it and figured we had to climb out of it. The emergency feeling to make it back to the car slowly crept in to all four of us! We eventually had to cross multiple gullies and rush through the forest to make it to the car just before darkness.

It is quite modest to say that we were all REALLY stoke to make it to the car  around 5PM as the day was getting quite dark!.

That was certainly an EPIC day!

We left without thinking aout achieving much and ended up summiting, skiing down into the crater, having to find our way through the forest.

After such an epic day, we had a lousy start.

The snow on the ground around Niseko was by far the thinnest I’ve ever seen and it was certainly not tempting to ski or to tour around there.
We went back to Kiroro to hit the backcountry again.
With such a late start, we were good to have 2 laps and made it back to the car earlier but still late!
 
We had a little sake and snack straight at the car as we got back as the snow was hammering Kiroro again.
 

We split up with Alexa and Jerome as we drove back to Otaru.
 

We had plan to ski a backcountry spot scouted earlier on on the road from Otaru to Kiroro.
The main drawback of this spot was the parking spot.

We saw a group of two skiers who were just leaving their car from a really thight parking spot. Since our car wasn’t 4WD, it was a little bit of a challenge to make it to their parking spot, but after a good half an hour of shoveling, we eventually made it up there!
 

Just as we were putting our ski boots on, two fellows showed up and let us understand that we needed to leave that parking spot  and that nowhere around this pass was alright to park...

We were both pretty bummed about that outcome, especially since it was already not that early during the day, we returned to Kiroro’s bakcountry.
                                                

We decided not to start from the church, but to start from the gate no.3 which is just at the top of the beginner lift.

Breaking trail led up to a really nice run just opposite from the run we had done the previous day.
                                                   

With a really snowy forecast on Honshu we made the tough decision to leave all of this really nice, deep and dry snow that we had just skied to head to Hakuba on the ferry that brought us to Hokkaido a week before.

The ride on the ferry was certainly not the smoothest one with gigantic wave rocking the boat most of the way and we spend most of the run laid down on the couch...
 

We just hope we hadn’t left the good snow on Hokkaido for better conditions!
Finger crossed, the forecast will hold!