Saturday, March 13, 2010

Powder, swimming, wet snow and sampling!

From Floating Island, we went back to .... Floating Island. It would be lying to say that the snow was pilling really fast, but is was pilling constantly! What began with some decent conditions that finally turned out to the best conditions we had in weeks!

We stayed there 2 more days lapping different lines and exploring different ridges and bowl around the tunnel.

The north side features longer lines and steeper terrain than the south side. It also feature a sketchiest ski out since it goes through multiple gullies and natural runouts.
Since we were running out of food, we drove back to Asahikawa. By looking at the forecast, we realized there was some snow forecasted on the following day. We thought that Furano might be a good guess.

When we woke up, we realized that the snow that was forecasted as changed into a massive windstorm..... without any snow.

No new snow means that we were left with only the groomed runs to ski. After a total of one run. We poached the run under the chair lift that link the Kitanomine and the Furano side. It was a line I was thinking off since last year when I first visited Furano.

The conditions weren't that great so we though that maybe under the tram might be a better try. By looking at all the tracks, we weren't the first that though about skiing under the tram. We skied it fast in between two trams. When I got at the bottom, I wasn't able to see Babiche. After a little while, I hiked back to try to spot him. He finally showed up, hiking from the run I just skied out.
The reason for his little hike was that he fell into a creek! He showed up all wet and soaked up! That kind of cut the day as he needed to dry out! That was quite funny and I did spend a lot of time laughing at him!
We left Furano to head to Sounkyo to ski Kurodake. The wind were forecasted to be low, so it seemed like a good time to try that resort. As we were getting ready in the parking lot, we realized that there wasn't much skier heading up on the tram! It turned out that probably only 20 skiers took the tram that day.

If you ever think about going to ski Kurodake, there isn't anything to ski inbound. The tram leads you to a double chair lift that covert much more distance than vertical. What is good about Kurodake is the backcountry. From the top of the double chair, it is fairly easy and straight forward to hike up the peak of Kurodake.

From there, you have access to some really nice terrain. If you are not in the mood for a little adventure (as we were), you can follow the main gully from the top for a nice mellow run.

There was a little windcrust from the top, but it did get better lower down. What we had was 6in of fresh dry snow laying on packed powder.

Since the forecast was calling for harsher wind, we though that going toward a north facing tree shelter run was probably our best guest. We made the drive back down, towards Sapporo Kokusai just south of Otaru. From the parking lot of Sapporo Kokusai, there is a lot of good backcountry available. We went for the most obvious line that is going straight down to the road. The hike was fast and what we skied was some steady wet snow.

We drove back up to Otaru to visit one of the coolest town that I visited on Hokkaido. Near the port, there is a touristic street with a lot (and by a lot, I TRULY mean it) of sampling to do. One of my favourite place was a fish market where you could tasted so much different raw, dry and cooked fish!
There are also some Hokkaido's speciality....

We ended up that great day of sampling at the Otaru brewery for the Japanese version of the famous German Dunkel beer!

We are now heading towards Tomamu, where some cm's of snow are on the forecast.


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