Monday, January 20, 2014

Niseko, Hokkaido's busiest resort, for a great ending

It was kind of a problem to find some cheap accomodation in Niseko, so we slept one more night in Otaru and drove in the morning.

We left the uncrowded mom and pops ski hill to the always fairly buzy Niseko.
I kinda have a lof/hate relationship with Hokkaido’s (if not Japan’s) buziest ski resort. It is quite packed, most of the time with Australians or other westerners, it is more expensive, you don’t really get close to the japanese culture, the place is growing and growing and getting more western at every of my visit. 
On the other hand, I’ve had only a handfull of not-really-awesome-day here, so it is hard not to come back. It would have also been quite a shame for my sister not to ski it on her first trip on Hokkaido.

Niseko’s backcountry gates haven’t been open for a few days the morning we showed up. With some high wind forecast high up, we weren’t too sure that they would open either. We made it to Annapuri’s main lift (as fare as possible from the too buzy Niseko Hirafu) and lucky enough the gates open just as we got there!
After the usual high traverse to the backbowl passing most skiers without any avy gear, we were quickly rewarded with some countless faceshots. After a few runs where I was to hype to take any picture, I finally took the time to take it out to gather a few memories.
Everyone was carving deep turns on the way down and leaving a high powderly smoke cloud on their tails.
We just kept lapping furiously the backbowl moving always a bit further and always hitting great snow.
Problem with the backbowl is that it seems that australians (main crowd here) haven’t quite understant the concept of ski-down-the-fall-line. That leave some pretty nice openings totally fucked by some stupid traverse. I guess the mountain there don’t run from top to bottom, but from right to left...
Unfortunately, they eventually close the top gate... We then started to ride the resort. The weather even eventually cleared up a bit at the end of the day.
With just little more snow overnight, we debated for some times if it would not be a best idea to hit Niseko Moiwa the following day. This resort, since it is not part of Niseko United (Niseko Annupuri, Niseko Village, Niseko Hirafu), is never really crowded.

Heads or tail finally settled back for Niseko Annupuri.
.... and it was another great day
.... and we had countless faceshots
.... and it was awesome!!!
I could certainly use more days like this during a season!!

We got back to our room that we found through Yoshi (brandzuki (at) hotmail (dot) com, -the guy who rented us the car). Located at the top of a staff accomodation building, it was quite a good deal. We were able to cook our own and the room was confortable enough. I haven't been able to convince my dad to sleep in the car, but he wasn't hard to settle down for non-state-of-the-art-accomodation.
We woke up to a clear blue sky! So we decided.... to go back to Annupuri.   
Annupuri is probably the best place resort to hit the backbowl. You don’t have to wait as much as Niseko Hirafu and you can access the backbowl with an Annupuri only lift ticket (You need a more expensive Niseko United lift ticket to ride the backbowls from Niseko Village). The downside of Annupuri is that the terrain is not as nice as Niseko Village if the backbowls don’t open.
After a mandatory lap down the backbowl, we saw some tracks that were coming from Hirafu. After a nice short hike with Mt Yotei in the background, we made it to the top of the run. 
Thanks to the habits of skiers following others, we were able to find a great opening that was kept untouched and that was waiting for us.
We couldn’t really have ask to a better way to end our trip.

Great pow,
Great weather,
Great memories!
I just can highly recommend to try it to see it for yourself! I will certainly find a way to surprise you!
See you next time Japan!


1 comment:

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