Thursday, January 12, 2017

Damn I've miss Japow!

After not having a full time ski season last winter and having to rely on weekend-warrioring to get most of my turns in, I am glad to say that I will be spending a nice 2 months traveling and skiing!!

First stop : Japan!!!

It seems like it has been a very, very long time since my last visit in Japan in 2014! For my 5th trip in Japan, I wanted to visit some different areas. Beside during the winter I spent in 2010, I’ve never skied on Japan main island : Honshu. 

The plan is simple : rent a camper-van in Tokyo and drive to whatever region is having the best season start and enjoy the snow! With my girlfriend Amelie onboard, that shouldn’t be to difficult since there are countless resorts on Honshu.

After being delayed by a full day due to a snowstorm in Quebec, we eventually arrived in Tokyo on December 31st, where we picked up the van.

Good thing it was New Year Eve because the drive out of Tokyo was certainly a tricky one!!

We eventually crashed in a rest area on our way to Myoko.
Myoko is a mountain on which 5-6 different resorts are scattered. But beside Akakura Kanko and Akakura Onsen, you cannot link any of the resorts together.

We kicked off 2017 by having a great ramen for breakfast and continued our drive towards Myoko.

I had been following the snow reports throughout Japan for the last month or so and it was certainly not a great year! Neither on Honshu nor on Hokkaido was the snow abundant. Myoko was having the greatest snowpack on Honshu and since it is a place that usually attracts the snowstorm, we were pretty confident about finding good conditions.

On our way to Myoko, we passed near Shiga Kogen, where the snow was just plainly not there.

For our first day, we headed out for Akakura Kanko.

The conditions at the bottom of the mountain were really limited and the snow cover was quite minimal. The sun was also out and the temperature at the base was around OOC.. We also eventually realized that the snowpack reported in the snow report seems to be from the top of the highest chairlift...

After a few laps inbounds where the conditions on the piste were just decent and the conditions offpiste were quite tracked out, we slapped our skins on our skis from the top lift to go check out the backcountry available from the top.
The skin up was as warm as bushy!

Unfortunately, the skiing was also quite bushy.
Beside a few good turns, it was a bush-hugging marathon from the top to bottom.
We were both pretty bummed after our first day about the conditions!
It seems that it ‘only’ lacks about 2-3m of base to cover up for all those bushes...
We were a little bit bummed after that first day!
Next morning came with a nice dusting of snow on the car.
We headed out to Seki Onsen where usually a little bit more snow falls than on any other resorts in Myoko.
With only 2 chairlifts, one double and one single, it is certainly not a ski hill that would please everyone. 

There was probably around 20cm of wet snow laying on a pretty firm surface. But it seems they have figured out what to do in case that you feel too wet before taking the chairlift by installing an hair-dryer just by the chair!
We managed to have nice turns, but everything was pretty skied-out by the end of the day.
We lapped both chairs for the whole days, but it was really obvious that the snow was missing comparing to the other time I’ve visited Seki!

The following pictures were taken at about the same spot but 7 years appart...
So we were at the most snowed-in place on Honshu and it was not really great. With a not so promising forecast, we decided to hop on the ferry at Niigata and to make our way to Hokkaido, where it has snowed a little bit more and where I’ve never been quite disappointed.
Our cruise went smoothly and we landed on Hokkaido at 4:30AM.
With Sapporo Teine about an hour and a half away, we were there before the day lodge open!

The conditions in the parking lot were much more wintery that what we’ve seen so far on Honshu!

The conditions at the resort were also MUCH better!!
It was certainly not the deepest day ever but with 15cm of snow laying on a smooth soft surface it was really not unpleasant!
The resort has really limited interesting terrain, but there are 3 chutes that are west of the resort that have really nice terrain.
We had scattered heavy snow showers period and sunny breaks but by the end of the day, it was more solely the heavy snow showers that was on!
The resort is so close to Sapporo that we drove to the city to stroll around the downtown a bit.
We went back the following day to Teine ...and the conditions were even better!!!
The day started with about 30cm of snow within the chutes. We layed the second and third  tracks in the chutes, so it was pretty epic!
For an unknown reason, it was not as crowded as the day before, so the conditions stayed nice for a longer period!

We lapped the same chutes for a good part of the day and eventually tried the glades around the resort, where we figured that it was also a little bit bushy.
Since the weather cleared out, we ventured past the third chute to check out the backside of Teine, where the terrain is surprisingly not steep... We actually didn’t drop in since it really looked flat.

After looking if there wasn’t any good terrain adjacent to some ancient closed lifts on which we could make some good touring, we figured that the bushes were a little bit too grown back up to ski. We made it back to the car pretty toasted!

More pow is on the forecast!!!

1 comment:

Seb D said...

Les années passe et on trip encore comme lorsqu'on avait 20 ans. Les conditions doivent être meilleures avec toute cette neige qu'il ont reçu dans la région d'Akakan. Je suis de ton avis il y a un petit quelque chose de spécial avec le Japon qui fait en sorte qu'on finit toujours par y retourner. Plus que quelque jour et on y sera nous aussi. Bonne saison Evans, またね!