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Japan 2016 / 17

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
First day in Niseko and it felt like early spring in the alps, a beautiful sunny day. Pistes are in good nick and not too busy though some lines at lifts mainly because a lot of them are slow and also many don't have foot rests which can be painful for a boarder.

I covered as much of the domain as possible to get an idea of the layout, only went through 2 gates, 7 & 4. 7 took me through some dense trees and at one point I felt lost as I went left away from the nearest piste but I ended up at the bottom of the annupuri carpark with a 50 metre hike out. Snow was heavy powder like you get in the alps and most of it was tracked but I found a few fresh lines.

Gate 4 takes you to the same area as hiking up from gate 3 just a lower entry point. It was all chopped up but I could tell that recently it must have been quite deep and it had a nice steep pitch, however lower down I ended up in some trees which were totally tracked and the snow was hard but I found the way back to the piste after a few squeaky bum moments.

I'm rambling but in my defence I'm suffering bad jetlag, had 5 hours sleep on the plane during my 24+ hour journey and then woke up this morning at 3:30 am wide awake, just like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, hoping this rectifies itself soon. All in all it was a great day charging around on the pistes and fantastic to be back on the board. Planning to visit Kiroro on Tuesday, winds forecast of 35mph according to snow forecast, Mike if you're reading would this lead to lift closures in Kiroro as if so I might try another day? Oh and the Japanese are the most polite people I've ever met they're lovely (even if some of them might harbour dislike of gaijin apparently, I haven't witnessed this yet)


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Sun 5-02-17 10:10; edited 1 time in total
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
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Excellent report Mike, will be heading to Honshu for some spring skiing & no crowds Very Happy
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Some human powered back country skiing on Tairapyoyama


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Minion1980 wrote:
Planning to visit Kiroro on Tuesday, winds forecast of 35mph according to snow forecast, Mike if you're reading would this lead to lift closures in Kiroro as if so I might try another day?


Shouldn't be a problem.

+50 kph and the gondola won't run
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@Mike Pow, thanks Mike much appreciated, hopefully I can find some of that legendary powder you're always filming and which inspired my trip in the first place
Smile
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TUESDAY 31 JANUARY 2017

WALK IN THE WOODS
Longtime student & ski partner Ian MacKenzie (@powderbirdie) getting deep in 'Walk In The Woods'
Kiroro Resort, Hokkaido, Japan





Video

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQJSENIgUAS/?taken-by=mikethesnow
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@Mike Pow, Jesus that is deep, incredible! I've got my ticket to Kiroro booked for Wednesday. Had several Aussies telling me not to bother because it's too flat for boarders but I've ignored them. Is there any place in particular you'd recommend me to hit when I arrive? Forecast is for snow Tuesday night so hoping to get some nice powder as Niseko is being rather unlucky right now. You're still in Honshu right? How's that going for you?
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@Minion1980,
i went today for the first time. interesting resort! all the fun is in the side country!!! in order to access you need register with them and fill in some paper work telling them what gates your going to exit and what areas you intend on riding etc. all this is done upstairs from where you buy your lift ticket. once you've done all this they give you a pass which you have to show patrol at every gate you exit. at the end of the day you must return the ticket before they send out the search and rescue party.
Now for the fun stuff!! we used gates 1 and 2 (G1 accessed from the Asari gondola and G2 from the Nagamine quad), 2 being our favourite. 1 had steeper terrain but it was short lived and the run out back into the resort went on for ever. stuff from gate 2 was pretty mellow but went on for much longer. both will lead you into a creek which you follow back to the resort with a few things fun things to navigate. i could imagine it being a nightmare on a board unless your confident. we did see quite a few boarders so its far from impossible.

think that more or less sums it up. shoot me some more questions if not. might head back there later in the week.
give powder hounds a read as well.
http://www.powderhounds.com/Japan/Hokkaido/Kiroro/Ski-Resort.aspx

enjoy
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@Powpirate, thanks a lot man, great advice! This registering thing, did they require you to have any equipment, transceiver etc... as I don't have this and the website mentions that as a requirement? Where are you basing yourself whilst in Hokkaido?
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@Minion1980, I was there a couple of weeks ago. They have a tick box list of equipment on the registration form (even including things like flares and an emergency shelter) but they don't check your equipment and there doesn't seem to by any requirement. It's probably not a great idea to ski outside the gates without being properly equipped though!
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@musehead, thanks dude. Yeah going out the gates on my own without gear probably isn't the best idea. Is there plenty of inbounds off piste to hit or is it all roped off?
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@Minion1980, plenty of areas without ropes, but also plenty of signs saying dont ski off piste. We didnt go outside the gates, but explored the inbounds a lot and no one said anything. If there's been a decent snowfall overnight there should be plenty of stuff to play in. Here's a video mostly shot in the nagamine area. It'd be a lot of fun in powder. Theres one large ungroomed piste there and plenty of fairly tame trees either side. We found a few small pockets even though it hadnt snowed properly for a few days.
http://youtube.com/v/Y56sksbZIis
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Minion1980,
No one ever checked it, but its advised. just like musehead said theres a checklist of stuff you can tick but i don't think they really checked it tbh. all the skiing we did from the gates was really safe tbh. i really couldn't imagine any avi stuff in there under the current conditions. technically theres no off piste skiing allowed and a fair few signs. just be careful with it and I'm sure you'll be okay.
we're staying in hirafu and have rented a car so we're pretty flexible about where we end up from day to day. here until the 9th/10th then we're heading into central hokkaido for a bit.
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Advice from the ski patrol (the kiwis, not the Japanese) we spoke to in Kiroro last year was inbounds offpiste is only really frowned upon if you duck a rope or use the lift pylons as some kind of slalom. Technically not allowed but follow those rules and you won't get shouted at.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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For inbounds off-piste in Kiroro I liked the area in the trees between the gondola and Asari 2 chairlift. No rope ducking required, a short steep pitch and very quick turnaround on the Asari 2 lift. If you go out the gate at the top of the gondola you can go skiers left and hook back round to the Asari 2 lift as well - much quicker than having to go all the way down to the bottom of the gondola and back up.
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Thanks for all the comments guys looking forward to some deep powder hopefully as Niseko isn't getting it right now, probably because I'm here lol. I'm only there for a day so I probably won't bother with the gate system and stick to the pistes and sides of.

There was some snow today in Niseko but it came with a harsh wind which scoured the pistes in places but also stashed some powder in certain places. All the top lifts were closed and the bitter wind was not nice, especially on the slow and unshielded chairs so called it a day at about 2:30.

Hope everyone in Japan is having a great time!
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hit kiroro today. they were reporting 22cm in the last 24h. the snow was by far the lightest i had ever skied. ventured out of a few gates for some freshie then hit some of the inbound as well. i was busy though with a lot of guided tour groups! on the drive over the roads and parking lot were filled with mini vans. never had to wait that long in a lind however but the powday rush was certainly on! the inbound slope just off of the gondola got tracked out really quick.

@minion1980 im gonna head up to check out the night skiing if you fancy it. its pretty shore notice i know but drop me a PM in the next hour or so and we can come pick you up in the car. should of met up sooner but I'm pretty crap with these things.
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@Minion1980, sorry didn't tag you properly. see the above
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@Powpirate, hi I too hit Kiroro today me it was indeed awesome, finally got what I travelled across the world for. The powder on the piste was over my knees on the ungroomed runs first thing and I couldn't help but woop on the way down, deepest powder I've ever ridden. I didn't go out the gates as I was on my own with no gear and no knowledge of the terrain. Thanks for the offer of night skiing but I'm going to pass, I've been waking up at 3:30am every day and not being able to get back to sleep, let me know how you get on, I bought clear goggles especially but I gear it will be cold and hard packed without fresh snow so haven't bothered so far. The word is definitely out on Kiroro as the next two days tours are already fully booked and they don't run at weekends, shame I was thinking of going back on Sunday. I'm hitting Rusutsu on Friday as snow is forecast and if I enjoy it I might try and get on another tour there over the weekend as Niseko without fresh snow is a bit of a drag, slow cumbersome lift system and lots of people.
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@Minion1980, nice! glad you got some fresh stuff!! shame to hear about the buses but Rusutsu is a really sweet resort. went last Saturday and yesterday, quiet both days. so many weird things there as well. riding though the theme park was pretty surreal! also if you get a chance to check out the super natural side country park its good fun. a few things to throw yourself off. thats on the smaller side of the resort though all the epic tree runs are on the other side and easily spotted from the chairs.
night skiing was alright tbh. smashed out one groomer then hit the steep face on lookers left of the ace quad twice. was really surreal with it all lit up and i couldn't resist. snow was surprisingly good but hard and choppy in places.
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@Powpirate, awesome that sounds fun I really should try it maybe tomorrow night as hopefully getting a lie in if my body gets me. I love the sound of Rusutsu so can't wait! Enjoy Smile
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TUESDAY 31 JANUARY 2017

Yours truly (@mikethesnow) catching the light in 'PowderZone'
Kiroro Resort, Hokkaido, Japan

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQL5yd0Avt6/?taken-by=mikethesnow
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WEDNESDAY 01 FEBRUARY 2017

DEADWOOD
Longtime student & ski partner Ian MacKenzie (@powderbirdie) getting deep in 'Deadwood'
Kiroro Resort, Hokkaido, Japan









Yours truly (@mikethesnow) catching the light in 'Deadwood' and 'Nagamine'

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQRBRlVgp9e/?taken-by=mikethesnow
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THURSDAY 02 FEBRUARY 2017

DEADWOOD
Yours truly (@mikethesnow) catching the light in 'Deadwood'
Kiroro Resort, Hokkaido, Japan





Video

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQT0D87g6ln/?taken-by=mikethesnow
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Been in hokkaido for 10 days now...worse season for 10 years ..skied only 3 days V poor condition and mild temperature. I wish never bothered this year..
So disappointed
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
toro wrote:
Been in hokkaido for 10 days now...worse season for 10 years ..skied only 3 days V poor condition and mild temperature. I wish never bothered this year..
So disappointed


Hokkaido is a big place, where have you been skiing?

01, 02, 03, 04, 08, 09 February were great at Kiroro, and I suspect the other Otaru Bay resorts of Otaru Tenguyama, Asari, Sapporo Kokusai and Sapporo Teine.
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MONDAY 06 FEBRUARY 2017

HAKUBA - WHITE HORSE 1
It was the first trip to the Hakuba Valley in Nagano prefecture for both Ian (@powderbirdie) and me and we scored the storm of the season

Nagano hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics, with many of the ski & snowboard events taking place in the Hakuba Valley

We stayed at the White Horse Hotel in Echoland and the owner Tony showed us around Hakuba Happo-One where we skied untracked powder all day.

Can't recommend the White Horse Hotel highly enough. Tony recommends the best mountain each day based on the customer's ability and what they're looking for, and then drives them there and picks them up.

Walking distance to the Echoland bars, restaurants and shops.

And the hotel has a very good bar and restaurant on site.

http://www.whitehorse-hakuba.com/


Longtime student & ski partner Ian MacKenzie (@powderbirdie) getting deep in the Hakuba Happo-One powder
Hakuba Happo-One, Hakuba Valley, Nagano, Japan

Video here

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQWKeQCgZeQ/?taken-by=mikethesnow
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toro wrote:
Been in hokkaido for 10 days now...worse season for 10 years ..skied only 3 days V poor condition and mild temperature. I wish never bothered this year..
So disappointed


Never go the Alps then!

I've been here 8 days and had a blast today was riding the trees of hanazono and getting airs where I could and there was fresh snow as well. Yesterday in Rusutsu was a lot of fun too though the snow is in worse condition there than in Niseko. Kiroro on Wednesday was insane, deepest powder I've ever ridden. Even though there hasn't been thigh deep powder in Niseko the snow is in a great condition especially the higher you go and also on the Hanazono side.
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@toro, that's a shame - where are you skiing? I left Hokkaido 10 days ago, but we had some really great conditions around the Otaru resorts that Mike mentions above. Conditions around Furano area were certainly poor the 3rd week of January. I'm glad we had a flexible itinerary as the initial plan was to stay in Sapporo and then somewhere near Niseko/Rusutsu, but we stayed in Otaru for a whole week instead.
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@toro, as above. My brother has spent the past few days popping pillows in soft snow around Niseko and Kiroro Puzzled
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Some nice turns to be found in Mikuni today Wink
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But hard work yesterday to make today's turns possible

[img]https://www.facebook.com/kiyoko.yamaguchi/videos/10154907355118847/[/img]

If anyone knows how to make a facebook video work on here please let me know and orr correct my link. tks
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What @Sharkymark says is true, but you have to work for it. We were at Kiroro on Wednesday as well. Was super fun but not the deepest. Hopefully tomorrow will be the same or better so heading there again. Ski toured Mt Yotei yesterday (highly recommended) and found up to 30-40cm of good pow in the lower trees and gulleys. Loads of pillows and cliffs to drop, so fun! Today we went snowmobile skiing which was pretty funny. Towed behind a snowmobile up the mountain and had nice snow (not deep) and fun pillows again.
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It does seem like a bit of an odd season by Niseko standards. I got bored a while ago and made a table of snowfall for the mid January period when we were in Niseko and Sapporo, 8th-21st, with data taken from snow japan.com daily reports. I had to make a lot of assumptions and a few interpretations where they hadn't stated the depth in earlier reports, so take it with a pinch of salt, but you get the gist. Even though it's been the driest for years, it's still the best skiing I've ever experienced. Can't wait to visit in a 'good' year.

img

[/table]


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Sat 11-02-17 16:57; edited 1 time in total
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Good table.

It's not been a vintage season for Japan.
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The table is based on Niseko Resort Area information, which is very accurate for the Niseko Resort Area.

Beyond that, it's apples v oranges.

I've had a seasons pass for Kiroro for 8 seasons for a very good reason.

Scroll up amd you'll see why
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@Mike Pow, - fair point - edited original post to Niseko rather than Hokkaido. Looking like business as usual at Kiroro. Think I'll spend a week or so in Otaru next time I visit.
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some fun to be had in and around furano


http://youtube.com/v/oAjayWnieXw
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element wrote:
@Mike Pow, - fair point - edited original post to Niseko rather than Hokkaido. Looking like business as usual at Kiroro. Think I'll spend a week or so in Otaru next time I visit.


You won't be disappointed
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