Sayonara Niseko

•23/01/2010 • Leave a Comment

Great scenery - still no blue sky

Great day to end our skiing – on first lifts and last lifts. Similar weather to the last few days – cold (-22) and snowing heavily. Once again our tracks were filled in by the time we rode the lift back up. When we returned to Hirafu, night skiing had started. If we hadn’t skied ourselves to a standstill today, we would have had a few more runs under lights – it was really very good.

This trip has given us the best snow conditions we have had in four trips here. The consistently deep powder has been unbelievable. Memories that will stay with us forever.


Really cold and snowy

•22/01/2010 • Leave a Comment

Fresh tracks this morning

Looking out our kitchen window

Still fresh

The cold weather continued today with a wind chill of -28 ….. a bit different back home at present – I have been looking at the heatwave conditions on the net. Lots more snow fell last night and it continued throughout the day – I think each day is groundhog day. We tried to move around the mountain but were forced inside several times by the cold and whiteout conditions.

Big fat flakes are falling outside at present so our last day’s skiing tomorrow should be fantastic. Maybe we will stay ……… might be a problem with our JAL flight from Sapporo as the airline has just filed for bankruptcy. Gee I hope we can get home.

Crazy weather

•21/01/2010 • Leave a Comment

Dad taking his kid for a drag

Inside Hanazono 308 centre - not many people around at present

Blogging is a bit difficult at the moment as our internet is hardly ever working – must be too much snow. A huge variety of weather in the last couple of days. Yesterday was really mild (around +4 deg) and there was a bit of drizzle around. We only skied for an hour and came home wet – made us feel home sick – just like skiing in Thredbo. Went to a traditional Japanese restaurant last night – it was drizzling when we went in and snowing when we came out.

More snow last night and snowing heavily all day today. Wind chill was -31 deg and visibility was poor. Still had a brilliant day – most punters stayed in bed but we braved the conditions. The mountain was almost deserted. Each run, our tracks from the previous run were filled in so we were skiing freshies all day. The bitterly cold weather finally drove us inside and a hot bath got rid of the chills.

Couple of day’s skiing left and nothing but big snow in the forecast. Except for the little hiccup yesterday this has been an epic snow holiday.

Still very good

•19/01/2010 • 1 Comment

Stunning scenery in the forrest

Cathy riding the covered magic carpet to Hanazono 308

The forecast was for a bit of fine weather today so I thought I could get some good landscape pics. We saw patches of blue sky for about 5 minutes – I guess we’ll have to wait till we get home to see blue sky. We found a new surprise yesterday at the Hilton in Higashiama – another big buffet lunch. All you can eat for about A$18.

Cathy is going well on her new fat skis. She made me stay out for an extra hour today as she was having so much fun. We are on to a new routine of leaving our skis at Hanazono and catching a bus over there to start each day. The bus stop is right outside our apartment block.

Watching the sumo highlights on TV at present. There is a tournament on in Tokyo – this is a great sport to watch once you get into it.

So much fun

•17/01/2010 • Leave a Comment

Greg in really deep

Little bit too deep - bloody snow snakes

Cathy enjoying the conditions

First tracks in the pow

I think I’ll just let the pictures tell the story for today.

Too much snow?

•16/01/2010 • Leave a Comment

Cathy on the footpath in our street in Hirafu

Dumping snow

So much snow here, it has to be trucked out of town and dumped

Japanese cook preparing our meal at Hamakko restaurant in Kutchan

Another metre of snow has fallen since I published yesterday’s blog. The snow clearing teams are having trouble coping with the sheer volume of snow. Strong winds, very cold temperatures and bad visibility had us sitting in the Ace Hill mountain restaurant watching the skiers outside struggling with the conditions. We are using pay by the hour lift tickets, so we decided to admit defeat and returned to our cosy little room before midday.

Caught the bus into Kutchan this afternoon. Spent lots of time in shops as it was too cold to be outside. Walked past a restaurant and saw Adam’s photo in a collection of photos outside the restaurant. It was the place where we had a meal a couple of years ago. Cathy and I went inside and had another great meal there. The waitress made us dress up in novelty Japanese costumes to get more photos for her gallery.

The wind is forecast to drop tomorrow so we should be able to get out and play in the ridiculously deep powder.

Ridiculous Snow

•15/01/2010 • Leave a Comment

Hirafu Street

Hirafu Bar

Great food last night – sashumi salmon, tuna and scallops, grilled squid legs, scallops in butter – washed down with local saki.

Another 50cm of snow last night and probably about the same during today. This is just crazy – I went for a walk after skiing today and took a few photos from around the village – check them out on Flickr

Cathy had a rest day today and I caught the early bus to Hanazono for my first tracks private powder lesson. The bus trip was almost surreal – everything was white – 3 metre snow banks on either side of the road. My instructor was a Japanese local back country guide who thought it was his mission to find the steepest untracked powder on the mountain. He was amazing – taking me to places I didn’t know existed. Not many ski schools in the world allow instructors to take students out of bounds during a lesson. His main tip was to try to avoid hitting a tree. We had to do a bit of hiking but we only skied really deep, untracked runs all morning. I can now boast that I have experienced being in the “white room” – snow was really going over my head as I skied. At the bottom of the runs we were both coated in snow and looked liked snowmen. The best skiing of my life.

Cathy met me at the Hanazono restaurant for lunch and we dined on some Kani (Crab) Ramen – with a bottle of NZ wine. Caught the bus home and was dropped at our door – very civilised.

After the storm

•14/01/2010 • Leave a Comment

Greg in the trees at Hanazono

Sweet powder


Trees at the top of Blueberry Fields

The wild weather arrived last night – heavy snow (50cm) and strong winds. We sat in our room watching the extreme side of nature from our window, it was pretty impressive. We were on first lifts this morning, eager to get fresh tracks in the new snow. Amazingly, the wind dropped and the sun appeared – this was too good to be true (hit in the bum by a rainbow) – still very cold at -25c. What a brilliant day’s skiing – Cathy was in charge of the camera today and, as you can see, got some great shots. Our fat skis performed well in the deep snow, although I think Cathy still needs some convincing that tree skiing in fresh powder is pure heaven.

Still dumping snow outside at present. I’m using Cathy’s Christmas present tomorrow and taking a first tracks (8:30am) private powder lesson – can’t wait. Cathy will take a rest day tomorrow and let the aching muscles recouperate.

Off to Abu Cha restaurant for some Suki Yaki tonight – Yum

Getting Colder

•13/01/2010 • 1 Comment

Our apartment block on the left with night skiing in the background

Japanese cottage just down from out apartment

Really into holiday mode now – relaxed and settled in to this lifestyle. Not much new snow today so conditions much the same as yesterday. Temp was around -20c so the snow quality remains fantastic – light and dry. Cathy is getting much more confident skiing in the trees – there is still some untracked powder to be found there.

In anticipation of the big snowfall tonight I have swapped my hire skis for a pair of super fat Volkl Mantras (96mm under foot). Cathy is also going to give some fat skis a try. Just a pair of old fatties rolling down the mountain tomorrow – should be a lotta fun.

Cruisy Day

•12/01/2010 • Leave a Comment

Hilton at Niseko Village - Mt Yotei in background

Our day 3 ski legs are giving us some grief but we battled on and had a cruise around the resort. 20cms of snow fell last night and we had a little bit of clear weather today. Spent most of the day at Higashiama and Annupuri – skiing on perfectly manicured groomed runs. The soft, dry powder of the last couple of days was groomed to become real hero snow. You could have carved turns in this stuff on fence palings. There was hardly anyone else where we skied today so the corduroy stayed fresh for a while.

Had the obligatory morning tea in the posh surroundings of the Hilton Hotel – very civilised, with plush lounge chairs and table service. Also did the big buffet lunch at Annupuri- I think we may be on a diet now.

I think today was the calm before the storm as a “significant storm” (blizzard) is forecast to hit us in the next couple of days. Oh well more bloody powder to contend with.