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  1. #1
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    SR : HokkaidOH! 2013/14

    DAY 1 : THURSDAY 28 NOVEMBER 2013

    21 cm in the past 24hrs at MQ (Mike's Quarters, in Higashiyama)


    It's that time of the year again.

    Local photographer Glen Claydon and Sam Kerr of Niseko Xtreme Tours got first tracks of the season way back on 09 November

    http://360niseko.com/blog/first-trac...3-2014-season/


    but then the warm wind and the rain came and washed most of it away.

    The 23 November Opening Day at Grand Hirafu was cancelled and rescheduled for 30 November.

    I arrived back on Fantasy Island yesterday afternoon and the snowfall had returned. In spades.

    After settling in at the cabin and shovelling the day's snow it was out for Ian MacKenzie's 40th birthday.

    Dinner at Niseko Pizza with owner Cezar, Brian from Niseko Ski Academy and Mick from Niseko Cellars, followed by drinks at Niseko Cellars.

    Cracking night.


    Last season's words, pictures & video can be found here:

    SR : Shiribeshi Stories, Hokkaido 2012/13
    https://www.tetongravity.com/forums/s...kkaido-2012-13



    DAY 2 : FRIDAY 29 NOVEMBER 2013

    23 cm in the past 24hrs at MQ


    As of today 116 cm (46") has fallen in the Niseko Resort Area


    Another good fall overnight and a solid couple of hours shovelling all around the house getting after it before it gets out of control.

    Went to the Dragon Bistro & Bar opening party in J-Sekka this evening, a return to Hirafu for the restaurant.

    Japanese Italian fusion with a celebrated chef from Sapporo.

    The local businesses try to outdo each other with the most colourful floral gift

















    Looking forward to sampling dinner.

    Snowing as I type and Opening Day for Grand Hirafu is scheduled for 8.30 tomorrow.

    Let's hope it's as good as last season's opening day


    Nikki Langley, Opening Day 23 November 2012

    Last edited by Mike Pow; 11-30-2013 at 12:20 AM.

  2. #2
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    DAY 3 : SATURDAY 30 NOVEMBER 2013

    12 cm in the past 24hrs at MQ

    November saw 128 cm (50") of snowfall at village level, making it the 3rd highest November in the 8 winters I've been keeping records.

    The snowiest November was 2007 with 177 cm (70").


    OPENING DAY AT GRAND HIRAFU

    Four days ago there was no snow in the village.

    Today the Center 4 and Ace Double #3 were running for the start of the winter season in the Niseko Resort Area.

    As last year, Ji-chan was in pole position for opening chair





    Yours truly waiting for the opening bell (Glen Claydon pic)





    And when the turnstiles did start turning Ji-chan left them for dead













    Eye of the Tiger





    Glen





    Sam





    Ben





    Rode solo for 4 hrs so no action shots today.

    The groomed run was in good shape with pockets of powder on the fringes.

    Underneath the double chair was great with face shots every turn.

    Still loads of sasa off the groomed runs making the skiing challenging, but worth it.

    Check out Glen's post at 360Niseko for more pics and a vid showing how the mountain looks.

    http://360niseko.com/blog/niseko-mt-...u-opening-day/


    There's penty of snow on the lower mountain so hopefully they'll open up more terrain soon.

    It's snowing lightly at the moment with 6cm falling since the lifts stopped for the day.

    Niseko Village opens tomorrow (Sunday 01 December 2013) but with just the Community and Banzai chairs running the skiing is very limited.

    Grand Hirafu will be a better bet in my opinion.

  3. #3
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    DAY 4 : SUNDAY 01 DECEMBER 2013

    4 cm in the past 24hrs at MQ


    Light snowfall mixed with gusting winds throughout the day.

    Noticeably cooler today compared with yesterday afternoon which will hopefully create a firmer base for the next big dump of snow.

    Three of the four Niseko United resorts are now operational for the 2013-14 season.

    Annupuri opened today with uplift on the gondola and the Jumbo Pair #3.

    Niseko Village opened today with uplift on the Community and Banzai chairs.

    Grand Hirafu continued on from yesterday's opening day with uplift and downlift on the Ace Quad #2 (Center 4) and skiing off the Ace Pair Lift #3.

    They also opened the beginner Ace Family Pair and Family Run.

    It was disappointing to see no groomed beginner terrain available yesterday.

    There are a number of Chinese, Taiwanese, Thai & Malaysian guests in resort experiencing winter and winter recreation for the first time.

    Trying to learn to ski or snowboard in ungroomed knee deep powder is a joke.

    Niseko United Weather & Lift Status
    http://www.niseko.ne.jp/en/weather/index.html


    For the 2013/14 winter season the Niseko Free Passport Committee (NFP) representing the four ski areas of Niseko United has introduced the Niseko United Snowsports School Accreditation System.

    The Niseko Free Passport Committee (NFP) has determined that Snowsports Schools (Ski and Snowboard) not directly aligned to or owned by an NFP member lift company must now become formally accredited by the NFP in order to use the NISEKO UNITED (Annupuri, Niseko Village, Grand Hirafu, Hanazono) lift network.

    The aim is to ensure that the quality of skifield experience in Niseko continues to improve and that the enjoyment and safety of guests is maintained at all times.

    As such, the NFP has established a formal NISEKO UNITED Snowsports School Accreditation System for third-party Snowsports Schools (i.e. those not owned or directly associated with NFP members) in order to become recognised as a NISEKO UNITED Accredited Snowsports School.

    Please note that it will no longer be possible to operate a Snowsports School business within the NISEKO UNITED ski area without becoming formally accredited by the NFP.
    http://www.niseko.ne.jp/en/school/index.html


    I received accreditation today and picked up my Niseko United Commercial Lift Pass for the season.

    In my experience the Niseko Resort Area is unique in allowing non-resort employees to operate independent snowsports schools.

    And long may it continue.


    Snowing lightly at 9pm.

    Most probably Grand Hirafu tomorrow for Ian MacKenzie's first day on snow this season.

  4. #4
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    DAY 5 : MONDAY 02 DECEMBER 2013

    10 cm in the past 24hrs at MQ


    A grey miserable day so I had a lie in and then lunch at Chez Doudou on the way to Chisenupuri.









    Ate there a number of times at the end of last season and I'm happy to report that it's just as good.

    But unfortunately still as quiet.

    I was the only one in for lunch today. But I did have the chef's dog for company.





    Chez Doudou closes from 20 December 2013 to 01 March 2014 as the chef is the private chef for Niseko Cuisine, a company which provides high end dining at your accomodation.

    3-course lunch with coffee was JPY 2,200

    Potato Quiche





    Pork Spare Ribs with patsa and carrots





    Apple & Prune Tart





    Another fabulous meal. Highly recommended.



    DAY 6 : TUESDAY 03 DECEMBER 2013

    1 cm in the past 24hrs at MQ


    I spent the morning lapping the Annupuri gondola.

    Grey skies, a little flat light, but deserted and a surprising amount of untracked boot top spongy pow to enjoy.

    It was good to put more vertical under the skis.

    The best snow was under the gondola. The terrain out of Gate 7 needs a whole heap of snow for it to go.

    Riding solo again, so no action shots. Most waiting for the next dump of snow.

    And the small matter of getting ready for the influx of guests









    Not much new snow on the horizon, but I did see the Niseko Village gondola running today.

    So that could well be the destination tomorrow morning.

  5. #5
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    DAY 7 : WEDNESDAY 04 DECEMBER 2013

    0 cm in the past 24hrs at MQ


    Another grey December day. Thought I'd left this rubbish behind in Wales.

    It brightened up in the afternoon so I went for a little drive up to Goshiki Onsen to scope some potential lines for when the snow comes.

    Mt Yotei made a brief appearance





    DAY 8 : THURSDAY 05 DECEMBER 2013

    0 cm in the past 24hrs at MQ


    It's beginning to feel like 'The Benjamin Button' season.

    Starting off with spring temperatures, sunshine, limited terrain open, and a quickly disappearing snowpack and working it's way back.

    Spent the morning skiing Annupuri.

    Glorious sunshine down low, thick fog half way up the gondola.

    Did one warm up lap and then shared the gondola back up with Johan from Melbourne who was over on holiday.

    Ended up skiing together the rest of the morning and helping him develop his skiing.

    At the start Johan was beginning his turns with a slight wedge, with too much balance on the uphill / inside ski





    So we worked on standing tall, keeping the skis parallel and being more patient in the fall line









    And then he was off









    Johan





    Pleasure skiing with you Johan. Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

    The snow was in good shape considering how little we've had. But we need more. Lots. Now.

    For lunch I went to The Grove in Annupuri.

    Fabulous katsu pork, rice and salad followed by bread & butter pudding and coffee.


  6. #6
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    Subscribed. Your SR's are one of my favorite threads every year.

  7. #7
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    Thanks tripice351.

    It's trying to snow.

    Hopefully normal service will be resumed as soon as possible

  8. #8
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    KEEPow UP the good work.
    www.apriliaforum.com

    "If the road You followed brought you to this,of what use was the road"?

    "I have no idea what I am talking about but would be happy to share my biased opinions as fact on the matter. "
    Ottime

  9. #9
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    Welcome back Mike. Look forward to seeing some sweet Pow shots from you again. Saving my Yen for next season... ULLR!
    I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.
    ― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

    www.mymountaincoop.ca

    This is OUR mountain - come join us!

  10. #10
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    Cheers guys.

    Look forward to it garyfromterrace

  11. #11
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    DAY 9 : FRIDAY 06 DECEMBER 2013

    0 cm in the past 24hrs at MQ


    Finally the snow has returned.

    It started snowing around 11am and continued through the day.

    Had dinner at Tamashi with Ian.

    Fish supper with chips. Hit the spot.



    DAY 10 : SATURDAY 07 DECEMBER 2013

    19 cm in the past 24hrs at MQ


    What a difference a day makes

    Yesterday at MQ





    7am this morning





    Long time student & ski partner Tracy Lenard got in to town in the early hours of the morning, timing his arrival from Tokyo to perfection.

    This is his first trip up to Hokkaido this season but he's already been skiing on Honshu.

    He was heavily involved in the recovery of the avalanche victims at Tateyama on the 23 November 2013 and here's his report on the incident

    http://taurusoutdoors.blogspot.jp/20...013_4.html?m=1


    We met at the King Hooded Triple in Hirafu at 9.30 am and then skied Yotei Sunset down to Hanazono.

    Spent the rest of the day at Hanazono skiing packed powder on the groomed runs and crud and powder on the fringes.

    Tracy on the Hanazono 1 chairlift





    Tracy skiing the crud and powder of Hanazono

















    Great to be making turns with him again.

    It snowed most of the day and is set to continue through the night.

    All four areas of Niseko United are now open with Hirafu the only area where you still have to download from mid-mountain.

    Hopefully tonight's snowfall will provide enough coverage to open the runs to the bottom of Center 4 and the Hirafu gondola tomorrow.

  12. #12
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    Tracys' blog post says it all.

    May your turns be deep and stable.
    www.apriliaforum.com

    "If the road You followed brought you to this,of what use was the road"?

    "I have no idea what I am talking about but would be happy to share my biased opinions as fact on the matter. "
    Ottime

  13. #13
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    Amen to that

  14. #14
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    UPDATE

    Ian and I were invited to dinner at the 1 Michelin star restaurant Kamimura in Hirafu by Tracy, his girlfriend Mika, and her friend Minako last night.

    We thoroughly enjoyed the Chef's Degustation Menu and wine flight.

    Nemuro Salmon Caviar
    smoked, with mascarpone, gherkin and eschalot





    Quail's Egg
    wrapped in Jamon Serrano, with truffle powder





    Nemuro Hairy Crab
    marinated with crab butter, cucumber sorbet





    Habaro King Prawn Sashimi
    sliced carrot, cauliflower and walnuts





    Rausu Hokke (Atka Mackerel)
    grilled, cabbage cooked in clam stock, and Japanese herb salad





    Sempoushi Oyster
    butter sauteed, garlic chive sauce and Spanish chorizo





    Takikawa Duck Breast
    slow roasted, Japanese leek, kumquat and duck jus





    Shiraoi Wagyu Sirloin
    chargrilled, Niseko potato galette and veal jus





    Yoichi Apple
    warm caramelised, with crumbles and vanilla ice cream





    Espresso or Tea, with Petit Four


    It was a different menu from last season with some bold and exciting combinations of flavours, textures and temperatures.

    The Takikawa Duck Breast was the highlight for me.

    Fabulous company, fabulous food, fabulous evening.

    Kamimura
    http://kamimura-niseko.com/#!/splash

  15. #15
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    DAY 11 : SUNDAY 08 DECEMBER 2013

    15 cm in the past 24hrs at MQ


    My shovelling muscles are back in action

    Another great top up overnight, and Hirafu opened the runs back to the base of Center 4 today.

    Great powder to be had all over the mountain. The sun even came out briefly.

    Skied with Tracy and Ian in Hirafu in the morning, and when Ian took his leave Tracy & I headed over to Hanazono for a couple of runs.

    Tracy









    This was Ian's first day on snow this season and he was sporting new boots and skis.

    His Dynafit TLT 5 Mountain boots had died a graceful death so he got another pair.

    And he's traded in his Rossignol 78 Temptation's for a pair of 166cm Armada Pipe Cleaners (116-83-106), centre mounted with Dynafit bindings.

    Didn't take him long to find his balance points with 'less ski in front of him'.

    Ian









    It snowed far more off than on for the rest of the day, with waist deep conditions and face shots in and out of the trees.

    For lunch I took Tracy to Boyoso for the first time. Right up his street.


  16. #16
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    Jealous!!!

  17. #17
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    DAY 12 : MONDAY 09 DECEMBER 2013

    14 cm in the past 24hrs at MQ


    A wonderful sunny morning for Ian and mine's first visit to Kiroro for the season.

    This is the fourth consecutive year that we've had seasons passes, and it's always great to be welcomed back by the resort staff who recognise you from previous winters.

    The resort was a hive of happy activity with families over from Thailand, Singapore & China; race teams getting some early season coaching in; groups of retirees up from Honshu; and Akaigawa, Otaru and Sapporo locals finding their ski legs.

    There is considerably less snow on the ground than in previous Decembers - which is an Hokkaido wide occurance this winter - and it was fascinating to be able to see what's under all the snow that we ski so carefree on.

    First off there's a small pond beside the Mountain Hotel dining room. Who knew?

    And steps leading down to the slopes.

    But even with a lower base depth than normal the grooming was exemplary, and the finest of the Hokkaido resorts that I've visited.

    The slopes were quiet and it was great for Ian and I to find our feet and balance points and then let the skis run.

    The Nagamine area was closed but it won't be long before it opens





    The Asari Dynamic Course taken from the gondola





    Looking back down the Asari Dynamic Course with Powder Zone behind





    Hangman is going to need a little bit more snow!





    Ian at the top of Asari mountain





    At the top gondola station on Asari mountain there is a bell that lovers, newlyweds and married couples ring for good fortune.

    This is a shot of my lover Nerys ringing the bell in April 2012





    And here's a shot of Ian standing below the bell 'tower' yesterday showing how much snow we can expect to receive this winter.





    In the background is the magnificent backcountry area of Mt. Yoichi-dake easily accessible by snowshoe or touring equipment from the top of the gondola.

    The record snow depth at the summit of Asari is 580cm from the 2005/06 winter season (the red numbers and line at the top of the tower).

    It's coming, starting this weekend

  18. #18
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    DAY 13 : TUESDAY 10 DECEMBER 2013

    0 cm in the past 24hrs at MQ


    Actually it was more like -20 cm at MQ with overnight rain washing away what little base there is at my place.

    Still it keeps the shovelling down.

    It rained all day.

    Miserable.



    DAY 14 : WEDNESDAY 11 DECEMBER 2013

    0 cm in the past 24hrs at MQ


    The rain turned to snow just before dawn and whilst it came down healthily for a little while, once the sun came out what had fallen at village level quickly melted away.

    It's much cooler this evening, with a clear sunset.

    It could be icy out there first thing tomorrow if we don't get any snow overnight.

  19. #19
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    DAY 15 : THURSDAY 12 DECEMBER 2013

    4 cm in the past 24hrs at MQ


    I woke to a decent covering around the house and on the roads, with the snow set in for the day.

    Met up with Greg Heptonstall at 10 am and spent the morning in Hirafu helping Greg to get his ski legs for the season.

    Continuing the theme from Kiroro a couple of days ago, this is the trail map at the top of the Hirafu Gondola.

    Normally by mid-season you can't ski under the sign.





    After Tuesday's rain and last night's freeze I wasn't expecting much out of today but I was very pleasantly surprised with today's conditions.

    Minimal crunch underneath rapidly accumulating powder.

    We skied down to Hanazono 308 for a coffee at 2pm through knee deep untracked powder.

    At 308 we bumped into my new neighbour, Crested Butte, Colorado local Susan Mol.

    Susan's over for the winter snowboard and ski bumming, and today she was on her skis.

    Turns out the very unassuming Susan was 2009 Freeride World Tour Women's Snowboard Champion





    Came home at 5pm to 12 cm of dry, light powder on the deck and it's been coming down at a steady 1cm/hr since.

    Hirafu and Hanazono should be great tomorrow.

  20. #20
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    That time of the year again: have to start to read up your posts.
    The snow & food pics = good vibing.

    Carry on.

    The floggings will continue until morale improves.

  21. #21
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    Cheers.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  22. #22
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    DAY 16 : FRIDAY 13 DECEMBER 2013

    25 cm in the past 24hrs at MQ


    As of today 220 cm (87") has fallen at MQ in Higashiyama


    Skied Hirafu and Hanazono with Ian for the first part of the morning and he was really getting a handle on his balance points in deeper snow on his new centre mounted twin tip skis.

    It was knee deep with the occasional mid-thigh deep patch of creamy powder. The wind had got at it a little over night.

    Great turns to be had.

    By 10 am the visibility had gone and the wind had started to pick up.

    The grooming in Hirafu and Hanazono was of a poor standard today and with the flat light conditions I was suprised there weren't bodies everywhere.

    Met up with Greg at 11am and he and I skied through to day's end.

    Got home at 4pm and spent 90 minutes shovelling the wind blown snow around the house.

    First big storm of the season.

    12 cm has fallen during the day and it's raging out there at the moment.

    Some flights into Chitose have been cancelled due to the wind.

    Tomorrow could be epic or it could be a windblown suffer fest.

    Time will tell.

  23. #23
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    Cheers for the updates Mike,coming in Jan and watching the snow build up like a hawk!!

  24. #24
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    Pleasure.

    Big storm in at the moment.

    59cm so far and still coming down.

  25. #25
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    Keep the reports coming! I'm visiting in about 6 weeks and really looking forward to it.

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