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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    In the rain
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    Cat skiing in Central Japan, or what I've been up to the last 2 winters

    (Have a look at www.alpinehike.com if you are interested)

    Mid summer 2016 I get a message from a long time friend in Japan - Hey wanna guide some Japanese Powder next winter? I was coming off 3 winters of drought here in Cham (and unknown to me heading into 4th) . So of course " Yeah why not".
    Many months of paperwork later, I arrive in Japan. I thought I was going to guide in an existing operation, There was a cat an abandoned ski area up an access road from the main ski area, Naeba which is one of Japans largest (it's connected to Kagura by the longest gondola in Japan) ya de ya.
    I arrive and after a few days of messing about I am the head guide, mechanic, planner etc. I get given the keys to this

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    One of my first jobs is to go pickup the snowmobile that someone has bought, here's how we picked it up.

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    And here is how I got it to the hill

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    Fun sled, but bloody useless as a patrol sled.

    When we finally had permission from the various authorities I drove the cat (figuring out how to drive the thing was an adventure) up the access road to the ski area.

    Thing was as I was driving up my boss (Who runs a couple of ski schools among other things) told me this was the first time anyone had ever driven a cat up this road! When the area was in operation, the cats were trucked up and assembled in situ. We should fit!

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    The area turned out to be not bad, not bad at all

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    Seen from neighboring Tairapyoyama

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    There is 450m (1500ft) of vert and the longest run is about 3km (2 miles).
    I took me 3 days to put a road in to the top, figuring out road building in snow and not knowing what was under the snow all the way.

    I built a basic passenger cabin out of coated ply and 2x2. Only major issue is everything in a Japanese hardware store is different to anywhere else I've been. I Europe, the USA, NZ things might have different names but you get the same stuff (more or less). In Japan no 8' x 4' ply, everything is 3' x 6' for historical reasons, really messes with your head when you are trying to build something.

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    Anyway we did some exploring and ran a Cat op, but more on that tomorrow.
    Last edited by Idris; 12-06-2018 at 03:48 AM.
    Knowledge is Powder

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    4,985
    oh yea ... I'm subscribed. Moar pleeze

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    SLC
    Posts
    3,771
    go on...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    123
    Already a favorite, thanks for (continued) sharing!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    4,590
    Oh man looking forward to more of these.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    crown of the continent
    Posts
    13,747
    Cool! The 240 was a workhorse, just make sure your Japanese mechanic can read German and you should be good on repairs...
    Something about the wrinkle in your forehead tells me there's a fit about to get thrown
    And I never hear a single word you say when you tell me not to have my fun
    It's the same old shit that I ain't gonna take off anyone.
    and I never had a shortage of people tryin' to warn me about the dangers I pose to myself.

    Patterson Hood of the DBT's

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Park City
    Posts
    2,521
    Subscribed!


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    I rip the groomed on tele gear

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    The Bull City
    Posts
    2,107
    Idris always brings the goods. Every forum, every time, solid stoke, and only stoke!
    Go that way really REALLY fast. If something gets in your way, TURN!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    196
    I lived in Japan from 2001-04. Love the sled in the van - classic! Can't wait to see the rest.

  10. #10
    Love it...getting to Japan is a dream of mine

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    pdx
    Posts
    10,088
    Following

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    NWCT
    Posts
    1,830
    You have my interest, sir.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    whistler
    Posts
    829
    Definitely subscribing. Rad AF.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    150
    nice start. more please.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    OOTAH
    Posts
    2,099
    IDRIS IN THE HOUSE!!!!
    Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield: Oh, I'm sorry. Did I break your concentration?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    In the rain
    Posts
    1,522
    OK a fair bit more interest than I was expecting (ok it is pre season and everyone is itching to ski but still), So I'm going to fill in a few more gaps

    Building a passenger cabin for the cat (the box). Tools, a 4 1/2 circular saw, a jigsaw, a very used 12v drill, Japanese hand saw a tiny hammer 2 Fclamps and a tape measure.

    Workspace the lobby of an ex hotel now Ski instructor staff housing.

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    The box was assembled in situ on the one sunny day, it's still well below freezing and if you drop anything smaller than a foot square (30cm x 30cm) you ain't ever going to find it.

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    I was roadside but not anything you could call easy access

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    One of my very first guiding jobs, was baby sitting the DPS film crew who were staying with us, they had been skunked by the snow in Hokkido and had come to us looking for pow. Keeping up with them was easy enough, I sort of knew they lye of the land (I had done one day up the lifts) in Kagura before they arrived. Keeping them alive was just work. Keeping them from being arrested was a pain. A lot of Japanese ski resorts still get very upset if you ski off the designated ski run, angry as in team of guys with sticks to keep you in place while they call the police (even though there is no actual law against it) - solved my making everyone follow my skin track round the issues. No the hard work was digging the bloody van out each morning.

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    If you left your car parked for a week you had issues

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    The cat was in a similar state when I left it for a day or 2

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    To give a little more idea of where I was based, this is taken from on top of the Naeba ski area looking due East. The small obvious ski slopes behind the village were abandoned 5-10 years ago by the moronic management that is Prince Hotels. The big white lump of a mountain is Tairapyoyama with Tanigawadake behind. Kagura ski area is directly North and Mikuni the area which the cat skiing is in, just south, directly up the small valley at the base of the slope. Anything over the ridgeline in the right of the picture is Gunmar Prefecture (know for Drift culture rather than skiing) and south of the continental divide so much less snow.
    Tokyo is about 1.5 hours on the Shinkansen (Bullet train) to Yuzawa then 30 min drive.

    More later
    Knowledge is Powder

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Gaperville, CO
    Posts
    3,081
    This is fantastic. Thanks for posting.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Wasatch
    Posts
    4,855
    I got to get to japow
    I need to go to Utah.
    Utah?
    Yeah, Utah. It's wedged in between Wyoming and Nevada. You've seen pictures of it, right?

    So after 15 years we finally made it to Utah.....


    Thanks BCSAR and POWMOW Ski Patrol for rescues

    8, 17, 13, 18, 16, 18, 20, 19, 16

    2018/2019 (4/6)

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Park City
    Posts
    2,521
    ^^^^^
    Yes you must

    Cheaper than a week in colorado


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    I rip the groomed on tele gear

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    100'F and Muggy
    Posts
    568
    You had me at "Japan".

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Before
    Posts
    18,842
    Yay Idris!
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    In the rain
    Posts
    1,522
    Quote Originally Posted by Tye 1on View Post
    Cool! The 240 was a workhorse, just make sure your Japanese mechanic can read German and you should be good on repairs...
    Pity that, the only Mechanic at first was me, later I had a friend help, but not with the linguistics ;(
    Knowledge is Powder

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    In the rain
    Posts
    1,522
    Quote Originally Posted by detrusor View Post
    ^^^^^
    Yes you must

    Cheaper than a week in colorado


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    Tru dat (unless you insist on staying in Niseko)
    Knowledge is Powder

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    North Vancouver
    Posts
    6,165
    Amazing. Keep it coming.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Montucky
    Posts
    929
    Sick photos, Idris.

    Seems like the cat is truly "out of the bag" in Japan. Tons of operations popping up here and there.

    Shameless thread hijack for a video that just dropped yesterday from the Shimamaki Cat op in Hokkaido.

    Like you, I worked on this baby during the winters of 2014 and 2015. The place is finally making some headway.

    Last edited by SUPERIOR; 10-28-2018 at 11:39 PM.

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