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  1. #1
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    Aug 2014
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    TR: Hokkaido Late Jan 2019

    I got to go to Hokkaido for 2 weeks with Owen Leeper and Matt McDonald, two awesome buddies. Here is the story go how it came together, where we went, how we ate, and of course because this is me, why I bought the gear I did, as well as changes Id make if I go again.


    Its a little long. Ill try to add more pictures over the next few days. Im not great at this so it might a few tries to get right.

    If you dont like how I ramble on about shit, fuck off, its my trip report and this is TGR so Ill do what I want.

    All skiers and photographers are Owen Leeper, Matt McDonald and I. I forget who took which pic and donít feel like tagging everyone individually
    Last edited by skibrd; 04-24-2019 at 08:45 PM.

  2. #2
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    January 2018 - tram dock in Jackson Hole
    Get asked my Owen if I want to go to Japan in a week(ish), do the math, realize I could find the money to go, almost all with credit cards, but probably shouldnít. Offer to go next year, and get the ok, yeah lets do it brush off because everyone says that and no one follows through.

    July 2018
    Japan comes up again, I tell Owen Im still in, and slowly think about how Im actually going to pay for the trip. I also realize I donít have the right skis for a Japan trip, and start emailing Praxis about a custom pair of Protests. I do have 12 pairs of skis, but Japan dictates a special pair of Protests, slightly lighter, slightly stiffer, and sexy ass top sheets. If Im flying to Japan to ski pow, Im going to spoil myself and get a custom pair of Protests.

    September 16 2018
    Sign on the Green Cove, a car carrier for 120 days as third mate. I need to make some real money to be able to afford Japan, but will I be able to get off the ship in time to go, or so I hope. Im technically supposed to be here until the first safe port stop after January 13 2019, we will see what happens.

    October 2018
    Talk to Owen, we are still on for Japan, but donít have dates, humÖ. Finally order Protests from Praxis, waited too long and it wasnít cheap, its Japan and Im back making good money, plus they look awesome.

    November 2018
    Owenís ski schedule starts coming together and he wants to go Jan 12 for 10ish days. I donít know the ships schedule (we are heading west across the Pacific so we assume we are loading cargo in Asia, but donít know out side that) and say if Iím off work, Iíll go, but who knows what shape Iíll be in. Iím more then nervous about going to Japan with a bunch of rockstars in crap shape, but there is only so much I can do on the ship with my watch, work and sleep schedule. We do start looking for people to join in on the trip, get a lot of maybes, but nothing set.

    Late November/Early December 2018
    We finally get cargo orders, load in Japan, cross the Pacific, transit the Panama Canal on Christmas Day, discharge on the US East coast the first week of January, then unknown. Look like I get a little lucky with the Green Cove hitting the US east coast the first week of January, there is a chance Japan might work. Needless to say Im excited and I ask the captain if I can get off January 1st in Florida.

    December 21 2018
    Im supposed to get off the ship in 11 days, the captain hasnít told me if I have a relief or not, so I look on the union website and a relief has been assigned! He wont commit to me having a relief, but its there and so I know Im going home, dude is a dick, but whatever. The discussion with Owen continues and we decide on Jan 17 to Jan 30. We still only have two committed (one a serious pro skier who is always in shape, and meÖ), but the maybes seem to be more like yeahs, but nothing confirmed. Im more skeptical then optimistic that people will join us, who knows.

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  3. #3
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    Early January 2019
    Have continued talks about a Japan trip slowly figuring out dates.
    Decide to leave the USA on a flight to Tokyo on January 17 2019 to arrive in Tokyo on Friday afternoon, January 18 2019, the whole day jump on the way there means you get a day sooner then you think. Everyone bails, except we get one definite maybe (what ever that means), it depends on the cost of the flight. I do start making a list of what I want to bring.

    Tuesday January 15 2019

    Last maybe bails, but another buddy of Owen’s, Matt McDonald from Powder 7, decides to join in! We have a crew of three. Start looking for flights from Jackson to Tokyo and realize it would be a lot easier to be in Denver Thursday morning, then fly out of Jackson Thursday morning, since Im flying standby. Call my cousin (who lives in Denver and I haven’t seen in way too long) and see if I can crash on his couch tomorrow night, not as easy as it sounds since he is married with 2 kids under 3 years old, but him, his wife and the kids are excited cousin Matt is coming to visit! Realize I should provably fly early enough to have dinner with his family, so I book a domestic flight from Jackson to Denver for mid afternoon on Wednesday, which is tomorrow. I try to sleep, but I start stressing because I don’t have anything packed. Heck, even my Dakine ski bag is still in the plastic, at least I took it out of the box when I got home last week?

    Wednesday January 16 2019
    Finish packing, run around and get a extra buff, a few extra pairs of ski socks, and an extra pair of goggles. It really starts hitting me that this is my first big ski trip that didn’t involve moving to a ski town, or meeting my family somewhere for their annual out west ski vacation. Im really flying to Japan, to ski pow! Get everything packed, extras of everything, fat and narrow skis, both with touring bindings, check list twice, grab extra AAA batteries for my beacon, and head to the airport. Name:  Japan Gear.jpg
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Size:  94.4 KB I get to the baggage checking in counter and weigh my bag, I’m a ski bum, why would I own a scale to weigh by bag before hand, and realize its 60 lbs, fuck…. I try to repack and toss 12lbs of stuff in my back pack, but the very nice lady at the United counter shoots me down because now my already large backpack is way too big for the over head bin, oops. I quickly realize I need to leave the second pair of skis and skins in Jackson, so I call my roommate (the one who I roped into driving me to the airport) to come back to the airport. I toss my touring skis in the car and say good bye, again. Get checked in a get off to Denver. I keep an eye on flights, and finally commit to flights to Tokyo. Im going Denver to Houston to Tokyo, all on standby, so hopefully it works. This is my first time flying standby, so Im a little nervous about how the system works, but I’m optimistic it will work out.

    Thursday January 17 2019
    330 am, alarm goes off quietly, I don’t want to wake up my cousins two kids, because that would suck, royally. Uber ordered, out the door quietly, and on the way to the airpot. I get to the baggage check in and find out that on international flights I can have 2 bags up to 70 lbs, fuck, Id really like those touring skis. Heck, lesson learned, always book international flights from home to the final destination so I can have everything I want. Anyways, I get all checked in, but since Im standby, I don’t get a seat until the plane is loaded. Little do I know that the Denver to Houston 5am flight is almost always full, and I’m 14th on the stand by list, hum, might of screwed this up. The plane is loaded and there are 12 empty seats . I stick around the gate as the standby passengers are loaded, and when the gate attendants get to the 12th name its a couple, who give me the seat so they can fly later together (wahoo!), Im off to Houston and it starts to hit me, Im actually going to Japan skiing, and with a rad good buddy too! I land in Houston two hours later and I rush to the gate for the Tokyo flight, only to be given a seat right away, now its hitting me, Im really flying to Japan! Off we go, exit row, all to my self, lots of leg room, and I’m set for the 14 hour flight. All three of us are on different flights, and before we take off I send one last ‘see you guys in Japan’ text, and cross my fingers they both make it.

    Oh, I checked the forecast again, yeah...
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    Friday January 18 2019
    Arrival Tokyo Narita, not quite Tokyo, but in Japan none the less! My flight gets in 2 hours early, good winds the pilot told us, so I get my bags, get through customs, and head to the terminal for the Tokyo to Sapporo flight, which we still haven’t booked because all three of us were not in Japan yet. I check there flights, Matts is late and Owens is on time. Maybe next time Ill be a little more insistent on everyone flying together. Owen did the research on Tokyo to Sapporo flights, and we e weren’t sure if we would make the last budget ($74 USD!) flight to Sapporo on Thursday night, or if we were staying the night in Tokyo Narita. Matt’s flight doesn’t make up time, and now Owen’s flight is getting in late. We rushed to the Vanilla Air terminal to try to make the last flight, but were out of luck, 5 min too late. Plan B kicks into action, and we find a hotel by the airport, quickly check in, figure out the closest ramen restaurant to the hotel, walking distance from the hotel, and of course some beers. We also figure out flights for the next morning, baggage weights, times, etc, and book a 7am flight to Sapporo, Japow here we come. This is so real, Im actually in Japan, eating real ramen, drinking real Japanese beer, going skiing!


  4. #4
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    Aug 2014
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    TR: Hokkaido Late Jan 2019

    Saturday January 19 2019

    We all get up early, and catch our flight, look for breakfast, decide on gyoza and ice cream, note to self, budget Japanese airline terminals dont have the greatest amenities in them. We actually have tickets this time, so we get seats, which is very not stressful or dramatic, unlike the day before. Two hours later and we land in Sapporo, get the rental car which has snow tires and an English speaking GPS (but all the letters are still in Japanese, so it still wasnít very useful, thankfully it was free), and off to Niseko we go! We pass a cool rest stop with lots of mushrooms, and a huge dinosaur, so we pull over for a snack, get buns and meat on a stick, and back on the road as quick as we can because we wanted to ski! Matt sets us up with a sweet house at the base of Niseko Gran Hirafu, a 5 min walk to the gondola, and a ski back to the house!
    Itís only noon, we are all excited and itching to ski, and being the good ski bums we are, we change, get lift tickets and head as high as we can on the mountain, right to the nearest gate because we all know the best powder is out of bounds, and to the skiers left of the Niseko resorts. We are a bit perplexed after the first run, but it is day one, and 4in of dust on a fairly firm base is alright to stretch our legs after flying across the world to find pow. We did find some deeper turns, but nothing like what we thought we would find. A few more laps, some more exploring, and its night, but the lights at Gran Hirafu come on so we keep skiing! We poked around and found some soft bumps, and some pillows to jump off of, well for Owen to jump off of cause Im no where near that level. We didnít prepare for night skiing, and none of us had clear/low light lenses, so we call it a day, headed back to the room to change and get some food. A good friend suggested Niseko Ramen, which just happens to be 2 blocks down the street from where we were staying, how convenient, so we walk over on down the street to find some excellent ramen. In anticipation of what we expected to be a powder day the next day, because that was the forecast, we headed to bed, not fully adjusted to the time zone, but still somewhat tired.


    Sunday January 20 2019

    Day two at Niseko, and we got more time to explore and poke around the 4 Niseko United resorts. We go for a hike to the top in a pingpong ball, and skied down in the same pingpong ball. We did find some fun longer (for Japan) fall line runs to ski, but we still hadnít found what we would consider deep turns, not what I thought we would be finding in Japan. We poke out of bounds some more, figure out our way around bit better, but still donít find that deep japanuary Japow we flew half way around the world for.
    4in was great to ski, and if we get that every day for the next 10 days, Iíll be stoked, but its not quite what I was expecting. When my ex texts me that night (Japan time) and wants to know if I saw the 192 inch forecast for Snowbird/Alta and wanted to com down for it, Im starting to wonder if I should of stayed home. She is selfish, hence being an ex, but seriously guys and girls, donít text your friends and loved ones about how good it is at home when you are on a ski trip, just dont, donít be that guy/girl, no one likes that guy/girl.
    We doo some digging on Snow-Forecast.com, J2SKI.com and the NOAA surface weather graphs, and see a few storms are moving in, so I hold out hope that we will get a huge refresh and Japan will grace us with the powder that makes it so famous. We make a plan to ski Niseko Moiwa the next day. Dinner was fairly forgettable, we went looking for sushi, but in a resort town, that isnít quite in a skids budget, so we settled for some hot pot, and a few other apps on the menu at an even more forgettable restaurant, but still had to stop at the Indian food trucks and in Lawsons to get more food to fill up. Lawsons is like 711 or your corner store with snacks and beer, its awesome and saved the day more then once. We also checked out the ďFridge Door BarĒwhich turned out to be a huge tourist trap with thee most over priced drinks I have ever seen, and I lived in NYC for ten years, and Jackson Hole for 5. Three drinks came to over $60 USD, really? One was in a glorified martini glass that wasnít even 1/3 full.

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    Monday January 21 2019

    We wake up to 8in of new snow, even more apparently on the hill, but the snow and avi report are vague at best, so we donít really know how much fell. Inaccurate forecasts and snow reports are a common trend for Japan, the forecasts are often wrong, both high and low wrong, so donít stress, just go skiing. It almost seems as if the weather forecasters use a bingo roller cage and what ever numbers fall out the bottom, they pick as a snow total and what they will forecast for the next day.
    Back to the regularly scheduled programing, we pack up the car and head to Niseko Moiwa, about a 15 minute drive from the base of Niseko Grand Hirafu, only to get there and be told the one quad is not open due to high winds, they didnít even put the chairs on the line, and they were not sure if they would get it open today, so again plan B kicks in and we head to Niseko Gran Hirafu to ride more chair lifts. 15 min later and we are back at Gran Hirafu, only to see Vail style lift lines wrapping up the hill, hum, this isnít what we planned on. We work our way around and get to a bubble quad chair (bubbles chairs are awesome, just donít try to sit on your poles like I did almost every time we got on the chair) that takes us high enough up on the mountain to get some pow turns. We poke around inbounds for a run or two and realize there isnít much there, so we go looking at the rope lines of the restricted danger keep out areas, and see some tracks headed into them. So as every good ski bum with avi gear, partners and knowledge would do, under the ropes we went to find the first nirvana of the trip. Our own little powder stash, waste to over head deep turns, until we had to traverse back to the resort, 8-10 turns of good fall line pow, and traverse 343987 miles back to the resort. A group of pros are shooting in there too, so we give them room to work, until I didnít and felt like an apology was in order. I didnít see them again that day, so I dropped one of the guys a DM apologizing and he was super cool about it and said no big deal, the mountains are for everyone. Plus one for that dude for being super cool! It was good enough for us, so we kept at it all day until tracked out all the faces we deemed safe to ski.
    Towards the end of the day we were pushing what would be considered safe and I popped a wind loaded pocket, then cut under said pocket and got myself slid. I screwed up, and didnít manage my sluff, or ski to a safe zone. Instead, I cut under the pocket I knew I popped, then skied into a wind lip, and slowed way down, allowing my sluff and the avalanche I triggered to catch me. The slide caught me, I did one barrel roll, stopped in a sitting position with my legs down hill, as this happened I covered my mouth with one hand and raised my other as high as I could, which did clear the snow. As the snow around me slowed down, I was able to stand up and self rescue. Both skis were on my feet, one pole was MIA, the other was in my hand, and everything else felt where it should be, body felt fine, well except for being shook up. I stand up and check around me to look for the safest way to a safe zone, and ski to meet up with the guys. When all this happened, I apparently skied out of view of them, so they missed the entire ordeal, granted it lasted 3 min (so probably 25 seconds max). They did see me ski back into view and skied down to me. I told them what happened and we all decided to be more careful. This was the only incident in Japan with avalanches and it would of seriously sucked to fly half way around the world to die, like seriously suck, but I got lucky, and it was time for beers as the light was fading, and we had tracked out everything we deemed safe to ski.
    Dinner was Niseko Ramen again, after failing to get into the other two ramen stops in town, and making another quick stop at the Indian food trucks for some more Garlic Nah. We decide to give Moiwa another shot the next day then head to Kiroro the day after, so we pack up for our first big move.

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  5. #5
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    TR: Hokkaido Late Jan 2019

    Tuesday January 22 2019

    Niseko Moiwa has 3 lifts, but really only one quad that goes to the top and is worth our time. We were told about the famous Moiwa side country, so we did one inbounds run first, just to say we did it, .and you donít pass good snow for the hope of better snow. Then, because of what we were told was famous backcountry, we headed skiers left, and found some good trees that gave us 8-10 awesome pow turns, and another 234987 mile traverse back to the base. Yet again we found a short steep pitch, but not quite what we were looking for, so we headed skiers right for the next lap, which wasnít much better, but we did find a great very Japanese sign insert picture of danger sign. We figured we missed something going skiers left, so we followed the foot steps out to the next ridge over and found some great waste deep turns, about 8 of them, then more traversing back to the base, see a trend hereÖ We had a little powwow and decided to try skinning up the ridge we walked out to get more vertical, and finally found what we were looking for (well sort of). They were the best turns of the trip so far, and it included jumping off some 8-15 ft cornices, which helped. Moiwa is cool, but its weird in that you donít need a guide, but you need a little luck. By luck I mean the upper lifts at Niseko Annupuri were closed most of the day so no skier traffic was skiing down on to us, and having the will to skin up the ridge between the two resorts, gave us some great pow turns, but it still leads to a 234987 mile traverse back to the base (and donít miss the little sign for Moiwa cause if you do, actually, I donít know what will happen because none of us missed it).
    We had a great day (actually two back to back) but decided it was time to get away from the crowds at the Niseko resorts, too many Aussies and Kiwis, not the authentic Japanese vibe we were looking for. We got a ton of info that Kiroro was supposed to be awesome, but didnít want to pay to stay in Kiroro so we headed to Otaru, which is a sea side town about 35 min from Kiroro. Insert pajama pic We booked a great little hotel room, walked to a sweet sushi restaurant and got stuffed. Well Owen and Matt did because I ate something that wasnít shell fish (but was some sort of squid I think?) but gave me a funny reaction so I ran back to the hotel room to get some Benadryl. Oops my bad and more sushi for them.

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    Wednesday January 23 2019

    We pack up and head to Kiroro with anticipation of hopefully finding some good lift access fall line pow, boy were we wrong, like really really wrongÖ. I would highly recommend against giving Kiroro a single penny if you have the ability and drive to tour. The best terrain is east/to the right as you drive into the resort, and off on that side there is a skin track leading to it out of the parking lot. The resort says you need to buy a lift ticket and fill out a climbing plan to access the back country, but no one checks at the gates, so use the time instead to get a head start on skinning. If you poke around enough, youíll find the skin track the guides have put in, and they make life really easy. If you find a super steep skin track, its probably an ascender boot pack snowboarders put in, and they suck to try to skin up, we tried, and partially succeeded, then switchbacked. Owen is a beast and made it most of the way up the ascender boot pack, it was amazing and frustrating to watch at the same time. Be careful of the river crossings, they are everywhere and usually if you poke around for a bit you can almost always find a bridge and donít have to huck over the river.
    We knew we were not going to ski Kiroro again, so we looked at the forecast, which we had figured out by then was a total crap shoot, to see where the best snow would be. Asahidake was by far the winner with 67 cm forecasted by the end of Thursday (yeah 2 ft in 24 hours), the next closest snow forecast for the same period was 35 cm, so we packed up and headed north in a Japanese blizzard! Just under four hours later, and $40 in tolls (yep you read that right, $40 in tolls), we got to a sweet little hostel (Matty found it last winter and it was well worth it) with its own onsen and is 3 min down the road from Asahidake Ropeway. Since we didnít know anything about Asahidake, we did some digging and found they have one tram, that takes you up 500 vertical meters (1640 ft), 3 groomed trails, and some of the best off piste skiing in Japan. Im starting to think we might of found what we came looking for, deep Japan powder, steep trees, and smiles all day long. We pulled in at 10 pm, and it had snowed over a foot already, with more coming down, and it was coming down hard. We unpacked, got some beers, made sure everything was ready for tomorrow, and fell asleep with dreams of deep Japanese pow, little did we know how deep or what we were getting ourselves into.

    Thursday January 24 2019
    Morning comes early as we were all excited for our first deep day in Japan. We wake 18in on the roof of the car, which was cleared off when we pulled in the night before. Giddy with excitement, we hastily eat breakfast and get to the resort, which I use loosely because all there is at Asahidake is one tram, 3 sort of runs that were groomed at some point the previous day, and a hotel. Snow was still coming down hard, and it was light fluffy cowboy pow, which is what we expected since Mt Asahidake is the highest mountain on Hokkaido, but is every different that was we had found so far in Japan. On slow days, which today was even though it snowed over 2 ft the night before, only about 30-45 people ride the 100 person tram, the tram runs every 20 min (elbow room on a tram on a pow day, unheard of!), which the Jackson skier in me said fine, we will get a bunch of laps in and between laps get some water, a snack, and go back up. How wrong I wasÖ
    The tram was cool and roomy because there werenít many people on it, and when we got to the top, old man winter was waiting for us. The beta we had accumulated from Mattyís trip last winter and talking to friends who were here last week, told us to hike to the ridge 3-5 min west (go right off the tram dock, so west?), drop off over the nose, and stay between the groomers. That works unless you cant see the end of your ski pole, never less where the groomers are or where the nose is. We gave it a shot anyways because, well, why not and were soon met with waste deep pow and chest deep wind lips we were walking though. The crazy euros and there guides let us set the track through the snow until we got to the trees, which were probably only 500 ft away, but took 15 min to get to (there goes racing the tramÖ). Traversing on fairly flat ground, in a white out, with waste deep pow, isnít easy, even with uber fat pow ski on. We make it to the tree line and get our first taste of deep, light, ski movie quality Japow, and OMG was it deep. You had to ski with a buff over your mouth, or you would inhale a mouth full of pow as soon as you opened your mouth, and good luck seeing the trees, and good luck knowing when to turn, you better do the best you can to pop out of the snow in between each turn or your were in trouble. But yet again, the epically deep fluffy Japow turns lead to 10 miles of traversing out, but it was alright since it was groomed and had 4 in of new snow on it, which made it fun!
    We got two more runs in and each run kept getting deeper and deeper, it was epic, even the traverses were getting us face shots, it was great. This is why I came to Japan, and it was awesome. I donít think we ever beat the tram down, but it didnít matter because I was 100% fine with the rest. Then the day took a quick pause as the tram closed for 2 hours due to wind.
    When the tram reopened, we went up for the last lap of the day (it was 3:30 pm) and found the deepest snow of my life. It was too deep, unskiable deep, way too unstable to get on anything with enough pitch to get your speed up to actually ski the deep snow, and everything that didnít have a high probability of killing you, you couldnít turn or youíd get stuck because there was that much resistance pushing against you. We did find a little gully/depression that was just under 28 degrees and it was insane. You were creating a bow wake 10-15 ft infront of you as you were trying to ski. Insane, 100% insane. Because this is Japan and not Jackson, Snowbird, Crystal, Squaw, we skied into a flat section and were polling across the flats in chest deep. When I say chest deep, I mean the snow was at my chest buckle for my backpack, Iím 6 ft 3 inches tall and the traverses were that deep, just imagine how deep the snow was when we were skiing.
    We figured 48 inches fell in less then 24 hours, and with the wind, there were pockets over 60 inches deep. The skiing as nuts, the early turns in the day were fun, but as it got deeper, it was too much snow to ski. Im not talking about the avi danger, but it was too deep to actually move in. I never really thought Id say that, but it was. The only skis bigger then my 196 cm Protests is the Liberty Genome or the DPS Spoon, but even those wouldnít of been big enough. Owen was on his Icelandic 191cm Icelandic Nomad 125ís and Matty on 175cm Atomic Bentchetler 120s, and none of us could stay on top. Today is why I came to Japan, and now the trip is worth it, it was so cool. Im really excited to explore Asahidake tomorrow, and find what else there is to ski. Hopefully the wind doesnít screw up the snow pack too bad, because if the snow settles and stabilizes a bit, tomorrow could be bonkers.

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    Last edited by skibrd; 04-24-2019 at 08:39 PM.

  6. #6
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    Friday January 25 2019
    We wake up in Asahidake ready to get after the pow we couldn’t ski yesterday. The hostel has an amazing traditional Japanese breakfast for us, and we plan to ski a few different ridges Matt explored last winter, and then head to Furano. We did decide not to get lift tickets at the hostel, which are 500 yen less then at the rope way, because if the wind up to is over 14 m/s, the rope way will not operate. The hostel didn’t have a weather or ropeway status report, which was weird, but it ended up working in our favor. Of course, when we got to the ticket booth, the tram was down and we had no mechanical way to access all that glorious pow. We try to find if the ropeway will open or what will happen, we don’t get anything from anyone, and start working plan B. After further investigation into the weather forecast, it looked like if we stayed in Asahidake to wait for the wind to die down, we would probably be waiting until tomorrow. Not wanting to waste a day, and definitely not wanting to skin up Asahidake, we kicked into salvage the day mode and figured out a plan B. We decided we would drive to Furano, and ski half a day there, so off we went. Furano is about 40 miles and 90 minutes from Asahidake, which went by smoothly. Matt and I both commented that the Japanese country side reminded us of upstate NY or Vermont, very rural, Owen wondered why anyone would ski there, well some of us didn’t grow up in a little place called Aspen (which he didn’t either but in my mind its still funny). Furano consists of two main areas, with abundant lift access backcountry. Because of who we are, we head right for the first gate we could find and up a quick 15 min hike up a ridge between the two resorts. We find some soft snow, slightly heavier from settling over night, but the skiing was great and all 3 of us agreed we made the right decision to enact plan B and abandon Asahidake this morning.
    Since two of us are Jackson Hole locals, we then proceed to the tram, because thats what we do (well I do because Owen hates the tram line, which is justified since you do get more skiing in my riding other lifts, little Jackson tip for you there). The tram goes about 3/4 of the way up the Furano side of the resort, and a double chair takes us up the rest of the way. At the top of that chair, is another gate, so out we go and we find, imagine this, more pow (its almost like it snows a bunch in Japan), and we even found some longer runs, but they still ended up at a 3257098 mile traverse, but this time over a dam, super cool, and back to the resort. 4 laps, one boot malfunction later, and the tram closed as the resort shifted to night skiing mode. So we pack it up, head to check in at the hotel, and figure out whats wrong with Matty’s boot. We discover the screws for the walk mode fell out (oops, always triple check your stuff), the screws loosening had been an issue all week. We checked with two local ski shops, neither of which were very helpful since apparently their are no boot fitters in Furano. Owen and I didn’t want to leave Matty with a boot that wouldn’t go into ski mode, so we headed to the Japanese combination of Walmart and Home Depot, Homec, to see if we can scrounge up enough parts to get him going again. After a few translation errors, we get pointed in the right direction and find some T nuts and accompanying bolts, and put the boot back together. Fingers are crossed it holds, which it should since the hardware we used is way beefier then what Techinca used to build the walk mode. We get checked into Tomar Hostel, find dinner, more beers, and make plans to explore more of what Furano has to offer in the morning. After checking in we found dinner, it was the best so far. An Isakawa Japanese restaurant, they had sushi, and a grill. We (well I) kept ordering food until we were full. Owen is the desert king and ordered maybe the best french toast I have ever seen. We all agreed we could have just that for breakfast and be perfectly fine, it was that good.

    Saturday January 26 2019

    The hostel had a traditional Japanese breakfast for 750 yen, which we figured why not check it out. Well, its not anything close to the American breakfast we are used to, but it got food into us. I woke up really sore and worn down, and after breakfast wasn’t feeling any better so I took a day off. Owen and Matt headed to Furano to check it out some more. They came back with some really awesome pictures of great tree skiing. Furano has potential, but we were a few days, maybe even a day, too late so we missed out on everything it had to offer. I went for a walk in downtown Furano, took a nap, and made a reservation at a Isakawa restaurant that as recommended by the front desk employees at the hostel. We all sort of had the idea that we would ball out on one dinner and with out planning, tonight ended up being that night. The place had an old school traditional Japanese vibe. You walk in and feel like you are going back to the time of the samurai, the food, the vibe, the set up, and the sake, was just right. We had almost every assortment of land and sea based creature you can eat, nothing that flies though, and more sake then we remember. The server, this awesome old Japanese man with a towel rolled up and wrapped around his head, made fun of us after about 2 hours of eating and drinking sake. We made plans to head to Rusutsu in the morning, so early to bed we go, well sort of early.

    Sunday January 27 2019

    A rough morning for at least Matty and I after all the sake, but all three of us get packed up and on the road to Rusutsu. We did skip the traditional Japanese breakfast this time, its a thing you need to do, but sometimes carbs, buns and cooked from the corner convince store is just better.
    Four and a half hours later we get to Rusutsu and are greeted with great views of Mt Yotei. Rusutsu is actually two ski resorts connected across the valley by a gondola. We checked out Rusutsu East and found so much potential, so many cool features, fun tree lines, and really interesting trees to ski under, over, and through, but the conditions didn’t quite allow for as much fun as we had hoped. We did find a really cool tree with a ramp up it that Owen skied a few times, so Rusutsu West wasn’t a total fail, we all got something out of it. My legs felt 100 times better today and had some pop back in them. Us mortal beings need to remember to take a rest day and give our bodies time to recover. The 4 ridges of Rusutsu West are fun, but we didn’t feel a need to ski them again in the chalk, refrozen, cut up pow we found.
    We headed to Rusutsu East to check out the amusement park, roller coasters and what skiable terrain they had. The amusement park and roller coasters were closed for the winter, which made us all sad, and Owen was especially sad when you couldn’t use any of the rides as jumps or rails to ski through, around or over. We salvaged what we could of the gondola ride over by checking out the uber special, by Japanese standards, side country park. A side country park a combination of a terrain park and tree skiing. The resort built ramps through splits in trees, built ladders over tree arches, set the trees up to catch more snow so you could ride through, over and around them easier. The landings all were super hard, and our lift tickets were up, so we headed back to the car and off to the Niseko Grand Hotel Hokkaido for the next two nights. We got another Japanese style room, which made us all nervous, and even more so after walking into the entrance way and thinking it was the whole room, but everything ended up being alright, well as alright as sleeping on the floor on glorified sleeping pads can be. Dinner was more amazing gyoza and ramen. Im almost to the point where Im going to order just gyoza for dinner and skip the ramen, fish, etc.

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  7. #7
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    TR: Hokkaido Late Jan 2019

    Monday January 28 2019

    With the snow sub par, and more on the way, but it not here yet, and not having found avalanche road barriers for Owen to backflip yet (we all wanted to ski the barriers, not just Owen), we decided to head out and see what we could find. 10 min later we found a great set of snow fences. Matty and Owen went first, and after hearing the oomphfs upon landing I offered to run shuttle and take pictures, my back would not of been happy with repeated hard landings. The first lap the guys sent big straight airs, and made plans to set Owen up for a back flip and Matty with a front flip. Second lap, we figured out the right spot for me to be in for a picture, Matty set up for a second angle and Owen threw a massive backflip. Its so cool watching friends do cool shit, and when Owen throws a backflip, there is nothing small about it since he is 6-2 and on big skis. One more lap to get video of Owen and Matt linking up the whole run together, and we headed up the road to a local backcountry spot to find some powder. Thirty eight minutes (according to Owen, I was up in 41 minutes cause Iím slow) later we get just short of a ridge in 20-25 knots of wind and snow coming down sideways, we rip skins and ski back down. The 5 inches of new pow that fell in the past 2 hours helped, but skiing on crust isnít quite what we came to Japan for, but it was good to get on soft snow again. Since we had to drive past the snow fences again, Owen and Matt did another lap with another big back flip by Owen.
    Tonight was our last night together, and since we already had one big night out, we checked out the most popular ramen shop in Niseko. The restaurant is on the first floor, but the waiting line goes though the lobby and up into a gift shop on the second floor, which doesnít seem fishy at all, hum, BS. After getting skipped on the waiting list because we were shopping for souvenirs we wouldnít buy, and asking the little old Japanese lady where we were on the standby list, we got a table and sat down for a feast. Owen, who never was full from any meal, and was the originator of the running joke was second dinner was at Lawsons every night for buns and fried chicken, found the large ramen bowl, which is 50% bigger then a normal ramen, and dug in. Matty got regular ramen and I had a pork w/ rice dish. After that, we headed back to the hotel for Matty to pack because he was heading home the next day. Owen and I decided to wait until we saw the weather in Niseko to plan for our last day. We had hoped to catch a weather window to get up Mt Yotei, or another of the famous Japanese volcanos, but we also had multiple people suggest checking out Sapporo Kokusai, about 2 hours from where we were staying. Neither of us was looking forward more time in the car, but at the same time neither of us wanted to ski the Niseko resorts, or skin up Yoti in subpar weather.

    Tuesday January 29 2019
    We woke up to Matty's alarm so he could catch a bus to Chouste International Airport, said our good byes, and off he went. Our threesome was down to a twosome for the last day, but it was alright because work lets us go on these trips, so we have to enjoy the time we do get on them, and when work calls, you have to go back sometimes. The weather was overcast with a low cloud level, 4-6 in of new snow fell at Niseko, and neither of us was feeling skiing Niseko. We decided to head to Sapporo Kokusai which ended up being one of the top three decisions we made. Sapporo Kokusai is the closest resort to Sapporo (not sure according to who, but Im running with it), and as we pulled up we were greeted with the parking lot full of coach busses, like 60 large coach busses. We did know the groomed, patrolled terrain wasnít too massive, so we were tentative that the slopes were overrun with school kids. Well, we were right, they were over run with school kids, but it was alright because we didnít ski any groomers. Two buddies of Owens, Julian and Colter, both suggested skiing under the gondola, and to ignore the ropes and large red danger signs attempting to keep people on the groomed trails. Well, we listened and ignored the ropes and signs, and found the best pow we had since Asahisake, boot top to waste deep coastal cream. After three laps of orientation we figured out the zone we wanted to ski, and found Owens Japan nirvana, trees and pillows to jump off of, perfect untouched ridges for me to ski down, what we (or at least I) was looking for in Japan. Of course, because we were still in Hokkaido, the powder runs were followed by 2193842 mile traverses back to the base, but in this case it was alight because of all the cool trees and pillows to jump off of on the way.
    On one of the traverses out, we watched two Aussie kids ski off this cool looking tree into the river bed, and both of us thought, AH HA, we found it. The tree was perfect, just enough snow to ride off of, the right amount of ramp off the traverse to get speed to get out on it, and a landing with 24-36 inches of soft pow. Insert tree pic. A few laps later I spotted a tree that looked like someone built a ramp up it to backflip off it. It took us another few laps and two short skins to get to it. When we did get there, this tree was built for being backflipped. Light was fading fast, so Owen went to work stepping out the run in and ramp up the tree. I looked at where to take the picture from, Owen and Matty had been giving me a crash course in ski action photography all trip and I tried to use everything I had learned to get to the right spot. Of course Owen threw a huge backflip with a grab, and I screwed up the picture, had Owen not in the perfect open sky spot, but had him with a tree behind him. My fuck up didnít matter because a huge backflip was the perfect way to cap off one heck of a ski trip, and it was too dark out for the picture to come out anyways with out a bright flash, which we didnít have.
    We skied back to the car, packed up, and headed to Choutse for the night. Since it was our last night, we found a local sushi spot a few blocks from the hotel for an easy dinner. Dinner was good, not amazing, but it is worth noting we got hit with a 500 yen ďtable chargeĒ per person, we didnít ask for an amuse bouche but were given one then charged for it. First time either of us had that happen to us this trip, just interesting. After dinner we got packed up and ready to head home.

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  8. #8
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    Wednesday January 30 2019

    The longest day ever. Our first flight was easy, well after some small baggage juggling to get everyones respective bags under weight, be sure to check your baggage weights and pre-pay for them accordingly, the budget Japanese airlines love to charge you a ton of money at the gate for heavy and over size bags. Both of us wore way too much clothing through security to keep our respective bag weights under 32kg (1 bag, me) and 40kg (total weight for Owens 2 bags), the Japanese really do like to keep the heat very high inside their buildings. Also remember to weight your carry-ons, they get weighed too, and if they are over 7 or 10kg, depending on what you paid for, you’ll get charged. The flight to Tokyo Narita is quick, 90min, and it got both of us there more then 3 hours early for our respective flights. Owen got us into the Korean Airlines Lounge where we saw the coolest beer dispenser. You put your cup in and it automatically poured the perfect beer with the perfect amount head on it. (try to attach video) After few beers, because when they are free and the cool machine pours them perfect, you need to have at least two, yes on the day we flew home, we had beer was for breakfast. The three house passed quickly and we said our goodbyes, sort of because we would literally see each other at home all winter long, probably at least. I headed off to my Tokyo Narita to San Francisco flight. Again I flew standby for all the legs from Tokyo Narita to Jackson, so there is always a question about if I’ll actually get a seat. I got lucky for the flight to SFO, so I knew I was getting back to the USA, after that it was a toss up. The SFO to JAC flight sold out well I was in the air, but I was the only person on standby, so I hoped someone would miss a connection, or decided not to go at the last second. Two people who were on the NRT to SFO flight were also on the SFO to JAC flight, and they got caught up at security and I was torn. I really wanted to go home, but I don’t wish bad things on people, but if they had an issue at security, I would make it home. Just for having the thought that it would benefit me if they had issues at security probably makes me a terrible person and as a rule of thumb I’m not a greedy person, but I really wanted to go home and sleep in my own bed. None of it mattered because the plane was delayed 10 min and everyone made it, so I got bumped. Off to customer service I went to see my options for trying to get home. I knew all the options were slim since almost every flight into Jackson from anywhere west of Chicago was full, but I had to try. The customer service gentlemen figured out going SFO to LAX to JAC was by best option, so he changed the flights and off I went. If the story ended here, Id be really happy, but that would be too easy.
    I sprinted across the airport to try to catch the 1100 am flight from SFO to LAX, but I started running at 1055 and got there after the doors closed, so back to customer service I went to get the 1200 SFO to LAX flight, which they very kindly changed, and because of the rules of life, the gate was back where I started sprinting from. This time I walked and hung out at the gate. Waiting for the flight I met the nicest Chinese couple that were on there way to LAX to see their daughter. They didn’t have a phone that worked in the USA, I don’t speak Chinese, and they didn’t speak much English, but they wanted to call their daughter to let her know their flight details, it was so cute, so I helped them. I couldn’t say no, and ended up texting the daughter a copy of their ticket, and reassuring her the ladies at the gate and I would make sure they got on the plane. Well famous last words on my part because the SFO to LAX flight was delayed just enough that I would miss the LAX top JAC flight, fuck…. Plan C was just to get to Denver, because there are three or four flights a day to JAC, and even thought they showed sold out, you never know what will happen, and at least it gave me options.
    Back to customer service again, I think they are getting to know me by this point in time, to get my flight changed to SFO to DEN. All changed and off to the gate I went with pretty good odds of getting on board. As the plane loaded, I was given the option of a middle seat in economy plus or an isle seat in economy, I took the middle seat for the leg room, next time ill take the isle seat, Im too big to sit in a middle seat, even with the extra leg room. Two hours later, in Denver and exploring all my plan Ds including flying to SLC, IF, Rock Springs and driving home, or just driving home from Denver, as well as what the hotel option are, I commit to staying in the airport until the Den to JAC flight closes the doors. Also, please realize Ive been up for over 24 hours at this point in time, so getting in a car and driving 8 hours isn’t high on my priority list, but its on the list because Im deep on the standby list for a sold out flight with almost no one looking like they will miss it.
    Im a huge fan of karma, if you see someone who needs a hand, lend a hand, just like the very nice Chinese couple. It took 5 minutes of my time, put a smile on 4 peoples faces, and made me feel good. I don’t believe in a karma bank, but I do believe that if you do enough good deeds, you’ll get it back eventually, and if you don’t get it back, at least you did a good deed, and that should be good enough if you are a good person. The three hours I had to burn in Denver ticked by slow, but the worst was the last 15 min well the ladies at the gate waited for the last few people to show up, first there were 12 missing, then 9, 8, 5, and 3. Your heart races well waiting for those last few minutes (seconds?) to tick down. I was still 5 people deep on the standby list with maybe 3 open seats, but there was no one else in sight, until a very nice Mexican grandmother, mother and little girl walked up to the gate. I hoped they weren’t on this flight, but if they were, I’m happy they get to get home. Well as it happens, they were looking for a flight to Mexico City the next day!!! One minute before the gate closes the ladies start calling the standby list and I’m waiting because I was the last one on the list, and as luck would have it, I made it! WAHOO, get to sleep in my bed tonight!! I quickly go into find a ride mode, so I call the usuals and my roommates offer to get me, Im really going to get to be home tonight! Definitely had a huge fist pump on the airbridge, flying standby is like trying to cheat the system, you feel like you are screwing the man by getting on flight for cheap, and when you do you are so pumped and want to throw yourself a mini party, but no one else cares one bit, well except the airline and federal government because they make some money off you. Still, Im excited and I get to sleep in my bed tonight, its going to be a good night.

    I think for Japan this is where my story ends. Im going to debrief with Matty and Owen after they are done with the crazyness of OR, just to see how they felt about the trip once they decompress and give some thought.

    April 2019
    When I came home from Hokkaido, I said I would never go back, or at least not until I went to a long list of other places I want to check out, Chamonix, La Grave, Squaw for a storm, Revelstoke, India, Alaska, Peru, Chile, etc. The funny thing is that the further I get from the trip, and the more I talk to people, the more I think, or get the feeling, that I missed things. We winged it and did the best we could with the info we had, but I keep hearing of places we didn’t check out and should. I will be back to ski Hokkaido again in the future, and probably sooner then I thought right after the trip. I also heard awesome things about Hakuba and the surrounding areas, little AK it was described to me, and that perks my interest.
    I can definitely say I will see what the future brings. Japan wasn’t to expensive for 14 days. We never slept in our car, we ate pretty good but never crazy, found fairly inexpensive places to stay, and it came in at around about $2500 not including plane tickets, add $800-1400 for those. You can do Japan cheaper with cheaper rooms, renting an RV, etc. We rented a station wagon for the whole time, and found places with beds to stay, usually. We tried our best to find places that included breakfast or dinner in the price of the room, or similar deals.
    Japan is cool. I seriously recommend going to any powder hound. Go for 5, 10, 15 days, just go. The key is just going. Don’t stress about getting crazy deep pow, we were there for 12 days, and skied deep fresh snow 3 days, the rest of the days we had a blast just skiing Japan and always found something soft to ski. As Owen says, #alwaysgo.

  9. #9
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    Matts random things he learned in Japan

    Terrain:
    I cant stress enough, most of the runs in Japan end in terrible terrain traps. If the snow pack wasn’t so stable, I would not have been on 99% of what we skied. Be careful, use your brain, its your best tool in the backcountry. I got powder hungry in Niseko and got really really lucky.

    Skis:
    Fat skis are fun in pow, but if you are concerned about wight issues when touring or flying, 105-110 underfoot is more then enough. I took 196cm Praxis Protests with Atomic Shift bindings. I screwed up my baggage weight leaving Jackson and left my 193 Blizzard Scouts with Kingpin 13s at home instead of paying over weight charges from Jackson to Denver. Next time I go I will not make that mistake, but I might only take 1 ski again. I think everyone wanted more ski in Asahidake, but out side that, I was pretty happy. I never really wanted a much shorter ski, maybe the 192 Protest, but I was fine with the 196. I did wish my Protest were softer more often the not. The Japanese pow is usually on the heavier side, so a huge stiff ski is over kill. I would of been fine with my 193 cm Shiros (118mm), 194 cm Quixotes (119mm), 195 cm Super Freerides (116mm). The Super Freerides are usually my heavy snow ski and I did want more then once. They don’t appear to have a top end, and love heavy snow, but they would of been a lot in the traverses out. I did not own my Armada ARV JJs I went to Japan but they would of been awesome too. Anything that excels at maneuverability in tight spots, medium speed pow turns, and never experiences tip dive. Most (all?) of my quiver is for skiing big steep pow, Jackson Hole, which is not what Hokkaido is. You dont need special skis for Japan. If you have a ski over 105mm underfoot, you’ll be fine and if not having the ‘right’ ski is your reason for not going, just go, dont let not having the right ski hold you back.
    As my quiver stands right now if I was going next winter, with out buying any more skis, I would take the following:
    1 ski quiver: 192 cm Armada ARV JJ 116 (17/18 vintage) w/ Cast 2.0 Pivots
    2 ski quiver: 196 cm Praxis Protest w/ Cast 2.0 Pivots
    193 Blizzard Scout w/ Marker Kingpin 13 (with holes for Pivots)
    If I was going to buy a new pair of skis or two to redo Japan, Id take something like this:
    1 ski quiver: 192 cm Armada ARV JJ 116 (19/20 vintage) w/ Cast 2.0 Pivots
    2 ski quiver: 196 cm Praxis Protest w/ Cast 2.0 Pivots
    192 cm Armada ARV JJ 116 UL w/ G3 Ion Lt 12
    (Im really excited about this ski)
    (Maybe something narrower if I find the right ski)
    (Dream ski: Fischer Ranger 108 in 193cm)
    Owen took 191 cm Icelandic Nomad 125 w/ Look Pivot 18s and 189 cm Icelandic Natural 111 with Look Radical FT 12 (Dynafit bindings that Look licensed). Once he might of mentioned he would of liked to have his Nomad 115s, but maybe I was drunk. Matty took 176 Atomic Bentchetler 120s mounted with Atomic Shifts. I think he mentioned on the really deep day at Asahidake he wanted more ski, but every other day he was super excited.

    Bindings:
    Most of the tours were did, and were told about were short, 10-30 min, so frame bindings are just fine. I had Atomic Shifts and was just fine touring. I do wish I had CAST, and definite never wanted Dynafits. Owen did have Dynafit FT 12s on one pair of skis and Pivots on a second. Matty had Shifts. I had issues with my Shifts for a good part of Japan. I could never get the walk mode holding the brakes to stay engaged, maybe it was the fat skis and me walking on the brakes. I also came out of a ski more often then I thought I should of, and more then I have in a long time. Japan was my first time not skiing Pivots or Kingpins in 4 years. The Shifts and I just didn’t get along. The problem got worse when I got back to Japan. I double ejected in front of my roommate skiing 12-18in of pow over bumps. That was just one of a few issues I had with them. I sold them and wont be going back.

    Boots:
    We all had boots with tech toes, tech heels, and walk modes. I never felt like I wanted my race boots, but definitely a beefier liner. I will not do Japan with an ultra light boot, you can, and if you are a better or smaller skier, you’d be just fine, but for me I was happy.
    Owen and I both had 18/19 Lange XT Free Pro boots. Owen had an intuition wrap liner of some sort and I had the stock liner. Matty had the Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro Alpine boot. Next time I will take my boot heaters, and a stiffer liner. In a perfect world I would take two liners. The Lange RS140 cork liner w/ hotronics its my all time favorite liner, but they are becoming harder and harder to find, so I will be giving Zipfit a try next winter, so Id take one of those. I would also take the Intuition Pro Tour liner for days when I know I will be touring. It doesn’t ski as well as the cork liners, but is pretty good for what it is.

  10. #10
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    Powder 7 video recap of the trip:

    https://youtu.be/o54IrqOT6kM

    If that doesn't work search on powder 7 'powder 7 japan'

  11. #11
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    Solid report. A buddy and I passed on a Japan trip this year. The group we were going to join weíre going pretty late in the season for historically better snow. Glad we passed. Snow was a dud in their trip window.

    Still on our to do list.

    Again, solid report.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sluff View Post
    Solid report. A buddy and I passed on a Japan trip this year. The group we were going to join weíre going pretty late in the season for historically better snow. Glad we passed. Snow was a dud in their trip window.

    Still on our to do list.

    Again, solid report.
    Thanks. I added a few more pics. Like I said, we had 3 of 12 days with really awesome snow. Maybe 2 where it was meh, and the rest would make most peoples seasons, but were average for Japan.

    #alwaysgo


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

  13. #13
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    Great TR and vid.

    There are plenty of long lines on Hokkaido but very few lift accessed.

    Head to Hakuba for what you're looking for.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Pow View Post
    Great TR and vid.

    There are plenty of long lines on Hokkaido but very few lift accessed.

    Head to Hakuba for what you're looking for.
    Powder 7 has a great video editor, I canít and wonít take credit for anything other then shooting some of the video.

    More time at Asahidake is on the docket for next trip, as well as a trip to Kirodake, then down to Hakuba.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by skibrd View Post
    Powder 7 has a great video editor, I can’t and won’t take credit for anything other then shooting some of the video.

    More time at Asahidake is on the docket for next trip, as well as a trip to Kirodake, then down to Hakuba.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    Kurodake has some excellent terrain but check the tram is running during your visit.

    Tokachidake has fantastic alpine and treeline terrain if you don't mind touring only.

  16. #16
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    Sick, on all fronts!
    "My policies are based not on some economics theory, but on things I and millions like me were brought up with: an honest day's work for an honest day's pay; live within your means; put by a nest egg for a rainy day; pay your bills on time; support the police." M. Thatcher (RIP)
    "...
    Judges smoke it, even the lawyer too...So you've got to legalize it..." Peter Tosh

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by skibrd View Post
    If you dont like how I ramble on about shit, fuck off, its my trip report and this is TGR so Ill do what I want.
    YEAH! Well fuck you too because I enjoyed your TR!!!! Im even fucking glad you had a good time yah bastard

  18. #18
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    For those dismissing Kiroro based on the OPs words earlier

    It's short and sweet inbounds and they didn't have to head north to Asahidake to find the snow.

    It was there in plain sight, except during the face shots

    24 January 2019

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Btu9R1rlGw6/

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Pow View Post
    For those dismissing Kiroro based on the OPs words earlier

    It's short and sweet inbounds and they didn't have to head north to Asahidake to find the snow.

    It was there in plain sight, except during the face shots

    24 January 2019

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Btu9R1rlGw6/
    Iím sure Kiroro has its days. We looked at the storm forecast totals and Asahidaki was forecasted to get 2x as much snow as Kiroro, so we drove north. Elevation makes a huge difference in snow quality and I believe Asahidakiís base is higher the the summit of Kiroro.


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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by skibrd View Post
    I’m sure Kiroro has its days. We looked at the storm forecast totals and Asahidaki was forecasted to get 2x as much snow as Kiroro, so we drove north. Elevation makes a huge difference in snow quality and I believe Asahidaki’s base is higher the the summit of Kiroro.
    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    It has plenty.

    After 10 winters skiing on Hokkaido, Kiroro is the most consistently snowy resort I've skied. And is the main reason why I spend most of my winter skiing there.

    There are steeper, longer, bigger but rarely deeper, quieter or better in my experience.

    It takes time to get your head around quality over quantity, which is the same for nearly all of Hokkaido compared with other areas in the ski world.

    Elevation is critical on Hokkaido seeing as so many base areas are close to sea level.

    And yes the base of Asahidake at 1100m is comparable to the summit of Kiroro at 1180m, but that doesn't tell all of the story.

    Asahidake gets loads of snow due to the effect of Mt Asahidake (2290m) copping any clouds in the vicinity.

    Kiroro gets loads of snow because of its proximity to the ocean and being below Yoichi-dake (1484m).

    And Kiroro isn't for everyone.

  21. #21
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    TR: Hokkaido Late Jan 2019

    Cool. We made a decision with the best info we had at the time and found the deepest snow Iíve ever tried to ski. Iím sure Kiroro is good some days, so are Vail, Breck, and Powder Mountain, you can have them.


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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by skibrd View Post
    Cool. We made a decision with the best info we had at the time and found the deepest snow I’ve ever tried to ski. I’m sure Kiroro is good some days, so are Vail, Breck, and Powder Mountain, you can have them.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    As mentioned above,

    1. Kiroro isn't for everyone, and as you wrote not for you.

    2. Based on your skillset and mindset, the sidecountry and backcountry of Hakuba would be a better choice for your next visit to Japan.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Pow View Post
    2. Based on your skillset and mindset, the sidecountry and backcountry of Hakuba would be a better choice for your next visit to Japan.
    Or just take skins. Even kiroro was great just lapping the good portion of the slack country with skins - and probably quicker than skiing out the gully and riding the gondi back.

    Hokkaido is an incredible touring destination. Guess if you need to get rad on lifts it might disappoint, but I don't really think anyone goes there with those expectations?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by NWFlow View Post
    Or just take skins. Even kiroro was great just lapping the good portion of the slack country with skins - and probably quicker than skiing out the gully and riding the gondi back.

    Hokkaido is an incredible touring destination. Guess if you need to get rad on lifts it might disappoint, but I don't really think anyone goes there with those expectations?
    Definitely learned out lesson on take skins. I wonít take alpine bindings next time I go, well depending on how you define CAST 2.0 Pivots. Skins are the key to finding rowdy skiing in Hokkaido. Another lesson learned.

    My apprehension, and disappointment with the trip initially, was the lack of rowdy lift access terrain. I waited and edited the trip report a few times (not greatly but you get it) because I realized my expectations were wrong, and Hokkaido is rad. I did go with the expectations of getting rowdy in deep pow, but thatís not Hokkaido and thatís 100% alright.

    Hokkaido is all about touring. Itís awesome, and touring is the way to get after it. I believe I mentioned that Kiroroís best terrain is not lift access, and you need to tour to it. If I go back, I wonít buy a lift ticket, but instead tour out of the parking lot.




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  25. #25
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    japan is about food and lodging
    off your knees Louie

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