after a 24 hour travel day, we arrived in niseko to clear skies, no crowds and cold & crisp weather to boot. a 2.5 hour bus ride from the airport to rusutsu & finally niseko grand hirafu. they’ve gotten about 1-3 cm everyday for about a week before we got here which isn’t ground breaking by any stretch (i think i actually rolled my eyes at the forecast a few days before flying out) but hey, what can one do right? after arriving at our hotel, we didn’t have any energy to hike out to any restaurants to we just walked down the street to lawsons to pickup some bento boxes for dinner, only to walk into a decent spraying of snow. we crashed shortly after but noticed that the snow had kept up all night. fingers crossed..
fast forward 7 hours and the skies looked sunny outside at 630am. i had no plans to ride early today (or possibly at all), figuring that i’d be jetlagged to hell and beyond… but that decision changed in a split second after finding out that it was sunny and dumping at 1am last night. strapped up the fish and we were off to get some of that famous hokkaido pow and let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint. coming from a background of having whistler and mt baker as my favourite powder stashes, i feel i need to clarify why today was so amazing:
snow quality – a mere 16cm of fresh snow translated to a full day of faceshots, clouds of white smoke and soft bombholes from any drop we could find. the snow was bottomless anywhere we could find
how much fun can 16cm be? (that’s what she said) *this* much
tree spacing – trees. everywhere. virtually no tree wells to worry about due to the birch trees losing all their leaves. perfectly spaced for linking tight turns but open enough to open it up and rip right through
crowds – our worst lift line was 5 minutes at the base of annupuri but everything else had at most 10 people in line. don’t get me wrong, i love my whistler days especially with the plethora of dump days and amazing terrain but most of those days are filled with fighting locals and tourists alike to get to your stashes. and if you want to get fresh tracks down an open face? good luck with that or get ready to mortgage a chunk of your morning to wait for peak/harmony/7th/glacier to open. anyways, no lineups = happy jojo
terrain – after just one day, i’ve barely scratched the surface of what niseko can offer but i have a hard time believing it can offer the varied terrain that i get at whistler, baker, big white, etc… but what they do have is so amazingly fun, who cares?! blasting through tree runs, laying down a fat turn only to get lost in a 2 second cloud of white smoke before continuing in search of the next amazing turn. yes please, sign me up for more.
food – soba, ramen and donburis on the hill. ’nuff said.
i can honestly say that after just 1 day of hokkaido riding in ‘average’ conditions, i’ve been spoiled. the bar has been raised