Hokkaido Road Trip
In mid-February we led a trip for a handful of north-americans and for a group of euro’s as well. Since they had similar skiing abilities, a similar itinerary, and they all got along, we ran most of the week side by offering the flexibility of having three guides to manage the whole group. A win-win for everyone.
We started the week around Niseko/Rusutsu, giving the crews their free-days to explore and get their feet under them. For the first Niseko Backbowls day, we scored a fresh 20 cms, and a whole-lotta sun, which had a significant impact ont he snow for the following day. The crew, wasn’t satisfied with finishing the day out at Goshki Onsen, so we made the hike back to Niseko for a final run into the Moiwa backcountry.
We hit the road the following morning for a trip to Kokusai, which turned out to be a really fun day. The snow was bountiful and the crew was keen to keep moving, so we ended up lapping the goods through the slack-country. With a night out in Sapporo for the ice-fest, and a trip to Teine the following day, we hit Sapporo as good as you could, not to mention the fresh 40 or 50 cms at Teine and the fact that we were on the 5th chair in the morning.
We hit the road that night, blasting up to Kurodake through the snow, sleet, and slush, but it was certainly worth it. Kuro was looking really good, with the peak holding the best snow on the mountain. We had perfect blue bird and still conditions to charge the peak and made a rare summit on one of Hokkaido’s highest peaks before dropping in on one of the best top to bottom runs on the island.
Due to high winds, we split the next day heading to Kamuii for a quiet day down below the alpine. We still scored some fresh snow, but the warming temps had done its damage to the snowpack. We finished the trip out at Furano, for a fun day beating around the mountain, checking every spot we could think of for the freshies.
Reflecting on this trip, it is hard to remember each turn, but the overall stoke from everyone definitely stands out in my mind. There were days on both sides of the trip where the conditions weren’t epic, but the optimism and drive to continue looking further for pow paid off even right to the very last day in Furano. I had never met such keen bush-wackers, no north facing gully or ridge was left unridden in our quest for pow.
As with all ski trips, you can’t plan the weather, so having good friends surrounding you regardless of the situation is essential to prevailing. I was impressed by this pathological optimism and ability to see the big picture.
Thanks for a great trip, enjoy the photos.