Boarding @ Niseko, Japan
Well there weren’t a huge number of photos taken in Niseko because we were too busy having our mind blown by the sheer magnitude of snow. BULK snow. So this is going to be a relatively brief post.
I had every intention of getting some pro looking videos of myself and Allen carving up huge fresh powder runs and hitting 900’s off a cliff face through the trees somewhere but as it turns out neither of us are quite up to Travis Rice’s standard, nor should I be considered any sort of videographer, I’ll stick to stills.
What I will say is that Niseko, although it appears to have morphed into a mini Australia, is sensational. Never have I seen such snow and I just hope I haven’t ruined the next couple of months of boarding by going there first. Time will tell.
After seeing the snowfall in Tokyo we were hopeful of a good drop in Niseko and 90% of the time it didn’t disappoint. We arrived at Sapporo to absolutely freezing temps and the bus trip to Niseko itself involved driving through some of the thickest snowfall I’ve ever seen… the whole way. I’m almost certain I saw Arnold Schwarzenegger in the trees dressed up as Mr Freeze, and he was shivering.
Boarding escapades went in a few simple stages:
Stage 1: Puking snow… constantly, poor visibility, wishing the snow would stop so I can see where I’m going for just ten minutes, figuring out how to ride in the deep stuff, failing, digging myself out of chest deep powder. Loving every minute of it anyway. Wishing random skiers would stop getting in the road, damn skiers.
Stage 2: Bluebird days, loving it… to begin with, fresh powder everywhere, bindings back further than Eric the Eel in a 200m medley, a few fun tree runs through the fresh stuff before it got tracked out, probably by skiers.
Stage 3: More bluebird days, very little snowfall, hiked to the summit with every intention of riding fresh snow the whole way down… wrong. Picture an ice rink, turn it on its end to about 60 degrees you’re on the money for about a kilometre. On a positive note I did manage to take out two skiers in one day, one who decided that the 6 billion hectares of free space on the side of the summit weren’t enough and successfully endeavoured to see what it was like to get a snowboard edge in the head, the other guy decided to stop in front of me while I was trying to break a land speed record to make it up a hill. This resulted in two things – him not being able to move his neck and me having to walk up that hill. Damn skiers.
Anyway, by the end of stage 3 all we wanted was some new snow to cushion our joints a bit. But lack of said fresh snow was supplemented by liberal quantities of fresh beer and snowmobiling, winner. We did keep ourselves occupied by building a kicker in the powder and launching ourselves off it for a day, Allen and I spent a good hour and a half building something much larger than we originally intended and it was brilliantly fun. Although the photos below make me look like maybe I am Travis Rice’s long lost cousin, I assure you the landings were much less graceful. Didn’t’ get taken out by any skiers while doing this which was a bonus. The girls took the opportunity to do a cooking course and Allen even managed to get in some quiet time to listen to his One Direction playlists on iTunes. One Direction are more than likely skiers.
Stage 4: Snow, and lots of it. 65cm in one afternoon so there were plenty of nice deep spots to hit… and three quarters of Niseko had the exact same idea. That day went from 8:30am until about 6:30pm and did involve some drunken night boarding with Loz, turns out she’s pretty quick when she’s had a few sneaky vodkas.
The next day we got out early to get some fresh snow… and EVERYONE had the same idea. I’ve never seen a line for a gondola so long (see below), more than likely a result of skiers holding everybody up while they tighten up their Euro-onsies. In saying that, brilliant couple of days while it lasted. Some of those tree runs were amazing.
So yeah, a variable couple of weeks but we had a ball,. If nothing else, the food and atmosphere in Niseko is sensational and the company was pretty damn good.
Once again, Niseko’s on the “to return to” list, although it might be for a full season next time, and I’ll be taking a shotgun for the skiers.