Japan Ski Trip 8 Just the 2 of us

P1100311-2015-03-03at12-48-47 Now there are just two of us it is skiing, and more skiing.
On Monday (23rd Feb) after dropping Kate, Andrew and Toby to the airport at Chitose we decided to have a look at the Sapporo Ski Museum at the ski jump stadium for the 1972 winter Olympics held in Sapporo.

On Wednesday (25th) the weather was pretty good so we decided to skin out from the top lift along the ridge towards Nishidake. We hiked out as far as we wished and stopped for a thermos of hot chocolate and then had a pleasant ski into the valley before the tripcky run out along the creek via the dam and back to the New Prince. Annette found the run out particularly challenging and we ended up having to get the bus back to our lodge.
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On Thursday (26th February) it was a beautiful sunny day so we went out to Fukiage Onsen and skinned up. It starts at 1000m and Annette hiked to about 1460m while I got to the summit of Mt Sandanyama at 1748m. It was a great ski down, that is Annette in the 3rd photo.
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Friday was a big side side-stepping day.
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Saturday, despite a huge day on Friday we decided to head up to Asahidake (about 1 hour 20minutes drive) as the conditions looked good. Being a Saturday it was quite crowded and the visibility was pretty low in the morning. There was about 30cm of snow but it was not as light and dry as we might have hoped for. You can see in the second shot, despite the pitch Annette is stopped by a wall of snow.
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On Tuesday there was plenty of fresh snow but it was a little damp or heavy. I took Annette for a few runs under the Link lift and down to the Old Prince hotel at Kitanomine. The snow was quite good and the steepness nullifed the heavy snow.
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On Wednesday 3rd March we took two guys from Queensland who were staying in our lodge for a short ski at Fukiage Onsen
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Thursday was a great day for snow as the Gondola hadn't opened Wednesday and so we did three great runs down the Premier Zone:
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Then we went up the top chair and headed out to skiers right and the snow was amazing but the run out was as always, tricky!
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Friday it was Asahidake and although the snow was heavily wind affected we had a full day out in glorious weather. It is unusual to see far at Asahidake and we took the opportunity for a short skin up to take a closer look at the fumaroles.
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The shots above show the top of the Ropeway or cablecar which is at 1600m and then Mount Asahi at 2291.
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We hiked up to about 1700m and then there are some shots of the run below the Ropeway to the base at 1100m. Normally these are in fog and deep powder but this day they were crusty but still fun.

Saturday and Sunday (7th & 8th March) we skied mostly groomed runs at Furano.

On Monday the weather was not so good and we decided to drive to Kurodake, or actually to Sounkyo which is the village below the Ropeway in the valley. It was quite picturesque though the sleet took the edge of the views.
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The first shot is looking down the valley towards Spunky and show a bridge, but this is a bridge for carrying a creek (water and ice) over the road. The second is inside an "igloo" where ice sculptures are on display, and the 3rd is of the overall Ice sculpture park which is pretty much in the frozen riverbed with huge ice and snow models.

Tuesday was howling wind and snow so we took a second rest day and although the wind was still blowing and it was still snowing we did venture out on Wednesday and as only the lower chair was open we skinned up to the next pitch to ski the fresh snow. Slowly over the next 2 days they opened more of the mountain and we had more fun!
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Finally on Saturday (14th) they opened the top chair and under the chair was excellent and then we moved out (under the ropes) to skiers left to try directly above the ropeway. We were the first out there and just kept making more and more tracks without many others. the snow was wet but steep enough to be great fun… see Annette here enjoying it>
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Sunday we decided we'd try to find dryer snow and so we headed over to the Tokachi Mountains and specifically the Fukiage Onsen. We set off skinning at 10am in beautiful weather but a few hours later as we neared the top of Sandanyama, a peak of 1748m the clouds rolled in.
From then on it was brief moments of clear and then cloud again. We skied down a few hundred metres and hiked up for a second so in all we climbed over 1000m and were out for over 5 hours… a big day and only 2 runs, but lovely snow.
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The photos show setting out from the Fukiage Onsen or Spa, At the summit and then Annette skiing down the big open face.
Here is a map of our "backcountry ski"

Monday was spent on the groomed runs at Furano. I tried venturing off piste a few times but it was very sluggish snow. It was my 50th ski day.

Tuesday we hoped for better snow like we had Sunday so we headed for Fukiage again. We only hiked up for about 1 1/2 hours and the snow on the way down was also heavy and grippy so we only did one run then took a spa in the open air free somewhat natural spa a short bush walk across from the main pay spa. We drove up to Tokachi Spa and saw a snow fox and checked out the view.
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Wednesday we drove the 2 hours to Kurodake without high expectations. Unfortunately Annette had a blister on her ankle and could not hike (skin up from the lift) It took about an hour to go from the top of the chairlift at 1520m to the peak of Kuro-dake at 1984m. Having so much more elevation (than other places we'd been) and facing the North-East meant the snow was still great. I skinned up twice it was so good.
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Ropeway up to 1300m from Sounkyo at 670m Then the chair up to 1520m…… And 1 hour skinning to peak at 1984m

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This is at the top the sign says 1984… A head-cam on the 4 min run down. And on the second time up about 3:30pm

Here are the track log for each of my skins up, both from the top of the chair and ending at the top of the Ropeway:

Here is the LINK for the 2nd climb… much the same as the first but started about 2pm.

Here is a video of the run down:

Thursday and Friday we spent at Furano, pretty much keeping to the groomed runs. By Friday the snow was melting at the bottom so….

Saturday we decided to drive the 2 hours up to Kurodake again as it had higher elevation and faced North East so should not be so sun affected. We invited a snowboarder Ben along and had a pleasant day in sunny weather. Annette's blister had improved enough so she could skin up, and the three of us went up about 300m. The snow was reasonably heavy and I skinned to the top on a second climb.
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Sunday was the last day Kitanomine side of the Furano area was open so we skied there for a bit over 3 hours until the sun made the snow too gluggy. There was snow on the forecast and especially up North so we decided to head back to Kurodake on Monday:

Monday was a great day at Kurodake and by the afternoon it was snowing quite heavily:
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We only skinned up once, about 300m of vertical and the first picture shows Annette struggling around a kick turn. The snow was great and the last shot shows the depth gauge showing 2.5m snow depth. We did quite a few runs down the right side of the chair in fun powder while the snow was puking down… maybe 10cm in the last hour we were there.

After a tiring day we had planned to ski at Furano Tuesday (24th) but the weather looked a little warm and it was snowing up at Kurodake all night and so we decided, despite being tired to head up to Asahidake (about 1 1/2 hours drive). On our first run the snow was very deep but our skis would not move… It took about an hour to get down as we had to push the whole way, even on the downhills. I bought some spray on lubricant and that seemed to do the job. The first photo shows the ice stuck to the bottom of Annette's skis and the second shows me having to
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scrape it off before applying the spray on lubricant. Then as we were about to go for our next run I realised I had taken my coat off as I was overheating poling down hill and in the process I had lost my lift pass and my Furano season pass. I was frustrated but quickly paid 4200 yen to get on the next cable-car as the snow was too good to worry about the cost. I felt my loss was quite small as we finished our next run and saw this local skier who had lost one of his skis. Another American had fallen and lost a brand new Go-pro. My loss was pretty small and I it made the decision about skiing Wednesday pretty easy… i.e. no pass, why bother. The snow was the deepest we have had on this trip and it was often difficult to see or breath in the deeper sections.
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What a way to finish a great trip!
10 weeks, 10 different ski areas, Annette skied 52 days and I skied 58 and it was all great fun.