Here we are, May 6th - the last day of the 2013/2014 snow season in Niseko.
For the record, it’s nice and sunny today - a mix of blue sky and some cloud.
In this last post of the season I want to take a look back over the 13/14 season - a mix of my thoughts, my numbers, official numbers and what I sense as the general opinion of those who are based here. Obviously different people will have different thoughts going on - I’ll do my best to be fair and balanced… luckily for us all, my job is not marketing and sales! ;)
I think it has been another very fine season for Niseko. Lots of fine Niseko powder to be enjoyed - lots of the time; lots of people around from every corner of the world; and a really great atmosphere from what I saw.
Niseko at its best really is hard to beat. Yes, I know I might be a little biased. But only a little. The problem is that those of us who know Niseko at its best just have such ridiculously high expectations! So let’s dig a little deeper.
If you look back to my last report from the 12/13 season back in May 2013, I mentioned that strong winds seemed to affect lift operations more than usual. Unfortunately I kind of feel the same again this year. We have certainly had our share of windy conditions this season again. Strong winds shutting down lifts and resorts too often is probably one of the things that people will mention most if they were pushed to say bad things about Niseko.
Snowfall; yes, very important. Let’s take a look at the snowfall that I have been noting over the last few seasons. Again as I have mentioned in my posts during the season, these are my personal observations - made from the Hirafu village base area. The upper mountain will of course be on the receiving end of more snow than the base village, sometimes much more, but unfortunately I don’t live up there to make consistent daily observations. So we will have to make do with base numbers.
2012/2013 SEASON: November 2012: 118cm December 2012: 418cm January 2013: 443cm February 2013: 406cm March 2013: 164cm April 2013: 32cm May 2013: 2cm 12/13 SEASON TOTAL: 1,583cm
And here’s the numbers from this season (taken from the same place):
2013/2014 SEASON: November 2013: 123cm December 2013: 275cm January 2014: 461cm February 2014: 178cm March 2014: 113cm April 2014: 13cm May 2014: 0cm 13/14 SEASON TOTAL: 1,163cm
As you can see, there was less snow in the 13/14 season than in the 12/13 season. Just looking at the numbers, you could say significantly less. Still, that’s nearly 12m of snowfall which I’m sure we can agree on is ‘a lot’ - and when it’s falling consistently and heavily, difference in numbers hardly matters much.
Here are the other available numbers published by Japan Meteorological Agency, taken from Kutchan Town:
November 2013: 99cm (98cm the previous November) December 2013: 258cm (306cm the previous December) January 2014: 317cm (268cm the previous January) February 2014: 130cm (228cm the previous February) March 2014: 118cm (124cm the previous March) April 2014: 24cm (27cm the previous April) Full season: 946cm (1051cm the previous season)
Those numbers are also less this season than last season, though not by quite as much as my personal observations.
A friend of mine also recorded his own numbers from over near Moiwa and ended up with a total of 1276cm, about 1m more than mine. No doubt other people came up with other numbers too. But whatever the exact number, they’ll surely all be less than last year.
Just for the record as well, Niseko Grand Hirafu on May 6th 2013 was saying it had 420cm on it’s upper slopes; today that corresponding number is 185cm, less than half but more in line with the season before.
Niseko is of course famous for consistency of snowfall and close to guaranteed fabulous powder conditions. We did have a few dry periods during the season – some going on for unseasonably long stretches – and they were obviously disappointing for the people here during those times. But even so in general I think we can still say that things were impressively consistent. Opinions are going to depend on expectations – I spoke to some people in late February who were here during that week-long dry spell who still seemed really pleased about conditions compared with what they had experienced before. They really need to come back during one of the truly powder bonanzas that we have and experience the best of Niseko!
Anyway, if you look back at the Niseko Now reports throughout the season, you’ll see stats for the months and a bit of ‘analysis’ as we went along. It’s always interesting to take a read through and re-live the season. They reports will always up there so please do take a look. Links found below. (It’s also fun to read through the reports from other popular snow regions of Japan too).
No doubt some hardy souls will be climbing up the hills with skis and boards on their backs a while longer and sliding down while some snow remains. But come mid-May, golf courses will be opening up and various summer activities will be the main focus. The area is of course really nice and cool for much of summer, unlike many regions of Japan. Just one more reason that lots of people fall in love with Niseko and Hokkaido.
So that’s about all I have for this season.
Thanks to Niseko for being such a great place and the Snow Gods for blessing us each season.
Thank you to SnowJapan for being such a great resource - not only regarding Niseko of course but for Japan winter sports in general. I highly encourage you to take a look around the site. A good starting point and highly recommended introduction to Japan winter sports can be found here:
“Thank you for reading these Niseko Now reports this season. I hope that you have enjoyed them and they have been useful as an ongoing commentary of the season. Now that the daily routine of writing reports has finished I think I’m going to have a few lie-ins and try to recharge after the long winter season! I have no doubt though that after just a short period of doing that, I’ll soon be looking forward to next winter.”
That’s pretty much how I feel once again, a full year later. How time flies.
The Niseko Now reports on SnowJapan will of course be back next season. Updates will begin once things start to cool down in the early autumn and we’ll bring you any news in advance of the 2014/2015 winter season.
I wish you all a fun and safe summer wherever you may be, and hope to see you back here in autumn.
Niseko Now ski lift operation notes:
May 6th is the last day of the 2013/2014 snow season in the Niseko area
Observed snowfall in the last 14 days
Observed snowfall in this season
Niseko Mountain Resort Grand Hirafu:
0cm snowfall in the last 7 days
0cm snowfall in August 2014
1163cm snowfall since the beginning of the season