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Happo is a resort that I have held a season pass for a couple of times in the past. The resort itself is a little too bumpy for my taste, but the main selling point for me is the easy access to the backcountry from the top Grat Quad lift. I also used to like the ‘High Cascade Park’ that was a feature for a few seasons on the course far skiers left of the resort, served by the Kitaone 3 Pair lift. Unfortunately, that park no longer exists and has been replaced by something called ‘Happo Banks’ at the same spot. So I was a lucky winner of what I think was the first SJ Giveaway of the 2013/14 season. I won a day ticket to use at Happo. Thanks Snow Japan! I ended up using this ticket a little later in the season than I had initially planned, so I apologise for the delay in posting my trip report. Monday, March 31st was a sunny, fairly warm day. I set off from my house at around 8:15am and arrived at the Snow Plaza Sakka number 8 car park a little after 9am. I wouldn’t usually park here, but my plan was to go and check out the Happo Banks park. Getting there from the Adam Gondola would have taken more time and a couple of lifts. Also, I was riding alone and had no intention of hiking the ridge-line above the Grat Quad to ride the BC lines. So I got my ticket and headed to the Sakka Kitaone Quad lift to get me up to the Happo Banks park. The lady at the ticket window told me that it was now impossible to ride back down to the Sakka Plaza area, and I would need to take the lift back down instead. She wasn’t kidding the whole base area looked positively brown with all the bare patches coming through the snow, which was looking very thin on the ground already! Looking around on the lift ride up, it was a similar story most of the way up towards the middle elevation of the resort. The end of March seemed a little early for this kind of melting, but the whole valley had been subjected to some pretty serious rain events the previous week. That coupled with the very mild temperatures had really taken its toll on the base at the lower elevations. I spent the first couple of hours lapping the Happo Banks park on the Kitaone 3 Pair lift. Some of my friends seem to like this park, but I really have no idea what they were trying to achieve with it. It is basically just a series of really low, gentle banks with a few ‘humps’ placed down the centre of the course. The humps have gentle tranny sides, so they can be approached as mellow hips I guess, but basically the whole park is really gentle and kind of boring. I lapped the course a good dozen times I’d say and picked as many lines as I could through it in that time. The snow was slushy and slow, but I was amused enough for a little while at least. I wouldn’t recommend this area for park riders and it is definitely nowhere near as good as the old High Cascade park that it has replaced. I decided to spend the reminder of the day just riding around on course a little higher up the mountain. I rode down to the Skyline 2 Pair lift to get higher up the mountain. The course below the lift was already closed due to lack of snow! The Skyline 2 Pair is possibly one of the slowest lifts around, but it gives you some nice views of the surrounding mountains, especially on a clear day. I decided to go to the top and take a nice long cruiser down as far as I could go. On reaching the station of the Grat Quad lift the wind had really picked up. Riding up the lift it was positively howling! I wasn’t really expecting/dressed for those conditions, but I zipped up all my vents and got on with it. At the top of the Grat Quad, I battled the wind and walked far skiers’ left of the resort area to have a little look down the first big gully ending at the river at the end of the popular BC lines. It was looking sketchy down there and there weren't any groups were hiking up the ridge-line above the lift. From the top of the Grat Quad lift I did a run down the Skyline course, as it the run with the least bumps. The run was basically empty and the snow was much better spring sugar snow than the slush lower down the mountain. I did this run a couple of times, as well as a few of the bumpier runs served by the Alpen Quad and the Happo Tenbo lift, before deciding to call it a day early and head off into the village for lunch. I got back to my car a little after 2pm and went to Tanukis, near Hakuba station for lunch. It was their last day for the season, so I needed one last hamburger there! All in all I had a fun day at Happo. I was a little surprised by how thin the snow was at the bottom and by how windy it was up at the top. Thanks again for the ticket Snow Japan!
NECK posted a topic in Snow talk, trip reports, Japan avalanche & backcountryHappo, Hakuba.- March 28th. Thanks again Snow Japan for selecting me as a winner for one of your first great giveaways of the 12/13 season. I received a ticket to use at either Happo, Iwatake or Tsugaike at the start of the season, but didn’t get around to using it until late March. Here is my review for Happo. I decided to use the ticket at Happo, as I hadn’t been there for a few seasons. I was a Happo season pass holder for 2 seasons (three resort pass including Nozawa and Shiga) when I first moved to Nagano, and always loved Happo for it’s proximity to my house, ease to get to by car and easy access to the back country and high alpine environment. The one thing I dislike about Happo, is the fact that you have to pay to park anywhere close to the Adam Gondola. There is free parking down the road towards the village, and up around the corner just down from the Evergreen building, but time is money, so I grudgingly parted with my 500 yen to get up there quicker. It is a whopping 1000 yen during peak season! As we all know, March was a very dry month this season, and the lower slopes were already very patchy on this warm, cloudy day. On one run, I actually had to un-strap and walk over some dirty patches while trying to traverse from the Kokusai lift base to the Gondola station. I never remember having to do that in previous seasons, especially not in March! Quite a few things seem to have changed since I used to frequent Happo. I remember there being a McDonald’s at the top of the gondola and a Virgin restaurant in the building beside the top of the Alpen Quad lift. Both seemed to have disappeared since my last visit. It was a weekday and the resort was running on spring operations, but I got the impression that Happo had scaled back a bit in the last few years. So I started my day at around 9am, and began with two laps on the gondola, as the resort was pretty much empty and lift lines were not going to be an issue. I bombed the Central course and the Riesen Slalom course to get the legs in and get a feel for the snow. Due to injury I haven’t managed to ride much this season, so it was nice to have the runs basically to myself. The snow was pretty slushy, but still fun to ride on the soft corduroy. It was a cloudy morning, but the sun came out every now and again to illuminate the spectacular peaks surrounding Hakuba. I was glad to be out there enjoying the day. I was riding alone and didn’t bump into anyone I know out there. There did still seem to be a handful of foreign tourists on the mountain, mainly in family groups. I guess they had booked early and were a little disappointed with how early the season was winding down this year. They looked like they were still having fun though. The Happo Riesen Quad wasn’t running, so after another ride up the gondola I thought I would head up the Alpen Quad to go over to the other side and check out the park for a lap or two…… But neither the Alpen Quad nor the Tenbo Quad lifts were running. This means that the top of the gondola was as high as I was going to get today. Not quite a skeleton lift operation, but pretty close to it. I saw a sign indicating that the park was closed too. I remember the High Cascade Park being one of the best in the Hakuba area, second only to 47 (due to its lack of a half pipe), so I was a little disappointed that it was closed. This limited what was available for me to ride, so lapping the gondola, Central and Kokusai lifts was how I spent the rest of the day. The Panorama course was the emptiest of all the runs on offer, so I did a fair few cruisers on that, barely seeing another soul the whole time. It was definitely thin on the ground down towards the bottom, but not quite bare so no problem riding to the bottom of the Kokusai lift. My second to last run was when I had to un-strap and scramble across the mud to get across to the base of the gondola. Another top to bottom cruiser on the Riesen Slalom Course was enough for me to end my day on a good note. I headed back to my car at around 2:45 and was on the road back to Nagano by 3 pm. Overall, I really like Happo. The lifts are modern and get you up there quickly. They are also well linked when the resort is in full operation. The staff are friendly and most seem to be able to speak English. During peak season, Happo offers excellent access to the back country and high alpine environment from the Grat Quad. Of course it goes without saying to only enter the back country as part of an experienced group with all the necessary equipment. The ski patrol seem to be a little more relaxed at Happo than over at Goryu/47, which is great for experienced back country riders. I would recommend Happo to anyone, from beginners and family groups, right through to expert park riders and powder hounds. I wish I could've had the chance to use the ticket earlier in the season, but I had a great day and I was glad I chose to go back to Happo. Thanks again for the ticket Snow Japan, and keep up the great work with the site! Neck.
muikabochi posted a topic in Snow talk, trip reports, Japan avalanche & backcountryFirst part of this trip report from Hakuba Goryu & Hakuba 47 here: http://www.snowjapan...-february-2012/ For the afternoon, I moved over to Happo-one. Words will just spoil it, so here's photos I took there. Look out for really tiny people in some of them. I'll post some general thoughts tomorrow.
OzOzOz posted a topic in Snow talk, trip reports, Japan avalanche & backcountryAnnoying that it isn't open yet, hey? I see they need 150cm to be able to open that up because it's protected national park but Happo still only has 140cm up top officially. Come on snow, just another 10cm or so. It can't be too much to ask, especially in Hakuba.
eggshellz posted a topic in Snow talk, trip reports, Japan avalanche & backcountryHi there Question about Happo-one. Is it officially pronouned the same as the number 1. Or as 'o-ne'. Do tell!
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