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JohnPaulIII posted a topic in Snow talk, trip reports, Japan avalanche & backcountryI've got an invitation this week to go to either sugadaira resort in Nagano or Myoko kogen in Niigata. I'll have to drive to both so transportantion isn't important. I'm wondering which is your preference?
Thundercat posted a topic in Snow talk, trip reports, Japan avalanche & backcountryMonday, 26th, 2012 I always enjoy riding on week days to avoid crowds, traffic and all the other minor frustrations of being a weekend warrior. With free lift tickets for Myoko, Madarao, and Happo burning a hole in my pocket I was eager to make good use of them all. We set out early Monday morning for Myoko Kogen, making the drive from Numazu to Akakura Kanko in slightly under 4 hours. No traffic and good road conditions always mean a stress-free drive. (These snow walls are actually in Myoko Kogen, not some other random part of Japan ) As we approached Nagano city it was evident that it had been snowing as the white stuff lay all around. Just past Nagano and it was still dancing around in the air, a very good sign indeed. As we neared the I.C. it was obvious that we would be in for some sweet powder turns. Originally, we were interested in hitting up Suginohara but unbelievably, with 290cms on piste, they were already closed for the season (well, with the exception of one last weekend). Instead, we hit up Akakura Kanko. We really lucked out this day. It was the first day of spring lift operations which usually wouldn’t be enough to even interest me in considering Akakan. However, with 5-10cms the day before and about 15-20 cms over on the slopes there was a good top-up. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the heavy powder that you usually associate with spring skiing in Japan. The temperatures remained low throughout the day and it continued snowing which meant that the snow stayed nice and fresh until the last run of the day. Some technical information about Akakura Kanko during the spring ski season. Lift tickets are 2,500¥ (regular price is 3,900¥). Several lifts on the right side of the mountain are closed. The Champion 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 and the Hotel 2, 5 and 6 lifts are all closed. In fact, the only lifts running are the Myoko Kogen Sky Cable (gondola) and the Hotel 1 and 3. This means that only the bottom left side of the mountain, slightly higher than the gondola, is open for business. All of the runs are beginner or easy intermediate runs (1.5 intermediate runs and 2 beginner runs). There were very few people on the slopes and no line ups at all for any of the lifts all day. In fact, at 8:30am when the lifts opened there were only a dozen cars in the parking lot and probably less than 50 at around lunch time. We were also the only guests staying at our hotel. Along the side of the Hotel B course there are some jumps and smaller features but nothing of note. There are some short side-country runs and a few places to get into the trees but nothing like what is available from the top of the resort. My personal opinion about the spring operations can be summed up with one word, disappointing. Strangely though, because the conditions that day far exceeded my expectations, I had a really good time. If it had been anything other than a mid-winter feeling at the end of March I think I would have cut the day pretty short and headed to one of the nearby onsens for a soak. If the Hotel 5 lift at the top of the mountain were opened I’d say that it would be worth the trip. Unfortunately, as it is, it’s very difficult to recommend unless you are already close by, don’t have to go out of your way to ski there or have a free lift ticket (like I did!) Tuesday, 27th, 2012 A beautiful morning and a little fresh snow to boot! We set out for Madarao Kogen which is about 30-40 minutes away by car. It was a bittersweet return for us to Madarao Kogen as we were there last year on March 11th, the day of the Tohoku earthquake. It was a beautiful spring day when we arrived at Madarao Kogen. Deep blue cloudless skies and the accompanying views of the nearby resorts is a nice bonus to snowboarding at Madarao. Although the reports indicated there had been 5cms of snow over night by the time we got onto the slopes all traces had either been scrapped away or burned up by the sun. The top runs were hard and well scraped, mid-mountain was mashed potatoey (with maybe a bit of cream cheese thrown in the mix) and lower was grabby like sticky mochi. It was a very warm day and was evident that the snow conditions were deteriorating rapidly. In fact, part of the Worldcup Mogul run (skiers far right) was closed because of a recent avalanche (sorry no details on what happened there). Some technical information about Madarao Kogen during the spring ski season. Lift tickets are 2,700¥ (regular price is 4,200¥). Several lifts are not running during the spring season; including, the 5, 3B, 11, 12, 13 and 15. This means that while almost all of the mountain is still accessible there are no lifts connecting to the Tangram ski resort next door. In testament to the popularity of Madarao, the resort was surprisingly busy for a week day in the spring. While the lift lines were only ever a few people deep there were lots of people on the slopes enjoying the fine weather. The small park in the middle of the mountain was suffering from the sun and was definitely worse for wear. Personally, I like Madarao Kogen after a nice coating of fresh snow (who doesn’t?) but it’s an otherwise solidly average resort. It’s a bit on the small side and the conditions tend not to stack up to the nearby resorts of Nozawa and Myoko Kogen. That being said, it’s a good alternative to some of its bigger neighbors and there are certainly attempts being made to bring Madarao’s policies more in line with what their customers desires, such as opening and promoting tree riding and ungroomed powder areas. We spent only a few hours a Madarao before heading to Jigokudani to check out the snow monkeys. It certainly wasn't as impressive without piles of snow everywhere. The monkeys were busy sunning themselves on the surrounding rocks and only a few of them were hanging out in the hot springs. We then set off for our last stop of the trip, Happo One. Wednesday, 28th, 2012 We woke up to a winter wonderland! It had snowed 15-20cms at the bottom of Goryu, a very welcome sight! We hurried off to Happo One for some turns! A lot has been said or written about Happo and there's not really much I can add except from the perspective of spring skiing. With fresh snow everywhere and a very wintery feel in the air it hardly seemed like spring at all. While Happo reduces the lift operations for the spring season none of the areas are closed and everything is still accessible. The conditions on-piste could hardly have been better. Even though the snow was slightly heavy at mid-mountain up top it was still nice and powdery (down low it was pretty sticky slush). We lapped up the powder on the upper runs until midday until some strange weather, including thunder and lightning, closed the lifts for a brief time. Luckily, it was time for lunch anyway and by the time we'd finished everything was running as usual. We stayed until last lifts and couldn't believe how lucky we'd been for end of the season turns. Hopefully we'll be able to get one or two more trips out before everything is closed for the year.
SnowJapan posted a topic in Snow talk, trip reports, Japan avalanche & backcountryFriday 30th December 2011 until Thursday 5th January 2012 The prizes: 30 one-day lift ticket vouchers - each one can be exchanged for a one-day lift ticket at any one of the open resorts in Myoko: - Akakura Onsen; - Akakura Kanko Resort; - Ikenotaira; - Myoko Suginohara; - Myoko Ski Park; - Madarao Kogen; - Tangram Ski Circus The vouchers are valid for this season Who can enter? Any active, logged in members of SnowJapanForums can enter this Giveaway. (You need to have made at least a few posts on the Forums, and join in - not just simply register). >> If you are logged in, click here to enter. >> If you need to register, please do so here. The winners: 15 people will be chosen - each to receive 2 vouchers - and notified within four days of the Giveaway period closing. For more information on Myoko, please see the official site: http://www.myoko.tv/foreign/english/ We would like to thank the kind people at Myoko Tourism Association for taking part in this Giveaway. Please do take a few moments to post some comments on the form when you enter... each year your comments help us try to improve SnowJapan. Thank you.
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