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Last Saturday I took advantage of winning the Oze White World Comp on Snow Japan and headed up to Gunma for the day. Gunma from where I live in Kanagawa, is only about 3 and a half to 4hrs MAX away, so I was confident of getting there for first lifts. The weather report was favourable after the warm and rain event that the snow zone had had earlier in the week, with a small but decent amount of snow forecast to fall. Knowing how bad Tokyo traffic could be, even at silly o'clock in the morning, we left Shonan at the pre-dawn time of 4.30am. Although I have been up to Gunma and Yuzawa many times before by car, as I'm not the driver, I don't really pay attention too much to the correct turn-offs etc, as a result we relied on my mates Navi to guide us safely..........first schoolboy error of the day!! It routed us around the eastern part of Tokyo.....firstly through the Yokohama seafront, up past Haneda and then onto the Kan-etsu.........added about 40-50 mins to the journey but "no worries" I thought, we've left in plenty time and as soon as we clear Tokyo we can make up a large chunk of that time on the expressway. What a misnomer..........EXPRESSWAY.......whoever called the Kan-Etsu and Expressway must be 1 sick individual!! I had forgotten how much I hate this road!! For some reason, when I take a road trip up to Gunma, this stretch or tarmac likes to keep me hanging around. Hit our first traffic jam not long into the KanEtsu......another 50mins waiting while they cleaned up a smash, get going again and then run right into another jam.....this time for no apparent reason!! There was no accident, nothing reasonable to stop traffic.....its was just this damn road playing silly buggers!! As soon as we turn off the Kan-Etsu at Numata IC, the snow starts. There was already more snow than I've usually seen on the side of the road and its this point my mate tells me that he hopes its not any worse as he doesn't have snow tires or chains!!! This should be interesting! There is a lot of snow (not Yuzawa amounts but more than I've seen on this road) but the car is doing ok. Eventually arrive at the resort about 10am and we're directed to the top car park..........schoolboy error #2. The car can't make it up the slope despite plenty pushing from this Beaver and the other passenger in the car. Reverses to the bottom and parks there. FINALLY at the resort and ready to rip. Happy to see that the snow is in great condition, soft and squeaky. Its also falling from the sky at a steady rate and there is no wind so visibility isn't that bad. I'd actually forgotten how big this place is. After you skip the long "group" line for the gondola and use the 1 person line, you get out at the top and you can go 1 of 3 ways........Skyline course, which is nice n long and lots of fun switchbacking the berms at the side for a cruisy descent, down the ungroomed area which seems to be called the something Mens course or down the something-womens course (west mountain). You can also choose the far red run, which actually was my favourite.....there was a little untouched at the side here to get a couple of fresh face shots. The good thing about this resort is that the 2 areas eventually come out to the same spot, so if you are with different levels, you can still be riding similar places. I actually didn't get to do as much riding here as I'd liked, as due to the weather and us not having snow tires/chains, it was decided to leave about 3-3.30pm before sundown so that if the worst did happen and we got stuck, it wouldn't be in darkness......safety first. Also my mate's young lad was with us for only his 2nd day on the snow (we had him up last season to Marunuma) and we spent the first hour or so giving him some pointers.....its great to see him not be afraid, just strap in and start going. If he fell, he just got back up and started agin, no dramatics, no moaning......great. He's at the stage now where he needs to learn to turn, but with 3 adults shouting at him to do this and do that, I reckon he should take a proper lesson!! We had an uneventful drive back to Kanagawa, thanks to SnowJapan and their fantastic giveaways and thank you to the Snow gods for allowing us to not get stuck, and to the Kan-Etsu.....you can bite me, you piece of s##t!!
hellyer posted a topic in Snow talk, trip reports, Japan avalanche & backcountryLoving the new site and just experimenting with pics and video embeds - hope it works A rare glimpse of yours truly - out from behind the camera for a change
SnowJapan.com is the independent guide to skiing and snowboarding in Japan and has been online since 1999.
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