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  1. Hi I am looking for recommendations for good deep snow powder but not back-country in Japan. We are very skilled on-piste skiers but are not used to powder and trees. Hence it should be 1) reasonably steep (not too steep). 2) Not too many treas which get you scared 3) reasonably safe (like controlled gates). For example, I have tested Niseko in 2019. The gate concept made it easier to understand the risk. Also, the open areas were great to practice without always focusing on the trees. I have narrowed down; 1) Lotte Arai has a bowl and many runs where trees are spaced out a lot, but how much does one need to hike for the Bowl? 2) Hakuba Cortina. But is there enough open space? Or struggle in the tree runs? The reason for not going back to Niseko is the overcrowded situation. Your ideas would be very much appreciated. Thank you.
  2. Bushiman

    Oze Iwakura White World

    Having spent the last 10+ years riding your typical big/popular resorts in Nagano/Niigata/Hokkaido, this season I fancied a change... Pre-season I'd spent a good long while looking at Google Earth, and topographical maps searching for the kind of resort I like... Something a long the lines of Hakuba Cortina. For any of you that have ridden at Cortina, you'll know that the whole resort centers around a large bowl with everything (pretty much) funneling down to one run in the middle. No traverse ins/outs. Steep. Trees. Perfect.... Only problem is that over the last 3years, Cortina has become the Mecca for powder hounds from home & abroad and the resort is too small to deal with this influx of new customers. I went this season in early FEB and got maybe 8 lines in the entire day due to queues for lifts!? Shocking. /rant Anyway, my search was on... That search led me to Oze Iwakura 'White World'. From the satalite images/topo map it looked perfect. One giant bowl. Steep. Trees. Perfect... I googled photos of the resort, and was instantly keen to give the place a whirl. Now, I needed winter to turn up and the opportunity to go.... That opportunity came thanks to a SnowJapan giveaway! The week prior to going it rained... Pretty much everywhere... So my expectations weren't high, even though I knew that region of Gunma had been forecast snow... My buddy NECK & I headed off early that morning full of anticipation, and after 3hrs, rocked up into the carpark just before 10am where we met Gunma Boarder -who had provided us with lots of useful info on the SJForums... It was snowing... It was getting heavier.... We hopped on the shuttle bus that took us the 5mins from carpark to resort, and jumped in the (single!?) line for tickets. That took a while. Then onto our first lift up the mountian... Potential tree lines everywhere! I was hyped indeed -especially as I couldn't make out a single track in any of it, and it was gone 10am!? First line. Steep. Bottomless. Tight trees. Easy in, easy out. Perfect. Second line. Steep. Bottomless. Tight trees. Ridge line. Gully. Amazing. Third line. Steep. Tight trees. Bottomless. Cliffs. No patrol. Big smiles all round! Rinse & repeat... We explored a bunch of areas, safe in the knowledge that eventually we'd get spat out somewhere inbounds thanks to the bowl layout. The one and only piste line we did all day (the Milky Way,) was, er... good!? Hahaha! We only rode it to scope some more trees, but the piste itself was fairly wide, open, long, with mild gradient -perfect for beginners... For those of you into riding piste, I did note that they actually closed off Champions Course A&B during lunch and re-groomed them for the afternoon... Lunch was decent, cheap and just off the main piste halfway down. What impressed us was that they had two large heating stoves in the restaurant with plenty of coat-hangers, pegs and hooks so everyone could de-layer and get things dried before heading back out. After lunch, thanks to it absolutely puking fat chunks of snow, our tracks had filled... We rode till almost last lifts, and only then did patrol come have a word... Unfortunately for him, we'd had the most epic day and were just leaving so threatening to take our tickets was met with much laughter! Hahaha... Poor chap. It kind of flummoxed him, and he skied off muttering angrily to himself.... Conclusion: I wish White World was closer than 3hrs away...
  3. Sapporo Teine is my local hill, I've now been here a number of times...enough that I have a good feel for the place. I wrote a review of it the other day, so I'll copy n paste it over but add in some pics from today. I woke up this morning to nice sunny skies, with no new snow to speak of I was in 2 minds at to whether to head up to Teine or not....after a jolly good bullying from Pie Eater, I decided to get out amongst it, with expectations being a nice cruisy day on the groomers, perhaps trying to improve my trick skill set which is sorely lacking. As I get the bus up to Highland base station, those lovely blue skies gave way to cloud, very light snow and greybird skies. The snow was still plentiful and in great condition, when I got to the top of the summit express I found that a nice little layer of fresh had fallen overnight on the mountain, so I decided to head under the lift of Panorama 2 and see how one of my favourite non-gnarly beyond the ropes run was........it was quality! Perhaps only 1 or 2 people had been down before me and I was able to lap the lift run 3 or 4 times cutting fresh paths through boot top powder....nice!! I headed over to Panorama 1 and ripped out the powder under that lift as well.....good times!! After riding the upper mountain for a while I decided to hit another favourite non-gnarly, inbounds slack country pow field......Paradise ridge. This area I only just explored on the 5th, so I was delighted to see our tracks had been filled in and the ridge skiers left was again untouched light powder. After scoring such good lines unexpectedly I decided to go and check out the bowls.... The CHO scary warning sign at the entrance to the path up to the bowls..... went first into bowl 1, it wasn't bad but the snowfall overnight wasn't enough to have filled in the tracks. Snow was still soft and there were still a few untouched pockets to get some face shots. Looking down into bowl 1..... Bowl 2 was a little bit better, still good snow in there but not really worth the extra traverse out to justify multiple laps....not when under the lifts and the Paradise ridge area kept on giving fresh lines. In the end I was happy that I decided to head up today, low crowds and most of them were school groups who stuck to the pistes while I had the trees and under the lifts almost to myself. Thanks for the push, Pies!! Here's the review I wrote of Teine the other day............. Right, since moving to Sapporo at the end of March 2013, I've now ridden at Teine enough times to get a good feel for the place. One thing that has to be said is that this place is split into two distinct parts.......Olympia and Highland. They are connected by a long and winding cat track. If you are a beginner then Olympia is for you as the pistes are not too steep and are nice and wide........some great groomers to hone your basic skills on and there are some side pockets to start getting in your powder legs in. BUT the main event is up the hill at the Highland area. If powder is your thing (and lets face it.....whose isn't it?!) then Highland is a great little hill. The runs themselves are often in great shape, the upper slopes accessed by the summit express are often groomed to perfection in the morning and if its sunny then the views over the city and the sea beyond is quite breathtaking. At the top of the Summit Express there are another two lifts that exfill riders at the same point. Under these lifts can be some great powder runs, often knee deep and better for those who want pow shots without really running the risk of getting in trouble outside the boundary. There are 2 main slopes down to the base station of the Highland area, both are pretty steep. The most direct one is often moguled and a bit of a beginners graveyard. The wind seems to blow right up here and it can be icy or scraped in places. The 2nd main slope is accessed from a green cat track from the top runs. It too is pretty steep but is left ungroomed (the other one perhaps is also ungroomed....I'm not exactly sure). Although it too is wind affected, meaning that some vegetation can still poke through, it usually holds some great powder until even later on in the day. What Teine is best for is its off course runs......accessed from the same cat track as main slope 2, Paradise tree area is fantastic for deep powder tree turns. The access can be a little jungle chopping but it opens up quickly to a nice dovetail run out onto the bottom run next to the base station. There is a short ridge, skiers left and often this is left untouched.....today (Jan 5th 2014) we lapped that 3 or 4 times getting face shots and only crossing our own lines.........the last runs of the day! Awesome!! All this area is easily scoped from the base station, all run outs exfill onto the run at the base station.....you can hardly go wrong! THE reason for coming to Teine Highland though are the bowls and chutes. Accessed from the top of the Summit Express, you turn right and walk under an ominous sign saying DANGER, DEATH, with a few skull and cross bones thrown in, heading for the old abandoned ropeway station a little further up the hill. Below and beside the old station is a series of 7 bowls that when accessed will give you some awesome short, but steep n deep turns. I've only been out as far as bowl 3 as the cat track run back to resort is a bit of a PITA. Remember this area is out of bounds so its totally on you and your ability, when you drop in here. The patrol don't keep an eye here and there are no signposts saying where the resort is at the bottom. That said the cat track is usually very well established and should be easy to spot (keep an eye out for all tracks converging skiers right). If you ride down too far then you are gonna have a long and deep walk out to the resort or the access road so be careful. Today, bowl 1 and 2 were fantastic, even when it was all chopped and tracked, it was still soft to plough through and face shots were aplenty!! If you are in the Sapporo area then you should definitely give Teine a try.......actually no, don't....avoid it like the plague!!!!
  4. hello, for Christmas I got a new attack from the backcountry, the new dynafit radical. I have to admit that it is a great product, secure, lightweight, comfortable and above can give you more control downhill. http://www.dynafit.com/it/product/attacchi/tlt-radical-ft-110mm-z12 you have you tried? What do you think?? Ciaoo!!! have a good powder day"!!!!
  5. Today and yesterday I had rare week days off, so I decided to head back to Yuzawa and try and get some uncrowded turns in at GALA. So imagine my surprise when I get there and the place is heaving!!! Whatever, the snow was coming down a fair whack and the ride up in the gondola really got the juices flowing seeing all that snow. I didn't take my camera this time as the forecast was for snow, snow and more snow so I thought I'd just concentrate on the riding. I'd been to Gala before and wasn't so impressed.....it was fine, I had an awesome day, but I just felt the place was small. i didn't however get to ride the Southern area that last time, so I was looking forward to seeing what it had to offer. First couple of warm up runs down the main Central area runs, nice snow on piste and beautiful stashes just to the side, in and out of the pow over and over....great. Now to find this Southern area....what a carry on!! Its easier to find the North western passage, Atlantis and Brigadoon!! The top connection was closed (again...boooooo Gala) but apparently the cat track from the Edelweiss run was open....could I find it?? bloody hell!! I stopped for an early lunch about 11am, then decided to give it one more try before going over to the Northern area. Top connection was still closed but finally the cat track was open...........wow!! No one was over here, the snow was untouched and the stashes at the side were soft and deep!! Unfortunately, for some reason they didn't open the top runs....which was a crying shame because those runs were immaculate powder with no trails down em and I was gagging to give em a go. I had to stick to the bottom half but actually it did me just fine. Like I said no one was there so I was able to do laps of the Bronco run......the first bend, veering skiers right and into a huge pow field with some trees dotted around, face shots aplenty, back onto the official run, then dart left down the cat track, stay high and take out the other pow field that isn't REALLY roped off (although Patrol did ask me to stop riding there). That area was the sweetest, when I first went in, there were only 2 tracks....I was the 3rd. After a few laps and being asked to stop, I headed back to the central area for a drink etc, when i got back there were loads of tracks and each getting further into the field....ok then, I was back in again. I spotted someone stuck there, so I headed over and made sure he was ok before ripping through again but when I got to the lift I clocked the liftie signalling to someone inside the hut about me and then pointing at the other guy digging his way out. I was suspicious but I just couldn't tear myself away from that snow. So I nipped over the brow of the slope and into the field when out of nowhere the patrol guy has cornered someone else and is giving him a talking to......he had his back to me so I was able to Ninja my way out before he saw he....phew!! In the afternoon it cleared up and the sun came out and I wish I had my camera......what a view!! Some great looking terrain there as well, pity they can't expand the resort a bit. I did go across the Northern area to see whats what but across there the wind was howling, it was cloudy and snowing, so it was back to the sheltered pow faces of the Southern area.......I was like a pig in shit!!! Yep i resumed my love affar with Pow after a rocky couple of days at Maiko and kagura.......the difference here (well in respect to Maiko) is that Gala has good gradient to get you through....Maiko is pretty tame. Kagura I'm blamig on my board set-up, I hadn't moved the bindings back etc and like I said in another post I tweaked the angle of my front foot and that gave me back the control I felt I was lacking. My new board really came through today as well and performed well in the powder, still squirrelly on flats but thats just soemthing I'm gonna have to live with. Apologies again for lack of photos and cheese, but I was having too good a time
  6. I was going to wait and hit up here next Wednesday for some uncrowded weekday action but I couldn't stand looking at all the snowfilled webcams for another weekend, so off I went. Its an early start for me, get the 5.04am train from Fujisawa station to Tokyo, jump on the 6.08am Shinkansen to Echigo Yuzawa and powder heaven. When we were spit out of the HUGE tunnel between Gunma and Niigata, we weren't disappointed to see that the Pow tap was left on and there was loads of snow around and the sky was full of it. Maiko puts on a free shuttle bus from Echigo Yuzawa station to the resort so thats great. They also time it to coincide with the Shink arrivals so there SHOULD be one waiting for you when you get off. When we got there, happily there were 2 buses.....1 a large coach that took all the bags in the hold and another more of a hotel like shuttle bus. We were greeted very happily by the driver with a cheery "Good-o Mo-ningu" which put an unexpected smile on our faces. Shuttle was busy, both buses were packed, with people sitting in those dodgy jump seats that all Japanese buses seem to have on them. There are a couple of stops at the resort itself......think the first one was called "Ski-jo Mae No Iriguchi", 2nd one was the "Hotel Stop" and lastly was the Gondola.........get off at the Gondola, the ski centre is there and you can change and rent gear if need be and also the Gondola accesses the better side of the mountain, the powder bowl area on the left of the Gerende map above. I didn't take any photos, except for some dodgy stuff they passed off as soup (more of that later), as this place has been photographed on much nicer days by a slightly better photographer than myself (Muika take a bow) and it was gray and puking snow all day so not much to see. We got off the Gondola and headed to the top lifts marked C and B on the map. Took B up and rode down the ungroomed area to the Gondola top again. The ungroomed area was pretty much tracked out in the centre but the sides were chock full of large banks of untouched DEEEEEEEEP powder. This resort isn't very high, just below the 1000 metre mark, so although the new snowfall was light, the powder underneath was a little heavy. This meant that there were a lot of people getting stuck and having to dig themselves out........we made 2 or 3 runs down this slope and there was 1 guy who was still digging himself out to the piste. After our first runs, we were kind of left feeling with a little "is this it" kind of feeling. Not that the snow wasn't good, just that the runs were a bit short. We then took the C lift up, there was so much snow that our boards were not that far away from the snow while riding the lift!! There were tons of the white stuff!! near to the top we spied 2 girls who ventured off the side with the intention to ride under the lift, come a cropper and start to make the long arduous task of digging themselves back to solid base-land........they took ages doing this! We decided to ride down to the bottom again to see what the rest of the runs were like. The Guigui course was fun, we cut through the bushes and trees for some short untouched powder runs and then followed the course back down to the Mountain Restaurant. We actually took an early lunch.....I plumped for my standard katsu curry and was surprised to be given a cup full of what looked liked dishwater, to be told it was the "Soup Set"........if Peppered water passes as soup, I think they should fire the chef!! Back to the runs, I enjoyed these cruisy meandering runs, nothing challenging, just great fun on the powdery slopes with some surf-style switchbacks on the berms at the side of the piste, dropping in and out of the untouched as I went. We headed across to the Maiko area after lunch to check it out. At first glance, this is family and beginner central. The lower runs are all very cruisy greens, not much of a gradient at all and it was here that I had to wade out of my first waist deep powder hole of the day. On the lift up I spied a powder pocket with not a track, decided that to ride it all the way through I should stay high and cut down at the last minute and at all costs avoid charging down into the hole in the middle.........got a little excited and forgot my previous plan and got stuck. That was a wade out so not too bad. We headed over to the strangely named "Dolphin Course", the track from the lift is above a semi open bowl that is left ungroomed and strangely has skull and cross bone signs saying that it is not Patrolled. Most people headed over to the open face to drop in, we hung back a little and dropped a little into the treed area (it hardly warrants the use of the word "trees") but still it was nice to get untouched snow, lapped this a few times and each time we were dropping in earlier into the bowl. Finally a place here that is steep enough to allow you to ride the deep all the way through. Its pretty short though which is a shame because its one of the few places where the gradient helps you through the deep snow. I also got stuck here, at the bottom of the run where many people had tracked, leaves kinda big holes that when you get spit out into can halt your progress and get you stuck.....another wade, this time mid-stomach and had to use my board as a raft. Last run of the day, decided to take the Gondola back up and enjoy that Guigui run again............instead of using the track, I cut through the pockets between the trails (actually it may be the Ranran course at this point) riding the snow when disaster strikes and my progress is halted......AGAIN!! This time though, I'm stuck good!! I'm not far from piste which fills me with confidence....I can just wade over there again. Not this time!! This snow was uber deep and every movement I made meant i sank further down. I had buried my board, found it, tried to use it as a shovel....failed....sank further......tried to use it as a life raft and was reasonably successful but it mean that snow build up at the front was getting into my face.........man I was tired!! thankfully this guy was passing and asked if I needed help, which I gladly accepted and he pulled, I kicked until I was finally free! That stuff was like concrete around my feet, almost sucking my boots right off them!! I really felt that this year I would be able to start doing proper out of bounds stuff but this has brought it back to me that actually perhaps I can't. Ok, so this has turned into an Ippy style edition and I'm droning on....so a re-cap.....Maiko, nice little place for a day trip. Families and beginners will enjoy the mellow Maiko slopes and a weekday trip with no crowds will mean a lot of untouched for the Powder Hounds. Not really that much challenging runs in terms of gradient....this is a pretty mellow place and those runs that do have a bit of steepness are actually really short and its over before it began. Obviously I got stuck a few times and it got me thinking.......last season at Kagura I was riding the pow and trees there no probs, so why was I having so much problems with the Maiko stuff?? I figure that the snow, while great, isn't as light due to the altitude and also the gradient doesn't help when there are crazy amounts of snow, keeping momentum can be a challenge.........though I am loathe to suggest it but can a place have too MUCH snow?? Anyway, I had a great time, I didn't get to see the nice views that are meant to be here, but it was very picturesque.....I also missed out on the beer towers but if they were filling them up with the 600 yen cans of 350ml Asahi then I'm glad I passed.....couldn't have afforded it!! Peppery Water
  7. had a great day yesterday, did the Mizuno no Sawa program with ski patrol, then headed to Moiwa. Then spent the evening doing powder laps as it puked snow. and looked like epic times for today with 40cm of fresh overnight. had one run and my binding is broken . Have to wait for parts from USA.
  8. Here is a brief vid from this morning out gate 2 in Annupuri. Having a fantastic ski vacation with 14 of the last 16 days being powder days. I have managed to get to 4 other mountain resorts in that time and also some back country over at the Goshigi Onsen area as well (thanks to Mitch for the epic day!). Will make alonger report when I finish this trip in 2 weeks.


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