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  1. I used to visit Suginohara often when I first moved to Nagano, as at that time I lived on the northern side of Nagano city and it only took an hour or so to drive across into Niigata and the Myoko area. Now that I live such a short drive from the Hakuba valley, I rarely get across to Myoko and I do miss the place. I was lucky enough to win not one, but two tickets to use anywhere in the Myoko area in the last ‘Unclaimed Tickets’ Giveaway of the 2013/14 season. Thanks Snow Japan! I decided to use the tickets to visit Myoko Suginohara on what turned out to be a big powder day, late in the season. As I had two tickets, I decided to treat a friend of mine to a day out. I hadn’t ridden with him in a good few seasons, so he was very glad for the invitation, and even more so seeing as the ticket was free! As always, my wingman, ‘Bushiman’ came along for the ride. He got lucky on the same giveaway. So it had started puking at around 5pm on Thursday (20th) night and we arrived at Myoko Suginohara car park at around 8:20am on Friday. The drive up there was a little slower than we had expected, as the highway traffic slowed right down around the couple of IC exits before Myoko. After the IC there was not so much traffic at all really. It was the first day of a 3 day weekend, but the parking wasn’t even close to being full. Score! There was maybe 25cm of fresh on the ground when we arrived and it was coming down hard. Really good, light snow too. It certainly didn’t feel like the end of March up there! We met my buddy at the ticket window and got our tickets for the day. It was here that we found out the top ‘Mitahara No.3 High-Speed Qhad Lift’ would not be running today, due to the sudden dump of fresh snow. That kind of put the brakes on our plan to ride the lines over the back of the top lift. That said, those lines are steep and the new storm snow on top of the recent rain crust layer would have been sketchy at best. We decided that the best way to enjoy these late season powder conditions would be on the tree lines with less gradient. No line at the gondola, so we were straight in and on our way to the goods. It was looking deep out there! We took a couple of very mellow powder lines in the trees off the ‘Mitahara High-Speed No. 2 Quad Lift’ that serves the park. The first one was basically a straight line as it was bottomless and gravity was barely enough to get us through! The second one was just using our tracks from the previous line to gain some speed to catapult into the deep and get some nice turns. Pretty fun to warm up but we soon realised that we needed something a little steeper, as there was at least 40cm on the ground up there and our tracks were getting partially covered between laps! We opted for a longer, steeper line the other side of the mountain. Starting a little lower down and ending near the bottom of the gondola, this is the line we rode until we stopped for lunch. The snow was bottomless, light, fast and it was big grins all morning. At around 10am it looked like this: And then by 11am it was more like this: It was snowing so hard that our tracks were almost completely filled in between laps on the gondola. I’d say that it was more like 50-60cm on the ground by the time we stopped for lunch at around 1:30pm. I wouldn’t usually stop for lunch on a powder day like we were having, but I was hungry and ramen was the only thing that could satisfy my hunger. Bushiman and Jimbob were ready to eat too. Our 40 minute rest and feed was well deserved. We stopped at the ‘Restaurant Downhill’ half way down the ‘Suginohara Connection Trail’ and it was basically empty. I inhaled a massive bowl of ramen and it hit the spot! Hunger cured and time for a 15 minute rest to prepare for the post-feed lines. It was around 2:15 when we got back out there, so it was straight down to the gondola again to get a few more of the same line. The run we took down was our only one on a regular course, and the slope was almost empty. In fact, the whole place seemed freakishly quiet for the first day of a three-day weekend….. We called it a day at around 3:30 and got back to the car to find it buried up to the bumpers. Maybe a good 30cm had fallen in the 7 hours we were there. It was still coming down hard when we left! This photo of the car next to ours shows how much had fallen: It was a great day and I always like riding at Suginohara. It’s a shame the top lift wasn’t running, but we managed to get the goods all day on the lines available to us. Thanks for the tickets Snow Japan!
  2. THANK YOU SNOWJAPAN for the free lift ticket!!! Here is my review of Myokokogen's suginohara from the perspective of a lower intermediate level boarder on a wednesday. Finding the place was quite easy as the toll booth attendant from the highway gave us a map and told us how to get there. The parking for this place is convenient, better than a lot of other places since there is really only one massive lot. Of course, it was a weekday so it was at about 5% capacity, a MAJOR plus. Myoko in general doesn't get nearly as many foreigners as Hakuba so there seemed to be more excitement than usual at our presence. There are also some ski lodges ON the mountain, as in you can stay in a cabin or lodge, strap on your board and ride down to a lift from your room. Very cool On to the snow... There is still PLENTY of it Suginohara was running their gondola, two double lifts and one quad. So four lifts doesn't sound like much but let me tell you, it takes a solid 30 minutes of nonstop riding to get from the top of the quad down to the bottom of the gondola. This place is LONG! If you are looking for a little exercise with your riding this place is great. Park riders: The snow park on the far left side of the park is quite good. It has at least 15 jumps one after the other with probably 5 sets of rails 4-5 boxes a couple rainbow rails including one that is about a meter up from the edge of the lip. If you know what you are doing, this park could be quite good. There was no halfpipe but plenty of quarter edges that people were launching off of. For intermediates (like myself): The area to the far right side of the gondola (take a right when you exit the gondola) was filled with sets of small jumps. The kind that you can really build confidence on. I definitely learned a thing or two about how to handle jumps by cruising around this side. There are probably 4 sets of 5 jumps randomly placed along the path going down along the gondola. For beginners: For true beginners, I really wouldn't recommend this place. There are a few beginner runs but if you are learning then this is not the place for you. There is really only one or two bunny slopes, in comparison to ikenotaira which has about 6. On the other hand if you can turn and want to build confidence by forcing yourself to ride for a long time the runs are long enough that you will definitely get a hang of it by the end of one or two runs. Off piste: The signs are strict, but the people were not. That may have been because it was a weekday though. All in all I had an amazing time. Although the sand blew in in the morning and rain did fall in the afternoon, our spirits were not dampened. Probably the highlight of the trip was racing to the bottom of the gondola at 4:01. The gate was closed and the sign said closed but we called out for one more time and believe it or not they opened the gate for us and let us on!!! This kind of rule breaking is quite rare in Japan so I couldn't believe their kindness. They say you can see mount fuji from here when the weather cooperates. It was hazy for us but still you can see a few other mountains, a lake and the valley below. Not a bad view at all. Anyway I highly recommend this place especially for people who want to learn to do jumps or challenge your skills in the park.
  3. Myoko Kogen Jan 6-8 2013 Sunday January 6th 2013 Resort: Suginohara Snow Condition: Groomed but not hard on the runs and day old stashes off-piste. Weather: On the way to the mountain in the morning we had glimpses of blue sky but once we arrived the weather was overcast all day. Luckily the cloud was quite high up so visibility was still good. The day: Being the end of the New Years holidays I was a little concerned the resort would be very busy but I guess everyone had already gone home because we didn't really have to wait for a lift all day. This was the first time visiting Myoko Kogen so I wasn’t really sure about where to go. I remember reading about tree runs at Suginohara and terrain traps on the forums but couldn’t remember exactly so I was a little hesitant about straying too far off-piste. Also I was boarding with my girlfriend who is only a beginner so I stayed with her most of the day. We went pretty much everywhere except the top of the mountain. When my girlfriend had had enough for the day I got a few runs in by myself and had a lot of fun bombing down under the gondola. Monday January 7th 2013 Resort: Suginohara Snow Condition: Surprisingly still very good in the morning with the groomed runs still not being super hard packed and icy. By the end of the day one or 2 of the runs were starting to get icy. The off-piste (yes I was still finding stashes) had a slight crust but was still enjoyable. No new snowfall. Weather: The weather was much clearer this day with clear blue skies. The day: We didn’t get as early a start this day but it really didn’t matter. The place definitely wasn’t busy. In the morning I boarded with my girlfriend and in the afternoon she took a lesson so I went off exploring and looking for tree runs. By far my favourite run of the day was under the lower hooded quad avoiding the big drop skiers left. Although there wasn’t nice fresh powder I still had fun playing around in the trees and managed to find mostly untracked snow all day. Unfortunately about half way through the day my bindings started to give in, firstly my high backs started to become loose, I tried to tighten them but they continued to loosen. This was annoying but bearable. However soon after a second problem arose with my buckle not releasing so I was unable to get out of my bindings. The only way I was able to release it was with a screwdriver from the work bench. Thankfully the screwdrivers are attached to the workbenches so no one can steal them but this made it challenging to get my board off. If you saw anyone trying to stand on the work bench with one foot on his board during this time it was probably me. Tuesday January 8th 2013 Resort: Ikenotaira Snow Condition: Soft groomed runs, slightly crusty/heavy snow off-piste. Weather: The morning was very clear again in the morning but became very overcast in the afternoon. The day: This trip was booked through a website where you are not able to choose the hotel you stay in and although I requested to stay near Suginohara I was put in a hotel that was at the bottom of the Ikenotaira resort. This wasn't a big deal and was the reason why we decided to go to Ikenotaira on the 3rd day of our trip. I was very surprised at how few people there were at this resort, I know it was a week day but I had to ask myself how does this resort make any money. As the day went on it started to get a bit more crowded but nothing like the crowds I have seen at other places this year. I spent the day boarding with my girlfriend with her now confidently linking turns down the groomed runs and me ducking off into the trees where ever I could to see what was around. I would love to go back to this resort after a bit of a dump as there looks to be some serious potential in the trees. Another thing that I liked about this place was the craft beer factory where we had dinner twice during the trip. They offer 90 minutes all you can drink local craft beer for a small price. Ikenotaira turned out to be a great place to stay and I want to get back there again in late Feb or early March.
  4. Hey all, We're heading up to Myoko for the first time this weekend and was hoping to tap into some of the enormous amount of knowledge here on the forum. We're planning on visiting Suginohara and Akakan Resort. Im not expecting you to reveal any of your hidden gems just some helpful pointers of where the good tree runs are. Ive heard theyre are lots but any advice would be very much appreciated. Cheers!

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