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Headed up to Zao Saturday morning, clutching free Giveaway ticket (thanks!), arriving mid-morning. Kid wanted to take snowboarding lessons, so parked near the Zao Sanrokusen ropeway station (Yokokura area), where there is a boarding school. First impression: this place is freaking huge. A giant bowl of slopes surrounding the onsen town. In the course of two days, we stuck to the right hand side of the mountain (Yokokura, Kurohime, Utopia, the peak), and didn't even hit all of that (never made it to Oomori). The left-hand side of the mountain Uwanodai, Diamond Valley, etc.) will have to wait for some other time.


It was also crowded. When I got tickets, they gave me a reservation ticket for the lower (Sanrokusen) ropeway -- over two hours later. There were employees on megaphones advising skiers and boarders that it would be faster to take the series of chairlifts up to the upper ropeway, rather than to compete with the on-foot visitors for space in the lower ropeway (echoing ILoveZao's and muikabochi's advice). Indeed, the crowds were only a problem at the ropeways. The chairlift lines were negligible. And the mountain is big enough that lots of people can ski/slide around there without getting in each other's way.


Anyway, spent the rest of the morning exploring the Yokokura area.


Yokokura no Kabe, one of the day's destinations:



Tree-lined connector to Oomori course:



And behold, there was a sign:



Top of Yokokura no Kabe, looking out across the town to the Ryuzan Gelaende at the opposite side of the ski area:


While the kid was taking lessons, I took the Yokokura no Kabe challenge. Successfully skied it one-and-a-half times. shifty smile


Don't have to go all the way to the top to see ice monsters. Top of the Hyakumannin Gelaende, near the base of the upper ropeway that goes to the peak:



Ropeway to peak:


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Utopia area:





Towards the end of the day, the weather cleared up, affording some of the best views of the weekend. However, by the time the kid's snowboard lesson ended, it was too late to catch the last ropeway to the top, which seems to close to skiers by around 4:00. On-foot passengers could still go up for the night light-up, but we decided to save the top for the next day.


Kurohime area:



Kurohime base area:



Looking up at the upper ropeway and Zangezaka/Juhyogen course:



Utopia again:




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The next morning, we went straight to the Kurohime base area, as recommended by ILoveZao. From there, it is one fast quad to the upper ropeway base area.


Oomori quad, on the road to Kurohime:



On the way from Kurohime area to upper ropeway:



Ropeway to the top. Had to get a reservation ticket. Wait was 45 minutes:



But it was worth the wait!



The peak was roped off due to avalanche risk, but that didn't stop the determined hordes:




The Kiss:



View over to Diamond Valley and Ryuzan Gelaende from Zangezaka/Juhyogen course:



Two boarders, two ropeway cars:



Saw a few boarders with collapsible poles, for use in the traverses:


The kid thought that looked like a brilliant idea, and proceeded to commandeer my poles in the flat and uphill sections.


In general, the place really seemed like a skier's pilgrimmage site. One thing that was nice to see was older skiers out touring around on their skis. I hope I can be numbered among their ranks some day.


All in all, had a wonderful, magical weekend. I will definitely be heading back to Zao some day in the future.


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Really good report Metabo and pics.

Glad you had fun.


Had a mind-bogglingly good day today in Zao.

Just the weather I want.

Was up on the top of the resort when the sun set as well just before.

Got quite emotional actually such were the incredible views.

Actually I'm posting this from the top!


Tomorrow I think I will just be skiing a lot.

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Thanks folks.


And thanks ILoveZao and Muika for the advice which helped make the trip a success.


Muika: Didn't know that was possible!

You do have some pics to share, I trust? wink




Originally Posted By: grungy-gonads
PS Cheese? wink


Tough crowd. Coming up.


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I put on my wellies and took my tripod up - using my ski lift ticket/card - at about 4:20pm. Then when I came down just before 7pm I just had to buy a one-way 'Light Up' ticket (1400 yen). Thought that was a good idea and indeed it was. Sunset was spectacular.


Pics will come a day or two after I come back..... I'm afraid that Thursday will be a 'catch up' day after my slightly irresponsible trip here today and tomorrow. wink


Tired now, need to have a bath and then crash.

Anyway this is your thread, I'll post my stuff when I get round to that.



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Originally Posted By: SKI
How did you rate the runs you tried out Metabo Oyaji?

The snow conditions were a thin layer of powder on an icy base, especially lower down. Which was fine for me, I like a fast surface for skiing, but my snowboarding kid was wishing for butt pads by the end of the weekend.

The Yokokura/Sanrokusen area trails are mostly beginner level, with the obvious exception of the Wall. So mostly not an area I'd probably hang out again. Though there were some features like a training mogul bahn that could be entertaining if stuck there.

The Kurohime area had more variety, and on the map it looked like the Oomori area has some fun bits, but didn't make it there. The Utopia area has some of the famous flat bits, but those are mostly in the juhyou sightseeing area at the top of the Utopia area, so not really an issue if one were there just to slide. The lower Utopia/Kurohime areas have lots of entertainingly interconnected trails, fun to zip around.

The lower part of the long trail from the peak also flattens out, but again, that's a trail one would be on primarily for the sightseeing. So if you just want to ski/board, then avoid the prime sightseeing areas. (Better yet, do both.)

As mentioned before, never made it to the left-hand side of the mountain at all, but on the trail map it looks like there are some fun bits there, too, such as the Hahnenkamm course. Next time.

Anyway, there seems to be something for everybody.

Be interesting to hear IIIII's impressions from the same weekend.
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