Jump to content

Recommended Posts

  • Replies 85
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

And it's great to have you back! Cheer us all up Mike!

DAY 6 : MONDAY 21 MARCH 2011


I'd visited today's destination - NOBORIBETSU SUN LAIVA - a few summers ago on one of my exploratory excursions around the Shiribetsu region of Hokkaido.


The small ski area of three lifts and seven runs looked promising in green, and after almost three years I got a chance to see it in white.


The 200km round trip took me from Rusutsu through Toyako Spa on Lake Toya and then over the mountains down towards Noboribetsu. A beautiful drive on a beautifully sunny day.


Tucked into a fold in the range about 15km from Noboribetsu, Sun Laiva affords magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and the ocean.


On the ride up to the top of the ski area I was getting very excited about the untracked, steepish tree runs to the left and right of the pisted area.


After admiring the scenery, I set off in to the trees. About 10cm of dry, light powder had fallen overnight and was sitting on a velvet base.


But before I could enjoy it I heard a whistle in the distance behind me. Twenty years of team sports had conditioned me to 'play the whistle', I looked back over my shoulder and ducked back on to the piste to get my reprimand from the advancing patroller.


If only all reprimands could be so civil and charming. In his better than my Japanses English he explained skiing off piste was not allowed at Sun Laiva. When asked why, he just smiled and shrugged.


A real pity. Sun Laiva has got as much if not more to offer than similar small ski resorts like Moiwa and Chisenupuri.


I proceeded to bomb the empty groomers, and each lap was greeted with a wave and a smile from the patroller.


After about half a dozen laps I decided to hike to the peak above the top lift to get my tree skiing kicks.


Open access and no reprimand leaving the ski area, the route up followed a ridge line and is part of a recognised hiking route to the summit of Raibadake (1,004 m)






View from the summit of Raibadake (Sun Laiva base area in the foreground and Noboribetsu coastline in the background)






View from the summit of Raibadake with plenty of inviting peaks






I dropped in to well placed trees on a steepish, sheltered slope that held dry, boot top powder. Not bad for 15km from the ocean at the end of March.


I jagged right until I came out at the top of the beginner lift.


After packing up the car I drove down to the abandoned film set just outside of Noboribetsu used for a Japanese TV drama series. Ironically one of the very few examples of traditional Japanese architecture on Hokkaido






Driving Route 2 back to Toyaka Spa the road wound its way through some awesome road side hits. Once this series of snow has passed through I think I'll go back for a second look.











Link to post
Share on other sites



Back to RUSUTSU with 15-20 cm of new overnight.


The company who own Rusutsu used to own Steamboat, Colorado (hence the Steamboat restaurant at the bottom of the Isola lift) and the past couple of days has seen Colorado weather - snow at night and sunshine by day.


Neither of the gondolas were running due to wind and/or lack of customers, but the efficient lift system got you to all that is good about Rusutsu.


If it can't be deep, then superlight pow on velvet comes a very close second. Especially when wherever you looked there was plenty of untracked.


Unfortunately this much snow hadn't fallen overnight






The recent warm temperatures and sunshine has started to degrade the south facing terrain above West Mt. Spotted this glide crack on the way back to town.






Anyone contemplating hitting Shiribetsu-dake should be careful.

Link to post
Share on other sites



First day back at GRAND HIRAFU, NISEKO in over two years, and it was a cracker. And I even found people to ski with!


On the way over from Rusutsu I drove through some of the heaviest snow I've seen, and was down to 5km at one stage.


20cm had fallen overnight and it was snowing most of the day, with the odd patch of bluebird.


Made turns with local photographer Glen Claydon, fellow Welshman and longtime Niseko resident Owain (formerly of Dragon Lodge), and Ben Thorpe of UK based operator Japan Ski Experience.


We made the short walk from the top of the gondola up to the start of Miharashi and continued to lap that all morning.


Glen behind the camera setting up for the shot






Ben getting on the pow train. All aboard!


















Glen smashing it in front of the camera


















Yours truly courtesy of Glen Claydon










Had dinner at Niseko Pizza with Cezar and can recommend the new Genovese pizza with gorganzola cheese.


Link to post
Share on other sites






After such a good day yesterday it was back to GRAND HIRAFU, NISEKO for more of the same. Except today the peak was on the menu.


Was hoping to meet up with Glen and Ben again, but our paths didn't cross all day.


Which was also the theme for the day's skiing, untracked knee deep lines all day.


Miharashi again, the north bowl off the peak, and the slopes just round from the cornice off the traverse from Gate 4.


Yotei from Route 66 between Rusutsu and Makkari






The view from Main St. Makkari






North bowl of Annupuri (the mountain)



Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally Posted By: MikePow
Originally Posted By: ippy
i heard people giving a little bit of hype to kiroro as a kind of 'get away from the bogans' type place, while at niseko. But genuinely have no idea what the place is like. The pics seem to be just one part of it, whats the overall vibe of the place? how big is it? how is it usually january-february? etc etc.

Mellow, quiet, lots of snow, to get the best go with someone who knows the resort.

Or someone who has a snowmobile!

Ippy if you tour at all go there on a sunny day and be blown away.
Link to post
Share on other sites

DAY 10 : FRIDAY 25 MARCH 2011


After a couple of days in Hirafu it was time for a return to KIRORO.


Glen, Ben and I were joined by Kiroro first timers Thom Heald, Liam Bartley and Tomoko.


Mostly greybird and snow showers in the morning with boot top powder and stashes of deepness.


Thom Heald enjoying his first turns in Kiroro






Thom Heald earning his wings






Tomoko nailing the grab






Glen Claydon airing it






Ben Thorpe laying arcs










Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Create New...