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We arrived at New Chitose airport on the 14th, got on the bus to Furano. While we were on the bus, the weather started closing in, and it started to snow. The closer we got to Furano, the heavier the snow was falling. We got ourselves settled in at our accommodation, had some miso ramen for dinner, and fell asleep, exhausted after 18 hrs of travel.


We woke up to the sight of fresh snow blanketing everything, and the sound of trucks, all loaded with snow, about 1 truck every 2 minutes. A quick walk to the 7-11 for some supplies, then into our boots and onto the shuttle to the Furano zone. Day 1 was definitely a warm up day, however there was boot deep powder just off the groomers, plenty still untouched after lunch. The snow was light and dry, although some of the locals were saying that it was slightly heavier than normal. There were light snow showers on and off through the day. We concentrated on the runs on the lower half of the Furano zone the first day. We finished the day with an onsen and then dinner in Furano town, at a little noodle place, some of the best food of the trip. I can’t remember what the restaurant was called unfortunately.


Day 2 we had a private lesson, we brushed up on our technique while exploring more of the Furano zone. Really enjoyed the runs from the top pair lift. No fresh snow this day, however there was still some untouched powder off the sides of the groomers in the morning. This was all pretty trashed by lunchtime. We really noticed how quiet Furano is today, being a Monday, there was significantly fewer people than the day before, not that the Sunday crowd seemed to be particularly busy to us. Once again we finished the day with an onsen, then we had dinner at the restaurant at our accommodation, Duck, ham and salmon, salad, and furano wine jelly for desert.


Day 3 the sun came out for most of the day, once again no new snow. After a few runs from the top pair lift on the Furano side, we took the link run down to Kitanomine zone. The top of the link run has some uphill sections, for snowboarders you need a lot of speed to make these, we ended up having to skate about 100 metres before we could strap in again. The link run is very fun once you are past the flat/uphill section, some good reasonably steep sections and some fun snow banks off the side, probably one of my favourite runs on the mountain. Unfortunately, the run from the bottom of the link lift to the kitanomine gondola is very flat in sections and by this stage it was showing how out of shape we are and our quads were getting very sore through these flat sections. We took the gondola up to the top of the kitanomine side and rode back down to the link lift. The Kitanomine zone can be broken up into 3 sections, the top section is quite steep and narrow, the middle sction is a nice constant gradient, and the bottom is quite flat in places. For our level of riding, the Kitanomine side was not as good as the Furano side. If you were getting into the off piste, ducking ropes etc, there is probably more scope for this on the Kitanomine side though. We finished the day by meeting up with Kokodoko for a beer, then headed out for dinner in the Kitanomine villiage. It was good to put a face to the name.


Day 4 we had organised another private lesson, this time on the Kitanomine side. There had been about 5 – 10 cm of fresh snow, and it snowed continuously through the day, big fat snowflakes, getting slowly heavier as the day went on. We got the cable car up the Furano side and rode down to the Kitanomine side to meet the instructor for our lesson. There was about 5 cm of fresh snow on top of the groomed snow down the link run, and this was probably the best run we had the whole trip as not many people had been down the link run yet, so it was nice and smooth. On the lesson we worked on carving turns. By the end of the lesson, I had improved my carving turns quite a lot. I am starting to ride a lot faster while staying in control. After we finished riding, we finished the day with an onsen, then dinner at the Izakaya at our accommodation.


Observations about Furano:


We were staying halfway between the Kitanomine and Furano zones, so we needed to get a shuttle there and back each day. This actually proved to be a good thing as we found that we liked the Furano zone much better than the Kitanomine zone. The only disadvantage was eating out in the evenings required a 15 minute walk or approx. 700 yen taxi to Kitanomine, 1200 yen taxi to Furano town.


Furano zone has less flat / uphill sections, and narrow cat track type parts than Kitanomine.

The premium zone on Kitanomine side did not open at all while we were there due to a large crack in the snow, so we were not able to check this out. Had this been open, we may have felt differently about the Kitanomine zone.


The runs off the top pair lift on the Furano side are split in half, one side steep fast groomers, the other side ungroomed bumps / powder stashes. Further down the mountain, there are plenty of powder stashes off the sides of the piste without having to duck ropes, plenty more easily accessible stashes if you are willing to duck ropes without necessarily having to go into the trees.


Most of the forested areas, the trees are very tight, under some of the lifts it appears that there are creeks and streams just under the surface of the snow.


We saw plenty of tracks in the off piste areas, but not many people. Even 2 days after fresh snow, it appeared that there are still fresh tracks to be had in the off piste, however access through the trees could be difficult.


Plenty of people were ducking the ropes. Some of the people where we were staying got caught, names taken down by ski patrol and given a warning, but no-one had their lift tickets taken from them as far as I am aware.


For us, 4 days was plenty of time, if we had stayed longer I would have wanted to visit some of the other resorts in the region.


Pics to follow.

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Hi Seemore,


yes I have some more pics, but will probably upload them when I get home. At the moment I am resizing the pics one at a time before I upload them, I seem to remember Snowjunky mentioned a program he was using to resize a bunch of photos at once, will try to find that when I get home. Regarding the steepness of Furano, Furano zone i think is steeper than Kitanomine. I think the overall gradient of the Furano zone is probably steeper than Mt Isola at Rusutsu, however I think that some of the ungroomed black / double black runs at Rusutsu are steeper. I will post more on my thoughts about the similarities and differences between the 2 a bit later.

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