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Finally getting around to putting a seasonal trip report out for me and Kamafuseyama. I'll putting up daily reports (as I go) and visits to the surrounding area. Lets get things started with a freshly minted review!

 

 

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Kamafuseyama Ski Resort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most northern ski slope in Honshu, Mount Kamafuse is a minimalistic ski resort that doesn’t warrant a special pilgrimage to visit, but if you are local to the area, it can become an excellent daily escape from the business of life.

View from sea level

 

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Lodge walking up from Parking Lot #2

 

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Kamafuse is considered a family resort for the people of Mutsu but offers little in the ways of accomidation that you’d expect from larger resorts. Despite it’s small size, there are several chatlets for overnight stays and a few restaurants at base level to include a cafeteria in the lodge. Ski rentals are available across from the ticket office.

 

 

 

There are 5 parking lots staircased in the mountain on the road up, but the most I’ve ever seen full was the first two (furthest up) There is also parking available in front of the tennis court that is not in use during the winter.

 

 

 

 

Across from the second parking lot (again second from the top, and are numbered as such) there is a childrens sledding area. I have not explored this area in great depth because it is seperate from the rest of the mountain and I have no children but every day I go there is a good crowd of mothers and their children with plastic sleds. There is also what seems to be a seperate lodge beside it to rest, eat and use the bathroom.

 

After a short or long hike up (depending how far down you parked) you’ll find the ticket office on the left side of the road as a separate building from the lodge, but right next to it. A sign is to the right of the ticket office with prices and a map of the mountain.

Hiking up to the ticket office (seen on the left with red roof)

 

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Many options are available, more than I have seen at other resorts. A 1 time ticket,, 2, 4 and 8 hour tickets are all available as well as a season pass of course.

 

Map of Mountain

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The main lodge, called センターハウス (Center House) by the vinyls on the window faces the mountain and surprisingly offers everything except a water fountain. There is seating for 120 people as well as vending machines, lockers, bathrooms, changing rooms, and a fire place, which I have yet to see in use. The cafeteria is currently not in use this season according to a sign, but a frozen food vending machine was set in place in lieu of, offering gyoza, rice and a few other decently filling foods for about 300Y. Once making a choice, it spits it into the microwave and heats it up for you. Itadakimasu!

View from inside the lodge

 

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In front of the lodge proper are racks for your gear and on a busy day they will be completely full and you may have to stick them in the snow along the fence.

Gear Rack

 

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Once you’re ready to head up, the first lift (Technically the second lift according to the map) is about 20m from the equipment racks and sports a nifty automatic gate and conveyor that is slightly awkward to get used to.

 

Bottom Lift (Not the yellow restaurant in the background)

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When you’re cleared to enter, the arms open and you slide down and onto the treadmill. It’ll run you forward until the next lift scoops you up.

 

The lift takes about 7 minutes to reach the top and offers a good preview of the first slopes layout

Video of first lift ride

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtreaqlPHMQ

 

On the far right, a snow park can be seen, although it leaves much to be desired. Sporting two box rails and two kickers, it manages to give those park rats a taste without traveling too far from home.

 

First Box Rail

 

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Back of first box

 

 

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Approaching Jump

 

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Back of first jump

 

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On the left closest to the lifts you’ll catch the chatlets and the old decomissioned ski jump. Would that it was still in use! A 40m ramp and huge landing pad, but it has vines and rust growing all over it and a big do not enter sign on it.

 

 

At the top of the first lift (Second) the, second lift (first) is a short 20m away and will take you to the top of the mountain. While the bottom lift, is a two seater, the top lift is a precarious one seat lift. If you brave the climb, its another 7 minutes until exit. If you have a long snowboard, be sure to pay attention to the lift posts as my 166cm came precariously close to hitting one.

View from first lift

 

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Right side course (Groomed)

 

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Left Side Course (Powder)

 

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Second/Top Lift

 

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As you go up, you’ll have a great view of the other two courses. The one to the left and closes to the lift remains ungroomed for the length of the season due to the natural contours of the mountain. This side I tend to call the powder side due to the great accumulation it gets. If you go down to far, you’ll miss the cut through to hit the lift again, but I have seen some skiers shoot to the bottom and trek back up. If you’re a snowboarder, I wouldn't risk it., and just be sure to dart over when you need to.

Video of Second Lift Ride

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvni-nrgcYg

 

The right side course remains groomed and I would consider it the most difficult course based on the angle of the slope. You can stick to the side near the trees (going down the slope on the left) or dip into the bowl which is not groomed. Both come together at the bottom where you can hop back on the top lift or ride the rest of the way down the mountain.

 

At the exit of the top lift, there is no ramp, only a flat platform, so you need to be sure to get out of the way before the seat takes you out. There is plenty of room for a few people to strap in, then go down the shoot that puts you on the slope. The chute has little room for error, so you need to be careful or you’ll fall off the slope and it’s a pain to get yourself back over.

Strapping in at the Top Lift Exit

 

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The best part of the entire resort in my opinion is the amazing view of Mutsu Bay. Because of the location (this is a southern facing slope) you get a beautiful scene of the bay and the "axe handle" of Shimokita. On a good clear day you can make out the wind turbines of Mutsu Yokohama as well as Cape Shiriyazaki. Tsugaru Strait is barely visible and I think I can see the shadow of Hokkaido as well. More often than not you'll be looking at the bay or will have it in your eyeline on the ride down. While not the same as a big mountain range, it's very relaxing and unique to the area

View from the top-Mutsu City on the Left

 

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View from the top- Ominato Self Defense Harbor

 

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The beginner slope, or main slope is very wide and there are many contours and ways down and even on a busy day it’s incredibly spacious, short of at the top where people mingle.

 

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I've been visiting Kamafuse since opening week and although the weather across Japan hasn’t been great this winter, the base cover has been good and enjoy spending a few hours every other day here.

 

If you ever find yourself this far north in mainland Japan (highly unlikely!) and visit Shimokita Penninsula in the winter, then Kamafuse is a great (and the only!) snow resort to enjoy.

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Thanks for that. Lots of interesting details, yet leaving just enough to make me want to visit (if ever in the area).

 

Kind of curious: shadow of Hokkaido? Where do you see that?

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That top lift looks waaaaay old!

 

It looks soooo rusted man. I was freaking out my first time because it seemed like they're ready to fall apart.

 

Thanks for that. Lots of interesting details, yet leaving just enough to make me want to visit (if ever in the area).

 

Kind of curious: shadow of Hokkaido? Where do you see that?

 

Its kind of hard to see in the pictures, but when it's clear out you can definitely make out a land mass out to the far left of your vision. Nothing defined, but you can see that there is land mass out there. Probably something like Ermio Cape from beyond Cape Shiryazaki

 

Here's kind of what you see in a Google Maps way.

https://www.google.c...t/data=!3m1!1e3

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Day 11- February 2nd 2014-

 

The day looked to shape up pretty crappy, but the wife and I were still determined to get out for a few hours. It was already 0*C out by noon and with a predicted high of 7*C with rain, we knew we didn't have long. Normally with rain out in the harbor, we can expect snow on the mountain, but up until the first parking lot it was all rain. We did have snow at the top of the first lift but it was very wet rain and it didn't take long to soak through her gear. There was a 55cm base from the day before, but I expect we'll loose another 10cm after today's weather. I tried to show her some edge control techniques but she's still afraid to lean forward and I'm just a bad teacher anyway.

 

On a side note, my boots are finally starting to fall apart after about 60 hours of use. The left one pains me pretty bad now as I have to tighten it a lot just to get some turn in. I've taken to just riding switch down the mountain to relieve the pressure. It's been over a week so I expect my other boots to get here Monday or Tuesday.

 

If the weather warms up, I'll try to organize a weekend trip with some friends from Hirosaki, as I'm unwilling to go to Hakkoda alone my first time, but REALLY want to get out there. 360cm of base at the moment. :yummy:

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Nothing too exciting going on today as I didn't wake up in time to take the wife to work again. Current conditions are extremely windy and about 1*C out. Lost only 5cm of base with the warm weather.

 

On a high note, I did get my boots and bindings from home today. As I expected, my buddy had an extremely stiff setup. Along with the DC Allegiance 8/10 stiffness, I also have Flux Feedback bindings, which are a stiff binding as well. I'm wearing the boots right now and getting exciting for tomorrow, even if the conditions suck. I really really missed the double boa setup. More pictures and info tomorrow after I get back out on the slopes.

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Day 12- February 4th 2014-

 

Absolutely epic session today. Boarded for about 5 hours but with some pretty high intensity. The boots and bindings are more than a night and day difference. It's like before and after the big bang up in diz place.

 

It was one of the busier days for a weekday as a school (苫生小 which is apparently pronounced Thomas...?!) was there for a lesson

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They even put up lanes at the lift so people that weren't in the group could get on quicker, which I liked.

 

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First run I decided to take it slow and run down the bottom slope, and dodge in and out of the school that was visiting. I didn't even need the full run to get used to the changes, it just felt right. I was switching edges almost effortlessly and I felt like everything just fell into place. I'd like to compare it to leveling up, it just felt so much easier, and little fatigue because the response of my gear require little adjustments.

 

The school didn't bring their kids up on the top lift so I spent most of my morning up there in the crud. The powder side today was like lumpy mashed potato stew. There would be some decent creamy crusty powder, then you'd cross someone's line from a few days ago and catch air on some snow boulders. Very bumpy experience, but for the most part I just dipped in and out of it, took my time and had fun.

 

For the better part of the morning it was almost completely clear and blue bird. The sun came out to play for a bit, and towards noon we had a few clouds run over the mountain and drop some flurries around.

 

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I even went over to the groomed top slope and had a few runs. Didn't crash horrifically or break my board ( I have a stigma on this course for that reason) at all but the run was mostly ice and as fast as I was going, it was hard to hold an edge the whole time. I had more fun in the powder side though it was much more exhausting so I stayed there for the remainder of the day after a quick lunch break.

 

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Someone didn't have a good time up there, as one time going up on the lift, ski patrol was escorting someone down in the sled. As small as they looked, must have been some kid. Hope they're ok.

 

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Right before I had to head in, I ran down the full 1200m or so on the course at once and could barely stand by the end. At least I know I got a good work out today.

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Very nice. I'm a little concerned about your lunch; lack of beer.

 

No beer in the vending machines unfortunately...

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Very nice. I'm a little concerned about your lunch; lack of beer.

 

No beer in the vending machines unfortunately...

 

So they have food in the vending machines, but not beer?

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Very nice. I'm a little concerned about your lunch; lack of beer.

 

No beer in the vending machines unfortunately...

 

So they have food in the vending machines, but not beer?

 

Hard to believe I know. This resort doesn't though others I've visited do.

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Day 15- February 5th 2014-

 

Hopeful conditions this morning. Twenty cm or more on the ground and car at close to sea level with a constant light snow falling. Visibility around a kilometer, and much worse throughout the day

 

Fresh powder ready to ride

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Storming pretty good

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Didn't wake up sore from yesterday which is a bigger surprise than the snow since I can actually take advantage of it.

 

I think the powder will take some harshness out of the ride from yesterday. I barely feel somestrain in my knees and hip flexors but after doing some extended squats and jumps they weren't uncomfortable. I expected more in my calves honestly. No complaint yet but I may end up doing a quick session if I fatigue easily.

 

I can tell the rest the city is excited about the fall. in parking lot waiting for it to open and there are thrice the number of cars normally here this time. Still shouldn't be hard to get first tracks for a few runs at least.

 

OMG They're coming again! Same school.. Time to go up to the top.

 

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My legs lasted longer than I thought before I got fatigued but the powder put a lot of strain on them. Easily a good 40 plus cm on the powder side. Made for a lot of fun but I couldn't finish a run without taking a break. Turn ins were difficult and my goggles were constantly fogged no matter what I did. That on top of constant high winds and white out conditions made me fall quite a bit. The powder covered up all the holes and divots from days before. I'd feel my board drop underneath me then be sliding downhill head first on my back. Happened more than once unfortunately, but the powder softened the falls well enough.

 

Karaage chicken balls and an onigiri for lunch.

 

The snow has been accumulating since early morning. Good bit.

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It'd be nice to go out every day but I don't think my legs have quite developed for it yet. I'm confident that I'll be sore tomorrow so it'll be all recovery unless we continue to get dumped on. Might have to come out for a run or two in that case. Hasn't stopped snowing all morning either.

 

The storm passed around one twenty and just before that I decided to take my goggles off. I didn't enjoy the fog of war that was going on and even when it was still snowing hard I had a much better time navigating the slopes.

 

Beautiful view once the clouds passed

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I feel like there's more to be in the technique I use to reverse as I don't really let my nose point down hill at all when I'm up that steep. I use my back foot and hips to slash and switch edges. It gets tiring after a while but when I do get the nose straight along the fall line I can't keep it there, and put my weight on my back foot.

 

I even deliberately think, push the knee forward, add weight to the front, but my body doesn't agree. To be fair these are the steepest slopes I've been on and tops out at like 30 degrees. I don't remember having an issue in my early days but maybe it was never this step. I can't lock in my edge either on the groomed side though the powder helps smooth out my turns.

 

On the powder side it's all bets off today. I'm doing this intricate dance to stay up and getting more comfortable with balance so somehow it still works out. I guess I'll do some looking into what I'm doing wrong tonight. I don't seem to have an issue in shallower areas carving or nosing it in.

 

 

 

Towards the last few runs I did, I was getting really winded, so figured it was time to retire. Played with the gopro a bit and tried to get some good video/stills of me on the mountain so you can see actual conditions. Found a good hump and practiced getting some air off of it, but once I had the camera set up I was way to tired to get there and do anything fun. Definitely a recovery day tomorrow.

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It's been about two weeks since an update. I've been doing a little traveling across the prefecture, so haven't really had the time to post anything here. Been to the mountain about 4 times since, and the conditions were great after our heavy two foot of snow dump, but then melted the top layer and became garbage to ride on. Between going boarding often and the amount of snow I had to shovel I got pretty sore starting this last week and haven't made it back to the slopes.

 

This weekend I'll be going to a 雪物語 in 十和田 so there will be some nice pictures of that place and expect a review for Towadako Onsen as well as I intend to snowboard there on Sunday. I have some tentative plans to go to Hakkoda on Wednesday based on weather forecast and am looking forward to that trip as well.

 

More content to come loyal followers!

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Busy Busy Busy!

 

That's how the past two weeks have been for me! You'll be happy to know that despite the wicked heat wave we had ( IT WAS 5 ONE DAY!), that most of the snow here survived on the mountain, and with two decent dumps in the past few days, winter still seems to be fighting strong. Taking advantage of the time I had, and the steadily increasing experience, I've been snowboarding just about every day. In the last 14 days, I managed to get on the mountain 8 times, and the last week went every day, although a few of those days were teaching some beginner friends just how to stand up. Surprisingly, those days were a handful too, since it takes a lot of energy just to stand up on your board and not move for a while!

 

I REALLY enjoyed Towadako Onsen. It's a secret gem near Oirase Gorge (which is also CRAZY beautiful even in winter), and though there aren't any off piste opportunities in the little time I was there, a good snow park and other features make me want to come back in the future. I'll get a full review out in the next few days, hopefully this weekend since things are slowing down for me a bit.

 

Unfortunately, I had to cancel my plans last week for Hakkoda, as my Japanese friend who was organizing the trip got the flu the day before and I had to tell him that going skiing with a flu was a bad idea. I think we will try again in the first few days of next week. I'm also unable to use my Niseko voucher this year, since a buddy backed out last minute on me, and I can't make the trip to Hokkaido on my own. Next year, I'll plan with a more trustworthy friend I suppose. The voucher will go back to SJ for someone else to use I hope!

 

To make up for it, I'll be going to Hirosaki, Naqua Shirakami for a weekend in the middle of March.

 

Kamafuse closes it's doors March 20th, but with the warm weather trying to sneak in, It may not be good boarding that far along. I'm going to make the most out of the season here though and go as often as I can. Out of the 26 days I've been snowboarding this season, 24 have been on Kamafuse. Next season I'd like to get at least 50, but that depends largely on the weather, since the mountain didn't open this year until January 2nd, where as they normally open early December.

 

Stay tuned!

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