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This weekend I'm once again going to be in the Osaka area. (been up and down so much recently put 5,000 kms on the car in two months) Given that the weather report is for snow on Friday night I though I'd go to Sky valley on Saturday.

 

Anyone from Kansai going to be in the area?

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Well I got here. Was a bit worried driving here as it wss raining all the way. Only turned to snow in the last 10kms.

Been snowing all day, heaps of untracked powder, but also blowing a howling gale. I've actually been blown over twice and two lifts at hyperbowl are shut.

Been trying to ski in the powder. But every time I try too turn I fall over. Decided it must be a. My skis are too long, 175cm. b. My skis are too narrow. c. I'm a crap skier. So far going with 10% a, 10% b and 80% c.

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Definitely not a - Powder skiers usually prefer longer skis to give them more surface area and float.

b. Fat skis will help. But plenty of people skied deep powder before fat skis were even invented!

c. Not necessarily a crap skier, just crap at skiing powder! I know some very good skiers who were completely hopeless in powder - it takes a bit of getting used to!

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My visit to Sky Valley and Hyperbowl on the 15th was a bit of a consolation prize. We were meant to be at Kusatsu from the 10th to the 16th, where I was planning to ski Kusatsu for 4 days, Kagura for 1 (thank you SnowJapan and Yuzawa town for the free ticket) and Kawaba for 1 day. Sadly however my father-in-law passed away on 3rd Feb, so all that week was spent in Osaka. We only came back to Totsuka for a couple of days before heading back to Osaka, and only then because Mami had to go to the kids new school for a introductory parents meeting.

 

This visit was planned a few days in advance, the weather forecast was for heavy snow on Friday night, and to be snowing and very windy on Saturday. With this in mind I didn't even pack Rika's skis for this trip. I knew there was no way that she would like the conditions.

 

We got back to Osaka early Friday morning ie 2:00am and while it was cold it was a nice evening/morning. However we woke up to snow, quite heavy snow for Osaka, and it continued snowing all morning. Nothing like other places were getting. Once again Totsuka was dumped on and we weren't there. Happened the previous Saturday too. This snow was good and bad. Good because it meant the Sky Valley and Hyerbowl were getting some, bad because too much would mean I couldn't get there.

 

In the end Saturday morning was clear, and the expressways were open. I left at 5:45 and headed off. It seemed a lot of others had the same idea, once past Kobe the road was quite busy, most cars with either a ski/board rack, or a roof box. This proofed good for me, I was following the directions from the Navi system, the same way I'd been twice before. After getting off the main expressway, it's on to a single lane toll road, once the tolls are finished the Navi has me getting off onto local roads. I got off and noticed that none of the cars in front or behind had got off. So after a quick WTF I got back on and followed everyone else. Turns out there is a new extension to the road my two year old maps don't have. Worked out well, arrival time came down from 8:45 to 8:10. The rain all the way there wasn't so good, I was a bit worried about the amount of, or rather lack of snow on the drive. there appeared to be less snow that the previous Friday when Rika and I went there, and there had been two big storms with heaps of snow since. However as so often happens, go up a hill, though a tunnel, and the snow is there.

 

Arrived at 8:10, parked in the number two car park, so a bit further to walk than last time, and got ready. Was able to get on the first lift at 8:33 (or so Ski tracks, the tracking app on my phone says) Actually saw another gajiin in the toilets at the base. But you know how it is in toilets, no-one wants to start a conversation. Didn't see him again, although I did keep an eye out for him.

 

Last time the lifts heading up looked like this

 

onehunga_25.JPG

 

This time with the snow and wind you couldn't see the top. Once up into the main ski area I headed up the triple lift. At the top this was the view

 

onehunga_34.JPG

 

Heading further up the view didn't get any better

 

onehunga_36.JPG

 

It was cold, blowing a howling gale and snowing, and I did ask myself what was I doing there. especially when I could still be in a nice warm bed. The skiing was pretty good though. Main downside to the conditions was that the visibility was very poor, the snow was great however. Knee deep powder every where. I know it was knee deep because while I could go straight in it, every time I turned I fell over. I'm not a good powder skier, but at least the powder was soft to fall into.

 

Because of the wind once I'd ended up back at the bottom of the triple lift I went up it again then skied over to Hyberbowl. the wind was coming round the mountain hitting Sky Valley and the top half of Hyperbowl, but leaving the bottom half of Hyperbowl relatively wind free. There were still big gusts coming though which with the snowing reduced visibility to zero, but it was a lot nicer skiing over there compared to Sky Valley.

 

Even with the reduced wind I was still getting covered in snow on the lifts, and with the occasional fall (twice knocked over by gusts of wind) I ended up covered in snow and Ice. After a couple of hours skiing I decided on it was time for a hot drink and some chocolate, so skied back over to the big restaurant at Sky Valley. Walking in I think nearly every eye in the place was on me. At first I though it was because i'm a gajiin and there aren't many here. But then I thought it's because of all the snow. Everyone else looked like they had stepped out of the changing room at Sports Depo. How do they do it? Even everyone outside boarding looked "clean" Over the course of the day I was the only one I saw that was covered in snow and ice.

 

I mentioned above everyone outside boarding, not skiing, SnowJapan's info on Sky Valley and Hyperbowl have it as 20% skiiers 80% Boarders, well I think thats a bit wrong, I'd put it at 5% skiiers and 95% Boarders. Skiiers definitly an endangered species at these two resorts.

 

I'm not sure why there are two resorts here, there is no geograhical feature to seperate them, indeed most of the seperating is done by a few bits of rope. As the weather cleared up in the afternoon one of the nice runs I did a couple of times invovled using the Sky Valley lifts to get up to the top (the two top Hyperbowl lifts were closed due to wind) then coming down in a zig zag that had me crossing backwards and forwards between the two resorts before eventually ending up at the base of Hyperbowl.

 

onehunga_22.JPG

 

Looking at the shut Hyperbowl lifts from Sky Valley. Note the rope seperating the two resorts.

 

onehunga_28.JPG

 

This photo taken on my previous visit shows a boarder heading from the top of the triple in Sky Valley to Hyperbowl. Once though that little pass it's Hyperbowl.

 

The visibility improved as the day went on, and as it improved I moved back to Sky Valley, although I continued to duck in and out of Hyperbowl. The snow conditions were great for skiing and boarding, lots of untouched powder. It appeared the snow and high winds kept a lot of people in the lower areas of Hyperbowl and around the middle double lift at Sky Valley. Dispite the numbers of people there I didn't have to wait in any lift queues, and probably becasue a lot of boarders don't like sharing a lift with skiiers (or because no one wanted to sit by the gajiin) I only shared a lift once all day. The staff had obviously expected a lot more people, there were ropes out to handle large lift queues, in nice big zig zag patterns, just like Disneyland. :lol:

 

This was the visibilty during the day

 

onehunga_23.JPG

 

But later it cleared to this

 

onehunga_37.JPG

 

All in all it was a good day, still not sure whether I enjoyed it and had fun. I think I pefer days with sunshine and good visibility. A number of the spills I took was because I couldn't see anything, and ended up dropping down a steep section I wasn't prepared for. The day certainly got a lot better once it cleared up. But saying that I still spent 8 and a half hours skiing, skiied for 32 kms, did 23 runs, and manged to get to 42.2km/h (over 40km/h twice according to Ski Tracks)

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