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Re-opening an old thread.


Anyone have more input on this topic?


I´m thinking of spending the incoming winter in Japan. Really want to go to Niseko(yes, I´ve heard it´s flat), but there needs to be some proper touring terrain if I´m going to stay there for a couple months.


Maybe two months in Niseko to experience the Hokkaido powder, and then on to Hakuba in the spring for some proper touring and steep skiing?


I spent the last season in Chamonix, with quite a lot of touring, so I´ve gotten pretty picky. Will I be really disappinted with the terrain in Niseko?

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After the Alps, Niseko powder will please you big time (deep, dry and always falling from the sky). But the terrain in Niseko will be very boring for you after Chamonix. In fact, there isn't really a mountain at Niseko, just a very big hill, like les Houches but full of areas that are "strictly off limits".


Niseko maximum lift served vert is 900m


Compare that to something like les Courtes couloir behind Grand Montets, which is 800m of vert in one direct line straight down, yet it is just a grain of sand in the sand dune of Chamonix terrain.


If it actually had a sustained 40-45 degree line and some easy riding powder, you could slice up Niseko top to bottom in a minute or two with no more than 10 - 15 turns. You can add on a few 100 fun but overrated meters if you hike up to the peak.


Ever noticed that the Niseko Hirafu web page http://www.grand-hirafu.jp/en/index.html has a big bold picture of the mountain opposite the resort, but sweet FA of the Niseko peak itself? Even the thumbnail for the trail map is of the small but impressive looking Mt Yotei, rather than the Niseko Hill. You have to ask why the marketing department are lying.


The upside is that Niseko tree riding is far more consistent than in Chamonix, but that is true of all of Japan. No need to visit Niseko for epic tree lines.


If you like steep powder rock lines with awesome trees in the valley then go to Hakuba.


The Niseko Hill (Rag Doll - thanks for the pic)



A little bit of Hakuba area ridge line (thanks Toque)






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Thanks for the info!


How about Mt Yotei? Is it skiable? And how far away from Niseko?


I haven´t really done much research yet. Just browsed SJ for a couple of days. Got it in my head that I wanted to go to Japan, and when I get something like that into my head, it´s hard to remove...

On the other hand, My camper van, "the blue monster", is waiting for me in Chamonix, if I want to do another season there. That would be the easy choice.


But I want to go to Japan...


And if I do go to Japan, it´s because of the powder, and then it would be dumb not to go to Hokkaido. Or?


Because although Hakuba terrain might be really good, it´s probably not Chamonix standard.


Oh, the choices..

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There are experts on Mt Yotei that can fill you in on the beta. I am sure they will speak up. Someone wrote a feature article on it a few years back.


Man, where you part of the famous Midi campervan community? How was that in mid winter? I campervan in Chamonix a bit during spring bit but didn't stay there. Always checked it out as I drove into town though. Cool.


If you are in it for the powder and the freedom then get some info on Hakkoda and another place that a forum guy called Plucky used to really enjoy. I have mental block and cant remember what it was called.

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>>although Hakuba terrain might be really good, it´s probably not Chamonix standard.


Not even close in terms of 1000m 50 degree lines. But I recon there would be enough steep and sketchy snow pack to risk your life every day. Short lines, but plenty of exposure. As for actual touring 'Chamonix style', for example something basic like the col de Berard, I think you could spend a satisfying season around Hakuba putting together great full day tours, including the fine art of getting back to civilisation once you made your descent. Having a driver to come and collect you at the end of the day up some valley would be helpful. If you are touring over a wide area in a day then I guess on any given day you will find plenty of isolated places where the av risk would be borderline to extreme. No free heli rescue either.

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Originally posted by thursday:
2 months in Niseko?

2 months anywhere is too much.
I have to disagree with you there.
I spent five months in Chamonix, and barely scraped the surface. There´s enough skiing for a lifetime there!
But it´s not just about the skiing. It´s about really getting the feeling of the place. Connecting with people in a way that´s hard to do in ordinary life.
It´s about getting up in the morning, and wondering: "hmm, should I ski in the sun or the shade today", and realizing that life doesn´t have to be more complicated than that.

I didn´t know we were famous. Infamous probably. But yes, Grepon (midi parking lot) was my home for five months, and the Blue Monster is still parked there.
Was a bit cold in January, but not too bad. Quite often -20 to -25 degrees celcius in the night, but no more than that. I had my propane heater on most of the time, so I lived like a king. Think the lowest the temperature dropped was to 14 degrees inside when it was -25 outside. Not too bad for an old Bedford from 1977!
Some of my neighbours didn´t have any heat at all. One couple I knew lived in a plain old van, so they put their tent up inside the van when it was really cold. Helped a bit \:\)
Man we had some great times there! Best after ski in town. Forget Chambre, the car park is where it´s at! You get home from a full day touring, the sun is shining and it´s 25 degrees in the valley. You throw all your wet gear right on the asphalt to dry out, pull out your lounge chair, sit down, and have a cold beer. Next to you are some of the nicest and most interesting people you have ever met. Can´t beat it.

Will check out Hakkoda and Aomori. Thanks for the tips!
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places that get more snow than niseko


Arai closed maybe




look it up before you call me out thats only a few. the niseko now reports are unofficial. heck even i know that people with vested interested write them, same goes with the other reports. (not a knock on sj i like the reports).

all the above places average 500 plus inches or up to 700 inches of snowfall. I love how people get sucked into the marketing of certain areas, thats all it is marketing.

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lol.gif (In)famous as in every time I mentioned I was staying in a camper van in Chamonix someone would ask "are you staying at the Midi? Have you seen those guys?! Crazy!!" In a nice rather than nasty kind of way. Your spring apres ski camping car beer sounds good. I am shopping around for a camper at the moment, planning on doing up to 3000km per month over the 6 month snow season... so its gotta be up to the task and be warm at the same time. Where did you have a shower?


I agree that 2 months is NOT too much in one place. Hell, we spend perhaps 36+ months sitting at the same office desk every day. In comparison I don't think 2 months looking out my window each morning at the same mountain range is enough. And like you say, 5 years in Chamonix wouldn't even get you down a quarter of the possible lines and tours.


Aomori is a nice small city, not a resort. Hakkoda is nearby but is not really steep at all, but has its own benefits (endless storms, miles of touring and way less crowds). Some forum members live there and would know it well. I think snowhaus lives there still, but doesn't post so much any more.


I still can't remember Plucky's favourite place.... It only had a few lifts, was un-roped and often confused with a crappy resort nearby as it shared the same name. damn, what was it called....

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OMG, Hakkoda and especially Hachimantai Forest sound amazing! And dirt cheap too!


Where did you camp when in Chamonix, spud? And in what kind of camper van? Sounds like an excellent plan you´re working on there!


I had a two month card at the piscine(swimming pool) which meant that I could go swimming, bouldering, to the gym, and, most important, the SAUNA, as often as I liked. All for €92. One of the few cheap things in Chamonix, in my opinion.

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