Took the drive through Tochigi on regular roads, past Shiobara Onsen, to Aizu Kogen Daikura. That part of southern Fukushima had always seemed hard to get to, but in fact it takes not much more time to reach than it does to get to the Bandai-area ski areas using the expressway.
Snowed constantly all day. Visibility sufficient for the most part, wind not as bad as predicted (though gusted occasionally), lots of fresh snow.
The base area is split into two parts, the older part to the right as you look up the hill, and the newer part to the lower left. The lifts on the right are uncovered pairs and a single. The two left-most lifts are covered triples. A conveyor-belt lift takes one from the lower base area to the upper one. There is a park area above the older base area, where they were holding a contest that day.
The D.J. Room is in the newer base area, though nobody was inside. The ghost (robot?) DJ was playing mostly Olympic-themed tunes.
The left-most triple lift serves a couple of beginner courses (I and H on the map). The left-most course, the I course, has a horrible flat section in the middle. Boarders and skiers both were skating through it. The H course starts out with a long skating section, before splitting into two. One side veered towards the lift, where someone was setting up a pole bahn. Good place to do it without bother, since most people won't hike out to get to it. The only redeeming feature is the branch from the H course back to the I course, with some relatively untouched shin-to-knee-deep powder to the sides. That was good for about 4-5 turns.
Otherwise, if one rides the left-most lift, the best course of action is to take the intermediate G course to skier's left. Though actually, if one is going to ski that course, better off taking it from the right-hand triple, and getting more vertical out of it. That ended up being the kid's favorite course: good for carving practice in the upper part, グラトリ practice in the lower part.
As for me, the goods were all on the right-hand side of the ski area. In particular, the crown jewel of the ski area, the Daikura Gelaende. Average pitch 35 degrees, maximum pitch 38 degrees. Access is via the Daikura single chair.
Spec-wise, the Daikura Gelaende is similar to Zao's Yokokura no Kabe. Difference being, once one goes up, there is no other way down. You're committed.
With a dedicated lift, one can just lap it freely without faffing around with lead-in or run-out sections, until one's thighs or knees give out. So that's what I did. Surprisingly for March, no real moguls, but lots of thick, chopped, shin-to-knee-deep powder. A real work-out. Very satisfying.
One thing I liked about this place is that it is very three-dimensional. Not large, but lots of hills and valleys, with courses in the valleys. Kind of like Marunuma Kogen.
All in all, a compact and very local-feeling ski area, but with good variety. The 38-degree course is what makes it all worth visiting, but one could also spend a good day just bombing the intermediate runs.
Having discovered how reasonable it is to get to that general area, I want to try some of the other Aizu Kogen ski areas some time, too.
From 08 March, 2014
Snow condition on visit:
Dumping powder all day
Things I liked:
The 38-degree Daikura Gelaende course. Three-dimensional feel to the layout.
Things I didn't like:
The way-too-flat courses on the far left.
Families & children