Powder in Japan

No Pablo, not that kind of powder.

If you have time and money, you will find awesome skiing in Japan. Before the ski season started, I bought myself a pair of hardcore offpist skis to enjoy the possibilities here in Hokkaido to the fullest. I can say that I’ve had some amazing turns on the mountains around Sapporo. However, the expectations I had before coming here was high. I kind of thought due to all the videos shot here that there was going to be face shots every day all day long. It turns out there are bad and good conditions here as anywhere else. I have still not felt the waist deep surf that people who come here are after. The capacity of snowfall per day is insane and there is most of the time a soft layer of snow in the slopes. But, to get that really fresh and deep snow I think you need to be more prepared then I was, or lucky.

The closest acceptable ski resort is about an hour away from Sapporo, the bigger ones a bit further. Since I go to school during weekdays, the weekends and holidays are my possibilities to exploit. One time we rented a car, otherwise there are free or cheap bus transfers to different ski resorts. Anyhow, It is hard to get to the untouched areas of the mountains before they get tracked. We usually arrive at 10 in the morning as earliest and that has proven to be too late. We rented a cabin in one of the resorts one weekend but this time it had unfortunately not been snowing the day before so even though I got out in time it did not matter. I guess staying for a week or longer near the mountain would be a safer bet. To be on the top of a mountain alone in sunrise after intense snowing the previous days, that would be the bomb.

If going here, I would also recommend to acquire full hiking gear with climbing skins, crampons, shovels, avalanche protection and so on. I guess even more preferable would be to bring a guide that can show you good spots. Then you could go to the more isolated terrain to slash the real deal without other people disturbing. I have hiking bindings on my skis but I have not prioritized to buy skins and all the other equipment, which I seriously regret.

The prices for lift tickets is around 5000 yen for a day which is not too bad. Though it could be a better deal to buy a season pass for around 70 000 yen if you are staying to ski all winter.

I feel like I must add, unless you are an experienced snowboarder or skier solely going after the powder, Hokkaido is not the best ski holiday destination. Compared to for example the european alps or even Swedish ski resorts, the atmosphere here is not that great. There is no after-ski tradition and not many things happening around the resorts other than ski schooling. There is not much fun parks to talk about either. The lift systems are old and not very well cared for. The thing that keeps these guys rolling is the unique environmental circumstances that makes it snow in such extreme quantities, not much else. Nonetheless, I still very much recommend coming here with a group of passionate friends conquering the sweetest lines.

At the 14th of February I will return to Sweden and the last couple of weeks are gonna be smashed with exams and preparation for leaving. I really hope I can be able to squeeze in another day to get some more skiing before I go home. Regardless, I can still be very happy for what I got.

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