Northern Hemi snow season 13/14

thermalben's picture
thermalben started the topic in Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013 at 2:28pm

Seems to have been a slow start to the Japan snow season but it's finally kicking into gear now, with the last week producing some good accumulation totals.

Zen - which area do you usually hit up? Despite the small geographical size, there seems to be quite a broad range of resorts across Japan and they all seem to get differeing amounts of snow depending on the kind of weather system (I've only been to Japan once, to Nozowa Onsen in 2010 - massive base but no fresh pow for the nine days we were there).

Canada looks mixed as well - only 83cm at Whislter (153cm cumulative) but Fernie's doing much better - 158cm cumulative base with 301cm cumulative! Much better than when I was there in about 00/01 - the mountain didn't open until just before Xmas due to the tiny base (about 50cm) and we never had a single snowfall greater than 15cm. Totally skunked.

Anyone else hitting up the NH resorts this year? Would love to tour through France/Italy/Austria/Switzerland at some point.. so many places on my bucket list!

blindboy's picture
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blindboy commented Thursday, 2 Jan 2014 at 9:16pm

Don't know about the ski resorts Don but my cards worked fine in major bank ATMs everywhere we went but there are smaller local banks that don't accept them. Use your credit card for the best exchange rate!

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Thursday, 2 Jan 2014 at 10:16pm

These days not too much of a problem Don. I would imagine at a big resort like Hakuba you can use your cards to by lift tickets etc. Most 7/11's have international ATM's and you can select English when you insert your card. Also, post office ATM's accept most international cards and at the bottom right of the screen there's a button to press for English.

Having said that, Japan is a cash society so all small purchases will be in cash, meals etc. usually cash. My advice is to carry a lot of cash as it just makes things easier.

Also, don't tip here for anything, it's kind of taboo.

1173

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Thursday, 2 Jan 2014 at 10:25pm

ps Skunked today. Should have gone to my other ski area. Gale force winds and really deep powder but only 2 lifts open. All chopped out by lunchtime and it was painful to look further up the mountain to acres and acres of untracked powder.

We ended up getting 40+ cm in 12 hours.

1173

wellymon's picture
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wellymon commented Friday, 10 Jan 2014 at 9:21pm

WOT, you know what that means well, As for the big XXXXXLLLLLLL swell in the North Atlantic lately.

Check Xavier out ,how he negotiates XXXXXXXXXXXLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL mountains.....?

The "Slater" of Snowboarding hard core big mountain riding,

Suck it in and give yourself a slap..................

http://snowboarding.transworld.net/1000210743/videos/nation-xavier-de-le...

This guy fucking rocks hard.

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Saturday, 11 Jan 2014 at 12:16am

Mad lines Welly but a disappointing edit. Want to see more complete runs.

I suppose that it goes without saying but I'll say it anyway- guys, when you come over here, dress warm for the mountain. It's not like Oz or NZ where you can get away with a t-shirt under your jacket. You need layers and be prepared for windchills of below -20 and even -30+ sometimes. Try and avoid cotton too, use either wool or synthetics.

I usually wear an undershirt, long sleeve thermal shirt and one of those heat-x long sleeve sport shirts under my jacket. Asics makes good ones. I don't bother with long thermal underwear but I've got pretty warm pants. Also, you need really good quality woollen hiking socks or specific ski/snowboard socks- Burton, Sims and Descente all make pretty good ones and aren't too pricey. If you can get to a sports store before you hit the mountain, the above stuff is surprisingly cheap. Expect to pay quite a bit more on the mountain or in the resort town. Clothes are pretty cheap off the mountain in Japan. XXL stuff is a bit hard to get though.

Finally, get a neck-warmer or gater, you can pick one up at a sports store or 7/11 for less than $10 and I also wear one of those 6-way balaclava's under my helmet, they're great.

In the unlikely event you get too hot you can ditch the thermal undershirt. Lots of lifts are uncovered and after a long run down it's a long cold journey back up and you'll need that extra warmth.

1173

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather commented Saturday, 11 Jan 2014 at 10:07am

Thanks for the great advice zen. Greatly appreciated.

Craig's picture
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Craig commented Saturday, 11 Jan 2014 at 10:36am

Yeah thanks heaps for that Zen! I've got long sleeve and long leg thermals and Salomon Climapro Supernova snow jacket.

Will probably invest in that Ascis heat shirt and good snow shoes.

Any recommendations on shoes to wear around town/Sapporo and also what gloves to wear.

Is a helmet a recommendation.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Saturday, 11 Jan 2014 at 11:03am

If you've got nice warm socks you could probably get away with sneakers as long as they're not the mesh ones and as long as you don't plan on being outside for too long.

Having said that, if you plan on doing some walking or sightseeing a decent pair of boots is a must. I've got some LL Bean quilted snow boots and they're great. I've also got a pair of Crocs fluffy lined snow boots too. even in Tokyo at this time of the year it's really cold so a decent pair of boots won't go astray. If you buy a kind of neutral pair you will use them for years. My LL Beans are 7 years old and still look new.

A helmet is up to you but I highly recommend one. You'll see that most Japanese don't wear helmets (maybe it's a fashion thing) but many foreigners do. I saw a guy slip over backwards on an icy run once and I heard an audible 'crack' of his skull. He was out cold for at least a minute and he wasn't in a good way when he came out of it. That sealed it for me, I've been wearing a helmet for years and even though I look like a bit of a muppet, I don't care. Mine has saved me at least twice. Also, they give you an extra layer of warmth. I wear my thin balaclava under mine and I'm fine.

Gloves, you can get a pair of gloves from a 7/11 and they'll be fine for wearing around town but on the hill I recommend getting the best pair of ski gloves you can afford (definitely Goretex). Hands and feet are always the first to get cold. If you can get the ones with the wrist bands, so then as you're mucking around on the lift playing with your phone or whatever, if you drop your glove (and it happens all the time) it still remains attached to you.

If anything, good booots, good socks, good gloves and good goggles.

Man, I'm amped for you guys, I really think you'll enjoy Japan and probably keep coming back.

1173

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Saturday, 11 Jan 2014 at 11:08am

Forgot to mention, it's usually so cold that the snow remains dry so uggies are great to wear around.

1173

palmymick's picture
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palmymick commented Saturday, 11 Jan 2014 at 11:45am

We had no probs with credit cards in Tokyo Don. Few issues with them in Niseko but most places were cool. Cash is definitely preferred and easier. The conversion is pretty easy too.
Good advice Zen. It was as cold as a mother in law's kiss in Niseko. I got real good gloves and socks. Also got inner gloves made of that stretchy material like a rashy but thicker. Had silver pads on the fingers so you can work the iPhone - sign of the times. The Burton gloves got a handy feature of a pocket on the back for the lift pass, easier to get through.
Maybe it's because I have the coordination of a nervous, drunk ice addict but I reckon a helmet is a must. Amount of times it has saved me it's well worth it. And definitely for kids. Mine had high speed stacks going over jumps and stuff and it kept them away from concussion. Helps for confidence in the trees to, which we found was often the best conditions and powder.
And good goggles helps to spot the lumps and bumps and moguls which are a bit hard to see in the light conditions.
And the snow there is just chalk and cheese to Oz and NZ. We had 35cm the day we arrived and it averaged between 10 and 30cm every day after. Insane. And so dry is was like falling into pillows - albeit with a very sudden stop. But it helps for confidence with powder rather than the scratch and scrape sound of ice underfoot.
Lifts and slopes were generally uncrowded except on. Sunday and when some lifts were closed due to winds, which happened a bit.
And the night boarding til 8.30pm was top notch. Crowds clear out, you can sleep in and not worry about herding cats / kids to get going so you don't lose too much mountain time.
Will definitely be back Zen, after 8 days boarding in those conditions, it gonna be hardto go back to Oz conditions at the risk of sounding un-stralian.

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wellymon commented Saturday, 11 Jan 2014 at 1:35pm

Awesome photography again by Brian Nevins, if you have 20 mins well worth the photo art.

2.20min Concrete barrel. 11.00min Valdez

http://vimeo.com/78582910

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

away's picture
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away commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2014 at 10:59am

After a super slow start in Niigata, particularly up here in the North, we finally got some big dumps for this weekend. We had knee to waste deep powder on the ungroomed areas under the lifts yesterday. I was at a tiny resort called Budoh, only two lifts but hardly any people. It is great sitting on the lift back up and looking at your lines and scoping your next one. Still puking down outside as I write.

For snow boots, I have a pair of Sorels. Great investment. My other advice is don't be a scrooge when you buy goggles. I originally went for a cheap pair and nothing wrecks you fun more than foggy goggles. Drop a bit of extra coin and get good ones.

Zen, have you ever been to Appi? I just heard about it and it looks good, up in western Iwate, near the border with Akita. Looks like a big scale resort but I guess it is pretty far from you. Also a mission from where I am.

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away commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2014 at 11:11am

And get a helmet for sure. There are no waves where I live so outside of winter I skate. I started wearing my skate helmet on the slopes this year and I am glad I did. Last week I was out on a local hill, snow conditions weren't great so was amusing myself in the park. Hit a kicker, somehow landed with my skis a bit crooked, rolled and smashed my head into the ground. Even with the helmet on it rocked my world and I had to sit down for about 15-20 minutes.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2014 at 12:10pm

Away, Appi's on my list. I climbed Iwate-san near Appi a couple of summers ago. What a bitch that was, harder than Fuji. I heard Appi has really long, wide runs and it's groomed to perfection. A cruisers/carvers dream. Definitely want to go there, but looking at doing Zao this Feb. Tomorrow up to Alts and looking good on the forecast so far.

I concur with the goggles. After enduring a couple of seasons with crappy $50 goggles, I bought a pair of Smith Knowledge Turbofan's, the ones with the little electric exhaust fan above the visor. The lenses are awesome and even in warm spring conditions they stay crystal clear all day. One AAA battery lasts for two or three outings. Definitely worth the extra coin especially for a sight challenged wombat like me.

Away, national holiday tomorrow and plenty of snow forecast, you gonna hit it?

1173

away's picture
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away commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2014 at 12:58pm

Unfortunately Zen, I have to work on Monday.

Instead, I have Friday off so I am probably heading down to Yuzawa area. Thinking Maiko or Ishiuchi Maruyama as I have never tried either. I am hoping for fresh lines in the Okuosechi Bowl at Maiko without weekend crowds. A bit far out but the long term forecast is looking decent for snow all week down there.

I was at Zao mid-Feb last year. Bucketing down every day. After you check out the snow monsters, head over to the far right of the map, Kurohime area etc. It is a bit out of the way, so most people stick to the main areas on the left and in the centre. When I was there, the place was deserted, a deep layer of fresh snow on top of the groomers by early afternoon and lots of chances to sneak off into the trees.

Maybe not new info for you but look around on JALAN, Rakuten travel etc. for Ryokan deals with meals/ lift tickets included. We found a good deal on a really rustic place about 10-15 minutes walk from the Gondola with a banquet in the morning and at night. As you also probably know there is nothing better than the lure of a good onsen to get the Japanese wife to retire from the slopes earlier and leave you to explore on your own.

Goggles with electric exhaust fans? Wow, I didn't know such a thing existed. What an age we live in... I hope you get the goods tomorrow.

wellymon's picture
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wellymon commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2014 at 1:35pm

away wrote: And get a helmet for sure. There are no waves where I live so outside of winter I skate. I started wearing my skate helmet on the slopes this year and I am glad I did. Last week I was out on a local hill, snow conditions weren't great so was amusing myself in the park. Hit a kicker, somehow landed with my skis a bit crooked, rolled and smashed my head into the ground. Even with the helmet on it rocked my world and I had to sit down for about 15-20 minutes.

What were you doing in the park Away......? That will teach ya.
You should of been Away deep in those trees searching some untracked crust or windblown pockets, sound like you are getting the spoilt Japanese powder bug eh ! Its a disease.
Safe journeys two planker.
From the knuckle dragger. :)

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

bish's picture
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bish commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2014 at 1:48pm

I'm heading up to hokkaido on the 20th. 5th japan trip for my partner and I,. We did Nozawa Onsen a few years back Ben, great town. We were there for 3 weeks and got quite a few deep falls of snow and enjoyed the experience, loved the running water over the streets to keep them clear of snow and the tofu was great for us vego's. Good side country runs were a bit tricky as the ski patrol weren't too lenient, but that valley off the back was steep and deep, had to watch the runout though as there's a heap of concrete infrastructure under the snow in the bottom of the valley. Loved the running water over the streets to keep them clear of snow. But if you want reliable fresh snow, you can't beat Hokkaido. It has snowed there for 37 days straight and as of today the cumulative snowfall is 858cm.

This trip is based in Niseko again, we'll probaly hit Rusutsu as well, as we have a 4wd van as part of the accomm. package. Then over to central Hokkaido for a week of guided backcountry finishing up with a few days in Hakkoda (northern Honshu).

Second last trip we did to Europe, we decided not to book anything. The alps can be fickle with snow, our thinking was to just land there, assess which country and areas were getting the best snow and go from there. It worked just fine and we got some really good accommodation by just turning up on the day at the local tourist offices in Austria. Plan B was to ditch the skis and go touring around eastern or northern Europe, we decided we'd rather do that than ski a crap season. Last trip we went to Madonna di Campigglio in Italy, booked that one when we were reasonably certain of a decent season and it paid off. Italians are mad, fast skiiers!

Hey Zen, have you been to Hakkoda, new area for me?

Bish

dumpy's picture
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dumpy commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2014 at 3:16pm

Bish: another resort: Moiawa (sp) is just down the road from Niseko, I only used the one lift there, and hiked out to some really fun powder bowls out the back. the return is pretty long though- can accidentally end up on the wrong mountain too! At least it is not crowded! Helmet, beeper, shovel & extendable probes recommended!

Plenty of onsen, we found one that was 'special' because it was an iron pool rather than the usual sulfur. the facilities were 1950's level and the water slimy, but hey an experience!

on usenet my friends .sig was "leave only footprints" but if you do that some one will follow.... :D

bish's picture
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bish commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2014 at 3:52pm

Ah yes, I've noticed that, on the sw side of Annupuri isn't it?. I'm on AT gear this time around, skins and full avvi gear etc, but will take care, thanks!

Bish

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2014 at 5:13pm

Away, wife has already booked Zao. Right on the doorstep of the lifts apparently. Looking forward to it.

Bish, Hakkoda is definitely on the must do. Pretty wild place and definitely a guide needed. Deep, deep powder and only one defined run under the ropeway. The rest is backcountry stuff and you pay for individual trips up the ropeway and then hike. Maybe 3-4 runs for the day but huge playing area.

Scary kind of place too, I think 100+ soldiers perished there in a blizzard on a training exercise many years ago. The weather can turn real nasty real quick up there. Not the place to be trying to find your way out alone.

Moiwa is apparently awesome, same as Niseko minus the crowds.

1173

wellymon's picture
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wellymon commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2014 at 5:45pm

bish wrote: Ah yes, I've noticed that, on the sw side of Annupuri isn't it?. I'm on AT gear this time around, skins and full avvi gear etc, but will take care, thanks!

All good Bish.
To have all the gear is fine but to know how to use it and when to back off is an other story to be told.....?
Do an avalanche course, learn how to recognise avy terrain, weather patterns, dig pits, patted blocks tests and identifying leak layers, that sometimes form months before you're on that slope?
Take care champ and remember your gut instinct, which is so crucial.
Even in Japan with the consistent snow pack you still get avalanches out back country, when they do happen they are big..
A little insight here, heaps of info on Mr Google, don't get confused with googles.....

http://vimeo.com/50774138

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

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bish commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2014 at 10:25pm

Zen, yes we have aguide for hakkoda, I've read about the incident with those soldiers, pretty aweful! I'll let you know how it is. Thanks Welly, yep we're skilling up all the time and will dig our pits and cut our slopes etc, we're in no hurry to be stupid and dead, hear of too many deaths just in Niseko each year. The local guys in Niseko do a good daily avalanche report to use as basis too. Good vid on that link btw!

Bish

away's picture
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away commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2014 at 11:32pm

Wellymon,

As I didn't understand half the things you mentioned in your other message, "patted blocks tests and identifying leak layers," maybe I shouldn't be straying too far looking for the untracked crust on my own just yet. I like going for the deeper stuff between the runs, beside the runs, under the lifts etc but haven't had the skills, knowledgeable company (or balls for that matter) to wander deep into the back country on my own.

This season I have started to enjoy the park skiing a bit more, mostly because the snow has been iffy and inconsistent so far this season in my area. Definitely a good place to end a season early with a broken wrist or collar bone while playing around on a bad snow day... I have already seen two kids carried away on the stretcher from the local hill this season.

At least I don't have to worry about avalanches though.

bish's picture
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bish commented Monday, 13 Jan 2014 at 3:14pm

Hey Away, "leak layers" is a typo, should read weak layers. A weak layer forms when conditions change, like a bit warmer spell in between snow falls or two distict grain sizes of crystals on top of each other i.e. A layer of 2mm grains below a layer of 1mm grains, different snow pack densities etc. When the next fresh snow falls on a different layer, it often doesn't bond properly and effectively forms a weak layer on which the snow pack above will shear off because it's lippery. Digging a pit and isolating a block of snow is a test for shear/weak layers, both visually, with density tests and then with the pat test. Good vid here explaining a compression test: http://youtu.be/crwvFn67e5Q

Bish

wellymon's picture
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wellymon commented Monday, 13 Jan 2014 at 8:25pm

Nice one Bish,
Mr Google is great, love the link.
I've said it before that avalanche/snow is such an inexact science, which can make a mockery of even the best avalanche/snow experts.
Its good to dig pits and analysis the various layers, they take time! which really all we want to do is drop in and have fun.
Gut instinct and picking the right line is more so important and takes years of back country riding.
Be safe out there fellas, always have plan'B' an escape route, if all else fails straight line/gun it and start swimming.
Trust me it works :)

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Monday, 13 Jan 2014 at 10:49pm

What do you think of those new airbag backpacks Welly? Do you have any experience with them?

I've seen a couple of vids and if you can keep your head about you when actually do get caught it looks like the airbag can give you a fighting chance.

1173

away's picture
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away commented Monday, 13 Jan 2014 at 10:52pm

Thanks for the information/education Bish and Wellymon.

It has taken three years of living in a high snowfall area and regular skiing to get kind of bored of groomer zooming. Upwards and outwards into the back country is seeming more and more enticing and knowledge is power.

Outside now our whole town has turned into a skating rink. Heavy snow on Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning turned to sleet and rain on Sunday afternoon. The half melted slush froze over when the temp dropped and now it is pure sheet ice. Treacherous.

nomad1's picture
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nomad1 commented Monday, 13 Jan 2014 at 11:39pm

Its been a pretty slow start to the winter in Oslo.
Whilst there has been some snow in the mtns here in Norway there hasnt been much at all in Oslo as its been far to warm.
5-10 degrees and raining for most of Dec which is completely out of the norm.

The rest of Europe has had a pretty slow start from what I can tell so far, although Ive just come back from a month home in Oz so snow has been a long way from my mind.

Got trips to Zillertal, Austria and then to Canada lined up so hopefully the snow in Austria comes good but Ive got my hopes pinned on Canada. Then hopefully by the time i get back there is some snow around Oslo for some spring park riding.

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bish commented Monday, 13 Jan 2014 at 11:51pm

Away, I hate it when its like that, I always fall over when it's icy... Luckily I'm usually drunk when it happens!

Hey Welly, sounds like you've been caught in a slide? Wanna share your experience? Btw, love that guys name, Cam Campbell!

Zen, those avi packs sound good don't they? They're tempting, but I just want to be sure I'm not getting sucked in by good marketing. I'd like to see some real scientific testing, maybe 20 dummies with skis/boards attached but no avi packs as a control and 20 with the same plus avi packs. Set 'em up and set off a big avalanche, see what happens? I'm gonna google that, maybe someones done it?

Bish

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 12:04am

That's actually a damn good idea Bish, I'd like to see that too.

I'd love to hear about Welly's experiences too.

Nomad, I hear that a lift ticket runs about 100 Euros in Austria? Is that true? Crikey that's Australian prices- ha ha.

Been told Bulgaria and the Czech Republic have wicked snow and very cheap too. Can you confirm or deny this?

Also what's Norway like? Smokin' hot women but you don't hear much about the skiing.

1173

bish's picture
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bish commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 12:20am
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bish commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 12:52am

And these:
http://www.slf.ch/ueber/mitarbeiter/homepages/schweizj/publications/Tsch...
Lou Dawson over at wildsnow.com has an interesting look at one of the newer airbag technologies here: http://www.wildsnow.com/10670/jetforce-black-diamond-avalanche-airbag/
Lou is always very thorough in his reviews and his comments are interesting. There is an older page of avy packs on his site somewhere by someone else.

Bish

bish's picture
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bish commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 12:59am

Zen, there's a great article in the latest issue of Backcountry Magazine about a group of women ski touring the hut system in Norway, it sounds like an awesome destination. What's not to like about skiing a destination called Troll Mountain! I've put it on my "look at this seriously" list.

Bish

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nomad1 commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 1:30am

The ski turing system in Norway is pretty extensive and has great facilities. I havent really got into that too much as Ive just been snowboarding. My injury toll from park riding is increasing steadily so i am looking into getting a split board and doing more of that and earning my turns.

Skiing in Norway, there are resorts everywhere but generally they arent as big or steep as the rest of Europe. There are only a few of the hundreds that I am into going to. I would say that it prob doesnt get as much snow as some other places but still way more than Oz and NZ.
What it does have going for it is lots of cabins and appartments at the resorts where you can pick up pretty good deals on packages for a group of friends. In a country where things are pretty expensive this sort of thing has good deals. You pay around 1200kr for 2 nights accom and 2 days skiing (+fri night if you can get away from work early enough) which is around 200buck each in a pretty sweet cabin.

The best thing about Norway and snow for me, is that there a couple places within 30mins of downtown (1 is 15mins from work) that are open til 10pm during the week as they have floodlights. These places arent big but have a fun park. Not many places in the world where you can get the benefits of living in a city, like work etc and go snowboard a few times a week in the evening.

Whats Norway like generally? Dont have enough time to write my answer properlly. Short answer- some great (ive been here 6 years so there has to be something) and some stuff which still drives me up the fucking wall.

jUst checked the price of a day pass for Mayrhofen in Austria and it was 47 euros. So not that expensive. Ive snowboarded alot in Europe and at least in the Alps Austria is the cheapest Ive been to.

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nomad1 commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 1:37am

Bulgaria and Czech, cant really confirm or deny.

A friend went to Bulgaria and had a great time cos of all the random Bulgarian stuff but said the snow was rubbish.
Czech, dont know but I imagine it would be cheaper but not have the resorts of the main part of the alps.

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zenagain commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 9:29am

Thanks for your replies guys.

My experience with snow only runs to Oz, Japan, Canada and the US but I'd love to be able to check out some European and more Asian resorts. It would be cool to go to the less travelled places, Eastern Europe, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, China. Anywhere where it's cold and they have mountains.

A mate did 6 months in the French Alps, loved it but snow-wise said it was very hit and miss sometimes.

I went boarding with an English bloke yesterday who had never actually boarded on real snow, he had learnt indoors on artificial slopes. He turned out to be really good and was like a kid in a lolly shop on his first real snow. He loved it.

1173

mitchvg's picture
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mitchvg commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 10:34am

Don't think there's any ski resorts in Pakistan, but they are very experienced in dealing with foreigners. You could hire a good guide for 1500Rs (about $15) a day and get him to show you around. Then pay a porter about half that to carry 1/2 your camp, flour, tea, sugar, milk, fuel. I remember petrol being around 100Rs/litre, and they drive old landcruisers mostly. Special hire's are possible and not bad if shared. Eg: it'd probably be less than $10/day for a group of 5, to from towns up valleys to villages. You could even pay about 6000Rs for a donkey, then sell it back for 3, then get your porter to walk it back from the mountain each day.

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mitchvg commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 10:38am

As for snow, you can even go in summer as the summers are getting more snow, but winter's aren't accumulating as much apparently

wellymon's picture
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wellymon commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 11:03am

zenagain wrote: What do you think of those new airbag backpacks Welly? Do you have any experience with them?

I've seen a couple of vids and if you can keep your head about you when actually do get caught it looks like the airbag can give you a fighting chance.

Yeah Zenagain, they sound and look good, I have no experience with them as I kind of gave up the extreme steeps and back country when they were just in their adolescence stage.
I've see some good footage from the TGR guys in Alaska using them and they do work.
I think the biggest aspect of the airbag is that if you get buried you still have a pocket of air around, probably stop broken ribs and suffocation. Then hopefully your mate will find you dig you quick as smart, unless you have assigned him your will and he is a broke as ski bottom :)

I think they are quite expensive but hey if anything helps, it helps for sure.
I will explain a few avalanche experiences later on, I have to go drop the kids of at the pool, take the dog for a walk, see the mother in law, do some food shopping and get some more wodka to settle my nerves when writing about my near death experiences with the snow monsters :)
Feel free to pupuuupush the like button. Ooooppps.

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

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wellymon commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 11:04am

mitchvg wrote: Don't think there's any ski resorts in Pakistan, but they are very experienced in dealing with foreigners. You could hire a good guide for 1500Rs (about $15) a day and get him to show you around. Then pay a porter about half that to carry 1/2 your camp, flour, tea, sugar, milk, fuel. I remember petrol being around 100Rs/litre, and they drive old landcruisers mostly. Special hire's are possible and not bad if shared. Eg: it'd probably be less than $10/day for a group of 5, to from towns up valleys to villages. You could even pay about 6000Rs for a donkey, then sell it back for 3, then get your porter to walk it back from the mountain each day.

You would hope the AK47 is all waxed up and ready to go.

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

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mitchvg commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 11:37am

Nah mate it's pretty local riiiiiiight up there, the shephards know what's going on, and "no Ismaili (progressive Islamic minorty) will disobey the Aga Khan (spiritual leader)". but seriously even in the areas with "those men with big beards" it's mostly pretty chill.

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mitchvg commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 11:52am

But realistically I don't know how much back country skiiing requires lifts, or road access to high point/passes vs hiking through snow. Length of wave ridden:paddle work ratio is probablly not the same as length of run:hiking work. I think you could import a Chinese skidoo pretty cheaply as Gilgit Baltistan is in disputed territory and therefore you can't be forced to pay import tax.

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bish commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 11:57am

Zen, Kashmir (gulmarg) looks the goods!

Bish

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away commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 12:35pm

Zen, you beat me to it. I was going to ask if any one had any Eastern Europe snow experience. I have travelled through east and central Europe quite a bit and always enjoyed myself but skiing was not on my radar then. I did a road trip through Slovakia, Hungary and Romania in Jan/Feb abour 4 years ago. There was loads of snow everywhere.

I can offer some second hand information on Gulmarg. My brother went there last year. When it is good, it is great. He has some go pro footage of amazing long runs through steep valleys shaped like over sized half pipes full of untracked powder.

Expect lots of security checks and friskings in getting there. Also expect lots of frustrating down time. For example, you can only buy lift tickets on that day so every morning there is a huge line up. No one has thought of selling multi-day passes yet. Also, they often didn't have change in the little ticket booth, so a nice powder morning could easily go unridden waiting in the ticket line while someone goes to get change from somewhere and takes their sweet arse time.

Also, they regularly use explosives bought from the local military to cause avalanches. When my brother was there they ran out of the explosives, couldn't get more and consequently closed the mountain for a few days of epic snowfall leaving them staring longingly out the window of their hostel.

Being India, toilet trips were often sudden and spectacular and kept some mates off the mountain some days.

He said the good days made it pretty much worth it though.

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bish commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 1:18pm

Ha ha, Some great insights into skiing Gulmarg, pretty much as you would expect for India I guess, thanks for the info. I've heard that the snow bearing systems are quite regular, like weekly, then it clears up for a number of days before it comes in again. So good vis skiing in between the storms. Did your mates mention anything about that?

Bish

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mundies commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 10:12pm

Dropping young kids at grandparents in SA then a week riding Hakuba - keen for Cortina. Spent a season at its northern Italian namesake in the 90s and if its appropriately named it should be amazing.

mundies

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wellymon commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 11:15pm

Hey there powder hogs,
I'm back from dropping the kids off, etc.

I will start with my first experience of getting completely entombed by the snow monster.
A good snow fall at TC (TrebleCone NZ) produced some 50cm in the car park and probably 75-100cm at the top lift.
We waited patiently for the patrollers to ski cut/bomb and clear the field for skiing, 2 hours later we were up there in white out conditions shredding down the slopes.
Anyways I cruised down my normal white out run with my mate not far from eye sight, in and out he was as you all know.
Launched off the cat track into a little bowl before the next cat track, probably 100m between each....?
I was tipped up straight away, as white out conditions I could not see at all but got pushed over pretty dam smart on too my heal edge, sank in the snow and felt this weird sensation of getting layered with snow rapidly.
I put one hand over my mouth and reached for the stars as you do, lucky I had been tipped on my back, so I had ended up facing upwards with one hand out stretched vertically. My outstretched hand was just above the snow surface but I was fully entombed in a concrete like setting. I could not move one limb except my out stretched hand, I was fully concreted in (hence air bags which could be different...?) and I knew I had no where to go at all, unless I chilled out and realised the fact I was fucked ( I mean STUCK ). I managed to scrap away a tunnel with my hand and scream for help for about 10 minutes. I knew this was worthless at the time as my mate was probably on the chair lift wondering where I was...?
Lucky my hand was free and I could start scraping snow away slowly to get some genuine air.
This was my first experience that took an hour of digging myself out, with no one to help at all, I felt pretty succumbed to natures fury to say the least.
I boarded down to the ski patrollers hut and expelled my story like a babbling 2 year old......!

To this day , I know if I had of been facing downwards, there is not one chance I would still be here to tell this story. The feeling after everything settles is like being set in concrete, believe it.

I was the first person ever to get buried in bounds on TC.

Next chapter tomorrow...! I have to admit that I was one god dam lucky man ( my grandad was looking after me that day), all the rest I had eye sight and experience.....................

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

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wellymon commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 11:13pm

Nice one mundies, have a few face shots for me :)

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

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away commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 11:33pm

Bish, yes they did mention a few days of being kept inside by both blizzards and full on thunder/lightning storms.

All in all, for a snow trip they seemed to have spent a lot of days off the mountain for various reasons.

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wellymon commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 at 11:46pm

Ever seen the movie "Crash Reel" Kevin Peadrce was the most up an coming snowboarder, competing against Shaun Flabio White"
Have a look.
Parks and tricks......?
Go the steeps and trees.

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .