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!

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stunet commented Wednesday, 15 Jan 2014 at 8:04am

I haven't snowboarded in years but a friend in Canada just sent me this vid and it's well worth a look. A 'best of' collection from 2013/2014. Some fricken amazing shit going down...

http://vitaminl.tv/video/2145

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fitzroy-21 commented Wednesday, 15 Jan 2014 at 8:12am

Holy crap Welly, that must have been a pretty freaky experience. You were bloody lucky to have got out. How old were you and what did your mate have to say when you finally caught up (or you say to him)? Did you go for another run after that?

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zenagain commented Wednesday, 15 Jan 2014 at 9:45am

Scary stuff Welly. I'd imagine the ski patrollers were like 'Oh well. you're here with us now, no biggie'. Glad you're able to tell the story.

Mad vid Stu. Bloody kids!

1173

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wellymon commented Wednesday, 15 Jan 2014 at 6:59pm

Cool vid Stu, those young punks can sure jib, they love the handrails, when they get old and wobbley they will be hanging on them for dare life, the memories and the handrails.
Favourite sequence were the awesome pillow lines thru the trees and straight lining the skinny chute thru the rocks.

Fitz, 1992 around about 8700 days old, went back about 3 hrs later when the vis cleared as was as good as it gets. My mate found out by the patroller's later on who were all shocked that it happened in-bounds on the field. The fact it happened on the field was the eye opener for me, every powder day after that we all rode with avy transceivers, in-bounds and outta-bounds.

Just trying to make people aware, to be on guard always when there is a lot of snow around, in the ski resort and off.
On guard, hoy ya!

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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mundies commented Wednesday, 15 Jan 2014 at 9:51pm

Had a little avalanche release under me inbounds at the top of TC where theres a couple of little chutes under where the short hike to the summit is. The whole chute went and I had to straight line it over the top and out in front of it and then off to the side. Unexpected and adrenalising. Welly I've heard thats often what is the killer - the immobilisation and the speed with which it happens. Thats what happened to Johnny that experienced heliski guide from Methven in 2009 I think it was, he had the airbags and a snorkel but didn't have time to deploy them.

mundies

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wellymon commented Wednesday, 15 Jan 2014 at 11:06pm

mundies wrote: Had a little avalanche release under me inbounds at the top of TC where theres a couple of little chutes under where the short hike to the summit is. The whole chute went and I had to straight line it over the top and out in front of it and then off to the side. Unexpected and adrenalising. Welly I've heard thats often what is the killer - the immobilisation and the speed with which it happens. Thats what happened to Johnny that experienced heliski guide from Methven in 2009 I think it was, he had the airbags and a snorkel but didn't have time to deploy them.

Yeah for sure Mundies, Speed and getting bogged in with them is the killer.
Had a half the size rugby field wind slab release on me up under the summit rocks TC.
Me and my mate were both riding on it and was really hard packed chalk, wind slab about 2ft deep,
We both were charging pretty quick, once we realised the whole slope was moving and in about 2-3 secs it started breaking and cracking. Our exit was similar, both straight lined in onto the ridge which was just rock. Board absolutely trashed cuts and bruises all over us.
Having speed and an exit plan 'b' saved both of us for sure.

A good mate of mine (Dave Cave) die on that same slope a few years after :(

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 Thursday, 16 Jan 2014 at 11:33pm

Sorry to hear that Wellz, cheers for the info but. Where's TC? Care to share with a link to google maps?

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wellymon commented Friday, 17 Jan 2014 at 12:17am

mitchvg wrote: Sorry to hear that Wellz, cheers for the info but. Where's TC? Care to share with a link to google maps?

TC, Treble Cone Ski Area Lake Wanaka South Island NZ.

All good Mitch, had quite a few mates die over the years, skiing, boarding, mainly alpine climbing who were really respected alpine guides, all from Wanaka. It started to make me realise that when you push the limits of nature (especially alpine mountains) for so long one day it can catch up, I was lucky, probably had 6 lives giving back too me. Thats when I decided too move on :)

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 Saturday, 18 Jan 2014 at 1:57am

posted 2 some reason.

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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GREGLVOV commented Friday, 17 Jan 2014 at 1:44pm
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away commented Friday, 17 Jan 2014 at 7:45pm

If anyone cares to know, some great conditions in the Yuzawa area today. I just got back from Maiko Snow resort. Snowing all day and not many people at all.

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mundies commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2014 at 9:28pm

Sorry to hear it Welly. There's far worse and more protracted ways to go, so doing what you love is noble and fitting if it is indeed your time.

mundies

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wellymon commented Friday, 24 Jan 2014 at 10:49am

あなたは雪で更新を受けとりました Zenagain......?

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 Friday, 24 Jan 2014 at 1:00pm

Wellymon, do you want to ask if he has been renewed in the snow? Or do you want to know if they have been getting new snow over his way?

Speaking of my side of the country, It is a bad weekend for snow in Niigata. Temperatures getting up above the zero mark. Could even be some melting and associated instability on the mountain. Hopefully temps will be dropping again early next week.

Especially in the north of Niigata, we have had very little snow this season compared to usual. I even came to work by bicycle today something that is usally impossible between late december and early March.

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zenagain commented Friday, 24 Jan 2014 at 2:04pm

That's the way I interpreted it too away, I had a Japanese native confirm it too.

We've been the same, actually warm here today (kind of) but we did have a great Sunday up at Fukushima and got about 5cm of fresh. Spent the arvo in the trees getting a few pockets of untouched.

Giving this weekend a miss as no snow on the cards and freeze/thaw conditions forecast for the next few days. I'm sure Feb will have some good things in store for us though.

1173

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away commented Friday, 24 Jan 2014 at 2:33pm

I interpreted the question in relation to Wellymon's terrifying story about getting buried alive in New Zealand. A few centimetres away from death... clawing his way out, emerging back into day light, renewed, reborn, with a new understanding of how precious and fragile life is.

Last weekend was pretty good over here too. Snow all day on Saturday but so windy it felt like my face was getting whipped and stung by jellyfish at the same time.

I also have high hopes for late January and February. Still waiting for a good day to hit ALTS. Had it lined up for last week but saw the wind forecast and decided not to risk it. Turned out it wasn't so bad after all, but I still got a good day closer to home.

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wellymon commented Friday, 24 Jan 2014 at 4:33pm

Zenagain, Away, I googled and translated, "Have you got an update on the snow Zenagain" in writing...?
I would not even come close to figuring that out, well done fellas. I suppose there are so many different ways of writing in Japanese and how you would interpret the writing.
I know you guys are in the main island, is "Hokkaido" the north island having similar freeze thaw patterns as well....?
Feb usually cranks, so I hope you all get puked on.
Zen how fast do you think you have been on your snowboard ? 80km/hr plus easily !
This question is in relation to tow in's, which I suppose you have been following. Its a touchy little subject towards the main die hard paddle in's, but IMO this realm will move towards design of boards and I think the shapers should inter-grate design thinking about flex as with snowboards and even water skis as Southey mentioned. My best mate that I used to snowboard with, now tows in NZ South 25ft + and reckons the transition is so similar, where it has helped him more than his tow partners..? But as I tried to explain, it comes down to riding time , this is where snowboards progressed a lot faster, you don't surf big waves every day ! Unless you are in the mountains.
Food for thought.
:)

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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zenagain commented Friday, 24 Jan 2014 at 5:16pm

Actually Welly, I'm pretty impressed, I thought you could read and write Japanese. I struggle a lot with Japanese, especially Kanji. I can read Katakana and Hirogana sort of but I probably have the reading ability of a 5 year old.

Funny you should mention speed, a mate and I just got the apps. on our phones and we were playing around with it on the weekend. I topped out at 78kph but couldn't crack 80kph but I'm sure with the right run and steepness I reckon I could get there. I reckon I've done 80kph + before but never had the opportunity to measure it up until now. Having said that, 70+ k's on a snowboard feels bloody fast and I'm not real comfortable at that speed.

I also bought a new POV camera that has a GPS function, I'm trying to work that out but with the right software I can display the speed etc on the screen after uploading the vid. Takes great vid too so I'm stoked with that one. It's a Sony action cam. I bought that one because everyone these days has Go-pro's and I have a Vaio computer so the camera and software are already compatible.

1173

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donweather commented Friday, 24 Jan 2014 at 7:39pm

Postcard picture perfect in Hakuba today. Blue sky and not a cloud in the sky made for some amazing photo opportunities. However also had quite warm conditions so wasn't good for the snow. Even warmer tomorrow (up to 7 deg in the village tomorrow they reckon) so fortunately we're not skiing tomorrow anyway (going to say hi to the snow monkeys and a sake brewery!!!). Big cold front and forecast snow for Sat night so hopefully we can get some fresh powder on our last day on Sunday. Crowds will be bad from what I'm told though.

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thermalben commented Friday, 24 Jan 2014 at 8:54pm

Good luck Don! Don't get too close to the monkeys :)

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wellymon commented Friday, 24 Jan 2014 at 9:36pm

zenagain wrote:

70+ k's on a snowboard feels bloody fast. /quote].

Zenagain A Japanese Ninja once said too me, "Squat and make legs like a spring"

Speed + the right equipment x strong springs = big carves.

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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donweather commented Saturday, 25 Jan 2014 at 7:52pm

Feck, they're forecasting rain tonight now instead of snow!!! Do not want that on the mountain at all!!

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zenagain commented Saturday, 25 Jan 2014 at 9:48pm

Unbelievable 'eh Don! Middle of winter and it was almost 15 deg here today. That's almost unheard of. Should have been around 4-5 deg.

Cold front coming through though and that should equate to a pretty decent fall of snow tomorrow and throughout the day and another Tues night, early Wednesday. Next weekend looking good too.

Sorry that your trip has coincided with an unseasonally warm patch.

Apart from that, are you enjoying Japan?

1173

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away commented Saturday, 25 Jan 2014 at 11:59pm

Damn heatwave! We got to about 9 here today. The snow is melting everywhere... looks like April.  I think it even got into the positives in Niseko, at town level anyway.

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donweather commented Sunday, 26 Jan 2014 at 10:16am

Dumping down now. But it did rain last night so could be some dicey (icey) conditions up the mountain this morning for sure.

Snow monkeys were great yesterday. And yeah Zen, we're having a ball.

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away commented Sunday, 26 Jan 2014 at 10:26am

I am glad that Nagano is back to normal. We are still getting rain in the town here and sleet on the mountains. It looks like winter will be back tomorrow though.

BE careful on the mountains. The warm weather caused some avalanches in Gunma yesterday and I imagine at some other places too. Pics here...

http://www.snowjapanforums.com/index.php/topic/23654-witnessed-avalanche...

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wellymon commented Sunday, 26 Jan 2014 at 1:57pm

Away, thats a big slide, crown wall would have to be 2m high...?

Nice looking terrain.

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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donweather commented Sunday, 26 Jan 2014 at 7:14pm

Happy Australia Day!!! Feck me what a day. I've never snowboarded in soooooo much powder on a groomed run in my entire life. 2ft of powder on the groomed runs and its still dumping down this evening!!!

My young fella struggled skiing in the powder though. Only made one run without falling over, poor bugger.

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donweather commented Sunday, 26 Jan 2014 at 8:22pm

Finally stopped snowing here (in the village) tonight. I've never seen that much snow come down in one day!!!!

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zenagain commented Sunday, 26 Jan 2014 at 8:45pm

Awesome Don.

Better to get up nice and early and be first in line tomorrow few a few freshies.

1173

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donweather commented Monday, 27 Jan 2014 at 8:45am

Wish we could Zen but we're heading home today unfortunately. But not before we book in for next year!!!!

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wellymon commented Friday, 31 Jan 2014 at 4:18pm

My best mate and I hiking some steeps on Mt Olympus, NZ

Some good ol NZ steeps, dropping in.

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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mundies commented Friday, 31 Jan 2014 at 9:33pm

Solid, Welly. Narrow little spine there.
And no I'm not talking about anyone from another thread...

mundies

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mitchvg commented Friday, 31 Jan 2014 at 10:03pm

Sick. So you can get a 1000 vertical metres of run there huh? How long does it take to hike up? how much is semi climbing (like in the photo) versus walking? How much do you froth on the hike up vs the trip down? Would you consider yourself a skiier/boarder who hikes/climbs as a means to do sicker runs..?

I've been to various snow mountains as a hiker, and I have a bunch of mates who board. So I'm trying to combine the two. But you know, when I suggest a walk to the lighthouse at Byron for example, nobody's frothing.... So I don't like my chances of back country action with mates, unless we have a ski-doo.

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mitchvg commented Friday, 31 Jan 2014 at 10:10pm

mitchvg wrote: back country action
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mitchvg commented Saturday, 1 Feb 2014 at 12:33am

Well there ya go, there are resorts in Pakistan. And in true Pakistani style, they were established by the military...
http://www.paf.gov.pk/ski_federation.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21654353
The one in Naltar is still open. That area has been prone to sectarian violence, but should be fine for foreigners. The one in the Swat Valley is almost certainly blocked by checkpoints. They even send police up to the mountain passes in summer, in an attempt to restrict Taliban movements.

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wellymon commented Saturday, 1 Feb 2014 at 8:03pm

mitchvg wrote: Sick. So you can get a 1000 vertical metres of run there huh? How long does it take to hike up? how much is semi climbing (like in the photo) versus walking? How much do you froth on the hike up vs the trip down? Would you consider yourself a skiier/boarder who hikes/climbs as a means to do sicker runs..?

Yeah you can get good 1000m runs for sure .
Sometimes 1hr from the top of lift lines off certain ski fields. Sometimes 5-6hrs if living in the back country i.e. Tent/Snow Cave etc.
Semi-climbing is pretty much walking, one foot after the other even though in can get exposed ?. Climbing is different in the alpine, using rope techniques, crampons, ice axes and experience etc.
Love the walk or climb, it brings you back to reality as opposed to heli and makes you appreciate your well earn turns. Its about the journey in my eyes, a lot of thinking about life in general as well as your surroundings, which helps you to zone in on your line.
Doing sicker lines comes down to experience, then money I suppose. To be honest give me a heli any day, but to walk/climb to where you want to go is way more rewarding for the soul/ heart.
I think it could be the similar emotion of paddling a big wave opposed to towing in into a big wave, *****Respect to the big wave paddlers with out a doubt. *******

To have a vision of riding a line as well as walking/climbing to get there is an awesome feeling, especially in the back country.
When you have finished your run you start walking again, constantly looking back and seeing your turns that are for ever there until the next weather system comes along and stows them away, or until you leave the zone. Pretty special in my eyes, a memory that lasts forever.

5Hr hike to ride the chute in between the rocks in the shade, Canada/Rogers Pass, snowcaving, 3000m peak, 700m chute, the dog came along as well, as you can see in the trail.

Heli shit NZ, fun lines, hard packed.

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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velocityjohnno commented Sunday, 2 Feb 2014 at 8:32pm

Thank you all, and especially Wellymon for sharing so much on these pages. Inspirational.

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uncle_leroy commented Monday, 3 Feb 2014 at 9:14am

Japan pow fest was pretty awesome this year, was there a few days before xmas to mid Jan.
I think the final stats for town were 28 days in a row snow and first 2 weeks in Jan was 3.7m!
Love that place to bits but that might have been my final year in Niseko, more busy than ever but when you get those heavy dump days and fresh tracks on the same lines all day long it is something special.
Did a couple of days Cat which just blew my mind. Have done it a few times before with the same bloke but this time was out of control, nearly too much powder. Needed a safari snorkel most of the day but the Jones loved it.

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Craig commented Monday, 17 Feb 2014 at 12:45pm

Got back last Thursday from an epic 2 weeks in Japan.

Such a great country, great people, no crime, no litter and everything works so well. Transport to the second and small things that make everyday life so much easier.

I have never seen so much snow in my life and had a ball boarding up on Hokkaido for 4 days, and then had an additional day down Honshu with Zen (thanks heaps again mate for everything and showing me your special part of the world!).

Photos and more text to come, but thought I'd just put a quick update here.

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away commented Monday, 17 Feb 2014 at 3:08pm

I would have to agree with you Craig about most points. Except the litter one. You should see the beaches over here on the west coast of Honshu. Absolutely filthy and covered in litter. Also, illegal dumping of litter in wilderness areas is a big problem

I am glad you got the snow. It has been a pretty slow season in Niigata

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Craig commented Monday, 17 Feb 2014 at 3:35pm

Ah, yes Zen took me too a few beaches in his area and the rubbish and dumping of metals was quite shocking. Forgot about that.

Also the indiscriminate construction of tetrapod breakwalls across perfectly fine beaches was unbelievable!

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Craig commented Monday, 17 Feb 2014 at 3:35pm

And wow Welly, that first shot is insane!!!

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zenagain commented Monday, 17 Feb 2014 at 6:09pm

And I must say Craig, it was my pleasure showing you around and taking you up to Alts.

Those trees were a bit tight 'eh? But we got a few nice little pockets of powder.

Once again though, foiled by a Japanese blizzard, couldn't go anywhere yesterday as the expressways were hit with half a metre of snow. Imagine what the mountain would have been like?

But, just got back from a smokin' little sesh it 'Ibaraki Trestles' (You know the place Craig). Only 3 of us out going wave for wave in offshore, head high zippers. I'm not complaining.

(water bloody cold though)

Oh and Uncle Leroy mentioned awhile back that Niseko was packed and this would probably be his last trip there? My advice old boy, look further afield, there's white gold to be had.

1173

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zenagain commented Monday, 17 Feb 2014 at 6:11pm

Away san, the reason Craig didn't see much litter was that it was underneath the snow. When it melts it looks a lot different I'm sure you know.

1173

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away commented Monday, 17 Feb 2014 at 7:06pm

How did you guys go in the last big snow dump Zen? We got absolutely nothing up here. Tokyo got more than us.

I was supposed to be heading down to Maiko Snow resort on Sunday but the bus got cancelled. Rebooked for tomorrow and just got a call from them saying it is cancelled again due to big snow. Strange because Minamiuonuma city (where Maiko is) has had very little snow the last few days. I am on holiday now, there is no snow around here and I can't get anywhere there is.....

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zenagain commented Monday, 17 Feb 2014 at 9:04pm

Last Saturday we got a phenomenal amount of snow here in Hitachi, 30 cm + but that effectively paralysed the place for a couple of days. We couldn't get up to Fukushima even though we knew it would have been good.

Went on the Tuesday with Craig from Swellnet and got some nice runs on the groomers early and being a public holiday, not too crowded. Spent the latter part of the day in the trees and we got some nice knee deep powder in there.

This weekend passed, all set to go but another big storm closed the Joban and Ban Etsu expressways and only part was reopened just last night, so once again stymied. But from what I can gather, Inawashiro which is the town at the base of the mountain only got 10cm, so probably a similar situation to yours.

Our back up plan was Hunter Mountain in Tochigi but they suffered power failures which put the lifts out of action. I believe they got 60 cm, so that WOULD have been epic if we could have got there. We would have had to take local roads too and that would have been pretty treacherous.

So to quote the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, 'water water everywhere, nor any drop to drink'.

But, had a smashing surf today, so not all in vain.

Back up again this Sunday hopefully. I agree, it's been a funny old season.

1173

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Craig commented Monday, 17 Feb 2014 at 9:57pm

Ah you're making me jealous re Ibaraki Trestles Zen, would of loved to get a surf in some of those setups. Next time!

Also I would hate knowing there was epic snow to be had on the mountains, but the roads closed with no in or out. Patience tester for sure! Haha.

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away commented Monday, 17 Feb 2014 at 11:36pm

I just got a call from my tour company saying the cancellation was cancelled and the bus trip was back on. So I am on my way to Maiko tomorrow morning.

The last two snow events were quite strange indeed. They came up from the south, rather than from the west. So regions that aren't used to that kind of snow fall were paralysed like you said. Up here 30cm+ in a day is a business as usual winter storm and we have sprinklers on all the roads, an army of snow clearing vehicles and designated snow dump areas. I saw on the news tonight that some roads were still plugged up and they were interviewing truck drivers who had been stuck since Saturday night.

Surfing in Tohoku in February? You are a braver man than I Zen. Still, the session you described might get my sissy self into the water. Maybe.

I hope the roads get cleared and you can get back to the mountains. It is frustrating indeed knowing that there is a snow aplenty and no way to get there. Especially with the Winter Olympics on TV.

The spring advertising campaigns are also starting on TV and it is a depressing sight indeed. I hope the snow continues a bit longer.

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mundies commented Sunday, 23 Feb 2014 at 11:02am

In Hakuba at the moment. Great powder last 2 days. 2 days before we arrived some guys I spoke to were stuck on a bus for 57 hours on their way from Tokyo to Hakuba. Toileting in the blizzard & eating food & drinking booze from 711's along the way. Apparently they dug heaps of cars out with snow shovels they had with them, they commented that no Japanese would get out of their car to do the same. Some died this way from carbon monoxide poisoning from running their cars for heating.

mundies