Boarding in a winter wonderland

Alas, this is not me getting air of the jump

Howdy! When I left you yesterday I let you know what I was getting up to today… hitting the slopes again! This time I am a lot further north so it was going to be interesting to see how different the experience is.

Anyway, as I touched on yesterday I got a good deal through the Sapporo Tourist Information Centre to head to Niseko, the king of the ski resorts in Hokkaido (and arguably the world). Now, if can offer a little advice, if you know you are keen to do something, pop in to speak with the lovely folk at the tourist info centres. I don’t normally bother, but they have helped me out quite a bit this trip, and even like today got a sweet deal (about 80 bucks for all transport, lift tickets and board hire… not too bad). So they have been a godsend.

More sea, more snow

Anyway, Niseko was a bit of a hike. About 2.5 hours each way. A bit more than I was planning on spending travelling, but to get to the best powder? Who cares. I could relax and enjoy the scenery. Like the other trips recently, there was a lot of white to look at, but I also had the sea views again, and I don’t get tired of seeing the sea and snow.

So after jumping off the train and a quick bus ride, and I was there. With typical Japanese efficiency, my tickets were exchanged for lift tickets and snowboard and boots, and away I went. I must point out that I boarded at just 1 of the 3 ski areas at Niseko. The place is so big you need to be bussed between areas. Not too shabby.

Yes I was paranoid about dropping my camera… and more crucially my gloves

As you could expect the chair ride up was pretty spectacular. There was also a  gondola which I did as well, but enjoyed the runs from the chair a bit more, so that was today’s ride of choice.

I’m not making these temperatures up

At the top, the big thermometer mocked us all. Minus 13 you say? Um, OK. That’s brass monkey cold.

Konnichiwa from Niseko!

A quick self portrait and I was away. I found my feet quickly again, but not sure I ended up being quite as confident as I was on my first day ironically. Not sure why. I did enjoy the runs at Nozawa Onsen more if I had to choose. Maybe that was just the location I was at today, but there seemed to be more on offer for me back there. Not complaining though.

It looks like it came out of a pillow

I mean look at this powder snow. Yep, it was that light and fluffy and completely dry. Thankfully, as late in the day I had a huge spill. But rather than count my bruises or limp back to the bottom, I just got up and dusted myself off. Don’t get me wrong… it shakes up the confidence… but when the powder is so deep that you backpack leaves a nice soft indent in the snow and does not crush the contents, you can get back on the horse pretty easily.

I guess all these metres of powder snow have to come from somewhere

Unfortunately like my other day of snowboarding, the conditions got a bit too snowy at times. Today was a bit more about wind picking powder up off the mountain rather than snow falls, but visibility got a bit tricky at times. Didn’t stop me though.

So about 4pm I wound up and got sorted to head back. A bit of an epic journey home got me back for some later than normal dinner and settling in at the hostel. Tomorrow will be a lazy wander around Sapporo, soaking up my last proper day in Hokkaido before back to Tokyo for the last leg. On the countdown now! But lots of shenanigans still to come…

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