Sunday, January 23, 2011

The snow factory finally stopped!

The snow rolled in as expected. Even if the visibility was crap, we decided to go explore Mt Chisenupuri. I was told it was a good backcountry spot and by using a single ride up the lift of Mt Chisenupuri resort for 3$, it certainly also has an easy access! You just have to skin up straight from the lift.

It all sounds pretty easy, but when you add up a typical Niseko storm to the story, everything gets a bit more complicated…

On our way up, we meet some of the army guys practicing their winter skills. Looking them skiing with leather boots fitted with some kind of primitive harness on skinny cross-country skis down the hill on some windpack snow was…. entertaining!

We kept going until we couldn't see much! We triggered a small slab going up. With no visibility and unstable snow made us ski down. We didn't take the usual way down and ended up on the wrong side of the creek. You can usually get some pretty good sidecountry runs just off the main chair of the resort and ended up just where we were…. but on the other side. Good things for us we founded a shallow spot to cross.

Then something really weird happened, the snow stopped, the wind slowed down, the sky cleared out and the sun even showed up at some point! Since the top gates (access to the backbowls) haven't open up this season, we hitted the resort hoping for them to open up. Unfortunately, they didn't. We turned to plan B: Ski the resort and its fresh pow!

We skied around the resorts and enjoyed the last 25+ overnight storm. I don't have to tell you how excited I was to ski fresh pow on a clear day!

The avalanche report forecasted the opening of the top gates. We went back to the resort all fired up to get the goods. The high winds turned down our expectations since it kept the upper lifts closed. We went back to Mizuno no Sawa (avalanche restricted area) for some nice sweet runs! The first opening of the area last year led to a great success and it is still running in full swing this winter.

We went back and had a great deep run! This is really a great spot to hang out when most of the resort is tracked and the access to the backcountry is closed!

We ended up our day with a great dinner that JS (a Black Diamond Guide) and his girlfriend prepared!

For our final day of skiing, we were blessed by probably one of the best day of the season: 20cm overnight, no wind, a blue sky and the first opening of the top gates of the whole season! The snow back there was soooooo good!

Amélie really loved the snow!

It was deep, light and even.

The only thing we had to say about the day was: too short! Since we had to catch a bus at 16h00 to go back at the airport , we had to cut the day short. It was really frustrating to pack our stuff in the resort parking lot while looking at the great weather! Anyway, it was a great way to end the Japan part of my world tour!!

I am actually writing down this episode from the plane going back to Canada! I am to spend the weekend in Montreal from where I will take the plane to go to India. The plan is to visit a bit Delhi before catching a connecting flight to go to Srinagar from where we'll take a taxi to Gulmarg.

The snow hasn't hitten much Gulmarg this year so far and the avy conditions looked pretty sketchy at the moment.
I just hope the snow will follow me to India!

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