Cat Skiing in Japan or what I've been up to the last 2 winters

Discussion in 'Japan' started by Idris, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. Idris

    Idris Early Days

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    (Sorry if this is in the wrong place, I've also posted it in the Snow Talk section, please let me know which is appropriate)

    I've spent the last 2 winters guiding in a Cat skiing operation near Neaba, Niigata Japan.

    When I say guiding, I mean I turned up expecting to work along side other guides in an existing operation.

    BUT when I arrived I was presented with this (instructions not included)

    [​IMG]

    Which in the first season, I taught myself to drive an maintain the beast, surveyed the ski area that hadn't turned a lift in a decade and ended up with this

    [​IMG]

    I think we had 10 days worth of customers the first season. Starting from Scratch I think the boss was happy.

    In the autumn I returned gave the cat an overhaul, built a new cabin, better seats, heating etc.

    Season 2

    [​IMG]

    The cat skiing area is an abandoned side area of Naeba, about 2 hours out of Tokyo.

    We are 4km up an old access road, that keeps us very very quiet (less than 10 ski rando per year). While not as light as Hokkido we do get a lot of snow - last year was officially low tide, we got 12m in 2 months!

    Typical skiing

    [​IMG]

    and snowboarding

    [​IMG]

    I've thrown together a new website (should be at www.mikuni-cat.com url and server screw ups at them moment) at www.alpinehike.com

    Anyway if anyone's interested it's ¥35,000 (€275/£240) per person , minimum 3 people
    Group rate/Private cat is ¥140,00 (€1100/£995) max 10 people

    Avie gear and guiding is included, bring your own bento box for lunch ;)

    If there are any omissions or suggestions for the website please let me know, I'm not much of a keyboard warrior tks.

    Forum mods , if this is too much spam, please let me know and I'll tone it dow
     
  2. crackson

    crackson A Local
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    Top work.
     
  3. fennekeg

    fennekeg Early Days

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    Found a typo: "If you’re an expect looking to launch off cliffs,"
     
  4. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us
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    If I was in the area I’d def look you up. Sadly (well, not really) I’ll be a bit further north-east
     
  5. zarik

    zarik Hard Yards

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    Looks awesome, great job. So it is 140000 yen for private cat right? I think you are missing a zero
     
  6. Lucky Pete

    Lucky Pete One of Us

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    Awesome. Love to see people making a go of it! Looks like fun terrain. Hopefully get to pop down next season.
     
  7. Gimped

    Gimped One of Us

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    Love it!
    Hmmm, how good a skier do you need to be to go cat skiing?
     
  8. dan72

    dan72 Hard Yards

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    That group rate is pretty good at 140000 yen
     
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  9. Idris

    Idris Early Days

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    Nope, should work out to be $1300USD same price as 4 at full price?
     
  10. Idris

    Idris Early Days

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    At our place, confident on a red (single black diamond) run. Or happy to crash a lot. So "not very" is a straight up answer.
    Almost all the non tree runs are old Red and Blue runs. Snow can be anywhere from spring corn of 5cm soft to stormday 1m fresh on 3m of unconsolidated.
     
  11. Idris

    Idris Early Days

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    Finally got back to the Cat

    It had been sleeping since March

    [​IMG]

    A few hours work later

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us
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    I'm curious what your skill background is, that enabled you to build the cabin. Or when you say you built the cabin you really mean you got some local coachbuilder outfit or something?
    Good job btw.
     
  13. Idris

    Idris Early Days

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    My background (or rather schooling) is in engineering. The rest of the year I guide the "Tour du Mont Blanc" and build skis (www.idriskis.com).
    Over the years I've done things like buy 2 busted cars and made one nice one (with no workshop and minimal tools), built and renovated a couple of houses with friends.
    The cabin on the cat is a frame and seating made out of scaffold poles, wrapped in plywood and plexiglass. Not the most elegant solution, but with a set of Ryobi power tools a hammer and a field it's what I came up with ;). It keeps you warm (I fitted a coolant powered heater)and dry. And it will survive if I park the cat shiny side down (has seat belts too)
    The first cabin was just a plywood box and a few bits of plexi, but it was thrown together in a day. Biggest challenge is Japanese hardware stores don't apply to international norms concerning sizes. All the plywood is 180x90 (3ft by 6ft). Really throws off designing things off the top of your head.
     
  14. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us
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    nice work!
     
  15. zarik

    zarik Hard Yards

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    That is awesome. You could probably bring few pairs of those skis and demo/rent them to clients here in Japan. Probably could start building "brand awareness" ;) maybe spend few bucks cleanup that site and have it translated to Japanese.

    On that note the hihongo link is broken and the http://www.mikuni-cat.com is still broken. Maybe make a video and plaster it centre of the page. Ask your boss to spend some money and get that site setup properly. If you can at least fix the nihongo page I want to share it on my company ski club chat(Tokyo company) maybe get you some customers.
     
  16. Mark*V

    Mark*V Hard Yards
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    I'd buy a pair of those skis
     
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  17. Idris

    Idris Early Days

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    Oh I would love to get my boss to get the website fixed properly. I finally have access to www.mikunicat.com (www.mikuni-cat.com will become a redirect). I will be fixing it over the next week and my wife will be doing the Japanese.

    A couple of days ago I got the cat up to the top of the area.

    We've had some snow since, and I didn't catch all of the area (I'm still learning the drone thing). But you will get the idea

     
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  18. Idris

    Idris Early Days

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    Yesterday 8 Jan 2019

    [​IMG]

    This morning 9 Jan 2019

    [​IMG]

    Up at cat skiing

    [​IMG]

    At work

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. Idris

    Idris Early Days

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    An updated aerial view, yes I know the editing needs work



    And two videos from Clients, same day



     
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  20. Draizuh

    Draizuh One of Us

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    @Idris Whats the go with access up there?? Ive done most of the abandoned skijo in the area and was planning to do a bit of touring up there next time i get back, do you guys own the rights to the land or is it a free for all?? not into poaching stuff if you had clients there but more accessing stuff in the area.
     
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  21. Olgreg

    Olgreg One of Us
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    Great thread. Just caught up with it. Question: if it doesn’t snow for, say, four days can you still get untracked ?
     
  22. Idris

    Idris Early Days

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    Apart from the local snowmobile club (who strictly speaking aren't allowed there but trash the place on a sunday) the 4km access road keeps most back country skiers at bay. But anyone human powered doesn't bother us, they only ever do one lap.
    Its Forestry land so you can walk.ski on it without permission, but you need permission to use an engine.
     
  23. Idris

    Idris Early Days

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    If we know in advance that we have a few days of no snow AND people wanting to ride all of those days we have a lot of tree runs. So i will do one run in the open to begin with and then depending on their level take them to the appropriate areas for the next couple of runs.
    Just doing runs in the open we are probably good for 12 - 14 laps so 2 days. In the trees you could add another 2-4 days depending on ability. Assuming 8 runs per day (only ever had one group do 9, average is 6 before legs give up).
    This winter we are only running Jan and Feb, the longest between significant snowfalls so far is 2 1/2 days which is normal for this place at this time of year.
    I won't run the cat if I can't give people a fair amount of fresh tracks.
     
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  24. Draizuh

    Draizuh One of Us

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    4km? is that all? The track up behind my place is about 9km and 1000m vert before i hit snowline, sounds like a nice stroll :)
     
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  25. Dave6

    Dave6 One of Us
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    Had a great day out with @Idris last Saturday. Untracked runs, top to bottom, all day. Doesn't get much better than that. Terrain was fairly cruisy, but awesome not having to compete with the masses for the fresh stuff.
     
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  26. Dave6

    Dave6 One of Us
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    Ok some pics.




     
  27. Idris

    Idris Early Days

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    Glad you enjoyed your day with us ;)
     
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  28. Draizuh

    Draizuh One of Us

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    Ahh yes the honshu bush bash!
     
  29. Idris

    Idris Early Days

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    A few updates


     

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