Central Hokkaido 20/21 season

telenomore

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Wasn't sure whether to start a local thread during the full plague ski season but what the heck. I figured a name change was in order for this annual thread as the previous name was a mouthful. Central Hokkaido covers Furano, Tomamu, Sounkyo, Sahoro (I guess), Tokachi, Asahi Dake, Pippu and Kamui. Did I miss any? Managed our first ski of the season today, just some easy turns on mellow terrain in powder snow under a blue sky in the Tokachi's. Looking warm for the next week though, then snow again from next Tuesday. Pretty good start to the season really.
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telenomore

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bastard, utter utter bastard
Ive got this idea for a new business. I'm cailing it "Pandemic: Vicarious Skiing Avatar". The idea is that I do one turn in deep powder for each $10 you send. I get a comrade to video/photograph said turn.Then share the shots with you with your name, gold embossed of course, on the picture and send it to you (or to your chosen social media outlets). For an extra $2.50 per turn, you can send me a photo of your mug and I'll do a little photoshop magic on the pic. Perfect for those office parties where you are trying to impress. Can be telemark...... or that over turn, you choose. I'll throw in a free turn for every 9 turn order and for previous shop customers such as your esteemed self @skifree, 2 free turns for the price of 8. What do you think? Bit of a sacrifice on my part, I know, but I'm up for it.
 

Gumbo

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Ive got this idea for a new business. I'm cailing it "Pandemic: Vicarious Skiing Avatar". The idea is that I do one turn in deep powder for each $10 you send. I get a comrade to video/photograph said turn.Then share the shots with you with your name, gold embossed of course, on the picture and send it to you (or to your chosen social media outlets). For an extra $2.50 per turn, you can send me a photo of your mug and I'll do a little photoshop magic on the pic. Perfect for those office parties where you are trying to impress. Can be telemark...... or that over turn, you choose. I'll throw in a free turn for every 9 turn order and for previous shop customers such as your esteemed self @skifree, 2 free turns for the price of 8. What do you think? Bit of a sacrifice on my part, I know, but I'm up for it.

Photoshop is overrated. All you need is a stapler and a printout of each persons face.
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LMB

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Or you could make some serious coin sponsoring all us sad little snowbums to come “work” for you. I’m happy to ride with printed out faces for the stand in wish you were here shots.
 

telenomore

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Weather has been warm. Only fair to post the not so good conditions. There has been some rain and only light snow falls. Looking like Furano, which was due to open on Saturday, may not be opening although nothing official yet. Heavy rain is predicted for tomorrow with warm temps above zero even at Asahi Dake. Still good fun tooling around on the touring skis, tele and classic on some of the old forest roads in Tokachi. Yesterday was day 3 on skis and it was really hero conditions, a hard pack base with about 5cm of fresh which fell Monday night. Also note the attached Japanese language notice. This has been put out by the Hokkaido Cableway Association and was posted on Kuro Dake's Facebook page. Basically, they have halved the number in their gondola since August (down from 100 to 50) which for me is still way too many. The policies in the document are of course, safe distance, two people to a 4 person chair, every second seat let vacant in restaurants, windows open in gondolas and cablecars and constant cleaning! Hokkaido went into stage 4 Covid precautions yesterday, meaning, amongst other things, travel is "discouraged" till November 27. I'm thinking there will, like back in May, be good compliance.
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telenomore

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Day 4 on skis season 20/21. We had some very warm weather last week, as did most of Japan with some places recording record temperatures for the date. The 20th of November, last Friday, Furano got to 16 degrees and it poured warm rain for the better part of 24 hours. That event pretty much destroyed what snow was on the ground and the melt went high into the mountains at both Tokachi and Asahi Dake. Snow started falling again yesterday and we had about 10 cm at our place so I went up to Tokachi to have a look and a ski. A uniform 30+ cms throughout the high areas from what I could see but most of the base was washed away so plenty of rocks and bamboo undergrowth just below the surface. There is one area between Hakuginso and Shirogane where the road is closed in winter. As it always gets early season snow, earlier than most lower altitude places, it is used by Nordic skiing athletes for early season training. Soldiers from the nearby self defense force base at Kami Furano have a skidoo and track cutter stationed there and they prepare the road for skating and classic. Today it was very busy as it is the only game in town, and it is also a holiday. I counted 4 bus loads of sponsored nordic athletes, who came steaming past me many times at great speed. Beautiful technique to watch, some skating some classic. I managed to find some turns off the track but it was slim pickings. Looking good now though as it is forecast to stay cold during the current forecast window with plenty of snow falls in the loop. Furano didn't open as planned on the 21st but I expect they'll be away come this weekend.
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telenomore

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Day 5 on skis season 20/2. And today it got even better. Some classic and some skating today on perfect tracks. For anyone planning to visit when tourism reopens, these tracks are only cut early season so not something to put on the list unless you are here long term.
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Hakuginso trails Nov 2020#2.jpeg
 

Telemark Phat

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Day 5 on skis season 20/2. And today it got even better. Some classic and some skating today on perfect tracks. For anyone planning to visit when tourism reopens, these tracks are only cut early season so not something to put on the list unless you are here long term.
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Hakuginso trails Nov 2020#2.jpeg
Where do the athletes train during the season proper?
 

telenomore

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Where do the athletes train during the season proper?
Next stage for Hokkaido is Otoineppu, up north of Asahikawa. The town invested in xc track development years ago as it was one ion those small remote dying town and now they have a college their, live in students, with sponsored athletes at the school as well as other adult teams going there, Asahi Dake is also pretty popular for early season training. There is a big XC centre in Asahikawa called Tomisawa, and central Sapporo has good tracks. Not sure what happens in Honshu but most of the national teams are up here at the moment..
 

snowgum

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Next stage for Hokkaido is Otoineppu, up north of Asahikawa. The town invested in xc track development years ago as it was one ion those small remote dying town and now they have a college their, live in students, with sponsored athletes at the school as well as other adult teams going there, Asahi Dake is also pretty popular for early season training. There is a big XC centre in Asahikawa called Tomisawa, and central Sapporo has good tracks. Not sure what happens in Honshu but most of the national teams are up here at the moment..


I know last winter was a record-baddie but given the valley snow I saw on offer in Hakuba mid Feb 2020, I’d be heading to Hokkaido too for some certainty. :emoji_snowflake::emoji_snowman::skier:


Nice shots by the way! And as a fellow tell/pinhead, you are an utter bastard! :confused:
Enjoy! Save some for us. :thumbs:
 
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snowgum

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Thanks I’m on my way next year hopefully

It would be nice to think (hopecasting!) Some enterprising airline in the future can get a few Melb-Sap direct flights per week happening in the season.

I had a bit of a play with flights a while ago (I think JAL showed flights from July 21’). and really looked messy and or fairly expensive & time-consuming from Mel. Interchanging is less attractive lugging 1 or 2 skis.

Anyway, it’s pointless worrying now? I wonder if it’s best to take the Shink from Tokyo to Hokkaido if flying from Mel and lugging (tele) skis and boots, etc...?
 

expatgm

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It would be nice to think (hopecasting!) Some enterprising airline in the future can get a few Melb-Sap direct flights per week happening in the season.

I had a bit of a play with flights a while ago (I think JAL showed flights from July 21’). and really looked messy and or fairly expensive & time-consuming from Mel. Interchanging is less attractive lugging 1 or 2 skis.

Anyway, it’s pointless worrying now? I wonder if it’s best to take the Shink from Tokyo to Hokkaido if flying from Mel and lugging (tele) skis and boots, etc...?

Thanks,to be specific I’m thinking this time next year or later. looks like the adults are back in control in the USA and a vaccine maybe forthcoming so I’m remaining optimistic.
In regards to the shinkhansen Tokyo->Sapporo last time I looked it was cheaper to fly between the two but maybe worth it for the scenery on the way Best wishes.
Don’t worry about your luggage just use Kuro Neko when you disembark.
 
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Sandy

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It would be nice to think (hopecasting!) Some enterprising airline in the future can get a few Melb-Sap direct flights per week happening in the season.

I had a bit of a play with flights a while ago (I think JAL showed flights from July 21’). and really looked messy and or fairly expensive & time-consuming from Mel. Interchanging is less attractive lugging 1 or 2 skis.

Anyway, it’s pointless worrying now? I wonder if it’s best to take the Shink from Tokyo to Hokkaido if flying from Mel and lugging (tele) skis and boots, etc...?
It doesn't quite make sense to go by Shinkansen, if you're there more than a week. A 7 day JR Pass is around 28,000 yen, which will get you there and back within a week. One way via Shinkansen to Sapporo will cost 27,560yen, then you have to get back again, if > 7 days. (a 2 week pass is around 45,000yen)

There's no good reason any time soon to have direct flights Melb to Sapporo. There's been Sydney to Sapporo with Qantas, but in these times it's unlikely.
Best bet is to get flights into Haneda Airport, then a domestic flight to Sapporo(can be 12-18,000 yen one way). Or take other flights with direct international connections to Sapporo: e.g. Korean Air via Seoul.
With COVID, there's only 3 international airports currently receiving flights in Japan: Narita, Haneda & Kansai.
 

expatgm

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Next stage for Hokkaido is Otoineppu, up north of Asahikawa. The town invested in xc track development years ago as it was one ion those small remote dying town and now they have a college their, live in students, with sponsored athletes at the school as well as other adult teams going there, Asahi Dake is also pretty popular for early season training. There is a big XC centre in Asahikawa called Tomisawa, and central Sapporo has good tracks. Not sure what happens in Honshu but most of the national teams are up here at the moment..

What about that large XC area above Hinode park in Kamifurano ?? Appeared very popular and well maintained last time I was there.
 

telenomore

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What about that large XC area above Hinode park in Kamifurano ?? Appeared very popular and well maintained last time I was there.
That is a nice little area. Kind of like the tracks at Furano. We have really well set tracks here but only about 2.5 kms if you are being generous. Set and maintained with local council money for use by, for example, local school kids, older folks for exercise etc.The KamiFu tracks are also used regularly by the local army guys. KamiFu has a very big army base. Yesterday they had several groups out where I was, one group clearly the beginners, on their white skis with a curved fish scale pattern. They had another group on wax based racing skis so they have some serious skiers in their ranks. Most towns you'll find something similar. I think of it as a bit like we have council grounds for cricket and footy, here it is nordic skiing and some of the school kids train for serious races. Once there is snow everywhere, the sponsored (pro) athletes train in the areas where there are better facilities and much longer tracks. For example, at Tomisawa in Asahikawa, there is a dedicated nordic shelter for waxing, change rooms, toilets etc. I think they cut about 15 kms there. Asahi Dake is about 7.5 km of cut tracks. I'd have two check but I think at Otoineppu the track distances are even longer.
 

snowgum

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I bumped into ‘a’ xc ski team (university?) heading up the gondola at Tsugaike in Feb this year. A lovely group of guys and girls. They seemed somewhat interested if a tad doubtful about the Aussie XC scene (the bushfires were dominating news on Aussie back then).

I mentioned the Hoppett and the Merino Muster, near Cardona, should they ever get a chance to head south.

I note the Tsugaike high-level trails above the gondola looked very nice - undulating up around the conifers and some clearings > 1700m. Much more appealing I’m sure than the Hakuba valley-level XC- on offer, which pretty soggy and thin at the time.

I’m sure this year with few Aussies to enjoy it all be be perfect?? :rolleyes:
 

telenomore

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Thanks for the updates telenomore. Reasonable xc tracks at Nayoro too. A list of xc tracks in Japan would be good, is there such a thing?
I haven't skied Nayoro so good to know. I have seen Japanese language pamphlets of all Hokkaido nordic trail some years ago so Id guess there would be something similar for Honshu but hard to track down.
 

telenomore

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Day 11 to 13 for season 20/21. The Hakuginso tracks were perfect on Friday. Bluestick with some Blue Extra towards the heel section of the kick box. @bluestick would have approved. Yesterday I put the skins on the bigger boards and headed up from Bogakudai, above Shirogane, into the white out. Bogakudai is about 6 km from Shirogane, and the access road is kept open till the 4th of January. This allows backcountry skiers to get up to the open terrain on the lava flows below the volcano. When I first came here (way back in 1981) there was a double chair lift operating here but the 1987 eruption of Mt Tokachi put paid to that. This particular area is notorious for lightly covered, hard to see, warmish rocks that like to take a peck at your ski bases. Yesterday was no different as we had good snow falls right through the week which covered most of the rocks and I finished the day with some creative patterns on the base of the skis. A bit of PTex and they'll be fine. Today I went into the forests at the base of Mt Sandan. Good cover really and the base is settling out well but still needs another meter to give it that mid winter look and to open up all the terrain such as the north ridge of Mt Furano. No complaints though as it is pretty good for early December. The guy out walking his three dogs seemed pretty happy too.
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Hakuginso tracks..jpeg
Tokachi still dec 6 # 4.jpeg
Tokachi trail Dec 6 (1).jpeg
 

skifree

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Day 11 to 13 for season 20/21. The Hakuginso tracks were perfect on Friday. Bluestick with some Blue Extra towards the heel section of the kick box. @bluestick would have approved. Yesterday I put the skins on the bigger boards and headed up from Bogakudai, above Shirogane, into the white out. Bogakudai is about 6 km from Shirogane, and the access road is kept open till the 4th of January. This allows backcountry skiers to get up to the open terrain on the lava flows below the volcano. When I first came here (way back in 1981) there was a double chair lift operating here but the 1987 eruption of Mt Tokachi put paid to that. This particular area is notorious for lightly covered, hard to see, warmish rocks that like to take a peck at your ski bases. Yesterday was no different as we had good snow falls right through the week which covered most of the rocks and I finished the day with some creative patterns on the base of the skis. A bit of PTex and they'll be fine. Today I went into the forests at the base of Mt Sandan. Good cover really and the base is settling out well but still needs another meter to give it that mid winter look and to open up all the terrain such as the north ridge of Mt Furano. No complaints though as it is pretty good for early December. The guy out walking his three dogs seemed pretty happy too.
IMG_6316 (1).jpeg
Hakuginso tracks..jpeg
Tokachi still dec 6 # 4.jpeg
Tokachi trail Dec 6 (1).jpeg
Livin the Dream.:):cool::thumbs:
 
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telenomore

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Do you mind him walking on the tracks? As a snow hiker I always worry I'll ruin the tracks, and try to walk next to it if possible, but in deep snow walking on tracks is just so much easier...
It is good to be careful about track etiquette but here in central Hokkaido, you hit the nail on the head. Pushing through waist deep snow is way hard when there is an existing track. Snowshoers, mostly snowboarders, using snow shoes in the backcountry and skiers, share the tracks and do so respectfully. The snow profile here also has an impact on this choice. I am more than happy to follow a bunch of snowshoers and let them make track for me, and alternatively, happy for them to follow my tracks, we work together really, and it saves a lot of work. There is no damage to the track from snow shoes as the dry powder snow doesn't get that post hole effect that you see in, say typical Aussie conditions. As for walking without snow shoes or skis, it is just impossible, you go waist deep straight away so it doesn't happen. The guy with the dogs was on snow shoes (hard to tell from the pic) so no problem.
 

telenomore

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Day 19 Season 20/21. I love this time of year in Furano, particularly when we have a good start to the winter, which we have. The Kitanomine side of the resort never opens till about a month after the Furano side (which opened about 3 weeks ago). It means a backcountry open run all to ourselves till the lifts start spinning. Some grooming happening in preparation for the reopening but plenty of untracked to enjoy.
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miro67

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The season hasn't started and there looks like there is more snow than when we were there mid-season last year.

I don't know why I continue to visit this forum (this year), it just depresses me. We moved this years booking out 12 months about 8 weeks ago. The ultimate acceptance of no skiing in japan this season.
 
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Sbooker

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The season hasn't started and there looks like there is more snow than when we were there mid-season last year.

I don't know why I continue to visit this forum (this year), it just depresses me. We moved this years booking out 12 months about 8 weeks ago. The ultimate acceptance of no skiing in japan this season.
Are you confident there will be next season?
 
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