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Suggestion Early December ski resorts

Discussion in 'Japan' started by Snowwww, Nov 9, 2019.

  1. Snowwww

    Snowwww Early Days

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    Hi everyone, I happen to have two weeks time between changing jobs from 3/12 to 18/12. I’m planning to go to Japan skiing by myself. I did some preliminary booking as below:

    3/12:Tokyo Narita airport, post lugage to kagura accommodation
    4/12: shopping, tokyo to Echigo-Yuzawa, Check in
    5/12: ski in Kagura
    6/12:ski
    7/12:ski
    8/12:check out, Echigo-Yuzawa to karuizawa,
    9/12: karuizawa outlet shopping, train to shiga Kogan
    10/12: ski
    11/12: ski
    12/12: ski
    13/12: check out, Shigakogen to Nozawaonsen, check in
    14/12: ski
    15/12: ski
    16/12: ski
    17/12: ski, check out, Nozawaonsen to tokyo,stay
    18/12: to narita airport

    I did some research and found that above are the only resorts will be open. And because I am a beginner (only started to try the easiest blue runs in Falls Creek this year) maybe the snow will be good enough for me?

    I read few posts and realised there are may not be enough snow for me in any of those areas even if they open.

    Any suggestions? I have a tight budget, so I thought these resorts will be more affordable than Hokkaido.

    Thank you heaps!!
     
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  2. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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  3. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    Haha, she is skiing around Nagano - Niigata Pref, then, I assume there are a lot of people on this forum who know the ski resorts in the region more than I do. Early December in Central Honshu, then, it's still a bit rain prone, so choosing high altitude ski resorts is better, I think.
     
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  4. Snowwww

    Snowwww Early Days

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    Thank you Ramenman. If I go to Hokkaido, any suggestions on which area/resorts I can go by myself and less pricey? I guess if I can have better weather and condition there, I could end up skiing my money back right?
     
  5. grantn

    grantn Addicted

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    You are going very, very early in the season - if it were me I would go to Hokkaido for less chance of rain and snow base. The main "pricey" part will be the airfares. But, if you were to go somewhere on Honshu (like the places you have listed) you will still have to catch a Shinkansen, so my opinion is they roughly cancel each other out price wise. Accommodation around Niseko can be expensive, but if you stay in a small pension/lodge outside of Hirafu (Annupuri, Kutchan) in many cases you can find accommodation that is as affordable as Honshu. My son just booked some accommodation in Kutchan for about 3500 yen a night, 4200 yen including brekky. The pension/lodge owner will drive you to the ski lifts each day for no charge.
     
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  6. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    There is a local airport (Ibaraki Airport) in Ibaraki Prefecture. Ibaraki airport to Shin Chitose Airport (Hokkaido) is very cheap, especially on weekdays. The cheapest flight is 5,970 Yen(on December 4th, Wednesday), almost as cheap as a lift ticket. It's a new airport. Ibaraki airport and the local government want a lot more people to use the airport, so they make the shuttle bus between Tokyo and the airport very cheap, only 500 Yen. So, if you are spending some time in Tokyo and go to Hokkaido, you can make the trip very cheap. Mt.Racey ski resort is close to the airport in Hokkaido and it's easy to find cheap accommodation there. In Niseko, First Cabin opened last year, and it's cheap.

    First Cabin : https://first-cabin.jp/en/hotels/31


    [​IMG]
     
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  7. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    This could indeed be the case.

    Because of your early dates getting accomodation at short notice shouldn’t be a problem. I know my apartment in upper Hirafu (too big for one person) is not rented until Christmas Day, and I expect most other places to be the same. Even more so in smaller less heavily trafficked resorts.

    So if the snow comes, stick with your plan for Honshu (you reduce the travel cost), but if it doesn’t come to Honshu and has hit Hokkaido - then head there.

    If you do go to Hokkaidō and wanted to save money I would recommend using the JR East and South Hokkaido Pass.

    For a little more than the cost of a one way ticket between Kutchan and Tokyo you can get 6 days travel in a 14 day period which would give you your journey TO Hokkaido, FROM Hokkaido to Tokyo, and back out to Narita on the Narita Express and anything you chose to do in between on JR lines (in Tokyo that’s the Chuo or Yamanote lines rather than the metro). The only drawback is the train travel time but I really enjoy that part of it. Instead of using the same amount of time in transfer buses, waiting at the airport, flying, waiting at the baggage carousel, finding transfers at the other end, trains trains walking etc - you just get on the train and sit back and watch the world go by. (Yes there are 2 changes, but it’s fairly simple).

    You also need to consider instruction. Were you planning on getting lessons? If so are you able to speak Japanese or did you want an English speaking instructor? That early in the season your best net for an English language instructor will be one of the more well known (to Westerners) resorts, be that on Honshu or Hokkaido.

    Just my 2c for whatever value it may be :thumbs:
     
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  8. Lucky Pete

    Lucky Pete One of Us

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    My advice is wait and see what happens and come up with a plan dependent on conditions at the time. Hakuba could all be open by then or not. Same with the Hokkaido resorts.
     
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  9. Snowwww

    Snowwww Early Days

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    Thank you so much for your informative reply!! I will definitely need some lessons if possible. One more question - which website should I check weather and snow conditions in the next couple of weeks?
     
  10. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    This one!!
    Just check the Japan weather threads, and upcoming Japan season threads. We will all be frothing every time the snow falls!

    ENJOY!
     
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  11. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    You need to check the Japan weather thread here. Better info than anywhere else.

    Normally I would suggest Hokkaido at that time, but snow looks like coming earlier than usual in central Japan.
    I'd hold off on deciding the location until about a week before your start date.

    The amount of snow can vary from different resorts in central Japan , so you can choose later, when you can see what's best.
    It's also best to choose resorts with gondolas from the bottom, if it's not covered all the way down, and higher elevation where they have beginner's slopes
    I'd suggest Tsugaike and maybe Iwatake at Hakuba, and Nozawa Onsen.
    Naeba would be suitable, with easy slopes right at the hotel.
     
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  12. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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  13. Lucky Pete

    Lucky Pete One of Us

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    If you end up coming to Hakuba book your lessons through Hakuba Snowsports School. There are others in the valley but they are the best.
     
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  14. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    9/12: karuizawa outlet shopping, train to shiga Kogen

    If you are planning to visit Karuizawa outlet after skiing at Kagura, I think it's better you visit Karuizawa outlet before skiing. I mean, early December = snow starting falling a lot in Central Honshu, so only one or two days sometimes can make the snow condition improve a lot. Plus, there are some high altitude ski resorts there. For example, Asama 2000 Park. The top lift station is around 2100m. It usually opens in late November and there is a shuttle bus service between Karuizawa train station and the ski resort. There must be a lot of things to do in Tokyo as well. From Dec 3rd - Dec 5th = Tokyo, On Dec 6 & Dec 7th = Karuizawa (ski and shopping). Then, go to Kagura or Shiga Kogen on Dec 8th. There might be big snow fall between Dec 4th and Dec 8th.

    This is Asama 2000 Park filmed on December 2nd. It's a tiny ski resort. The vertical drop is only about 200m or so(roughly from 1850 - 2050m). Thanks to high altitude, it can snow when it's raining in other ski resorts, plus, high altitude = cold = snowguns can make snow to keep the ski courses open. And, it's going to be the first skiing day, so you won't need a big vertical drop in my opinion(just a warming up day).


    Nozawa Onsen ski resort was planing to open on November 23rd last year, but actually opened on December 10th last year(If I remember correctly). It sometimes happens. In that sense, visiting ski resorts in the region before Dec 15th can be risky, but 2 years ago, it snowed a lot in the region in late November, and there was plenty of snow. Not sure if this season is going to be an early start season or slow start season.

    When I was a university student in Tokyo, early season ski resort was always Marunuma Kogen ski resort. It always had enough snow before Dec 5th. The altitude is 1400 - 2000m. One quick gondola ride can bring you from 1400m up to 2000m. The problem is, it's not very close to where you want to ski(Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen, etc).






    Ah, this was filmed on December 2nd.



    By the way, I like the region in autumn too;)

     
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  15. Jonkl

    Jonkl Early Days

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    With regards to Hokkaido, I thought Furano would be a valid option as well...and it has two ski school, Furano ski school and FISS, both have English speaking instructors
     
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  16. Snowwww

    Snowwww Early Days

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    Thank so so much for your suggestions Ramenman! When I started to plan this trip few weeks ago I had no idea about any resorts in Japan. These few places I planned are something I read from another beginner skiers blog. You know when you just start to try a new thing, you want to do just the same with the first story you have ever heard.. even though it’s probably not gonna work.

    I’m now decided to go back to Japan with my partner from 7/3/2019 to 18/3/2019 (this one is probably too late in the season...)

    Should I go to Hokkaido from 3/12 to 18/12 to have better snow and then go to Nagano in March?

    It’s so amazing how many resorts they have but so stressful at the same time
     
  17. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    When it comes to skiing in Japan, January and February are the very best season, but if you are skiing in Hokkaido, mid March is still a peak season. Dec 3rd - Dec 18th is a bit too early for Honshu. There will be plenty of snow between March 7th and March 18th in major ski resorts in Nagano(snow condition might not be at its best, but still, there will be plenty of snow, especially if you are choosing high altitude ski resorts such as Shiga Kogen).

    This video was filmed in Hokkaido early December last year. Even for Niseko / Hokkaido, early December is a bit too early, but I assume there will be enough snow in Niseko in early December if there isn't in Nagano. Early December is a bit too early means, not many people will be there, so you might be able to find reasonable accommodations there from now.
     
    #17 Ramenman, Nov 17, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  18. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    This was filmed in Hakuba on April 10th - 11th this year. It can snow a lot in Nagano in mid March too, not as often as in January - early March, though.
     
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  19. Snowwww

    Snowwww Early Days

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    Thank you Ramenman for all your replies! I have changed my original plans to below:

    Tokyo 1/12 - 2/12
    Niseko 3/12- 7/12
    Sapporo and nearby 8/12-12/12
    Undecided 13-16/12
    Tokyo 17/12

    I feel so much more snow secure now.LOL
     
  20. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ha ha ha
    Snow secure.

    We really are a self help group for snow tragics.
     
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  21. Tonester

    Tonester Lift Line Nazi Ski Pass: Gold

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    Wow. Those colours are gorgeous
     
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  22. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    NHK(=Japanese nationwide TV station) made a tv program on why autumn color in Japan is beautiful:).

    Broad leaved deciduous trees make autumn colors. Japan have many species of broad leaved deciduous trees. While there are only 10 - 13 species in Europe and North America, there are 26 species in Japan, which makes autumn color in Japan beautiful. In many countries, autumn color tends to be a bit "too yellow". I like the balance of the autumn colors of yellow, red, green and brown in Japan. High precipitation makes Japan's autumn color very beautiful(I don't know how, but I heard so). Being surrounded by the sea, it rains / snows a lot and it's humid in Japan. The annual precipitation of Paris is about 600mm, the annual precipitation of Beijing is 600mm. The precipitation of Japan is 1800mm(on average). Low latitude countries have more rainfall, but those countries are too warm for autumn color.
     
    #22 Ramenman, Nov 19, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2019
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  23. Lucky Pete

    Lucky Pete One of Us

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    This is Happo this morning from our apartments. I think we are going to be riding soon! :)
     
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  24. Snowwww

    Snowwww Early Days

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    I did so much research and planning for Nagano area but unfortunately decided to go to Hokkaido in the end for next month. I’ll probably be in HAKUBA in March though if there is still enough snow!
     
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  25. Hyst

    Hyst Enjoyer Ski Pass: Gold

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    You should not say "unfortunately" - the north is different!
    Pitty your stays are short - Rusutsu could otherwise fit in for your skiing.
     
  26. Snowwww

    Snowwww Early Days

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    No I didn’t mean the north is not as good.. my apologies! It does sound like that now I read it again.

    I did so much planning to go to Nozawaonsen, Shiga and Hakuba I even planed exactly how I’m going to cover all the green runs in Shiga in 3days!:p I was just so excited before I realised it may not have enough snow..

    I’m planning Niseko and Sapporo area now and thinking between Furano or Rusutsu for the undecided 4 days! It’s all slowly coming together now and I think I will definitely love it!!
     
  27. Snowwww

    Snowwww Early Days

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    I noticed that no resorts has opened yet in Niseko whilst Rusutsu and Furano and few others have already partially opened. Given my trip is happening soon (3/12) should I change to another resort in Hokkaido instead of Niseko Hirafu? The only thing I have booked and not cancellable is the bus trip from NC airport to Niseko which will stop by Rusutsu I think. Or I can change my plan and just take another bus to Furano or Sapporo instead.

    Thank you!
     
  28. Tonester

    Tonester Lift Line Nazi Ski Pass: Gold

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    Personally, if there is nothing cancelable I would wait until just a few days out. You will have no probs getting accommodation so early in the season.
     
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  29. ojisan

    ojisan station master Ski Pass: Gold

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    There looks like some steady snow over the next week... especially next tuesday, wednesday & thursday .... according to windy
     
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  30. RCN

    RCN Early Days

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    Thanks for starting this thread. I'll also be doing an early season Niseko trip 6 Dec to 9 Dec. Cover is looking quite poor at the moment after the high temps + rain last week. snow-forcast.com predicts only about 29cm at the top of Hirafu over the next 6 days. Conditions for early Dec look worse than it has been the past few years. I'm already making contigencies, despite already having paid for accommodation at Niseko Alpen (a day or 2 at Furano, or visting Otaru, or non-ski activities in Niseko itself). Figners crossed there is more snow than forecasts coming up.
     
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  31. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Give the NAC adventure park (High ropes course) a go if you haven’t already. In the trees beside the Ace Family course. I believe they’ve added a lower/easier one since I last did it (from my passing observations in October). We last did it in the middle of a blizzard that was closing the hill LOL
     
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  32. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Don't trust snowforecast.com
     
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  33. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Don't even mention it in a Japanese snow forecasting thread.!
     
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  34. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    For the record. The period from 2nd December is looking quite nice for Niseko.
     
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  35. Snowwww

    Snowwww Early Days

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    Thank you for all the above replies. I asked a instructor in Niseko now and he told me that although Rusutsu has opened, the snow quality is very similar to Niseko. He also suggested to not change any plans just yet. He said Hirafu will very likely to open from the 1st Dec and I can always take a bus to Rusutsu if it doesn’t. I will be doing lessons and practice on green runs anyway so it should be enough for me.
     
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  36. Snowwww

    Snowwww Early Days

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    I will be close to that run as well I think. I will be staying in the cheapest joint in town (according to Booking anyway) - Owashi Lodge
     
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  37. Snowwww

    Snowwww Early Days

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    My snow security level just came back.
     
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  38. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us

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    ^^^^
    Certainly not trying to burst your bubble but surely it will need a fair bit of snow to get runs open? To those that know Niseko what would be an estimate of the depth needed to open?
     
  39. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Groomers ? 20cm? They mow the lawns...
     
  40. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Looks fine to me. Thats the ace pair a 1/3 of the way up the mountain.
    [​IMG]
     
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  41. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Owashi is great.
    My son did a season living there. Great vibe.
    And yes, it’s very close.

    The only tricky bit about the NAC thing if you’re not snowboarding/skiing down the run to it is running across the piste avoiding ski traffic. At that time of year it shouldn’t be too bad. An overhead bridge access from the Alpen Hotel would be cool!

    This.
    He’s not after off piste or deep pow.
    Should be perfectly fine for learning on the family piste or off the Ace Quad.
     
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  42. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    There is alot of snow coming for Niseko from now until the 7th December (thats as far as I can see)
    Base temps will be dipping below neg ten as well... so neg 18 up the hill with heavy snow..

    Nothing to worry about.
     
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  43. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    3rd - 6th looks like non-stop snow for Niseko at this stage. How much falls is anyone's guess.
     
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  44. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    For those who've never been to Japan, they don't quite realise how fast the snow can fall. 5cm /hour is common, and I've seen 8-9cm /hour. 50-60cm overnight is not the least bit extraordinary.
     
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  45. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us

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    Lol. The confidence is inspiring.
    **Very much thread drift but if you're into cricket there is a story of when Australia toured India a decade or so ago. Some of the big names had retired and Darren Lehmann was at that time a senior player. Apparently a few of the young guys are out inspecting the wicket and there were lots of concerned faces at the sight of the obviously doctored pitch that would no doubt turn big time. Lehmann goes up to the wicket, has quick look and says very casually to the group - "It will turn but it will be slow turn. Nothing to worry about".
     
  46. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us

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    It's that it apparently falls without the intervention of a significant weather system that is surprising.
    I will be keen to experience this.
    I guess that means that heavy snowfall can come without howling winds that can shut lifts in other places?
     
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  47. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    That would be correct.

    And you guys wonder why we keep going back LOL
     
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  48. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    The best kind is the silent powder. Deathly quiet, just the sound of torrential snow. Eery, but beautiful.
     
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  49. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yokohama, Japan, Melb. Expat.
    I once skied at a place called Tenjindaira when it was dumping hard. It's in the central Japan Alps, and with a fresh but not strong wind, and a direct line to the Sea of Japan. The terrain rise is a good profile for cooling and orographic lift. There was about 50cm on the ground when we got there. During lunch(45min), we had about an extra 10cm of snow on the skis, so it was falling at 12-13cm/hour.
    Driving down the lee side of the mountain as we drove out into the valley later, I said to my friend that it would be clear skies within about 30km from the mountains.... it was 18km.
     
    skimax and Sbooker like this.
  50. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2017
    Messages:
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    Location:
    woonona
    You can get heavy snow and strong winds. When big low pressure bombs occur.