The sun came out for a while and we could see all of Yotei out our window.
The snow in the foreground is on the roof of out apartment.
Well, I suppose all good things must come to an end. Everybody is completely stuffed from the torture we have put our bodies through on the slopes lately. Some of the gang are going for an onsen tonight to soak away their aches and pains. Cathy and I have been here for 2 weeks now and it has snowed every day (over 3 metres of snowfall). This has been an epic adventure with plenty of great memories to last until we return next year (350 more sleeps)
This was our apartment block at 7:30 this morning after another night of heavy snow
Over a metre of snow fell last weekend and the temperatures are staying between -10 and -20 so the skiing has been just incredible – the best I have ever experienced. Just check out some of the photos Cathy took of me today. We are getting first tracks each day and skiing ourselves to a standstill by about 2 pm …… home for a hot bath, cold beer and nap.
I think I may have broken Cathy ….. her ski legs are now just jelly and she probably wont ski tomorrow (our last day).
We had a great meal last night with all the others (now called the Grizwalds) at a Japanese restaurant called “Rin”.
Mark had a day exploring the town of Hirafu today – he is having a great time just soaking up the atmosphere here.
No injuries to report today. Susan Carmody is now OK – just a slight ligament tear … she is still mobile, unlike Sue Morrell, who is now officially a cripple. The insurance company arranged for the Morrells to shift accommodation to the 5 star Alpen Hotel, so she is now enjoying some luxury while Tony is boarding with use ….. no losers there.
As I am writing this blog, on my bed, looking out the window, Mt Yotei has now appeared, bathed in sunshine. This place is simply amazing.
Just another powder day in Niseko
Hamish in untracked powder
Mark cranking a powder turn
Tom’s first go in the powder – not bad eh?

Update on Sue Morrell – medial ligament rupture …. she was x rayed and had a brace put on in a local hospital. She can’t really walk but she is soldiering on. The travel insurance company is organising and early return to Australia …. bugger.

Big day skiing today. We were on first lifts today and had Hanazono to ourselves for a couple of hours. Had lots of fun in a double black diamond tree run called Strawberry Fields. Our legs are now completely stuffed (technical term). The sun has made a brief appearance during the past couple of days. Still bloody cold though. It has snowed every day we have been here. The snow clearing operation is now in full swing – digging out houses and roads and taking the snow away in trucks to a snow dump …….. uh?

Mark’s first day – brief break in the weather – Yotei in background

The big group arrived last night to really heavy snow. Mark is with us now and is using the “awsome” word quite a lot and is completely blown away by by the culture and climate shock. He is boarding really well in the unfamiliar conditions of deep, dry powder. We had a brief break in the weather this morning but this soon turned to the normal blizzard conditions by lunch time. Unfortunately, Sue had a stack this afternoon and did some damage to her knee. We had to find the ski patrol guys to get her down the mountain in the “blood bucket”. She seemed very calm about the whole thing but I think this may be her last day skiing.  If her friends or family are reading this, be assured she is in good hands and aside from the knee she is OK. I’ll report on tomorrow’s blog on her condition after she has seen the doctor.


Rescue scene
Tony in the pow
The Morrells arrived last night and were greeted by snow falling heavily. We had a great day skiing today and there was plenty of fresh powder to play in. The wind was really strong giving a temperature of -21 so we had plenty of stops to warm up. Sue had a couple of trips into the powder and Tony went a bit silly (typical snowboarder). I’ve got a great sequence of photos of him on a ridge … at one stage he disappeared completely beneath the soft, deep powder. Cathy got her confidence back after a big stack yesterday and Greg burnt his legs out in the deep powder.
We are going to Bang Bang restaurant tonight – supposed to be great yakatori.
Looking out our bedroom window at 7.30 this morning. Snow clearing machine and
Yotei in the background

Today reminded us why we come to Japan. There was no need to go off piste to find deep powder. Some groomed runs had over half a metre of powder on top. After lots of fresh snow last night, we were on first lifts this morning and had untracked runs for most of the morning. The snow was so heavy at times the visibility was down to a couple of metres. Temperatures were still pretty cold (around -16). Cathy handled the powder really well – check out the photos.

Here is a sample of photos taken under difficult conditions – freezing cold, poor visibility and heavy snow. To see more photos click on the “more photos” link under the “Blogroll” heading in the sidebar – this will take you to my flickr site and select the “Niseko 08” set .

Greg needed a snorkel in Blueberry Fields
Cathy skiing in waist deep snow on a groomed run
Cute Japanese restaurant near our lodge

No skiing today – big blizzard with temps dipping below -30 on the mountain. The forecast looks OK for the next few days so we should be venturing out tomorrow. Went for a brief walk around the village and Greg had a couple of falls on the slippery tracks. Back inside now – nice and warm – reading and watching DVDs.

Photo from Higashiama gondola looking towards the Prince Hotel

Went shopping last night in Kutchan and found a great grog shop – stocked up for the next week. The weather was not so bad today (a balmy -12 deg). We found some untracked, thigh deep powder this morning and had a ball – lots of girl squeals from Cathy. Had morning tea in the plush lounge of the Prince Hotel in Higashiama – it seems all wrong to walk into the place covered in snow and wearing ski boots. More skiing at Annupuri in soft powdery snow but thigh burn eventually stopped us. Lunch at the new Annupuri restaurant …. $17 all you can eat buffet. Had trouble skiing home with the extra weight.

Sitting at home now with a cold can of Asahi beer, looking at the snow falling outside the window – life is good.

Looking out our bedroom window


Photo of Greg in powder

It hasn’t stopped snowing since we arrived. We awoke to the sounds of a grader clearing the road outside our lodge. Were both a bit wobbly in the  deep powder (should have done more training on the sand dune at one mile). The only down side is the extreme cold (-25 degrees with wind chill).  We came home early as we were both frozen solid – Cathy claims it is the coldest she has ever been. The snow is forecast to continue for a while yet so we had better get used to it.

Video of Cathy skiing at Hanazono

After bad weather in Cairns ( 2 hour delay) and a 2 hour delay in clearing immigration in Tokyo we were greeted by snow falling as we landed in Sapporo. The snow got heavier as we approached Hirafu and the manager at our apartments said there had been around 45 cms in the last 24 hrs.

Went to Senchou restaurant for dinner and had lots of great Japanese food washed down with Japanese beer. We walked home in knee deep powder snow – cant wait for tomorrow to start skiing.

Cathy outside our apartments – check out the snow on the roof behind her
Our apartments in the background. The lights are on the ski hill for night skiing.