Happo One Back-country washout

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Here’s the first batch of photos from the recent LPL Japan trip. Jim & I did a back-country tour with a bunch of other Aussies (who all hang out on the ski.com.au forums) & the guys from Evergreen Outdoors.

Jim has some photos too, so when he gets back we’ll upload the best of those.

The posse in the Happo One carpark

Spirits were hight at the top lift – bluebird powder day for us! Or so we though…

Jim’s mirror gogs showing the top lift & the crew hanging out for it to open.

Al & Jim ready for the snow-shoe shuffle.

Hiking up the main ridge – clounds rolling in – uh-oh…

This is about where I must’ve accidentally changed my camera settings… Or it didnt like the white-out conditions… The following shots are over-exposed (although I’ve tweaked the contast & brightness)

Still hiking…

Trent puts on a brave face

Jim & John (from Evergreen tours – skiing on teles) coming down the valley – hardpack icy sides, some chalky pow in the middle. This was the best bit.

Some frames from my vids now.

Here’s Trent getting some rooster-tail action in what i think must be the slushier section lower down.

Here we are at the bottom. It’s raining & the snow is like glue. We all have a snack & a laugh (otherwise we’d probably cry). Jim demonstrates the sticky snow by making a huge snowball in about 10 seconds…

…& then rolling it down the hill. See the dark patch in the middle? That’s the original ball – it quadrupled in size over 2 revolutions!

Jim poling his way along the exit traverse, soggy but happy having conquered the mountain!

A well deserved onsen complete with floating sake tray – luxury!

Big White, Canada report

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Ben Steeles Big White report: 3rd of Febrary – 5th of February, 2006

Went on the Rainmaker Ski Trip, lost my snowboarding virginity a little embarrassing have waited so long but I guess I am from the edge of the desert, We went to a place called ‘Big White’. Its about 6 hours from Vancouver, in the Okanagan, near Kelowna. Awesome… So awesome. So much snow. It snowed constantly and heavily from Friday night all through Saturday, a foot or more of fresh powder.

The bus ride was like a frat party, our hosts tried desperately to keep the rowdy elements seated but they were too busy having sculling competitions at the rear of the bus.. I kept my head down for fear of breaking myself the following day.. the bus ride home wasn’t much tamer neither, it seems that ‘ski trip’ is Canadian code for ‘Crazy piss up’.

Will it ever stop?

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This is just nuts. 50cm at sea level over a huge part of the country, & 150 on the JAlps over the next 6 days. What ever happened to global warming?


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Long-time LPL’er Nathan Stone is currently living in Munich, Germany, & has an awesome blog site documenting his travels – known as The Nate Identity.

His 2 latest entries document his visits to Söll in Austria & Flumserberg in Switzerland.

Nate scored a couple of sweet powder-days, & the lucky sod is so close to the Alps he can hop on a bus at 6am & for a day-trip to some of the best mountains on the planet!

Read Nate’s report & check out his gallery on this page of his blog.



Faster than a bullet train

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The snow is piling up faster than a Shinkansen (bullet train) in Niseko! In the last week, the upper-mountain base has increased from zero to 1.3m, & it’s still dumping heavily! This is the best early start to the season in recent years, so let’s hope it’s a good sign. Niseko opens it’s lifts tomorrow. For daily updates & photos, keep an eye on the Niseko Now! page on snowjapan.com

Niseko Hirafu village with icing on top

Niseko Annapuri base

The Japan Alps are also scoring nicely from this cold siberian blast, but havent had quite the as much snow as Hokkiado – yet. Dean Ervik is now writing the Nozawa Now! reports – check them out at snowjapan.com.

Here’s a photo from Dean (The cams are just a white-out at the moment)

And this just in from Dean (his caps!)


First snow for Japan Alps

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From the forums at snowjapan.com

It looks deeper than normal for the first dump, but its two weeks later than last year. Conversely, the snow was much earlier than normal for some of the peaks in south Nagano.

They got 30cm at Yokoteyama at Shiga Kogen, the biggest first snowfall there in about thirty years.

Looking north towards Hakuba.

Top of Yarigatake

Thredbo Rainy Day

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Pete & friends certainly know how to keep themselves occupied on a rainy day in the mountains!
A couple of photos from Peter Tuck – Saturday 10th of September.

Off-piste piss-up

Sundeck snowman

Heaven & Hell

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Al’s Thredbo Report : Sunday 11th of September – Monday 12th of September

Due to yet another forecast of big rain followed by a bit of snow, I decided to ride Sunday-Monday, & work on Saturday to make up for it. Luckily my good pal Lloyd has a flexible work pattern too, so at 8pm, while most of Sydney were on their 3rd vodka, we hit the M5 for the long haul to the high country…

Saturday night:
Arrive at lodge approx 1am… it’s warm & raining… we say a little prayer to Huey & hit the sack.

Still quite warm, & no snow. This was expected, but still dissapointing. A quick drive up the hill to a suspiciously quiet Thredbo carpark… as Lloyd buys his ticket (& I score my free day, thanks to my Thredbo Club points – sweet) it starts snowing – Hooray! Alas, it was just a tease – it stops after 1 minute :(

As we ride up Kosciosko express, it’s obvious that the lower mountain is totally stuffed – huge areas of absolutely zero snow! The rain has stripped our fine ski area to the bone! Trying to look on the bright side, we do a couple of laps on the Supertrail, ollying grass/mud/rocks/gravel along the way, & seeking bumps to spin off. Around 11am it starts snowing a bit harder, switching between graupel & fat flakes as the wind comes & goes. Within an hour, we can see the primary surface being filled in by clean, white powder :)

From about 1pm to 4.30pm, we are riding shallow freshies, so we hit the Bluff & Black Sallys for some big powder turns – Huey has come through with the goods! There were no lift lines all day, so we are seriously exhausted – back to the lodge, spa, sauna, beer, dinner & we crash out in the lounge… then crawl into bed by 8pm – Zzzzzz.

15cm overnight! thats the claim… bit of a stretch really – more like 10cm, but who’s complaining?! Feeling well rested after our sizeable snooze, we race up the hill & find ourselves close to pole position – no. 15 in the freshies queue, & I didnt even have to do the Sgt. Major routine! Must remember to send the troops to bed early before future powder days…

10 laps of the Kosi chair later, & it’s finally tracked out – I’ve never had so much mileage from 1 lift at Thredbo! There are no lift lines at all. Riding the lower areas (with no base) is something between heaven & hell – if you turn gently & stay quite flat, you’re on powder, but if you need to lay down a hard turn, it’s straight through to whatever lies below… We venture to skiiers left of cannonball, for 2 laps of some sweet untracked pow in the trees. Our quads are turning to jelly, & its only 11am!

An early lunch & we’re back into it – some wicked windblown pow in the trees off the Antons T-bar, then we explore the remains of the boarder-cross track at Sponars. It’s quite freaky up there – total white-out, & the berms have become ice-bergs, looming ominously from the fog, & revealing pockets of windblown powder – nice! Back to the Bluff for some fresh sloppy-seconds, & we’re spent by 3pm. After dropping through the thin cover & hitting grass/rocks/logs/gravel, my poor punished plank looks like it’s been ravaged by a rabid wombat, but nothing some lovingly applied p-tex wont fix ;)

Al Ferg

Smorgasbord of Snow Goodness

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Dylan’s Perisher Blue Report : Monday 29th of August – Friday 2nd of September

Just got back from 5 days – it was a smorgasbord of snow goodness.

We had it all…

- groomed up cordoroy
- ice
- slush
- sugar
- tracked out moguls
- freshies!
- deep heavy snow in secret out of the way places in guthega!

There was no rain, and a reasonable amount of snow. Only one day of blizzard (wed) – I sat that one out and refreshed for two gruelling days Thursday and Friday. Monday and Tuesday were awesome days too.

I was so excited after the week I bit the bullet and bought a pair of all-mountain K2 Apache Xs. Mmmmmm – high speed carving goodness!

Dylan Yeo

Dylan fuels his skiing by eating bananas, & has devised this special beanie to carry them around the slopes…

Ski between the flags

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Al’s Thredbo Report : Saturday 27th- Sunday 28th of August
At first I wasnt sure if I’d packed the right board… Surf or snow? Perhaps a wakeboard? Do they allow speedboats in Lake Jindabyne? It was hot – really bloody hot. No need for thermals or a jacket – most people were skiing in t-shirts, working on their tan. It was like a day at Bondi beach – “please ski between the flags”.

But thanks to the clear sky & low overnight temps, the snow was in great condition! Some bare patches on trhe lower slopes, & a few more exposed rocks than you would expect for August, but it wasnt too bad at all. After about 9.30am the whole resort softened up nicely – the groomers were fast, smooth & uncrowded. By 11am Glen & I ventured into the Golf Course Bowl, which was really fun – huge areas of “ice-cream” freshies! Meanwhile Nigel went on a solo hike out towards Mt Kosciusko.

After a fairly arduous exit with a “hop to bottom” manouver at the base of Funnel Web, we scoffed some burgers at the bakery before spending the afternoon at Basin/Karels, seeking out the untracked ice-cream between the rocks. Pretty soon the lifts started closing down, but where was Nigel? Building an igloo for the night? Luckily some cross-country skiiers had suggested he head back, & just before 4.30 he arrived at the top of the Kosci chairlift breathless but happy, having jogged most of the way from Mt Kosciusko! Typical Kiwi – 1 part human, 9 parts mountain goat!

Sunday was a carbon copy of Saturday, but with a slight wind. Checked out the terrain parks – beginners park at Merrits was in a mess, with slushy runways & scooped out landings. Leave it for the kiddies. The advanced park at Antons looked like an invitation to the 6 months in the spinal ward, but the boardercross track was fast & fun as always. High Noon had 2 nicely shaped tabletops – the first was a breeze for a big grab, but the 2nd nearly cracked my heel on the landing – serves me right for not scoping it first huh!

We spent the afternoon cruising for natural hits, doing alley-oops & front side airs off the sides of the Village Trail – awesome! The place was virtually deserted by 4pm, so after a refreshing spa & shower, we pre-booked our pizza at Cooma & reaced home in good time. Certainly one of the most enjoyable slushy days ever, & a suntan to boot :)

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