Dean at Nozawa Onsen

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Giggles and Tickles

Went back up the the secret play ground and tried to take some AVI’s with little success – the technology was out to get me. I also had a bit of tea to finish up that day and so wanted to just take in what would be my last day of boarding here. The ice got all suction-y around 3pm and my new trusty portable wax came in very handy. I also learned to work myself differently in these very strange conditions.

I rode the same path home as I did with Leo and took some AVI’s and stills. It wasn’t all that clear down in the valley and so the piccies look a bit foggy. If you look carefully you can see a mountain top way up high in the picture of the bowl.

I found another, softer way down past the left of the moguls and had fun on the powdery edges of the piste again. Stopped for a day dream at the Mos Burger and then headed home for some giggles and tickles with Oscar. It was sunny today (Thursday) and I spent until 1pm packing up my board bag (sniffle). Now it’s 1am and of course its been dumping since 3pm today!!!! AAAAAAGH!!! The addiction!!!!!

The secret chairlift…
Streaming movie

Bowl of Ice-cream

Departure dumpage

Link-o-rama

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I’ve been stock-piling a bunch of interesting links for snow fanatics – check ‘em out!

World’s loftiest ski-lifts

Snow Japan’s new video page

Euro snowboarding site with tonnes of cool pics

For all the reasons we want to ride a particular line, we also have to look at all the ways in which that same line could pull our pants down and spank us.
Sounds kinky, but its actually some avalanche wisdom from Big Lines.

These hot chillies are cool! Below is an interesting story from Mainichi Daily News (the link to the story is dead – this is just the newspaper’s home page).

Sweet ‘n sour

A woman sprinkles salted peppers over a snow-covered field in Arai, Niigata Prefecture, as part of the manufacturing process for the Kanzuri spice.

The peppers will be left on the field for four to five days to refine and sweeten. After adding rice malt and mulberries, they will be aged three years before they are ready to be sold as Kanzuri, which literally means “produced locally in the chill.”

“I want people around the country to enjoy the traditional, authentic taste,” said Kanzuri producer Kuniaki Tojo.

snow peppers

Dean at Nozawa Onsen

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Back-Country Banzai

As it was sunny and I had had the best day ever, I assumed I would be baby sitting again the next day. But no! Mina had booked me on a free “Snow Shoe” hike through the back country, AWESOME!! – I now know whats behind the top of the main mountain area! We stopped for lunch and I asked a guy with a digital camera to please take a photo of me against an amazing mountain range. Well, as you can see the range can’t be seen and the green tea from the day before had a profound affect on my eyelids when I braved taking them off for the piccy… The snow shoes were cool and dont really work the way you expect them too. They do help though, one of mine came off as we were heading down a deep gorge and my un-shod foot went straight down to my hip in snow.

If I ever live here I will work hard on creating a back country boarding hike FOR SURE! I saw some great pine tree spots and one amazing naked area far, far away that must have something wrong with it because there were no trees, powder all over it and no chair lifts!!! Maybe it’s avalache prone or something, I must know why…. Wish to god I had taken a camera that day – doh! I spotted some local wild life – 2 creatures straight outta “Princess Mononoke” – a large goaty thang and a big brown and white hawk. Cool!

Dean was spewing that he’d fogotten his board…

“This is a f**kin daft place for a yoga class”, thinks Dean.

Dean at Nozawa Onsen

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The Day of the Last Boarders

The Monday I will never forget as long as I live!

We woke at 8am and it had just started snowing heavily about an hour earlier (judging by the roof tiles across from the window). We kitted up, grabbed a couple of hot take away snacks on the way and caught THE LAST GONDOLA UP TO THE TOP JUST BEFORE THE WINDS HIT. It was going to be a day of lasts for us and a day of major luck too BTW. We got off half way and headed straight for my usual long powder stash area (you will have to pay me to learn its name). There were about 10 others there and the ground had islands of scary ice that were pock marked from the nights rain.

The conditions (during the first run) turned very nasty and the snow was so fast and horizontal that any bare skin was stinging and frozen. We had no choice but to regroup at the cafe and lick our wounds while we waited for the weather to settle down and continue to dump away onto those icy bits. About an hour later we had a foot of powder all over the icy bits and it was still windy but not so much as to hurt your face anymore. Leo had bought goggles to replace his sunnies, as well as some demister and a face protector.

We had about 7-8 runs there, we also did about 3 on the uber-powdery “fire break” (as well as two Leo-style tea breaks) and were told at about 3:50 that this was our last chairs. They had finally worked out we were the only ones still up there and the weather was only going to get worse that night. It was an amazing day for powder, we watched it build about 10 inches per hour, visibility was really bad, we couldn’t work out the terrain through the white-out sometimes. The wind and snow would wipe away your last tracks by filling ‘em as well as blowing them away… THE best monday so far AND I had a witness…AAAND green tea!!

Not a camera day really, so sorry but no pics. As we headed home from the top of the chairs I took Leo to a spot I had seen the other day from the gondola, it was steep, smooth, deep and opened up to an awesomely wide bowl at its bottom, see slurpy version still image. A patrol guy on ski’s (the woose) told us to head home, which we were kinda doing anyways… Leo was actually getting scared about the weather which is unusual for Leo. I had to go straight – for a change – as I arrived in the bowl area, the powder was so thick and the incline wasn’t steep enough to get me out, I was definitely in tune with speed vs deepness that day.

We then glided as if on a cloud along a short road that took us to the top of some ~shudder~ moguls. These moguls were ugly mothers, they had huge islands of pock marked ice with indents of powder – lets just say that Leo’s right butt cheek was almost seperated from his body a few times and my butt padding is my new best friend. I was doing really well that day and had my very best run EVER as I found a smooth window to the right of the moguls which I knew would take me to an even smoother and deeper ledge area, I then got alot of speed up and had escaped the mogul region and just kept going while the mountain was willing. It was an awesome run for me and I stood there in disbelief while I waited for Leo to catch up.

We then arrived to what we call the “Mos Burger Region” (a newbies area with shops) and were the last boarders to be seen – even the local lift guys were all walking home as we were taking off our boards for a well earned plate of hot chips and sauce. We then took the road down to where we had started on the gondola that morning, & there was no-one around… We were, in fact, The Last Snow Boarders!

Bowl of Ice-cream

Dean at Nozawa Onsen

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Green Tea Gaijins

My Aussie mate Leo Power (from Osaka) was arriving for two days of boarding and mischief that morning (frikken early too) so I dragged him straight to the gondola only to find it was out of action due to high winds at the top. So we moved over to the lift that leapfrogs you over to the next beginners fields area. It hadn’t snowed for three days and sunday was a scorcher with winds, so we queued up with at one of the shorter queues and worked on our racoon-tans while we waited. Leo had never had a lesson but had boarded before, so I couldn’t help myself downloading everything I could remember from my last private turns lesson fron Thredbo. Leo said it helped a million and he seemed to improve as the day went on.

Leo had brought some green tea with him (hows that for lucky!!!) so we found a secluded spot amongst some trees and watched the tree tops sway while listening to the echoy ski announcer girls weird voice bounce around us. We then came back to another chair that would take us higher and eventually tried our luck at taking short cuts down steep bits along the roads edge on the way back. To keep our spirits up because of the gondola closures, we started ducking some ropes to a powdery steep spot. Once that was tracked out, we took the road a long ways down past a few fields to an area I hadn’t tried before, it was a long field, not many punters (especially as the day grew older) and Leo worked on his “just going straight so I can go really really fast manouver” it worked well and we both tried a few jumps with different levels of success and many laughs.

We ducked some ropes and tried some snow covered rice paddy fields that went down the hill like steps. Please see the scene of Jack Thompson just before he gets shot to understand the expression on our faces as we dropped down each sudden step, it goes something like “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!” That evening as we took the shuttle bus back, I told Leo I hadn’t had a bad monday yet and the snow gods would surely pour down their magic tonight. It started raining at about 8pm so we prayed this meant snow higher up, but it was a warm rain….hmmm

The Dark Riders

Deano-san, where’s my Toyota?

Now THAT’S what I call a fly ride…

Dean at Nozawa Onsen

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Trippy Sticky Nighta

Last sat night I managed about 3 hours night boarding, as Oscar still needed his nap even though it was his 3rd Bday. Only 12 people were night boarding apart from me (I counted from up in the chair). Mostly girls actually – seems that most of them had worked out their turns that arvo and just had to keep going. They travelled in triplets, & a crazy one of them always seemed to want to smash into me or wasnt looking where the hell she or I was going… No actual collisions though, which was good! The snow was kinda sticky and had been cooked that day by the sun but still a hoot and the chair was fast.

I thought I’d try a jump that someone must’ve made that day, I approached it too slow and ended up on my arse with no air to my credit…just keep at it I spose. The lights were all gelled with different colours so the shadows were trippy to say the least, quite beautiful. The night skiing is always in the field in front of the main gondola station and seems to only be on sat nights.

Where’s that Yakitori stick going?!?

Dean at Nozawa Onsen

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A bit tooooo good

Sorry to say, today was the best so far, again!

Sunday was terrible weather, meaning blizzard up top, perfect, also most folks left by 1pm, so no crowds, it was aaalll mine. couldnt see 50 mtrs in front, brilliant!

Today, heavy snow with a breeze all day, knee high pow, did my first series of jumps today, by accident, no worries, more details on return. I’ll go for another sorty tomorrow, find a new way down I havent tried yet. No-one around again today, btw. No piccies unfort, as I’m on my own. A bit toooo good today really…!

Mitchell does Geihoku

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Snowboarding in Lead Undies, part 2 – Mitchell in Hiroshima

Yesterday was good…bit icy in the morning…just like an aussie resort really…grooomed…crowded lifts
but fun as well…first lifts 6am …hahaha…I love it..

Here’s a cuppla picks…we ended up over the other side of the resort from the terrain park..and only had one run as the bus was waiting for us…
had the red hair out frightening the natives..

“Did you just call me carrot-top, punk?”

Here’s looking up your groomer

A genki view…

A genki girl…

High fashion on the slopes (excuse the pun!)

Dean at Nozawa Onsen

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All-You-Can-Eat Freshies

It pissed down big flakes aaaaall day Monday, (must’ve added another meter!). It was the best so far, all you can eat freshies!(visibilty was 200mtrs, got covered in a cm on the chair lift). I found another great knee high nook too, spent all day there and today, only it was blue and sunny today. A ski class took up my turf today, so I ran their slalom, through their battons, much fun, still broad deep deep deep pow on the edges too. got into a few steep pow bits for practise…a hoot!

Lone raccoon-face Deano.

Ps. Bleached my hair the other day, I go much faster now, only much dumberer!

Dean at Nozawa Onsen

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Deanos Fun Run

Here’s an update on the last few days, the hotel computer is down and I’m STILL formatting the external backup drive so I wont be sending my backlog of emails for a while it seems…

So for the past 3 days I’ve been boarding from 11am til 5pm under varying conditions. It kinda sleeted the other day (lower down-ish) and was sunny the day before that so the surface was all weird in different spots. There’s been no-one around early in the week so Ive been practising my transitions on different angled slopes, checking out the different fields at the same time. I found a great “first thing” warm up area at the base of one of the main gondolas, very handy. I do a few runs there, get my turns sorted and then head up to the top. I’m not attacking major steep terrain yet, most of that stuff is mougled to buggery anyway. By Aussie standards I’ve already got cracken back sorted for sure. That turning lesson I got last season in Oz has paid for itself a-plenty.

Yesterday I fell in love with my helmet, I was kinda finished for the day and took the winding (newbies) snow road down to the lifts area, it was icy in this one region and the board was not responding well, a much faster boarder zoomed by at the same time and I put the toe edge breaks on pretty hard, then I made the mistake of standing up a bit too straight and whammo my board flew up and the back of my head hit the ice first, if I hadn’t of had that helmet I reckon I would’ve been fucked up for a few days at least. I pulled a muscle in my neck but it’s already recovering well today (weds 4/2/04).

AND TODAY! BLISS! the best day so far for sure. It dumped last night so there was fluffiness at the top only I didn’t realize how good it was till after I did a few warm ups down below then took the gondola up. I hung out for the rest of the day at the big everlasting grad area. Only I took a side track around the half way mark into a newly created section for boarders, no-one about too, weird. It used to be my private powder stash, now its an undulating jump park that still ends with a 20 second glide through untouched thick stuff (none of the japs go off the main path, suckers!). The park is now called “Deano’s Fun Run”. It was aaaaaall miiine! Aaaall Day! The first time I did the powder run on that last leg I said to myself “hmm I think I may possibly do that one again” …and again …and again, etc,. It was great coz it was the only path that took me straight back to the lifts without the need for any of the usual skating. I was feeling pretty brave today, prolly coz of the powder flights and the hip flask, and decided that on the last lift ride back I was going to brave it down this more advanced pathway down the mountain over on the other side. I got there and the fricken thing was fully roped off (an official was still there too), so I had to take the usual route down the “newbie road”, which was much much smoother today. I had a hoot dodging fallen newbies along the way, no drama’s or spills and I also took a more advanced turn near the bottom without any stacks to report. I’ve actually been really good at not stacking this time around, i must be improving. I got home and “The Yoda of the massage world” was in the hotel and I was booked next! Fuckin-A! I had a lightning quick shower and got my spine and associated muscles well and truly sorted! I then took Oscar for a fun time at the hot baths, ate a scrummy dinner and here I sit grinning from ear to elbow!

While I can now do the whole transition thang pretty well – at varying degrees of slope I might add – I still tend to break a bit too much for someone into speed/adrenalin like yourself. I’m not up on how to go straight yet and the hard ground mixed with the high speed doesn’t make me feel any more confident. When I’m in the thick stuff I can stick the board straight as well as carve with no problem for speed, it’s only on the firmer ground where I tend to slow down a bit and slalom alot (hence slower), but it’s still brilliant fun nonetheless. I’m also planning on not boarding on fridays*, saturdays* or sundays (*during the day, heh heh heh) as the crowds are frightfully beastly, and I can hang with Oscar AAAAALL day long and play trains too! I’ve discovered just how much he needs me to learn stuff, he seems to copy what I do more than Mina, so it’s important at this stage to download all my worldly knowledge and MEL scripts into the little tike while I have the chance. He turns 3 on the 21st, after that he’s an old man and can’t learn much more really.

Looks like it’s going to dump all fricken week too, great excuse to “do the whole mountain”!

Hey here’s that piccy of me old mate stevo I was telling you about.
Shame it was such a bad hair day, but then, if I had’ve stopped to groom
that morning maybe I wouldn’t have run into him at all!

Dean & Steven Spielberg (!!)

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