It has only been three weeks but as we now approach the end of May, the 11/12 winter season seems like quite a way back now. But what a season!
The season started on 26th November with Goryu and 47 being able to open some of their upper slopes. It was a bit of a false start though unfortunately and not even lasting a full day as mild late November conditions persisted. We had to wait over a week until any of the ski lifts started moving again - Goryu opened on the 10th December, followed by 47 and then Happo and Tsugaike Kogen on Tuesday 13th December. Resorts were able to gradually open up more in the run up to Christmas, and some very decent snowfall around Christmas was a good present for everyone in Hakuba and really allowing things to kick off properly with most of the ski courses now open.
Snowfall was variable in the first part of January. Thursday 5th was a good one and one of those days when Cortina over in Otari reported some pretty crazy new snowfall numbers. There were a fair few of those days this year actually, and indeed most seasons when you look back. That place sure does get the snow.
While there were some very fine snow conditions out there in January, it took Happo-one until 22nd January to get their top Grat quad lift up and running for the season. There was plenty enough snow to ski and board up there of course, but that area of the ski resort is part of a protected National Park and so Happo can only run that top lift when there is over 150cm of snow up there. Nature didn't seem fit to give us enough up there until that date this time round - much earlier next year please!
Towards the end of January we saw some pretty amazing amounts of snow fall. Resorts were reporting some pretty incredible daily amounts of new snowfall, and all of the resorts were enjoying top powder conditions. This all brought about a lot of excitement, but the sudden large snowfall also brought with it some hazardous conditions in backcountry especially and lots of avalanche warnings. Luckily, there was more than enough quality untouched powder pretty much everywhere making it good for anyone just to get out there and enjoy the courses.
The snow fell regularly into February with top-ups keeping generally great conditions out there to enjoy around the resorts in Hakuba and Otari.
March is often unpredictable, but can bring with it some great surprises - as it did this year. The last week of March this time round saw what some people were saying were the best conditions of the season. Early April brought some exciting surprises as well. Spring may well seem to be a bit more of a 'risk' than the peak season for snow conditions, but people around in those periods might have felt like they won the top prize this year.
So, that was the season and some of the highlights. The reports are all there in the archives (links below) so you can take a read through at any time to refresh your memory.
Of course, Hakuba is a popular destination throughout the year - and for good reason. There's the obvious spectacular scenery to take in and enjoy, but also lots of nature and outdoorsy things to do if you are feeling more energetic.
Four of the ski resorts around the valley have gondolas and lifts operating to take people up the mountains for sightseeing, trekking and other activities. It's always nice and cool up there.
Gondola + pair lift
Saturday 16th June until Wednesday 31st October.
Gondola + pair lift
Saturday 14th July until Sunday 4th September.
Gondola + 2 quad lifts
The 'Happo Alpen Line' is now open and will be until Sunday 4th November and includes the Happo Gondola, the Alpen quad lift and the top Grad quad lift - taking about 40 minutes (more if it's busy!).
Gondola + Ropeway
The 'Tsugaike Panorama Way' is open from Friday June 1st until Sunday 4th November.
Thanks for reading and we'll be back with updates from Hakuba starting once again as things start to cool down in the autumn.
Daily weather forecasts will continue to be updated throughout the year on the main ski resort information pages on SnowJapan, so if you are visiting Hakuba be sure to keep an eye on those.
Have a fun summer!