I came up here on a bit of a downer, I was meant to be going to Myoko where they had reported 80cms-1m of snow had fallen on the Thursday night, however plans had to be changed and as it was so late in the week we were scratching about for a seat on a bus trip to somewhere decent, all the big names had full buses. So we decided to gamble on here, I've been up this way before to Gran Deco and Alts and enjoyed myself both times so I felt that the gamble was worth it.
We arrived obscenely early in the morning, 4.20 am to be exact! Why we had to leave at 10.40pm I will never know. So another hour and a half of sleep on the bus before they'd let us inside the building, when the sun came up my heart sank as I realised that this area had missed out on the dumpage that the rest of Japan had got. The sun was out and it revealed beautiful scenery looking over the lake. We managed to get on the first lift up and from the chair the snow looked in good, well groomed condition. After taking a couple of lifts to reach the top of the mountain, we decided to horse it down in one long ride, just to get a look at the place and a feel for the snow. As expected the snow on piste was soft and dry and perfect corduroy. There was perhaps about a 10cm band of fresh snow that had been bashed and groomed meaning that the slopes were fast but forgiving. We spied a good few kickers dotted around, box tops and angle box thingymajigs, we played around on them for a bit gaining confidence with each jump.
I'd heard that the patrol are pretty strict up here and don't tolerate tree riding or off the designated runs. I decided to put it to the test, I'd spied a beautiful untouched run under the top lift on the Chuo side, there was a rope at the entrance to the run, but it was open sided, which meant that I didn't need to duck any rope to access this powder. Thank god I did because it was quality, nice n soft, no tracks, little natural kickers to play off and an easy run out back onto the piste. No probs from the patrol so I went off in search of more goodness. Across to the Minero side, I didn't like this as much TBH, it was a bit busier and the park was more extensive.
The top ungroomed run was all mogulled out and although there was a soft layer of fresh snow, lurking underneath were ice mounds of hell. I spied another good looking area of powder in the trees so off I went only to hear the shrill whistle of the Patrol guy as he came after me, I quickly said sorry and made my way back onto the piste. He told me that the trees were off limits (then why was there no ropes??!) but I could ride under the lift if I wanted....ok then! Not as bad as I'd heard, they weren't wanting my lift pass or anything just told me not to ride in the trees :) I took a couple of hits coming off the angle boxes but I really felt my confidence soar as this part of my game isn't very strong. It started out sunny but soon started to snow, although light, it did get stronger over lunch and manage to put a little fresh on top of what was there.
All in all I had a great time here, its def a place I'd come back to. There are plenty of treed areas just beside the designated runs, just don't get caught by the patrol!
Happy hunting. :)
From 05 March, 2011
Snow condition on visit:
Well groomed, soft and dry thin powder layer. Still untracked pow in the trees
Things I liked:
Not very busy, no one riding trees...more for me, nice amount of small-medium kickers
Things I didn't like:
Bus journey up from Tokyo, it didn't get the 80 cms or so that Niigata had fall the same night