Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I'm looking out the window at Highland here and it's really snowing. After a few days of unsettled weather and lots of warmth, the slopes are definitely in spring-skiing mode: slushy at the bottom, soft and slow at the top and sticky off-piste. After a few days off the slopes, punctuated by a run up to Tohoku for some back-country skiing, I was back on the slopes yesterday, on a snowboard, and again today, showing a group from Yokosuka around Kashimayari. It was warm yesterday, but today it's cloudy and periodically really windy.

Looking at the weather forecast, it will continue to be warm, with a bit of new snow or rain coming and going over the next few days. The powder days are over for this season, but there are still plenty of turns to be made on the spring snow before the season ends. (For Highland that's March 26th, and for Kashimayari, that's April 2nd, so not much longer left!)

G Unit

Monday, March 13, 2006

It's Monday and it's actually been snowing off and on for much of the past 24 hours. Yesterday, after days of warm, almost summer-like weather, we awoke to snow which quickly turned to rain. It oscillated between the two until the early afternoon, making for some miserable conditions indeed, but then it got much colder and began to snow in earnest. More dry, cold, powdery snow accumulated overnight, and flurries have come and gone today, although there has been little snowfall since about 10 this morning. I got out on the telly skis this morning and turned the first powder turns I've had on-piste for several weeks.

The snow flurries are expected to continue tonight and into tomorrow, so if you have a chance, get out and hit the slopes for what could be the last powder we see this season!

G Unit

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It's Wednesday evening, after another baking hot spring day. A couple of days in a row of high temperatures and brilliant sunshine and the snow is melting down into spring corn and slush. The remnants of powder that we were skiing in above Kashimayari on Saturday has all melted down; back-country skiing is going to require a lot more altitude after this. On the other hand, on the pistes it's soft and forgiving and a great place to soak up the sun and the views. Supposed to stay warm for a few days, but there's a chance of one more blast of winter weather and snow on Monday and Tuesday. We'll see........

G Unit

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Hello from Kashimayari! It was sunny and warm today, after a bit of cold and wind yesterday. There were snow flurries, but no major accumulation; the forecast of snow all day never came to pass, and so our favourite tree runs are just icy and kind of dangerous.

Thursday it did snow a bit, and I got out on the tellies for some fun runs inbounds, working the patches of powder that I found. Friday Greg and I and our friend Toshifumi went looking for good turns in the backcountry, skinning up for 3 hours out of Tsugaike ski area to a plateau called Tenguppara. It was blowing and snowing a bit, so visibility was not the best, but there was a fair amount of powder, and we had a blast flying down from there on our telemark skis.

Today we went looking for more backcountry adventure, hiking up behind the top of Kashimayari along the ridge leading north. Eventually we made it to where we could drop down into Sanozaka ski area, after a beautiful hour spent trekking through beautiful scenery under blue skies and staring up at Kashimayari-dake and Goryu-dake. The beginning and end of our descent were great fun, but the middle was icy and steep and a bit hazardous, as the rain crust from a few days ago had been exposed by wind. It was skiing for survival. It's just not the right conditions for steep backcountry descents at the moment; better to stick to the runs and to open, gradual backcountry pitches that have little risk of sliding.

It's really spring skiing at the bottom of the hills these days. March is well and truly upon us, and it's turning the lower slopes to mush quickly. Still, on a sunny warm day, there are few better places to be than on the slopes!!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Hello everyone from Hakuba Highland! It's a sunny Thursday morning after a fair bit of snow yesterday evening (which is a good thing) and a tremendous amount of rain yesterday during the day (a bad thing). Off to investigate snow conditions at Kashimayari. Snow is forecast to start falling tonight and continue all day tomorrow, with colder temperatures, so tomorrow and Saturday could be epic powder days. So get on down to Hakuba this weekend! Over and out.

G Unit

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

It's a sunny Tuesday afternoon here and conditions are excellent at Highland and at Kashimayari, with some fresh snow from yesterday softening up the slopes, great views and not too warm temperatures. There's been a great improvement since Sunday's rain, and it looks as though the new snow is binding to the old stuff, lessening the risk of avalanches. Could be really good skiing here over the next few days if the mix of snow and rain predicted in the weather forecasts turns out to be more snow than rain. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Graydon here. It's a Sunday evening and I'm just taking a break from watching the Olympic men's hockey final: go Finland go! It's been a weekend of wildly differing weather. On Saturday it was perfect spring skiing: warm, windless, perfectly sunny, with heavy corn snow getting slushy by the end of the day. Not a day for venturing off-piste, but a good day for working on technique on the pistes. I should have been practicing my telemark turns, but my right knee is still tender a week after tweaking it somehow while telemarking. Anyway our customers Mike and Satomi had a great day soaking up sunshine and perfect panoramic views.

Today was a different animal entirely. We woke up to a mixture of rain and snow at Hakuba Highland, with plenty of accumulation of snow turning quickly to a treacherous slushy soup. Reasoning that it would be better conditions up higher, we headed to Kashimayari and found the rain had entirely disappeared, although the snow was very heavy and wet. I had a couple of decent runs through some heavy but skiable powder before it started to get very wet and windy indeed. Everyone's goggles were fogging up because it was so wet, and people were skiing with goggles up around their foreheads since they couldn't see. It got windy and nasty, and by lunchtime most folks were inside the restaurant getting warm and dry rather than on the slopes getting wet and cold.

After lunch I ventured off-piste into our favourite hidden powder stash, G-Spot. It was a dangerous mistake: a week of warm temperatures had created a heavy layer of ice, and the heavy, wet snow on top was just perfect for sliding. Cutting into the top of an open chute in the forest, I set off the first (and, I hope, last) real avalanche of my life. A slab of wet snow maybe 5 metres wide started to slide, and unbelievably quickly it ripped down the slope and hammered into the gully at the bottom with frightening power. I was fine, since I was above it, but I was very glad that nobody was below me. I picked my way down through the trees, and set off another little slide that carried me a couple of metres on my back. I decided not to leave the runs for the rest of the day. Riding the lift shortly afterwards, I saw the remains of another sizeable avalanche set off by a skier that had slid an easy 100 metres and left a big mess of piled-up snow against a lift pole. On the news this afternoon they said that a skier died in an avalanche at Happo-One at about the same time that I was setting off my slide. So the moral of the story: stay out of the steep and deep for a few days until it has a chance to stabilize!!

The weather forecast calls for snow overnight and colder temperatures, but then warmer stuff later in the week. Let's keep our fingers crossed for cold and snow to salvage our snow cover!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Wednesday morning, and it's very sunny and really warm, spring-like weather out there. We had some new but very wet snow on Monday evening, but yesterday's warm weather melted much of it. Some rain forecast for tonight, maybe becoming snow by morning, but then warm weather for several more days, creating lots of spring skiing conditions on the slopes. Bring sunscreen, as it's going to be a great couple of days to get sunburnt!

G Unit

Monday, February 20, 2006

It's a grey Monday morning here, and the snow we so desperately need doesn't seem likely to come today. If anything, we may get more rain instead. We went out on the slopes yesterday afternoon, and it was slushy, very spring-like conditions at Kashimayari. The weather forecast doesn't look promising: all this week, high temperatures well above freezing and not a flake of new snow forecast. We've already lost quite a bit of snowpack, and 5 more days of this would be pretty bad news for the length of the season. We can only pray to Ullr, Norse god of snow, for a big break. Keep your fingers crossed!!

G Unit

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Saturday morning....sunny ..sunny...sunny.....had some decent snow last night, but more is needed....still skiing on the runs should be very good today.....

G Unit

Friday, February 17, 2006

Hi Everyone

Friday afternoon here in Hakuba.....some fresh snow, but more needed after the rains...it is supposed to snow this evening so we are hoping for a big fubuki. Let you know tomorrow morning....

G Unit

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tuesday the 15th here in Hakuba..after a great weekend of fresh powder and stunning live performances in the Back Country Bar, things are somewhat back to normal....as Bob Dylan and the tenki yo ho said on Sunday, a hard rain did fall on Monday...today...warm and sunny, with snow forecast for tomorrow morning.

Please enjoy this weekends offering of photos....if you have any great shots to add to the collection, please send them to

Cheers G Unit

Tuesday morning...a few photos to feast on....from the back country above Sunalpina....

Hi Everyone....what a great weekend we had...great powder, lots of friends at the hotel, and unexpected live performances in the Back Country Pub Saturday night...see photo!

Now Tuesday morning has rolled around and we have been hit by a solid day of rain on Monday and brilliant sunshine today....fair enough, the powder Gods blessed us through the weekend...cannot ask for too much.

Anyway, let's hope for more snow and another great weekend ahead...enjoy the warm weather while it is here and pray for snow.

G Unit

Friday, February 10, 2006

Hi Everybody...it is Friday afternoon here in SUNNY Hakuba...as has been the pattern of late, it snowed like hell Wednesday and Thursday....started to clear Thursday afternoon and then whamo....Friday..perfect blue skies. Will be a great weekend to get out and get a tan and enjoy beautiful soft snow on the runs....hope to see you over here...

G Unit

Thursday Feb 9th....the photos tell the story...powder early on....turning to a beautiful afternoon.......

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

It's dumping snow again here, and has been since yesterday evening. Yesterday's rain turned to snow, and while it's still a bit wet and sticky here at the bottom of Highland, I'm sure that it's a lot fluffier at the top of Kashimayari. The forecast for Kashimayari is for snow for the next two days, and then mild but not melting temperatures Friday and Saturday. Should be great skiing conditions this weekend!!

G Unit

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Tuesday noon at Hakuba Highland, and it's a bit warm and melty, although overcast. Quite a bit of new snow fell last night, but by now all the snow on the ground and on the cars seems to have melted down. There's actually rain forecast this afternoon, but it's going to turn to snow and get a bit colder tonight, and snow is forecast all day tomorrow. Thursday should be a great day for hitting the slopes again, although if you want to stick to the groomed slopes, today and tomorrow would be nice and warm and good fun.

Over and out

G Unit

Monday, February 06, 2006

As you can see from the pictures, we had ideal conditions here this past weekend. Looking at the weather forecast for Hakuba and for Kashimayari, it looks like warmer weather is coming starting on Wednesday, so the snow that's forecast for tomorrow and Wednesday won't be as fluffy and perfect as it was this past weekend, but it will still make for good skiing conditions. Is it time to head to Hakuba for a bit of powder therapy this week?

This is the sort of fun we have had over the past 4 days. Powder Therapy indeed!!!

Some pictures from Saturday Feb. 4th and Sunday Feb. 5th, a weekend of unprecedently light, fluffy powder. Saturday saw snow all day, while Sunday we woke up to lots of fresh snow and then had clear skies and wonderful views. Great skiing and boarding had by all our guests this weekend!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sunday morning here, and it's snowing heavily, after dumping all night. Should be another day of wonderfully light, fluffy powder. Yesterday was a fabulous day, with the lightest powder snow of the year. We had some of the best boarding and skiing of the year in the trees, and on the runs there was enough new snow to make everyone happy, especially beginning boarders as they fell. Today should be another amazing day, although there are lots of sore legs after yesterday's exertions.

The weather forecast is for snow today and tomorrow but possible rain on Tuesday, so time to take advantage of the great snow before it gets too warm.

Happy Fresh Tracks

G Unit

Friday, February 03, 2006

It's 1:50 on Friday afternoon and snow is absolutely belting down outside, huge flakes that are accumulating quickly. The forecast is for this to continue all night, so tomorrow morning should be perfect for powder hounds. Get on over here, and be ready for serious fun tomorrow morning!

G Unit

It's Friday morning here and it's snowing pretty hard. Yesterday was a great day to ski at Kashimayari, with 25 cm of fresh snow. It was a bit damp and heavy, but it's colder today with snow forecast all day, and tomorrow is forecast to be even colder with lots of snow, so it should be a feast of dry, deep powder for everyone who gets over to Hakuba for a Saturday dose of powder therapy. Sunday is looking pretty good, too, with snow forecast in the morning. So load up the boards and skis and head down to Hakuba for a great weekend in the white stuff!

G Unit

Thursday, February 02, 2006

It's 7:45 am and it's time to hit the slopes!! After 3 days of rain and disappointing conditions that has kept us from boarding and skiing, yesterday it snowed more or less all day and for much of the night. Although it was mixed with rain at the beginning, by late afternoon it was nothing but snow. When I was driving back from Nagano late last night, it was a full-blown blizzard, with howling winds and low visibility. We're going to hit Kashimayari and make first tracks this morning, bringing along our guests Mike and Nick. Can't wait. As well, today I get my new telemark skis, so I'm excited to start telemarking tomorrow. More snow is expected over the next few days, so get up here soon to take advantage of it. Over and out

G Unit

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Greetings Earthlings....2:30 p.m. on Wed. Feb !st...great way to start the month... all is white.....check the photos...fubuki forecast for the next few days....cya on the slopes...G Unit

Here it is, for those of you who were wondering. For your apres-ski enjoyment, we present the one, the only

Backcountry Pub Menu

Asahi Beer (bottle) 500 yen

Chu-hai (can) 250 yen

Cocktails 400 yen

Rum and Coke


Kahlua and Milk

Rye and Ginger

Gin and Tonic

Lemon Sour

Grapefruit Sour

Sho-chu Oolong


Black/White Russian 600 yen

Hot Buttered Rum 500 yen

Whiskey 600 yen

Premium Whiskey 1000 yen

Wines 2000 yen

1800 yen

1600 yen

1400 yen

1200 yen

1000 yen

Popcorn (bowl) 100 yen

Snack mix 100 yen

It's a grey, overcast morning here in Hakuba. It's above zero again, and a steady drizzle is falling; wait, it just turned to snow!! The snow that fell yesterday was wet, and froze last night to a crunchy crust, with sticky snow beneath. Not exactly ideal conditions, to say the least. However, in a spirit of optimism, the weather forecast is for below-zero temperatures and intermittent snow for the next 4 days, so we should have great pow-pow by Sunday. We can only hope!

G Unit