After not checking the slopes for more than a week, I spent the afternoon in Niseko Hanazono on 29 December 2017.
Who said, "there's no fresh powder in the afternoon?"
Not in Niseko!
It has snowed two metres since I last skied, with 30-40 cm every day.
Every day in the morning, I start by digging my car out of the snow. How much snow today? 40 cm maybe? I would be very excited if it happened one or two days a week, but it feels like it has happened almost every day for the last 10 days...
It wasn't too bad this morning, as I can still see my car. Sometimes it is buried underneath snow completely!
I already dug my car out four hours ago and at 11 am I start my second shovel party. My poor car, the snow on the roof looked quite heavy...
I also shovelled the car park this morning, have we really got this much snow in only a few hours?
After my second shovel party, I drove to Niseko Hanazono base area. Hana #1 quad lift wasn't really busy although it's the holiday period.
Taking three lifts from the bottom, I have got almost to the top of the Hanazono and Hirafu area. I saw a lot of people on the top chairlift, although the top gates were still closed. Don't ski backcountry right after a snowstorm, as the avalanche risk is really high. The snow base has been settled today, but some backcountry pitches might be still dangerous, and that was why the gates were still closed.
Untouched powder in the afternoon!
Hana #1 Cafe, right next to the Hana #1 quad lift bottom station. There were a lot of skiers and snowboarders already finished and having coffee. It seems they all are satisfied with powder today.
I looked up the mountain to say "thank you for the day!" and noticed the sky starting to clear.
The sun was shining by the time I was back home, I can't remember when I last saw a blue sky!
Two days later the sun was still shining so I went out for a rare bluebird day in Niseko on the last day of 2017. It is very rare to see Mt Yotei from the slopes during winter.
Ski Niseko with Kenji
Join our Niseko Powder Week in February 2018, hosted by Kenji, a Hokkaido local. Running from 25 February to 5 March, when you can expect excellent conditions and quiet slopes, the trip includes seven nights at Always Niseko (B&B), six day Niseko All Mountain Lift Pass, two days professional guiding, a group dinner in town and return flights and transfers. Kenji will be on hand throughout to share some of his favourite secret powder stashes, local bars and relaxing onsens.
To book cat skiing as part of your Japan ski holiday, let us know when you make your booking or speak to your tour co-ordinator.