Season Summation

Sitting on a long haul flight home is always a good time to reflect on the season which all of a sudden seems to have flown pass. This season was filled with plenty of thrills and a few spills to keep us emotionally involved. We had lots of sunshine and much reduced snow falls this year compared to 2016, although we did have an amazing start to the season around the Christmas and NY period.



The vegetation was mad this season in Furano! Most of the sidecountry areas were difficult to ski with any flow due to the vegetation. It was not until late season before they were buried under. Cavo Toddo was not ready to jump off until mid season, and the pillows around the Diamond had minimal amount of landable soft snow.
We didn’t have as many super cold days this season neither, the boot warmers only put in 3 shifts all season. With all the bluebird days we had great visibility for quite a number of days, perfect for navigation and exploring. It was just as well, because we needed to find the untracked powder elsewhere due to the lack of snow cover refreshment and the increased popularity of the area. The biggest difference this year was the areas previously less travelled were very well skied. It also meant that we were able to summit Asahidake on a low wind and blue sky day. It was an epic experience and I am very glad I shared the day with a couple of super fit tourers.
The unfortunate timing of strong wind had destroyed the snow cover on a few occasions. It was saddening when the wind arrived shortly after heavy snowfall removing most to all of the soft cover from skiable terrain. However, In true Hokkaido fashion the snow pack would reset after receiving around 20-25cm of new snow, and most of the time when it did finally arrive there were more than that.
We found one wind destroyed Asahidake with a naturally triggered avalanche, numerous loose dry sloughing, super wide glide cracks in Furano and Kamui. We also found a very stable south facing slope, cracked off a cornice with a single pole tap, and a never ending creek. We found an onsen jam packed with people in swimsuits with beer cans, and on another night with not a soul and completely quiet. We found a 300m vert powder run to overtake the mighty 250m vert run we found last year.
It was nice to have some time to hang out with friends on off days this season. With less air time with Toddo, I swapped the fast and furious sidecountry skiing with some back country excursions with Hiro, Pat and TMS in various new locations. It was great to learn new skills and terrain. One of outstanding fact was how easy it was to start a fire in the Hokkaido back country when there was no wind.
I have furthered my Japanese vocabulary with more fun words, though sentences were still a work in progress. My Japanese cooking skills on the other hand had significant improvements after some pointers from Manami. We had a few nights of ‘small plates’ Japanese meze with a few local sake and beer made with Furano grains at the house. Life is indeed like a Japanese supermarket – you never know what you are going to get!
Over the next few weeks I will retroblog weekly this season’s outings, so stay tuned for pics and write up of the trips of 2017. The photos can be downloaded in full resolution after clicking on the image and opening on a new tab/window. Thank you everyone for a great season.

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