I had been looking forward to this trip with Rob and Buzz. They were already at the Sky bar in Asahikawa when I turned up. Over a beer, we soon established the theme of the coming week – Maximum RER (Reward to Effort Ratio). With the idea that we ski different locations to where Buzz had skied the season before, this was an exciting challenge especially since we didn’t all ski with AT gear.
We began our warm up day in Kamui, and this time we kept our skis on the snow with no aerials. There was a patch of forest that always seemed to be neglected in Kamui, and we headed straight there to find some superb boot deep tree skiing. It was nice to have two skiers who appreciated and had fun in the condition that was available. We were all just happy because we were on skis, even if one pair of them were a little too fat.
Our routine stop at the famous outdoor gear shop on the way back became a necessity as Rob was in the market for new skis (to replace his other new skis). Buzz and I were mega impressed with the shortest time required to purchase a pair of skis: 1 minutes selection time and 15 minutes for mounting the bindings. Meanwhile I managed to squeeze in a short clip on mountain coffee equipment.
Onsen, beers, sushi (good effort for trying one of everything), a good night sleep (and some time zone adjustment for Rob), we were ready to tackle Asahidake the next morning.
It was an overcast day and the snow cover was recovering from recent weather events. We went on a little climb and explored as far as we could without the need to skin. The snow was mostly wind packed and tracked out. We had to be more creative with our route so far this season and today was no exception. We survived a close call tumble before our reasonable hike back to the main area. A little reminder than any injury out back could be a game changer here.
I had been loyal to tonkatsu ramen every lunch at Asahidake, and that was not going to change today. After lunch we found a nice untouched area near the piste to our delight. We laid down some detour tracks to protect the area. From then on, it was a matter of recycling and adding more lines to an otherwise short, steep and fresh patch of our own.
I have been plotting a return to Tomamu ever since my last visit a week ago. A little sprinkle of new snow was finally forecasted and with the right wind direction, I was betting on the wind loading factor of three. 10cm of snowfall for a potential 30cm of wind loading. This season’s trend of abundance sunshine continued and by the morning it had turned into a bluebird powder day. We wasted no time to get to the drop zone to find an empty slope below us. A quick test for stability and confirming that it was indeed a lovely 30cm of soft, we promptly began our mountain art work on this pristine blank canvas. We didn’t ski anywhere else and caught the same lift all day. At the end of each run, we only had one word in mind: Again!
The last day of the trip was upon us and by popular demand we returned to Asahidake. With our RER dialled high, we were in search of the easy pow. No skinning, no boot packing, just easy sliding. We did have to transverse hard, but as we were all skiers that was not an issue. I have been eyeing up an area for a while but have never figured out how to access it due to visibility issues and the right combination of group skill level. Today everything was in place and we made it to the drop zone. The line was as impressive as it looked, steep, fast with an optional progressive drop in the middle for some air time. The only caveat was that it was a short ride – standard for Asahidake. The quality of the ride and the photos more than made up for it’s length. We skied this line numerous times for the rest of the day, and on the ‘second last’ run we paused to soak up the sunset and marked the end of an incredibubble week of good skiing and great company.
It was amazing to ski with a crew who was as passionate about skiing as I was. Everything seemed effortless this week as we were doing something we all loved. The reward was naturally amplified, and the result was a perfect self fulfilling reaction with maximum RER. Life was, indeed, good on skis!