We did the 17000 on an old double chair, Brendo, and it was only my wife's third day on a snowboard.
brendo wrote:ala, where in hakuba did you ride? im seriously thinking of going late feb. I can get there on points, and found quite a few cheap places to stay. im thinking happo one or hakuba 47. what you reckon?
I rode most of the resorts in the area, I lived and worked at Happo One for about 10 weeks.
Was travelling with a mate who grew up there and riding with a few pros. Great times.
One is the biggest I think. As long as you get away from the gondola you could get little powder stashes off the side of the runs pretty much all day. Though I gather it is very different these days, when I was there we knew most of the people who ducked ropes or went through trees...there were only 8 of them
Happo One is fairly lax on back/slackcountry except for a few areas with legit avalanche danger and barriers. Don't get multi day passes and get caught in there...
For the expert there is some AMAZING terrain off the top and right of the mountain and some long long runs back to town.
You must know what you are doing and ideally have a local guide. You have to show all your avi gear to get access through the gates and sign something with the police/national parks from memory.
There were only about 3 days while I was there where the avi danger was below "moderate". If you don't know how to dig test pits etc. then forget it. At least 6 died the season I was there due to slides or getting stuck in powder so deep they couldn't get out, they found them in the Spring.
Great tree runs cutting through some of the cat tracks and a few dam walls and natural bowls.
47 and Goryu are really strict on backcountry but they have really good terrain. There is some sort of yellow-armband crew that lets you ride some closed tree zones, you have to do a 2 hr course in Japanese and sign in each day.
We poached a few lines in the trees and got our passes pulled. If you had a few jackets and used the points-passes you could do some great runs but eventually they'd kick you out.
When I was there (2001-2) their park and pipe was rubbish compared to One but I'm sure it's okay now.
Cortina is the most backcountry friendly and if you like steep (40 degree plus) slopes and trees then it's a good place to go especially if there is snow on the weekends as One and 47-Goryu will get slammed.
Can't really remember Iwatake, sorry. I know we went there about a week after a dump and still got freshies but I think it was a bit small and boring.
Echoland area has the most accommodation, food and party options than on mountain. Also a lot cheaper.
Bit easier to get to from the train as well.
There are shuttles to all of the resorts.
Get up early if you ride groomed slopes, Japanese skiers love to turn powder into moguls.
Legion wrote:Check out Nozawa in Japan, 'boo.
Yeah, that is probably where I'd go, or somewhere in Niigata. Though apparently someone mum knows part owns a lodge in Hokkaido.
I speak a little Japanese so that opens up a few more options.
I went to Fernie in 2006, it was still pretty good value back then compared to the other places. Dunno when they changed hands.