Riding in Japan

Riding in Japan

Typically, I spend my winters in the Alps, hitting the slopes for some powder, summiting a few peaks, and when it’s warmer, practising tricks in the park. Supported by Penguin Powderwear, I decided to chase the snow to the other side of the world this winter: Japan.

I January I arrived in Japan. The culture, food, and temperature change from my previous surf-filled months in Australia left me feeling excited to explore this new country. My buddy Simon, who shares my love for snowboarding, was there already to show me around.

On my very first day in Hokkaido, we did an ‘easy’ tour to the summit of Mount Shiribetsu (1.107m) near the Rusutsu resort. Despite my first day back on the splitboard, the snow and wind, we made it to the top in a nice pace. Fortunately, I was well equipped in the Penguin Powderwear Merino base layers, insulation jacket and the Dermizax Shell Jacket and Pants, so I never felt cold in these Japanese conditions. Trying to find the right entrance for the descent we got lost due to poor visibility and we ended up snowboarding down another face then we had in mind. Thankfully, hitchhiking back to the car was easy thanks to the super friendly Japanese locals!

The following days were spent shredding in the resorts of Niseko United. The rumors about Japan’s powder were true; it’s pretty epic. Whether it was tree runs or boot-packing up the summit (1.308 m), the options seemed endless. With an eye on the forecast, we noticed more snow north of Niseko, so we ventured to Kiroro, a family resort with pristine powder fields. With just one long gondola ride up there was a wide face which is ending up in a little gully which took you all the way back to the slopes. Every run we caught a freshly new untouched powder field, buried in powder knee-deep snow and no need for hiking. A pretty good day in a less crowded resort!

Still thinking about our missed descent on Mount Shiribetsu, Simon and I decided to give it another shot. We first got some warm-up runs at the west side of the Rusutsu area. The weather was perfect, and with hardly anyone else we enjoyed a couple of really good backcountry runs. After a quick Japanese convenience store lunch, we decided to get started with the tour. We knew the route and after following the windlip on the ridge for an hour we toured back into the tree line when it got steeper. There was almost no wind and this time we could really enjoy the beautiful surroundings. With only the two of us on the mountain and only two other tracks spotted at the face we were chasing, we knew it was going to be worth it.

When we arrived at the summit after 2,5 hours, it was 4 o’clock and the sun was preparing to set. The golden light illuminated the mountain and surroundings, which gave a magical vibe to the moment. We peered at the horizon and we could see a bright orange ocean, completely lightened by the last hour of the setting sun. I had the honor to drop in first and got some good big turns in. The snow was soft and for the conditions and the lack of snow the past days, it was better than we expected. We snowboarded down and ended up exactly where we were planning to end: near the parking lot where we parked our car. This time there was no need to hitchhike our way back.

As we gazed back at our tracks from the car, a sense of accomplishment washed over us. Another epic day in the Japanese mountains, and our grins said it all.

Frenneke Blokker
Penguin Powderwear Ambassador
Photos by @simonelings

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pharrisAutor8 April 2024 · 09:33

Japow is definitely on my " bucket list"!!

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