Marc's Public Blog - Skiing / Snowboarding / Snow


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This is a collection of my blog entries about snowboarding.
You can find all the pictures I've taken here, and read below for the more recent trips that I have recorded in blog entries:

Table of Content for snow:

More pages: April 2017 March 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 March 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 November 2015 April 2015 March 2015 December 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 December 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 March 2011 February 2011 December 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 December 2009 March 2009 February 2009 December 2008 April 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 December 2006 April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 December 2005 March 2005 February 2005 January 2005 November 2004 April 2004 March 2004 February 2004



2017/02/28 Mountain Collective Tour: Aspen-Snowmass
π 2017-02-28 00:00 in Snow
After Canada, I joined Arturo on his US snow tour. He started in Salt Lake City, where I unfortuantely missed a very good day in Snowbird, and anotehr one in Canyons. He then met me at Snowmass where I managed to fly in just before a good storm hit, and planes started getting diverted or cancelled.


The first day, we went to Snowmass from our ski-in, ski-out hotel, and enjoyed a good 9" of fresh powder, and then more snow as the day went by. In the morning, we could feel the bottom crust a bit, but by the end of day, not at all:

hello, my name is Arturo, and my snowboard is that long
hello, my name is Arturo, and my snowboard is that long

we took the tow rope to the top as soon as we could and had a good ride up the cirque
we took the tow rope to the top as soon as we could and had a good ride up the cirque

more snow falling, sweet
more snow falling, sweet

did I saw more snow?
did I saw more snow?

I'm stuck, come help me, I'm right here!
I'm stuck, come help me, I'm right here!

OMG, too much powder, this is dangerous, I might fall!
OMG, too much powder, this is dangerous, I might fall!

look at my fancy new mittens, aren't they pretty?
look at my fancy new mittens, aren't they pretty?


Here's a good end of day run at Snowmass during the snow storm:


Overnight, we had another foot or so that fell, which was great news for our trip to Aspen Highlands:




in line for the snowcat
in line for the snowcat


got a nice little lift up the ridge
got a nice little lift up the ridge

and then you walk more to get to the bowl
and then you walk more to get to the bowl

nice bowl, though
nice bowl, though



I've been pushing Arturo to learn poles, he was a quick learner :)
I've been pushing Arturo to learn poles, he was a quick learner :)


Here is a good run down the highlands bowl, good powder:

The 3rd day, we went back to Snowmass, blue bird with a bit of powder left in some places:




took the tow rope back to the top and we went to the very other extreme
took the tow rope back to the top and we went to the very other extreme







then a hike up to the side country south of the resort. Great at the top, pretty bad at the bottom
then a hike up to the side country south of the resort. Great at the top, pretty bad at the bottom

good views
good views


Aspen airport
Aspen airport

pretty good powder down, until we got to the rope boundary
pretty good powder down, until we got to the rope boundary

I took an early entrance in dikes from high alpine
I took an early entrance in dikes from high alpine

good snow, except for the rock hidden underneath and the one that shattered my phone when I fell on it
good snow, except for the rock hidden underneath and the one that shattered my phone when I fell on it


2017/02/28 Colorado Mountain Collective Tour: Aspen, Silverton, and Telluride
π 2017-02-28 00:00 in Snow

Like last year, I went to join Arturo on his Mountain Collective tour. I flew to Aspen to join him there, and we had 3 good days at Aspen Highlands Snowmass 101*|thankfully my plane arrived in Aspen just hours before the storm got in and the airport got shut down 102*|quite frankly, visibility was marginally, we didn't get it by much 106*|snowmass village

Our second day after Highlands, we went back to Aspen to see art museums and galleries:









nice police car
nice police car



go to Aspen, get high :)
go to Aspen, get high :)







Arturo and I went back to the nice but overpriced french restaurant
Arturo and I went back to the nice but overpriced french restaurant

After Aspen, we drove to Silverton, nice drive and scenery:






giving that Arturo was there, we had a required stop at Orvis Hot Springs :)
giving that Arturo was there, we had a required stop at Orvis Hot Springs :)

and after driving the million dollar highway at night, we arrived in Silverton
and after driving the million dollar highway at night, we arrived in Silverton

Silverton is really just alive during the winter thanks to the ski resort (it gets more traffic during the summer thanks to the tourist steam trains that go to it):








the train tracks are under the snow somewhere :)
the train tracks are under the snow somewhere :)

this train isn't going anywhere until spring.
this train isn't going anywhere until spring.

Once done with Silverton, we drove to the nearby Telluride, which is just on the other side of the mountain range, but an 1h45 drive around to get to it via road. Gave us the chance to see the million dollar highway during daytime:


sadly Arturo did not let me drive :)
sadly Arturo did not let me drive :)







Ouray
Ouray

Ouray has ice climbing but it was not open for business when we came
Ouray has ice climbing but it was not open for business when we came

Eventually we got to Telluride, where we were lucky to get snow on one of our days

we went to visit its airport with the highest commercial runway in the continental US
we went to visit its airport with the highest commercial runway in the continental US








And after some good snow in Telluride, it was time for flying home, got a few nice shots (click on them for location):






2017/02/20 Mountain Collective Tour: Banff's Sunshine Valley, Canada
π 2017-02-20 00:00 in Snow
After Banff's Lake Louise Resort, we finished our tour with Sunshine Valley, another resort 45mn away but affiliated with Lake Louise.


Sunshine Valley is a bit more towards Calgary and definitely an interesting set of 3 mountains which start with a long ass gondola ride (20mn or so) to get to the real snow village where most of the lifts are. The day we went was family day, so driving in took a while with a long line to the parking lot, but at least we got a spot in said parking lot, not everyone did. Thankfully the lines at the lift were not that long (<5mn in singles line), despite the crowds.


many many cars
many many cars

after a long gondola ride, finally arrived to the real base
after a long gondola ride, finally arrived to the real base

got 4 inches of powder in the last 24H, not bad
got 4 inches of powder in the last 24H, not bad

backcountry gate that required an avalanche beacon
backcountry gate that required an avalanche beacon






It was all nice and good until we went side country, I hiked up a short minute to get over a rocky ridge to a snow path where others had been. And honestly it's hard to know after the fact since I couldn't see all the way down when I went, but I believe the edge I was on collapsed when I was trying to get down the cornice, which caused me to fall and land on my back, going down head first without being able to stop.
I remember catching air twice, feeling some rocks, and eventually I landed after the 2nd jump on my back where I took off over some rocks and landed in soft enough snow. My backpack made a hole in the snow and stopped me there. Thankfully outside of being a bit frazzled, I was 100% fine. The only damage was my GPS watch that got shattered against a rock. From what I can tell this is the track I did while sliding head first on my back:


Since in the end, I was perfectly fine, I finished the day with Arturo and counted my blessings...
Sunshine Village is definitely an interesting resort, worth going back to (and they have wifi at the top of lifts as well as pokestops, woot!)

I did better the rest of the day :)


2017/02/19 Mountain Collective Tour: Banff's Lake Louise Resort, Canada
π 2017-02-19 00:00 in Snow
After Revelstoke, we went to Lake Louise in Banff. Nice resort. Just big enough, a nice backside and runs facing away from the sun, which turned out to be good given the high temperatures for february.



nice lodge
nice lodge


oh, they did have that wretched poma lift that flattens your private parts and makes you wait in pain until you get can off at the top
oh, they did have that wretched poma lift that flattens your private parts and makes you wait in pain until you get can off at the top



they also had a bra tree
they also had a bra tree

sadly, a few lines at the bottom of the back valley
sadly, a few lines at the bottom of the back valley

very cool snow covered boulder field on the edge of the resort
very cool snow covered boulder field on the edge of the resort


front side had a good sledding operation
front side had a good sledding operation



2017/02/17 Mountain Collective Tour: Revelstoke in British Columbia, Canada
π 2017-02-17 00:00 in Snow
While the snow we got driving up there from the airport was promising. The road was closed for almost 30mn by the time we were there for avalanche control, which is supposed to be good (new snow), but sadly because people voted for Trump, we got some global warming, and the snow levels were way too high.


Revelstoke is far from everything, and has the grand total of 2, yes, count them right, I said 2 lifts. And because they live in luxury, they are at least quad high speed detachable. You then add a gondola to get up from the river they also called a base and parking lot, to the bottom of the lift, and that's it (ok, technically the gondola is 2 gondolas since they connect instead of being a single gondola that goes all the way up, and there is a magic carpet somewhere). Now, terrain wise there is actually a lot of terrain if you don't have global warming, but a lot less when you're stuck on the top 3rd of the moountain, or only the north facing top 3rd of the mountain,. At that point, if there are even a few people, the sole 2 lifts get long lines, and they did...

The first morning, we were at the resort at opening time, and 2/3rds for the mountain were iced up in a bad way, while the top was ok-ish but anything south facing was still questionable:

low fog in the morning, it probably impacted helicopter operations
low fog in the morning, it probably impacted helicopter operations




it's called the lemmings line, a hike to the north bowl
it's called the lemmings line, a hike to the north bowl

north bowl was actually good for 2 runs, but the bottom was very painful :(
north bowl was actually good for 2 runs, but the bottom was very painful :(


the sun came out in the afternoon and melted all the frozen snow
the sun came out in the afternoon and melted all the frozen snow

downtown Revelstoke
downtown Revelstoke


so we did the other hike straight up
so we did the other hike straight up


a bit of tree on that ice?
a bit of tree on that ice?




For our last run of the day, I actually chanced the south facing run, which had melted just enough to be reasonable. No one had gone there, fresh snow, but not very deep:





The next morning, we went for a bit of morning skiing, not expecting much, and we didn't get much. Solid ice for the bottom 2/3rd, with no sun coming out. We hiked to the north side, got an ok enough run, then a few groomers, and called it an early day given that the conditions were only going to worsen:




Here are more pictures of the city of Revelstoke here

2017/02/08 Awesome Powder at Kiroro Snow World
π 2017-02-08 00:00 in Snow

For our last and 5th day in Niseko, we went to Kiroro Snow World, both because of the forecast of more than 20m of freshies, but also because we were going to the Otaru festival of lights that evening.
Kiroro is a bit far away (90mn by car), but it's a very nice resort with lots of off piste options. They have an interesting systme where you register in the morning with them and tell them which gates you are planning on taking and give them your contact info. You are then given a badge that allows you to leave the resort through side gates, and if you don't check in back by end of day, they know to go look for you (rescue will be at your expense of course).

they even have a nice map
they even have a nice map

as usual, the pricing was quite reasonable, less than $50 for a day without night skiing
as usual, the pricing was quite reasonable, less than $50 for a day without night skiing


ski patrol was by the gates to make sure you had filed for a permit to leave the resort, which we did
ski patrol was by the gates to make sure you had filed for a permit to leave the resort, which we did

snow didn't suck. Not super deep, but the lightest powder I had ever ridden in
snow didn't suck. Not super deep, but the lightest powder I had ever ridden in


Kiroro has 2 bigs peaks, after doing the gate on the left peak, we went for the right one. From there, we walked a fair amount in the snow away from the gate, until we kind of found a way to go down that wasn't very steep at the beginning, until we got to the edge, and fantastic snow there. We had a huge bowl filled with fantastic dry powder, until we got to a traverse path in unimproved terrain with big holes/rivers to avoid. But, it was worth it :)

walk up
walk up

poor regis working hard with his ski boots
poor regis working hard with his ski boots

finally down to an open slope, all you can eat pow
finally down to an open slope, all you can eat pow

The rest of the day, I rode the powder between the lift and trees on that side:



Needless to say that I really liked Kiroro.

Two nice powder runs (4K if you get them full screen)

2017/02/07 A Windy Day at Rusutsu
π 2017-02-07 00:00 in Snow

Our 4th day in Niseko was very windy, and it was a perfect ay to go to the nearby Rusutsu which was more sheltered and ran its top lifts all day while other nearby resorts had to close them (Niseko being very segmented that day).
Rusutsu is not a huge resort, but had plenty of off piste terrain, and interestingly had a few slopes across the street although we didn't have time to go reach them (they seemed there only to cater to people from the hotel, while serious skiiers like us were across the street in the higher peaks).
It wasn't deep powder that way, but still plenty of good snow:





such a 'high' peak, 994 meters :)
such a 'high' peak, 994 meters :)

warning, 'less' snow... There was plenty for us...
warning, 'less' snow... There was plenty for us...

warning 33% degree slope. OMG, so steep ;-)
warning 33% degree slope. OMG, so steep ;-)


slopes across the street, where we didn't go
slopes across the street, where we didn't go

See more images for A Windy Day at Rusutsu
2017/02/05 Shimamaki Cat Skiing with Niseko Photography
π 2017-02-05 00:00 in Snow
After a nice powder day at Niseko, our next day was going to be a blue bird, and since I had booked a private guide with Niseko Photography, after chatting with them we agreed that our chances of getting fresh powder on the next day, weren't going to be very good. Elsie ended up offering to upgrade our guided tour to a private cat tour on nearby private land and with a partner they work with for such occasions. To be honest, it wasn't cheap, around $500 per person, or half the price of a heli skiing day where you get more vertical and steeper runs, but this was by far our best option for the day, and Niseko Photography provided good guides, one of which also took professional pictures of us, which were excellent (a very nice bonus)
>

If you're curious about slope and vertical, you can use this:


This shows we had 10 runs, one was a ride back down away from where we were on less steep terrain and the first few runs were short. The longest runs were 210m vertical and a total vertical of around 1500 meeters. For comparison, heli skiing usually costs $1000 for 10,000ft vertical in a day on typically steeper terrain. So no, we didn't get the best vertical deal ever, but there was no heli option available when we were there, and despite the limited vertical and slope, we still had a good time, the pictures being a great bonus.

The minus was that the snowcat was old and slow, and took a long time to painstakenly get around via a slope at low pitch it could barely climb (and our first cat overheated and died, and had to be replaced during the day).

That said, we had some good runs:


Jeff, a coworker, joined us for the trip
Jeff, a coworker, joined us for the trip


go, Arturo!
go, Arturo!


nearby Mt Yotei volcano
nearby Mt Yotei volcano

our guide photographer
our guide photographer

our tired little snowcat
our tired little snowcat

our new snowcat after the first one broke
our new snowcat after the first one broke

Some great pictures from our guide:


the powder was very nice, I could grab it on the way down
the powder was very nice, I could grab it on the way down

there also were a few natural ramps, great job getting this shot
there also were a few natural ramps, great job getting this shot



So, despite the cat failure, we got 10 runs (the first ones were a bit shorter) plus an extra one I got by climbing up a steep slope while waiting for the replacement snowcat to show up. Below are 3 different run videos (in 4K if you watch full screen):

Thanks to Niseko Photography for the day.

2017/02/04 Hokkaido's Niseko United
π 2017-02-04 00:00 in Snow

After a local train to Nagano, a Shinkansen to Tokyo, a JR train to an airport train to Haneda, a plane to New Chitose Airport, by Sapporo, and then an interesting drive at night in the snow, and a closed road where we had to turn back and drive a longer way around, we finally got to Niseko. Pfew! :)
Niseko United itself is a huge resort made of 4 smaller resorts linked with lifts. We stayed in the southmost one, Annupuri, due to its side country gates and nice open bowls that sometimes are reserved to people who stayed there if the winds close the top interconnecting lifts. Turns out the winds did actually cut off the resorts a few times while we were there, and on our 2nd day skiing there, we had to make a mad traverse from Grand Hirafu's top all the way back to Annupuri and barely made it across over the "do not cross" point while the lifts that help you get higher and make an easy cross, were already closed for wind.




Niseko nicely has side country gates and maps to help you navigate the terrain
Niseko nicely has side country gates and maps to help you navigate the terrain



single chair lifts, don't fall off :)
single chair lifts, don't fall off :)

we went all the way to Niseko Hanazono, used its side country gates, and I got to see kids towed on a life raft :)
we went all the way to Niseko Hanazono, used its side country gates, and I got to see kids towed on a life raft :)


pass observer, cute :)
pass observer, cute :)

many quad chairs had a bubble that would hit me over the head, try to throw me off the lift, and if it failed, kept us shielded from the wind
many quad chairs had a bubble that would hit me over the head, try to throw me off the lift, and if it failed, kept us shielded from the wind


another side country gate, gateway to more powder ;)
another side country gate, gateway to more powder ;)


A powder run via a side country gate:

See more images for Hokkaido's Niseko United
2017/02/01 Nagano's Yamanouchi's Shiga Kogen Ski Range
π 2017-02-01 00:00 in Snow

After Hakuba, a bus and a local train, we arrived in Yudanaka, the gateway to Yamanouchi, and the Shiga Kogen mountain range, containing around 10 ski resorts, the northern part of which are linked via lifts, so you can go from one resort to the next, very cool...


Early in the morning, we had to take a long-ish bus (1.5h) to the extreme north range of Shiga-Kogen, starting with Okushigakogen. which allows some off piste skiing. It apparently was closed the day before due to a storm, so we had 30cm of fresh snow off the trails, which was pretty awesome, except how I ended up in a low flat point twice, and had to hike back up to a main groomed slope, but damn, the snow was worth it :)


be a nice snowboarder, and ski hearts around skiiers :)
be a nice snowboarder, and ski hearts around skiiers :)



such a pretty blue bird day
such a pretty blue bird day

'ropes are devices meant to keep fresh powder on the other side' :)
'ropes are devices meant to keep fresh powder on the other side' :)

fresh snow
fresh snow

after a great run, we ended up on top of a race course
after a great run, we ended up on top of a race course

after arriving at the next door Yakebitaiyama, and they had some 'unpressed snow', just what we needed :)
after arriving at the next door Yakebitaiyama, and they had some 'unpressed snow', just what we needed :)

yeah, this is unpressed, I'll take it :)
yeah, this is unpressed, I'll take it :)



The next day, another 30cm storm came by. We naively went to the southern most resort (Yokoteyama) to try the other biggest resort in the range, but sadly the wind shut down most top lifts that day. As a result we had to walk to the base to the nearby resort (Kumanoyu) which didn't go as high, and had some lifts running. Great snow, but not enough vertical or slope:

it was super cold with frigid winds
it was super cold with frigid winds

Kymanoyu was a small-ish resort, but it will do, given that the rest was closed
Kymanoyu was a small-ish resort, but it will do, given that the rest was closed

I then had the "grand" idea that it would be a good idea to ski from the top of Kymanoyu (which was not that high) back to Yokoteyama instead of the longish walk on the road between the 2 resorts. Sadly, it was a pretty flat trail covered with snow, and took a lot of pushing with poles before we finally got to Yokoteyama. We took a half way up lift and honestly the conditions were poor: cold, whiteouts, and no off piste possible. Getting back down to the bottom was actually hard, despite the downhill we were barely moving and so barely got to the bottom in time to catch a shuttle bus back away from that south extreme of the resort.
After loading lift opening reports, we figured out that there was nothing interesting we could ski in the south, so we had to take 2 busses to get back to the north extreme (sadly this burned 1.5 hours). Thankfully, when we go to Yakebitaiyama, the top gondola was running, and we scored some great powder runs until we had to leave to take a bus back:



All in all, the Shiga Kogen range was quite interesting, and we got quite lucky with the snow there. Some other day with less snow, it may be fun to ski it from the northern most resort back down to Hasuike, the middle resort where busses connect to go north or south. Off piste skiing was possible in places, some even had gates, although some other resorts don't allow it or turn a blind eye to it at all. Despite the painful bus rides there and back, we had a really good time and enjoyed the snow there.

Below is one of my best powder runs:


More pages: April 2017 March 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 March 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 November 2015 April 2015 March 2015 December 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 December 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 March 2011 February 2011 December 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 December 2009 March 2009 February 2009 December 2008 April 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 December 2006 April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 December 2005 March 2005 February 2005 January 2005 November 2004 April 2004 March 2004 February 2004