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 :)
such a pretty blue bird day
'ropes are devices meant to keep fresh powder on the other side' :)
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 :)
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
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: