Saturday, 16 February 2008

NISEKO JAN 2008



Video from our Niseko (Hokkaido Japan) snowboarding trip.

There was so much snow in Niseko, which locates 3 hour bus drive from Sapporo,North Island of Japan, Hokkaido. Although the place is "apparently" very famous for powder snow and continuous snow falls through out winter, there it was exceptional dump of snow falls from the sky to welcome us while we were.

I was born in Hokkaido but never have lived there and never fancied snow either, so as the result, I am far away from expert in sliding on the snow. I was slightly embarrassed when Woody, every now and then, mentioned in a conversation to fellow snowboarders in Shizenkan lodge that I am from Sapporo, and my grand parents and many relatives live there. Luckily no one from the bunch saw me sliding a very wide green slope with my bum sticking out like nervous penguin on ice.

Food there is absolutely brilliant. I know Japan is famous for it but even among of all the good food region in Japan, Hokkaido is one of the best, especially for sea food. The fact Niseko is not far away from Japan sea coast, plenty of fresh sea foods are delivered to the resort every day.

Rumours of "powder" was not just rumours. It was very light, deep and smooth snow, so I did not feel any icy bumps while sliding, that lifted my confident up on the board...a little.

Woody was using a type wax on his board but the snow was so cold the wax made his board so sticky and slow. He loves to fiddle with his favourite Bataleon by waxing, adjusting the binding angles and so on through out a year to have the precious board ready for its best in snow. But what he could not predict was how cold the snow was in Niseko.

Under the circumstance of minus 15 to 20 degrees C every day in the mountain even in the afternoon, with some strong side wind, your exposed skin will easily get painful and numb. Almost unbearable despite it is not the top of the mountain.

One day, a couple of days into our holiday week, we had weather that less windy and better visibility. So we decided to take one more chair-lift up to explore further in the mountain, just a little bit more.

When we got off the chair-lift and reached to the 1000 meter hut, I soon realised that a toe strap on my left binding was missing. What should we do? I could not slide down the mountain with only one foot strapped on the board?!

Naturally, we decided that I was going to wait at the 1000 meter hut and sent Woody down to the nearest shop located one slope away. 45 minutes later, I received a radio call from Woody that he was on the final chair lift to the hut.

As Woody could not find anything to fix my binding at the nearest shop, he was, at the end, bombing down the slopes to the bottom of the mountain to find another shop. He came back with a buckle in his bag, however since a part of the toe strap had completely lost due to a lose screw, the length was not enough to strap around my whole left toe.

What else could we do? I was thinking to call a mount rescue team to get me down or to take the chair lift down, but Woody insisted to go down the mountain one more time, and this time, to get a new pair of bindings for me. He knew exactly where to go for the 2nd round.

Another half an hour and a cup of tea later, my radio rang and Woody was on the final chair lift. He came back with a box of bindings which was too large to put it in his backpack, so he hand carried all the way from the bottom of the mountain, taking 3 chair lifts up to get to the hut, bless him...

It was so funny to imagine that Woody was on the chair lifts (with snowboard on), hand carrying a box of bindings! It's not an everyday sight even in Niseko is it?! No one asked him why he was carrying the box either.

Anyway, we opened the box and replaced the old bindings with the brand new ones. Obviously it was no easy task in the freezing cold environment (note: I was just observing), especially Woody without his glasses, it was almost a blindfolded operation.

Despite the uneasy condition, Woody had managed to attach the new bindings to my board, throw the cardboard box away in a hut bin, and I was finally ready to go.... I can't really remember what happened afterwards, maybe we took one more chair lift up to see the top of the mountain....but not sure.

It was the funniest thing happened in whole (only few years) of my snowboarding experience...well obviously the event did not involve me doing any snowboarding at all helped.

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