First day skiing at Shiga-Kogen

Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
Trip End Mar 17, 2013

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Flag of Japan  , Nagano,
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

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I tried one last time when their phone lines opened up at 9:30 to get through to Quintessence Restaurant in Tokyo to make a reservation. I called repeatedly for about 45 minutes before giving up. I'm still wait-listed for one day, which is all they'll wait-list you for, so there's still a chance I might get to eat there but it's not looking hopeful.  Making restaurant reservations has been a big problem in Japan.  Along with the usual difficulties of trying to get through, most of the restaurants that I wanted to try will not take a reservation for a party of one.

Shortly after freeing up my phone I got a call from the front desk. They wanted to see my broken suitcase again so I took it down to show them. Someone called all the luggage repair shops in Nagano. Unfortunately, none of them had parts for Travelpro bags. I went back to my room and checked the Travelpro web site for authorized repair shops and was surprised to discover that there are none in Japan.  It looks like I'll be rolling on my broken wheels for the rest of the trip.  Or until they totally fail and I have to buy another bag.

I got dressed for skiing and then, with some help from someone at the hotel, headed for a ski rental shop. I didn't know anything about any of the skis they carried. I wound up with a pair of Salomon X-Wing 10 skis.  I was surprised by the cost of renting skis here. My bill for renting skis and poles for six days was 19,400 yen or about $220 dollars. This seems outrageously high. I have since looked my skis up online and found out that they were first sold at least five years ago.  They are no longer in production but some people still have stock and I could buy a new pair with bindings for under $400. Next I picked up a lift ticket. I could have started skiing where I got the skis and lift ticket but I wanted to start at the hotel so it would be easier to find my way back. We drove back to the hotel and I headed off.

I had to go up several flights of stairs to get to the lift closest to the hotel. The stairs are covered but the recent snow had blown in at the top and bottom and it had not yet been plowed. I fought my way through some waist-deep drifts and eventually made it to the top of the stairs. The nearest lift was across the street. I went over to the lift, put my skis on and headed up the hill. It was nearly noon by the time I got started.

I started exploring the area around the hotel. There are many interconnected trails that cover a wide stretch of mountain and I believe my lift ticket is also good at areas that would require a shuttle bus to get to. I didn't want to get hopelessly lost so I didn't wander too far from the hotel. 

The snow was fairly good, the weather nice and I never waited in a lift line. On the negative side, it is hard to maneuver around the mountain without a lot of polling, many of the lifts are old, slow and fairly short and many of the trails I found today weren't very interesting although I believe there are better trails in areas I haven't yet explored.

I headed back to my hotel around 3:30. There is supposed to be a way to ski to it. Unfortunately, I didn't find it. I wound up at the base of the first lift I took in the morning. I was happy to find that the stairs had been shoveled.  I didn't ski that much today.  My Suunto watch tells me I skied less than 5,000 vertical meters, which is much less than the 15,000 or more vertical meters I skied on an average day at Keystone the last several years.  I certainly can't tell I didn't ski much from how stiff and sore I was at the end of the day.
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