First day skiing at Niseko

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

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Flag of Japan  , Hokkaidō,
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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I put on my ski boots, walked over to the ski shop to pick up my skis and was given a ride to the base of the Hirafu Gondola. It was sunny with clear skies and little wind although it was a bit cold (-15C or 5F) at the top of the mountain. From what I understand, days like today are rare here.

Hirafu is one of the four independent resorts that make up Niseko. They share a common lift ticket and are connected at the top of the mountain. I had been dropped off at the Hirafu area so I skied there for a while.  I eventually went up one of the higher lifts that got me high enough that I could ski over to another area. I headed to the left when looking from the bottom of the mountain, which is in the direction of Niseko Village. I had been told you could only get from one area to an adjacent area but when I got to the bottom I discovered I had skipped over Niseko Village and was in Annupuri.

I skied Annupuri for a while and then headed back toward Hirafu. This time I made sure not to skip over Niseko Village. I made a few runs there and then headed for Hirafu. Around this time the weather changed. It quickly got cloudy and started snowing. I asked someone for directions. They wound up sending me on a route through the trees. When I see people skiing in the trees the first thought that comes to mind is, There's evolution at work, so I wasn't happy to find myself there. I found my way out onto a better trail and slowly made my way down.

When I reached the bottom I hunted around for a shuttle bus to get back to my hotel. There was one heading my way loading up. I hopped on and we were soon on our way.

I got off a the bus stop is in front of my hotel. I took my skis to the ski locker room, got out of my boots and headed for my room. Even though the hotel isn't ski-in, ski-out, it was relatively easy and convenient. 

The skiing at Niseko today was pretty good. In spite of a late start, I had gotten in over 7,000 meters of vertical. I had read that I would come across a lot of Australians here, which I did, but I had also met a number of Americans, almost all of whom were ex-pats living in Asia, and a couple Canadians too. There's certainly no problem getting by without speaking Japanese in Niseko.

I wandered out later for dinner and turned in early. I have to be online at 5:00am tomorrow to get in the ticket lottery for Burning Man.
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