Three days at Hikarigahara

Main Island wrap up.

It was a very fast week here on the main island. I was lucky with the weather right from the start of this trip. The day before I arrived in Seki Onsen the mountain recieved a new record snowfall for a single day! It was crazy deep. The mountain had kept the top lift closed for a few days to keep some powder for special guest Terje to ride. Well the lift was almost buried by the time we got there after lunch on the 3rd. It was that crazy powder snow that is light and pretty fast to ride, but it you happen to stop or crash you are guaranteed to get stuck. Yes I got stuck twice. First time right on the course next to a lift tower. There was a decent pitch there, but it took me five minutes to dig myself out with my shovel and get back on top of my board.

Then on the next run I didn’t see a little gully and got stuck again. Standing on my board I was litterally chest deep. Again I dug myself out and started to pack down the snow in an attempt to climb out of the gully. I took a single step forward and sank all the way to my neck! There was no bottom to the snow pack, I was just hanging on to my board! It took a few more minutes to work my way out of that gully and get back on board.

That same day just a bit further up the road at Tsubame Onsen a natural avalanche came into the village and damaged some buildings. Certainly not a good day to be in the back country.

There were no accidents at Seki that day, but remember to becareful when visiting that area, tree holes and simple little gullys can be dangerous in those kind of conditions.

on the 4th and 5th and 6th I borrowed a bed at Masa’s house and joined his Hikarigahara cat tour.

On the 4th we had a half day of powder riding with Terje, which was a blast. I have had the chance to watch Terje ride live at a lot of contests over the years, but this was the first time to see him free riding live. What can I say, he is a cat for sure. There is never a dull moment as he jumps off everything in his line, somersaults into his lines and ollies over the random cameraman.. It was fun for sure. Terje had to catch a plane to Hokkaido so the day was cut a little short at 2pm. It snowed all that afternoon and night, but the weather report was calling for sun the next day.

Saturday at Hikarigahara was the day I had been waiting 6 years for! I have been to Masa’s Cat tour quite a few time, but the conditions were always less than perfect. Well now I finally have that magic day to savor. Thigh deep pow and blue sky all day. We rode right to sunset and I got some great shots! After the final run we made our way back to the cat for our ride home only to find that the cat had fallen off the road and was stuck at a pretty severe angle!

Everyone took off their jackets and pulled out there shovels, I knew it was going to be a race with the sun to get that huge cat back on level ground. It took a solid hour to get the cat back on track, with a huge team effort from everyone digging and very nice driving tech from the operator but we somehow were able to get back on the cat for a ride home. It was pitch dark by the time we were riding down and we got treated to an amazing view. Stars overhead, city lights far below and snow monster trees all around! It was well worth the effort and sweat to see that view! I took a bunch of pictures, but it was hard to do the scene justice with a single photo.

Big big thanks to Masa and his great crew of guides for showing me around! Can’t wait to get back next year and do it again!

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