Major Charity auction going on

A major gathering of the Surf, Skate, Snow, art and music cultures for this great charity Auction. All proceeds to go to the victims of the 3/11 Great Tohoku Earthquake.

Just follow the link below to check it out. Find a name of an athlete you like and click it. You will then be shown what they have donated and have the chance to make a bid. There is tons of great stuff, alot of it very rare one of a kind items.

Glycogen web site is here.

Check out what Masa Takeuchi has put up for bid!

And the present big price is.

There are so many people donating that they divided the auction into groups. Each group goes for about two weeks. So keep checking back every now and then and spend as much as you possibly can! Thanks for the support!

Hikarigahara prints

Last few days I have been working on photos I shot at Hikarigahara as part of a photo service day. I am making the photos availible for prints to the customers who were there that day. Yesterday made some test prints at my local Costco to check the quality and size. Here are two of the shots that I used as test prints.

Masa Takeuchi on his home turf , looking relaxed in the moment. Funny story about getting this shot. I actually slid down the side of this chute for about 20 meters, hence the angle you see. I was try to cut across the top of the chute to get a high side angle when I lost my toe side edge and suddenly found my self bouncing down the side of the chute. The snow on the right side was very icy and it took me awhile to get my edge to stick in the snow enough to stop. I got lucky, I actually had my camera out around my neck, it was bouncing around on the snow as I slide down, but nothing broke and it didn’t hit me in the face! Once I stopped I decided that was where I was going to shoot from! No more trying to move around, in the end it worked out great, I like the shot!

Next shot is Shunsuke Hoshino who works as a guide for Masa at Hikarigahara. He is usually the tail guide, but this time he got the first shot at getting a classic cat boarding shot. We had the Cat operator move the cat into the frame and set up for this one. Nice spray Shun!

A few more pictures

A few more pictures from the Hikarigahara sessions!

For more photos and info about the Cat Tour operation please check out their Facebook page “Hikarigahara Cat tours”

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!

Mellow day

Nice mellow day in Tokachi yesterday.  Shot portraits with Masa, then joined Tsukasa for a one hour hike up Tokachi to check out the view and shot a few more portraits.  In the end we got a nice mellow run back to the parking lot.  Would be nice to have lots more snow, but can’t complain with the nice weather.

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The North Face slide show

About a month ago I sat down and made a special slideshow for The North Face. You can now watch the slide show along with two others by Tochi Sato and Ali on the SBN web site. They have a section with digital on line catalogs from most of the major snow brands in Japan. This year the North Face decided to just present this slide show image instead of the on line catalog. The music is an original piece by my old friend from right here in Sapporo Kuniyuki. Check out the slide show here. Or go to the SBN web page for all the digital catalogs here.
A couple of frame grabs from the slide show. If your bandwidth is not so large you might have a slow connection when viewing. In a day or so I will try to put this slide show up on YouTube as well.



TNF HELI day two

Second day of heli tour in Tomamu the weather cleared and yes we were able to fly!  The tour customers were stoked to be able to get in the helicopter and we had great conditions all day.  The higher sections of the mountain were rather wind blown and hard, but as soon as we rode lower into the bowls and tree sections the powder was good.  
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I think we may have had the best conditions on the north island on Sunday.  I hear that a lot of the resorts on the west side were all hard packed and icy from the strong winds.  A big thank you to our amazing pilot!  
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This guy was the best pilot I have had the pleasure of flying with.  Amazing style and he really played it up for the cameras with some cool manuevers.  I have to say it was probably one of the coldest days I have ever spent in the mountians….. it was freezing up there near the peak.  Minus 20 all day long as the camera crew stood around waiting for the customers to ride by.  I thought my hands would get frost bite for sure….  
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Thanks again to The North Face and Masa Takeuchi for a great weekend, and I look forward to this trip again next year.  Make sure to put in your reservations early as this tour is sold out way in advance. Now check out this final shot from the heli on our way back to the heliport. The pilot did a low pass around the Tomamu towers, better than the best roller coaster ride. I am sure the people in the towers were freaking out thinking we would crash into somebody’s room!
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