Hokkaido= Lots of Pow & Little Light

The skiing has settled down a little here in Niseko the last week after a furious start. We skied the remnants of the last system surrounding the hill, mostly touring off of Moiwa. I would go so far to claim that Moiwa accesses the most slackcountry terrain for such a small lift ever. At least in my experience. In comparison to the mega 3 of An'nupri, Niseko and Hirafu within a stones throw from Moiwa, Moiwa offers the best bang for your buck and the resort manager even invited us back to his place to his private onsen. Not as wierd as some of you might be smirking about. The Japanese are so generous and friendly that you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Onsen is the tradition of bathing in the natural hotsprings that are so abundant in Japan, especially here on the North Island. Ebata, our host brought Stevie and I two beers, towels and left us to enjoy the a soak. We met Ebata our first day skiing when we missed the last bus back from the resort, so he drove us to the nearest place we could catch a ride home.

Since then however, the temperature rose bringing rain and mush. A little bit of snow the last 2 days has kept conditions fun and fast. Today we ventured out a little late and with the backcountry gates open, we went exploring. We ended up groping through the milky grey that clings to the mountain more often than not finding pockets of good snow, and others heavy and closer to the consistency of cement thatn snow.

At the end of the day we went for one last hike and as we crested the ridge, the light cleared just enough to give us some odea of where we were exactly and what we were standing on top of. These shots we captured on the descent from An'nupri, our last of the day and fed us into the aspen valley below. Skating out of the forest was surreal experience, sliding through the silent forest, the spaces between trees sometimes less than a shoulders width apart. Sliding like ghosts through the forest with the setting sun turning the clouds the color of apricots, skiing away from another great day in the mountains.