A Niseko Life

Blissed Out
on Powder

Adrenaline rush. Heart pumping. Naoki the pilot’s voice crackles in my ears, over the headphones: Watch out for the flurries when you get out, also when I take off! Great ride guys — Shiribetsu-Dake looks fabulous today! The attendant on the landing snowpad gives Naoki the thumbs up and away the bird goes!

Adrenaline rush. Heart pumping. Naoki the pilot’s voice crackles in my ears, over the headphones: Watch out for the flurries when you get out, also when I take off! Great ride guys — Shiribetsu-Dake looks fabulous today! The attendant on the landing snowpad gives Naoki the thumbs up and away the bird goes!

I hear the whirring of the heli fade into the distance. And then quiet… A deathly silence! Except the mountain sounds like it’s booming with loud thumps! Ahh, it’s only my pumping heart in my ears! My nostrils hurt as I suck in the cold air. I look around — it’s panoramic. I see Mt Yotei and Hirafu in the near distance. I look down the north slope — that’s where we’re plunging today. Open powder lines, some cliff drops, birch trees to glide between — looks like it’s gonna be a mind-blowing ride! Mind-blowing!

Rising above the clouds at 1,898m tall, Mt Yotei’s beauty is as magical as it is majestic.

雲の上にそびえる1,898メートルの羊蹄山。その美しさは神秘的で`壮麗だ。

The best part of snowboarding backcountry – finding your own pristine powder stash.

スノーボードバックカントリーで最高の部分 – それは自分だけの純白で手つかずのパウダーを見つけること。

I check my bindings. All good. Press my jacket pocket to ensure my avalanche beacon’s on. My shovel and probe are safely in my backpack. Eduardo, or Edu as he prefers to be called, gives the four of us final detailed instructions. We’re the first to be up today plus last night’s dump of snow had reset the terrain, so we’ll have loads of chances to be scoring those freshies! Edu’s from Argentina and has skied the Andes but says nothing compares to this! We’ll be going down some 30-40 degree pitches — vertical bliss!

Ready! Set! Let’s go man! The virgin powder is pristine — OMG, this is truly powder hound heaven! No tracks, an unwritten palette, I’m ready to carve my own patterns of adventure on the face of this mountain! Edu goes first — a figure that gets smaller as he moves down the slope, a jetstream of snow behind him! We follow each to his own destiny!

When all that snow’s pushed out, blowing up and blinding you; caking your goggles and going up your nostrils, filling your lungs wth icy, fresh air – that’s what we call amazing.

大量の雪が押し出され、吹き上がり、視界を塞ぐ; ゴーグルを覆い鼻孔に入り込み、氷のように冷たい新鮮な空気で肺を満たす ― これこそまさに「amazing(驚き)」というものだ。

The snow’s beyond description, the pitch steeper than meets the eye, I plunge at top speed and carve a turn to slow myself… then plunge again. Thank heavens for the hours put in to train up those calves! Hurtling down the steep slope, in between the birches, sweeping snow sprays, air lifted over the mounds — it’s unbelievable! My breath comes in short spurts as I carve that deep powder snow, adrenaline flowing, my heart pumping. I hear the air blowing past me as we speed down the mountain, five figures like jetski riders with plumes of snow streaming behind each of us! Pause a while midway to catch our breath and the spectacular view especially up mountain, at the fresh curves we had carved. A wefie for Instagram — the guys back at college are going to chew their hearts out! Cool!

Niseko backcountry. Where the softest, lightest powder imaginable makes every turn look and feel almost effortless.

ニセコバックカントリー。この上なく柔らかで軽いパウダーが、どのターンも難なくこなせるように思わせる。

Quietly undulating, the mountains lie surreal as if in a suibokuga painting.

静かにうねる山々が、水墨画のように非現実的に横たわる。

One of the biggest plus points drawing powder hounds to Niseko is that skiing and boarding off-piste is actually allowed. Just be sure to go early for the freshest, deepest and unmarked powder.

パウダーファンを惹きつけるニセコの最大の魅力の1つは、コース外のスキーとスノーボードが実際に許されている事だ。手つかずで新雪のディープパウダーの為に、必ず早くスタートしよう。

Lunch break, Niseko style.

ニセコのランチタイム 。

Later, we pour over our videos at dinner in Steak Rosso Rosso in the Middle Village, just several hundred meters down from The Maples, where we’re shacked up. Tsutsumi-san the owner has prepared our steaks to perfection. I’m starving — could eat a horse! The videos don’t do justice to the surroundings nor the heights we boarded down today. Edu’s video of us is a magnificent testament to an experience to die for! The freshies we’d carved were beautiful curves on the most pristine of snows! But they were proof we’d done it — yay! I believe Edu — this is indeed the BEST place with the BEST snow. So glad Mom and Pappy bought the unit at The Maples — you’ll see me here again for the next few years for sure!

Don’t try these stunts at home unless you’re a pro like these guys. Many of whom have been returning to Niseko year after year to slake their thirst for endless powder. Skiers and boarders of all other levels should stick to the slopes – there’s more than enough terrain variety to make everyone very happy.

こういうスタントは、永遠に続くパウダーへの渇望を満たす為に毎年ニセコに戻ってくる彼らの様なプロに任せておこう。他のレベルのスキーヤーとボーダーは、スロープにこだわるべきだ 。皆をそれぞれ存分に楽しませてくれるスロープが有り余るほどあるのだから。

Come après-ski time, everyone has their preferred scene.

スキーの後は、それぞれお気に入りの店がある。

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The Maples Niseko 辦公室
馬 丁 路 22 號,06 樓之 01 室
新加坡 郵遞區號 239058

The Maples Niseko