2008 - Is This The End?

You know the song by The Seekers - “The Carnival is Over”. That 60’s tune is the theme to this year’s report "The Kani Ramen’s Over". For those of you who have not experienced the Kani (car-knee) Ramen of Hanazono, it is a large bowl of delicious noodle soup with large crab legs.

Rosco in the Chook Run
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It was an interesting season in Niseko this year. Very similar to Australia’s 2007 season -it looked good but fell flat mid February and never really recovered. At the end of January the base depth was below 300cm and by mid February is was not much above. Yes, that sounds good, but in my experience the base depth is above 400cm and heading towards 500cm by mid February. That’s a huge difference especially when it means the difference between open slopes and slopes crowded with tree tops.

Rosco, John, Kerry and Paul on Jackson Face

That being said, the lack of snow depth was nothing compared to the number of Australians and other international skiers and boarders. The numbers of off-piste riders have risen to a level that means untracked snow is getting decidedly harder to find. I did get to ski untracked snow every day but it took all my knowledge (with help from one other) and a lot of hiking in and/or out to get that snow.

Awaiting first tracks on a fresh powder day

After 6 years of skiing Niseko the rate of change is exponential and from the plans that I have seen, it will continue to be so. A lot of new condo complexes are appearing all over. Old established pensions (once the back bone of accommodation in Niseko) are being bought by developers to turn valuable blocks of land into more condos with prices to match. Restaurants are even harder to get into than last year and some restaurants reported to me that they were booked out for a month in advance. Forget it, that’s not what skiing in Japan is all about.

John's helmet and left glove

Now read on ...