Happo One, Japan, Jan. 20, 2011

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Happo One, Japan, Jan. 20, 2011

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:32 am

Happo is the largest ski area here in the Hakuba Valley and the one that hosted the 1998 Olympic alpine events. It's about the scale of Sun Valley in both vertical and acreage. Also consistently pitched, though average steepness is more mainstream intermediate vs. advanced intermediate at Sun Valley.

There was reported 6 inches new and it snowed all day, so I used my powder skis. The top half was very foggy, so another non-photogenic day. Since it's a much bigger area than Goryu/Hakuba47 there's a fair amount of powder along the edge of trails. The ungroomed runs are usually moguls, but they were spaced and shallow due to another snowfall Monday and I could often link powder turns from the tops of the moguls. There also were a few places where the trees were not roped off.
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The best area for powder was probably the Skyline chair, which is a slow double at mid-elevation, somewhat isolated from the main part of the mountain.
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There are 4 base areas, a 2000 vert gondola rising from the one I used. This view from the Sakka to Kokusai base areas is about as clear as it got all day.
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There are 3 high speed quads but they are scattered about and you'll be riding old slower chairs at least 1/3 of the time if you move around to explore the mountain. This is my usual method, especially in a new place. The high speed quads are enclosed in buildings, which I did not recognize at first with the bad visibility.

This was one of the more enjoyable days I've had with crummy weather. With the consistent pitch and soft snow I could just keep making turns and rarely have an unpleasant surprise. Almost no wind today, so nearly all terrain was open and I skied a full day of 26,200 vertical. How much of that one counts as powder is subjective, I'll say about a third. From a technique standpoint it was probably half, but the subsurface was evident much of the time as it's mostly marked runs. Along the tree edges or sometime a section of a wide run people just weren't skiing I'd get 4-5 turns completely bottomless. Bill Glude says that when It snows several days in row you get great powder skiing on the marked runs. Which works fine for him because that's when the backcountry is not safe.
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
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Tony Crocker
 
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