Chisenupuri, Japan, Jan. 27, 2011

Tony Crocker

Staff member
This perhaps rivals Mont Grands-Fonds as the most obscure area I've ever skied. It's about the same size (1,000 vertical) and has one chair, a detachable hooded double!?!

With Engrish instructions:

They want you not to raise the bubble/safety bar until you've passed a couple of towers on the ride up. I presume the Japanese words for "food" and "safety bar" must sound or write similar.

It's my 5th day out of 8 here, and the Niseko snow machine has shut off for the time being, 3rd sunny day of the past 4. I thought I might be going to Sapporo (there are 2 areas up there) but it's peak season here at Black Diamond Lodge, tours are fully booked and it's quite hectic. When I wandered out of the lodge a van of Belgians and Aussies were getting ready to head off for Chisenupuri on the theory that small might mean quiet and still untracked, so I tagged along.

This was generally true. These are my tracks just right of the lift.

However, all was not ideal. That chairlift faces directly south so anything with pitch had sun crust. It was truly a low-angle powder day. Most of my runs were in these W to SW facing trees.

In North America we like those tree shadows to be pointing away from, not toward us when we're skiing.

Here's an afternoon view from a boundary ridge looking back at those trees and the top of the lift.

From the top there's a view east to Niseko at left (west face beyond what I skied from Annupuri yesterday) and Mt. Yotei.

I also made 3 runs off the east side into these trees.

This was probably the best skiing, but about half the vertical is consumed by a long traverse out. Not friendly to snowboarders.

View from the right boundary ridge toward the base and beyond.

Japan is not always expensive. 3,000 yen bought a lift ticket, curry bowl lunch and a soak in the onsen. You can see the steam rising from the natural hot spring left of the buildings.

If you ski too low on the east side, you will run into a deep flowing stream from the hot spring.

Repeat Niseko visitors have a very strong powder expectation. If they don't get it, some of them check out smaller areas. Or hike for it, as shown on this peak down the road.
I know that we Americans are always trying to figure out what those trees resemble, but to me, they look like what you see at Australian ski areas (gum trees?). Never been there either, so just a long-distance guess.

How much is 3,000 yen?
They also look a lot like the scrub oak trees here in Utah.

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Tony Crocker":1cpsvng0 said:
This perhaps rivals Mont Grands-Fonds as the most obscure area I've ever skied. It's about the same size (1,000 vertical)
For the record, MGF has 1,200 vertical!! OK, maybe closer to 1,100.

Regardless, don't disrespect the Grand-Fonds. [-X