Niseko, JP: Feb 4, 5 and 7th, 2020

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Re: Niseko - Feb 4, 5 and 7th, 2020

Postby ChrisC » Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:55 pm

Finally, we did one run off the backside of Niseko to the Goshiki Onsen (https://www.powderlife.com/blog/goshiki ... ot-spring/. It's a unique experience since it's really off the beaten path.

As clouds closed in, it was a little intimidating to be skiing off the back since we did not have the guide that day - but you could get the onsen in view from the summit after traversing around the backside. I was serving as de facto guide so I did not really take my camera out. The snow was wind blown on the ridges, but once you got into the belly of the backside / northside face - it was knee/thigh blower and not wind affected.

Some pics of summit hike and onsen. I liked this onsen since it was inside/outside and only pretty hardy souls were there. We were lucky to meet some Norwegians who showed us how to skin out versus a $150+ taxi.

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Last edited by ChrisC on Fri Aug 07, 2020 1:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Niseko - Feb 4, 5 and 7th, 2020

Postby ChrisC » Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:16 am

Tony Crocker wrote:
A 2 to 1 ratio is unusual except for low base/big vertical places like Whistler and in the Alps. he other situation is where the base is fa leeward of a mountain crest like Park City.


I think 2x is relatively common for about a 2000-3000 vertical differential.

Squaw with 1800 vertical differential is 2x between base and only mid-mountain:
https://squawalpine.com/mountain-inform ... ll-tracker

Alpine Meadows is almost 2x:
https://squawalpine.com/mountain-inform ... ll-tracker

Jackson - I am sure is 2x. Look at the difference between mid-mountain (top of gondola) and top of tram.
https://www.jacksonhole.com/weather-snow-report.html

I know by experience Telluride is 2x from town to summit.

In Niseko - from our house to the sidecountry on the East Ridge in Hanazano - there was almost a x differential, but that is due to wind loading as well as I believe northerlies dump snow over the ridge.
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Re: Niseko, JP: Feb 4, 5 and 7th, 2020

Postby ChrisC » Fri Aug 07, 2020 2:27 pm

Food is a huge part of the fun in Japan - so here are some pics:


Ramen bowl at base of Hanazano. The crab is the best.
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Yoteimaru in Kutchan. Super delicious - and cheap! - sushi train. With all these plates our individual tabs barely budged $40.
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Lucky fingers - An Izakaya. Great whiskey and wagyu beef.
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Sushi Hanayoshi - Our splurge night. Multi course tasting menu.
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Bar Gyu - Fridge Bar. Primarily Japanese Whiskey.
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Our accidental purchase - we thought it was Spring Water. No, pure vodka in a plastic bottle.
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Re: Niseko, JP: Feb 4, 5 and 7th, 2020

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Aug 08, 2020 7:15 pm

ChrisC wrote:We were lucky to meet some Norwegians who showed us how to skin out versus a $150+ taxi.

I was wondering about that. I skied to that onsen on a guided day with Black Diamond Lodge in 2011. The van ride back to the lodge took 45 minutes. We heard in 2016 that the water in that onsen had become too hot and was no longer usable.

Your timing was good. Niseko base had only 1 inch snow Jan. 27 - Feb. 3 and only one inch Feb. 10-15. But Feb. 4-9: 6,1,7,6,4,2, 26 inches in 6 days, which FYI is about average for early February.
http://bestsnow.net
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Re: Niseko, JP: Feb 4, 5 and 7th, 2020

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Aug 09, 2020 5:32 am

Tony, remind us again -- at what point in the season does the "sea effect" usually turn off?

Great food porn, wow.
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Re: Niseko, JP: Feb 4, 5 and 7th, 2020

Postby ChrisC » Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:05 am

Tony Crocker wrote:We heard in 2016 that the water in that onsen had become too hot and was no longer usable.


That's interesting. The onsen did run very warm/hot compared to others. I could not really survive inside - only outside where it was snowing. And I had to get out every so often and sit on the edge since the water was so warm.
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Re: Niseko, JP: Feb 4, 5 and 7th, 2020

Postby ChrisC » Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:09 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:Tony, remind us again -- at what point in the season does the "sea effect" usually turn off?


Our New Zealand guide would leave Niseko the first weekend in March because business/snow would dry up. Also, most of Niseko faces south - so if there is not cloud cover surfaces can go spring-like pretty quickly. Almost late February can start becoming risky.

If you wanted to see a lot of daily, monthly, yearly stats https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-daily-s ... l-analysis"

One graph that really explains the story:

niseko snow.JPG
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Re: Niseko, JP: Feb 4, 5 and 7th, 2020

Postby ChrisC » Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:40 am

Future Niseko Expansion

It's obvious the Niseko is experiencing a boom - likely in skier days numbers - and especially in real estate from Chinese tourists.

Pre-pandemic, there were plans to resurrect 1980s satellite ski resorts and connect them to Niseko.

The Hanazano base was totally redone for 2019-20: new base lodge and gleaming high-end Hyatt.
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Re: Niseko, JP: Feb 4, 5 and 7th, 2020

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Aug 09, 2020 10:02 am

I've been collecting data from that SnowJapan site for at least a decade.

Sea effect/lake effect is based upon cold air flowing over warm water; the bigger the temperature difference the bigger the effect. The bulls eye of lake effect in North America, Mt.Bohemia, has exactly the same December to early February concentration as Japan, though for many reasons the absolute numbers are about half as much.

Squaw/Alpine are situated exactly like Park City, with the base being leeward of the crest that gets the most snow. Jackson is like that with respect to the Tetons also.
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Re: Niseko - Feb 4, 5 and 7th, 2020

Postby tseeb » Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:48 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:A 2 to 1 ratio is unusual except for low base/big vertical places like Whistler and in the Alps. The other situation is where the base is far leeward of a mountain crest like Park City.

ChrisC wrote:I think 2x is relatively common for about a 2000-3000 vertical differential.

Squaw with 1800 vertical differential is 2x between base and only mid-mountain:
https://squawalpine.com/mountain-inform ... ll-tracker


Thanks for the report. Sounds like a great trip. I hope I can get there sometime.

I'll have to nitpick your Squaw numbers. Their lower mountain snowfall is taken at 6200' and upper mountain number is taken at 8000'. Since they only have one lift that goes over 8700', slow and often windy Emigrant with 8741' top, the upper mountain is closer to 2/3 of the way up the mountain than mid-mountain. For 8000' to be mid-mountain would require the top to be 9800'. Note that I'm ignoring 8900' Squaw Peak which I have hiked up a few times to ski National Chute and 9050' Granite Chief which would require a 425' vertical hike that I've never done to get to the 9050' top elevation Squaw claims. Also note that Granite Chief peak is 9009' elevation.

I also did the math using Squaw's bottom and top snowfall. The last two years the base had 56.7% and 56% percent of top and the two years before that were 58%. So for the last four years the bottom averaged 57.4% snowfall of the top. During the two years before that, when snowfall was very low at bottom and low at top, the bottom had 41.7% and 32.4% snowfall of the top.
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Re: Niseko, JP: Feb 4, 5 and 7th, 2020

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Aug 09, 2020 5:17 pm

The upper to lower ratio for Squaw is very volatile due to rain incidence at the bottom, which had excessive rain several years from 2013-2018. Long term averages now are 264 base and 422 at 8,000.

My impression is that the decline in snowfall from top to bottom of ski areas is often not linear. Mid tends to be closer in snowfall to the top.

Long term Jackson mid is 370 inches. The ski area quotes around 460 from the upper site that has been tracking since 1998. When I first received stats from a forest ranger in 1992, he said the long term average at the base was 180 inches.

Park City is 363 top of Jupiter, 291 at Summit House and 150 at the base.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: Niseko, JP: Feb 4, 5 and 7th, 2020

Postby Sbooker » Sun Aug 09, 2020 7:24 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:The upper to lower ratio for Squaw is very volatile due to rain incidence at the bottom, which had excessive rain several years from 2013-2018. Long term averages now are 264 base and 422 at 8,000.

My impression is that the decline in snowfall from top to bottom of ski areas is often not linear. Mid tends to be closer in snowfall to the top.

Long term Jackson mid is 370 inches. The ski area quotes around 460 from the upper site that has been tracking since 1998. When I first received stats from a forest ranger in 1992, he said the long term average at the base was 180 inches.

Park City is 363 top of Jupiter, 291 at Summit House and 150 at the base.


Have you got these upper/lower ratio figures for some of the well known European hills? I'd be curious to see how they fare.
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Re: Niseko, JP: Feb 4, 5 and 7th, 2020

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Aug 10, 2020 5:10 am

Sbooker wrote:Have you got these upper/lower ratio figures for some of the well known European hills? I'd be curious to see how they fare.

Maybe Tony can dig out some of the discussions we've had about this in the past. Most Euro ski areas don't measure as exhaustively as North American ones and often the figures are only from the base. Read Fraser Wilkins' piece:
https://www.weathertoski.co.uk/weather- ... -equation/
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Re: Niseko, JP: Feb 4, 5 and 7th, 2020

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Aug 10, 2020 11:49 am

Before getting into Europe, I'll mention Mt. Bachelor, which is similar to Niseko in topography. Long term average at 6,350 feet is 382 inches. I can't locate, but for a couple of years they measured at the top of Pine Marten about 1,300 feet higher and extra snowfall was only around 10%. This is similar to the difference at Alta between UDOT at the base and Collins mid-mountain.

This topic is one where your eyes often tell you at least as much as a table of stats. You rarely see the massive piles of snow at the base/parking areas of Park City, Jackson, Squaw* that you do at Bachelor, Mammoth and Niseko. *You occasionally see it at Squaw due to the high volatility. That applies also to the Cervinia base that we saw in January 2018.

As for Europe, keep in mind caveats the James mentioned. Some stats are annual only which means we don't know if time periods of measurement are consistent. Cervinia stats are annual for only 7-10 years:
200 inches at 6,724 foot base
285 at 8,380 feet
330 at 11,414 feet
That's skimpy data but I'd guess the relationship among those 3 elevations is reasonable.

The Swiss government has posted some 1980-2010 averages but no individual years.
Andermatt:
250 at 4,730 foot base
347 at 7,501 feet

Davos:
169 at 5,228 foot base
297 at 8,823 feet

Passes SE of St. Moritz:
125 at 5,897 feet
265 at 7,567 feet

The Austrian government also posts some 30 year averages but not so much within ski areas. This is the only elevation related comparison I can find.
Galtur 206 at 5,192 foot base
Obervermunt (Silvretta) 325 at 6,691 feet
The northern Tyrol has that microclimate (Damuls, Warth) with very high snowfall at relatively low elevation.

Some but not all of the French data is monthly as well as annual.
Les Menuieres 152 at 5,937 feet
Val Thorens 252 at 7,544 feet
The above are from the westernmost of Trois Vallees. The far eastern valley:
Courchevel 245 at 6,068 feet
Saulire 327 at 8,856 feet

Continue east close to the Italian border and you get:
La Rosiere 270 at 6,135 feet
Tignes 285 at 6,888 feet
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: Niseko, JP: Feb 4, 5 and 7th, 2020

Postby Sbooker » Mon Aug 10, 2020 5:02 pm

^^^^^^^^^^^
Europe does better than I expected.
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