UPDATE: These notes were written winter 2016; skiers should now stay off The House of Poweder’s Chisenupuri Ski Area slopes on the way down.
The day started fairly early, picking Haidee’s brother Josh up from his staff accommodation at 7am in lower Hirafu.
Therefore, we arrived at the Chisenupuri ski area car park plenty early at 8am. Already there were a couple of other hikers there – both snowboarders. I asked one of them about the new cat skiing operation that was rumored to have started this year. They said they’d heard that we might get told off for using the ski area, but that there weren’t any signs up, so we may as well make the most of it while we can. So we got going.
This would be Haidee’s first time skiing up a hill using skins, so we decided to get to the top of the ski area, and then see from there whether we’d carry on to the top of Mt. Chisenupuri.
We were either on or next to the cat-tracks most of the way up. Until it got steep enough that zig-zagging our way up was a more pleasant way to climb. The top of the ski area was very windy, so we decided to call it quits, and ski back down.
Haidee’s ski setup, new for her this year, and her first ski touring setup, consists of last season’s Atomic Century 102 skis, Dynafit Radical ST 2.0 bindings, and Scarpa F1 Evo boots. Mercifully, the boots seem to be comfortable so far!
The way down was fairly average in terms of snow quality. The Niseko region had a day of rain two days prior to us being there, so there was a fairly tough crust under about 15cm of fresh snow. Add to that cat-tracks along the main ski run, and we had to pick our lines carefully. Furthermore, ideally you’d want to be here in at least late January – there was still bamboo sticking out in places.
There was still plenty of smiles to be had though!
We were down before 10am. Just in time to see a staff group heading up the hill in the cat. For the cool price of 30,000yen (around US$300), you too can have a day of being shuttled up the hill in warmth and style.