With an improving weather forecast for the day, we were hopeful this route would go for us, despite the socked-in morning forecast. We all met at the Chisenupuri parking lot early. Apparently too early, as there was a 30cm layer of fresh snow covering the entire lot. Just after we arrived, the municipal snow clearer arrived, and started to clear the lot. It didn’t take long for him to have one half of the parking area cleared, so we moved our cars so he could get to the rest of it.
As per the forecast, we started the climb under a low covering of cloud. The fresh snow was getting our hopes up for some great surface conditions on the eastern slope above Naganuma. We made good time up the Chisenupuri Snowcats public uptrack.
Before long, we arrived at the spot where we would veer off the standard Chisenpuri route, and head north up to the plateau between Chisenupuri and Shakunage-dake. As we were stopped having a break, a group of splitboarders passed us.
“We’re going to Shakunage-dake,” they replied when I asked where they were going.
“Thank you in advance for breaking trail,” I replied jokingly.
“Thank you for your trail so far!” one of them replied back.
After the break, we carried on. The skies remained dull and muted. We were hiking up into the mist, surrounded by frost-covered trees. Almost spooky. Inspiring in its perfection.
As we emerged up onto the featureless plateau-like saddle between Chisenpuri and Shakunage-dake, we found a stiff wind blowing. The party in front of us were almost invisible in the mist.
In our merry troupe, we had myself, Haidee, Ben, Timbah, and Mika. We were all now wrapped up against the cold wind.
Our original plan had us climb to the top of the eastern slope and just ski it from there. However, it appeared that we might be exposed to the strong wind all the way up the ridge if we did that, so we changed plans, and set about zigzagging our way up the eastern face proper. This would also give us a feel for the surface conditions for the descent.
The surface conditions were less than perfect, but not untenable. A thin windpack on top of less consolidated snow. As we climbed, however, the weather started to clear. We were treated to glimpses of the slope below, as well as Naganuma pond, frozen and covered in snow.
In places, it was clear that there had been strong winds in the alpine the previous night. Features had been stripped back to icy hardpack that required good trust in one’s ski edges. The going was slow, but we eventually made it to the summit just as the party ahead of us was leaving for their descent.
Whereas we’d decided we would avoid a considerable roll-over feature at the lip of the slope below the summit (due to concerns over wind loading), the splitboarder party threw themselves over and down the eastern face with great confidence.
After recouping a little at the surprisingly windless summit, we then took our turn to ski the face. We skirted around the windlip and then let it rip, all the way to the pond.
At the pond, I sent the drone up to get a few shots of the wider area.
As Murphy’s Law would have it, as we were soaking in the surroundings on the pond, eating lunch, the sun came out. Bright, warm, hot even.
By the time we had eaten lunch and made our way back across the plateau to the top of the Chisenpururi Snowcats ski area, the fresh dry snow we’d enjoyed on the climb up had turned to cream cheese.