February 2014: Martijn and co.
Hokkaido is world renowned for it’s snow and is the reason I come back year after year. Honshu on the other hand, is not know for it’s snow.T emples, yes. Tokyo Bananas, yes. Maid cafes and Geisha, also yes. So when it snows in Tokyo, it causes Havoc.
I had planned to meet Martijn Schell and his guests from the Netherlands in Sapporo at 14:00 and then swing through Chitose Airport to pick up the second half of his crew before hightailing it to Asahikawa but Mother Nature had other plans. Bartjan and Menno, cousins froom Holland, were stuck in an 8 hour traffic jam between Narita and Haneda with no end in sight. Tokyo was experiencing snowfall like it had never seen before and the city was shut down. To top it off, their flight had been canceled.
Even with no arrival time in the foreseeable future for the day, we just couldn't leave Bart and Menno stranded. We had time to kill. So, George, Monique, Ralph,Martijn and I went sightseeing around Hokkaido Shrine, got out caffeine fix, picked up some more ski gear and had sushi for dinner. While we hopped around the city, Bart and Menno were able to jump on the last flight to Sapporo. By 21:30 they were in the van and we were off to Central Hokkaido.
Despite arriving at our hotel at 01:30 and minimal sleep, the cold was quickly rubbed out of ours as we lay into our first turns of the day and found ourselves in the knee deep japow that Hokkaido is known for. If you had asked us if the previous day had been long and tiring, we wouldn't have been able to answer. We were too busy hooting and hollering down the mountain to think of anything else.
Snow reports called for sunny skies later in the week winds so we made sure to enjoy the laps we were getting at Furano. In a typical Hokkaido winter, the sun only peaks through the clouds on occasion and we all wondered what a week of sunshine mid-winter in Hokkaido would be like. We wouldn't be disappointed.
As the air warmed, the strength in our legs increased. Everyone was keen to hit some peaks and untracked lines in the Daisetsuzan Range. We had sun from the moment we hit the parking lot the time we left the outdoor onsen in the evening.
After success in the Tokachi area we packed up the van and hit the North Side of the Daisetsuzan Range. With our skins still on our skis we submitted Black Mountain (Kurodake) for some more great turns. The sun stayed out for us again making for another great day of touring. I had to help a snowshoer whose boyfriend had semi abandoned her on the way up due to her lack of snowshoeing ability and saw that she got down safely, with her relationship still in tact.
Thanks again to Martijn, George, Monique, Ralph, Menno and Bart for coming to Hokkaido and allowing me to show them around the Daisetsuzan mountains. I had a great time and hope to see you all again, soon!