One of the great things about skiing in Japan is when the snow forecast calls for 5cm overnight, you usually wake up with knee-deep snow. Last night we went to sleep at Oze Iwakura with the forecast for 5cm overnight. This morning I nervously awoke and pulled back the blinds to see what looked a lot like about 5cm of fresh snow! Let me be the first person to complain about accurate weather forecasting.
We expected a significant ‘dust on crust’ situation after how icy yesterday was, and I was pleasantly surprised how shreddable the snow was at Oze. Sure it was dust on crust, but it had just enough give to provide confidence on the super steep groomers of Oze, and to entice a look into the even steeper trees.
The snow cover in the trees here was by far the best I have seen this season, with the current lack of snow in Japan. After deciding that last night’s small snowfall was enough to merit further exploration, we shot down to the car to grab our backcountry gear, and with one long gondola ride, we are back in the high alpine. A leisurely 30 minute on skins brought us to the summit of the ridge above the resort, and we enjoyed 600m vertical descent back to the lifts. It wasn’t exactly a powder day, but this was a lot more like the Japan I know and love.
On our way out of town we explored some potential pickup points for backcountry lines down to the valley floor, but not surprisingly these are out of action this season. Temperatures were about 1c in the valley though, and there was a very thin layer of snow on the ground. The forecast had called for massively rising temperatures this afternoon with rain to high elevations, I was excited about how cold it still was down here.
Unfortunately, as we popped out of the amazing 10km tunnel into Yuzawa reality kicked in as the warm weather was alive and well on this side of the pass. 11c in Yuzawa! After dark! This is not mid-season weather.
Anyway, I sound like a broken record here, but the forecast is good! We need to get through the next 48 hours of very warm temperatures before we enter what currently looks like a sustained period of cold temperatures and moderate snowfalls. I live in eternal hope.