Well, what a day. I am going to break this snow report into two parts. If you want to just read the snow report about some great snow and stunning views then jump to here, but if you care to read a small rant about the Ski Patrol policies at Ryuoo then carry on reading.
First off a disclaimer. Ryuoo advertised both on their website, and at the ticket office that the Kiotoshi runs were closed today. These are the ungroomed steep trails that run under that amazing 160 person tram down the lower resort area. We bought our tickets in full knowledge that these runs were closed.
We took the tram up to the upper section of the mountain to take in those spectacular views of the Iiyama valley in blue skies the day after a big snowfall. It was perfect conditions for a much-needed avalanche beacon search refresher with our group. Unfortunately, we picked up a shadow in the form of a ski patroller the second we stepped off the tram. It appears being a westerner with a helmet and backpack puts a target on you here, despite the moderate crowds.
This patroller continued to follow us around the beginner runs as we looked for a suitable location. He stopped 10M above us every time we stopped, and even tried to hide behind trees when we waved or tried to snap a photo! I have never had this personal patrol experience before.
After a few laps, we decided that a large area with a gentle slope near the top cafe was suitable for what we wanted. I sent the group off to do a lap whilst I buried a beacon in the snow. Our shadow had stuck with me and was frantically talking on his radio and filming me. I walked over to talk to him about what we were doing where I was told clearly that ‘safety practice’ was not allowed! We attempted an escalation back at the ski patrol office but were met with the same response. Very disappointing Ryuoo! I am used to Japan having some different views on the backcountry, but the aggressiveness of having someone follow us around and film all our movements was a first.
Since lifts closed yesterday, resorts in the region picked up an additional 10-20 cm on top of yesterday’s massive powder day. Temperatures had remained low, at -10c in the valley in Iiyama at 8 am this morning.
Fresh snow, light wind, cool temps and blue skies. Today was skiing at its finest. Off-piste had last nights 20 cm on top of the 50+ cm of the previous day and was superb. On piste was pristine corduroy, hand drag turns everywhere.
Ryuoo is famous for the views from the Sky Terrace, looking across at Kijimadaira, Madarao, Myoko, and Hakuba. Today did not disappoint on views, and the fact that the temperatures remained cold all day made it even better.
The snow is forecast to resume tonight with the start of a 4-day storm, the heaviest snow is expected tomorrow night. Do not look at the longer-term forecast at the moment, just enjoy what we have coming because it is going to be epic.