Skiing Japan and the Colorado Backcountry – Winter 2013

Click for slideshow

The guys at the top of Annupuri Peak on Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan

With the Colorado snowpack well below average for most of the season, I have spent the majority of my ski days in the backcountry this year (i.e. not in a ski resort).  We held a mini-Everest reunion of sorts in mid-January in Winter Park at Mike Moniz’s place.  Craig, Bob, Ben, Tatiana and I all made it there for portions of a 5-day weekend and enjoyed some of the only powder in Colorado at that point in the season.  We used Mike’s snow machines to access some fresh snow north of Byers Peak and to make life easy for ourselves as we shuttled skiers to the top of “our run” over and over again.  Good fun.

That was followed-up by several other days of the more traditional skinning-up and skiing down backcountry outings.  Ben, Scott, Bob and I did an outing to the old abandoned “ghost” ski resort near Allenspark, CO, that has been out of operation since the early 1950s.  Mike and I did an outing on Berthoud Pass near Winter Park, and Bob and I did  an outing on the Swiss Trail above Boulder as well as on St. Mary’s Glacier in 50+ mph winds.  So, although hardly in the type of shape I was in at this time last year, Bob and I signed up for the infamous Grand Traverse race from Crested Butte to Aspen.  This race traverses the imposing Elk Mountain Range, which entails 40+ miles of skiing with 8,000+ feet of elevation gain and then descent.  It starts at midnight on 3/29, so wish us well.  We’re hoping to finish after about 12 hours of suffering.  We’ll see.  I’ll be sure to post an update on that suffer-fest once it’s behind me…

The big trip for this year, however, was the trip to Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, to ski the famous powder of Niseko with all of my buddies from my CU days to celebrate all of our 40th birthdays occurring over the course of this year.  Niseko definitely lived-up to its reputation, as it snowed the entire time we were there, and the skiing was incredible.  It was the best skiing I’ve ever experienced, with knee-to-thigh-deep powder on nearly every run, and we had a great time both on and off the snow.  Chris Peck has been in Japan 13 years now and developed Annupuri Village at the base of the Niseko resort, so we enjoyed 1st class accommodations, access, cuisine, local knowledge, transport and conditions.  An unbelievable trip.  Great times.  My thanks to Peck, Rubenstein, Kinnick, Silver, Ueland, Addlesperger and Biggs for making it a great vacation and terrific way to celebrate the first 40 years of livin’.  Lots more to come, though.  That’s for sure…

There are some great pictures and even some video in the accompanying slideshow (just click here or the picture above to take you there).

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