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Driving out of Los Angeles is an experience. There are really two routes east - take the main highways south of the San Gabriel mountains or take Newhall Pass, that separates the San Gabriels from the Santa Susana Mountains, and take the route north of the mountains. The former guarantees bumper-to-bumper traffic for 2 hours while the latter adds an 50 miles to the route but empty roads. We take the high-road. @atypicalcontent Sunset over the Prado in Taos, New Mexico. After a week of storms where over 40” fell, the sky cleared and gave us a show. We made our way to the mountain and checked in with ski patrol for the required backcountry passes. The mountain has a couple of high speed chairs and a nice gondola that takes 15 minutes to the top. Tom was leading the way and made the call to take some of the lower chairs, this netted us first tracks on most of the aspects we hit. The morning went by in a flash of powder. Deep and steep pitches, tight trees, and endless possibilities everywhere. There is so much sidecountry that earning our turns was unnecessary. Lap after lap we found first or second tracks on most everything. Kiroro was great. Kiroro is one of the special places in a special place. It is a backcountry focused area with lift access, tons of snow, a consistent fall line, and endless features to ride. With time being precious, our Aussie host, Liam, hooked us up with a 22 year old "volunteer" from the States to take us around the mountain. Tomahawk Tom had been riding Kiroro everyday for the past two months and knew the ins and outs. @ridealldamnday A story about a Yuki Ona is being written. @hopihillsfarm My morning started unlike any other. Snorting, scratching, clapping, and weezing kept on popping into my sleep and I could not understand why. Oh, that's right, I'm sleeping in a barn... someone hit the snooze button on the goats. Read on in the Blog! @atypicalcontent

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Video Gallery – Skiing Hokkaido

NayoroPiyashiri

Nayoro is a small city in northern Hokkaido about about three hours northeast of Sapporo. In terms of skiing, this area is the least frequented on the island. It’s little more than isolated small towns, dotting rolling hills at the edges of the Kitami Mountains. This relative isolation is good for those that like to ski alone and get fresh tracks at two in the afternoon. We’re those people and so we went skiing to Nayoro Piyashiri.

The Town

The town is okay; nothing exciting to really talk about. Like everywhere in Hokkaido, there are a few good onsens (including one at the base of the local Ski hill), ramen shops, katsudon places, and they are “known” for their Mochi. We ate at a great soba noodle shop twice – it was good. But the food highlight was a killer bakery (Bakery Ishida) that had proper baguettes and pastries! Who knows what else there is to do in town? We were there to ski, and so we did.

Skiing Piyashiri

Skiing around this area is good for a couple of days with plenty of lift access sidecountry and some hike to’s. The main ski area, Piyashiri Snow Park, does maintain a closed gate policy. This makes the side-country a little trickier to access as the cat and mouse game has to be played. There are also some longer backcountry tours that might be worth an extra day or two. Access from town is straight forward with good parking and basic amenities at the base of the hill. As with Hokkaido generally, this area gets bombed with snow from December through early March. Piyashiri can also be bitterly cold as one can gather from its latitude. While good for snow conditions, cold feet were the norm.

Skiing Nayoro Piyashiri was a blast. With the exception of a few locals and some school teams, we had the place to ourselves. We rode the three main lifts to the top of the mountain and started riding the front side. With so few people, we had second tracks on almost everything.

After lapping the top lift a couple of times, we started probing the lines off skiers right. A quick travers led to runs on open glades of about 250 meters of vertical over and over… it was good.

SideCountry in Nayoro Piyashiri

We kept on riding further right, looking for fresh lines until the sun started going down. We skied down a cat track and ducked into some final trees. In all a great low angle day with nice snow.

Off Piste in Nayoro Piyashiri
AC / Hokkaido / A Trip to the Lencois Part III

2 comments on “On Skiing Hokkaido – Nayoro Piyashiri

  1. Wow! Piyashiri: what an unexpected blast from the past. I hit those fresh, champagne powder slopes a couple of times a week for the three years I lived in the area. Nayoro was way off the beaten track back in the day, and from your experience it sounds like that’s still the case. On the plus side, that means it’s relatively easy to have the slopes to yourself…

    1. KP says:

      You’re spot on, It’s a great spot you can have to yourself! Cheers!

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