With good weather forecasted, we bought day tickets for the ropeway. Since it only runs every 20 mins, the four hour ticket is more of a gamble if you have bad timing. Most of the time, paper tickets allow you to stretch your mountain time by staying high and riding chairs those shorter chairs that don’t check passes. Here they definitely check every run since there’s only the one ropeway. The day pass also allowed us to break for a hot lunch. Such luxury!
The morning visibility wasn’t great so we did a couple runs skiers left of the ropeway but inside the loop of groomers. It was already tracked up in places and once you got to the groomer speed was vital to avoiding a long pole pull at the end. We tried a third run staying more central and that was better.
On the way to the car for lunch, I spotted a great deal – visitor survey in exchange for free onsen ticket. Two please! Then, we cooked the best meal of the campervan food series, a yakisoba with tons of veggies and this wonderful thinly sliced pork marinated in delicious sauce. Our car smelled so good when we came back at the end of the day.
We managed to ski three more runs after lunch. Visibility has improved so we had a better idea of the terrain. Going right of the ropeway, we found better, less tracked snow, although the trek out took a bit of time. By the last ride up, the lift was nearly deserted except for us, a Japanese couple and a big group of Europeans. They had skinned up and were headed on a short hike. They gave us directions and we followed them to our best run of the day. Poling ourselves out took awhile, but was definitely worth it. We also caught the view with light beams radiating from the clouds.
Afterwards, the free onsen felt great. The open-air pool was down a flight of icy, snowy stairs that I gave up on after stubbing a toe on an ice chunk; the indoor pool was still nice though.
The women’s side was deserted, however, I could hear Rob and the dudes on the other side of the wall. He met another person from Westlake who graduated in 2006, another small world moment. Rob also talked to some one who had done a backcountry tour at Asahidake and said their group had gotten fresh tracks all day. If we went back, a bit of local knowledge and/or topo would go a long way to getting better runs. Also, picking a day with low winds is definitely important. There are plenty of lodging options not far from the ropeway base. We used the onsen in the Daisetsuzan Shirakaba-sō.
Dinner that evening back in Biei, we tried out a new pasta sauce. Despite our best efforts, somehow we still ended up with clam sauce.
I finally got a chance to browse the Japan craft beer mag from Otaru. They have an ad for Georgetown brewing.