Leaving Japan today after what has been an amazing 4 weeks. Definitely tired and looking forward to coming home, but so many great memories. Looking forward to 16/17 already. The show must continue, here's the next update.....
Day 13 (Fri 15th Jan)
This was going to be our base for the next 4 nights, but we’d be visiting a bunch of different resorts during that time. Again, I didn’t have too many expectations for Furano; my guidebook said it was big but the tree skiing and backcountry were pretty restricted. I was starting to think that the guidebook wasn’t 100% accurate though so I would try and keep an open mind.
It was another bluebird day. I had to go and organize a guide for our trip to Asahidake, so I went to visit a local guiding company’s office before meeting the rest of the team at the gondola. We bought full day lift tickets and it only cost us 5,200 JPY or $42 USD, an absolute bargain. On the way up the gondola, the cloud had lifted in the background and we could see some big mountains behind us in the distance. These were 2,000m peaks (big for this area) and they were beautiful in the hazy sunshine. Again, we were in a really picturesque area and the sun was out affording us an amazing view. We felt pretty lucky.
Our plan was just to do a top to bottom groomer run but after only a couple of turns, we saw an open gate. This would need to be investigated! We eased on in and saw an open gladed area with not many tracks on it. The light was perfect so we went for it. We enjoyed some nice knee deep turns and then had a reasonable traverse back to the groomed run. It was actually nice to do a long groomer back down to the base area. The snow was really fast yet grippy; perfect for some high-speed pure carved turns.
We were looking at skiing the “Premium Zone” when the gate opened at 10:30am. It was getting close to that time but we decided we’d do another lap in the first zone as the far left side hadn’t been hit yet. The skiing was better again. We raced back down the groomer and got straight back on the gondola. By the time we got to the top it was after 11am and people were already skiing in the Premium Zone but there were plenty of fresh lines. It took about 25 minutes to make it to the top, we got pretty warm and definitely sweated a fair bit, but the hike was definitely worth it as we had some really deep turns and some legitimate faceshots on the way down. Gordon and Stefan decided against hiking and took the shorter, non-hiking option.
We ended up going back up for another run. This time Gordon and Stefan were up for the full hike and we all made it together. We had dropped in on a nice ridge and taken it into the trees, but this time I had suggested we stay on that same ridge a little longer as it came out into a large open face that only had a couple of tracks on it. Sure enough we got to the right spot and looked down; it was really steep and really deep with only about 3 tracks on it. We dropped in one at a time and had some great deep fast turns. They were definitely some of the best turns of the trip for me.
After that Dave and Javier split off and went back to the original zone. Gordon, Stefan and I went over to the Furano zone on the other side of the mountain which is a separate area in itself. We tried to find this large gladed area but didn’t make it to the right spot as we were worried about getting lost. It was late by this stage so we had to start heading back just after 3. It was a long ski down from the top down to the bottom, but fun with the snow still in good enough shape on the groomers for us to still be able to really hold an edge.
“Funrano” was definitely a home run and another surprise favorite. Some of the guys said it was their favorite resort so far, I would agree with that as the snow, lack of crowds and lack of people hitting up the really good terrain makes it a great choice. If ever there was a resort that we would ski at 2 days in a row. Furano would be it! It is a big place with plenty of gates and good hidden stashes. I really look forward to skiing it again with group 2.