I decided the first blog on this page should reflect one of my most memorable days in Niseko and what made it so...
I think it was early February, I had zero commitments and it had dumped a good half metre over the past 24 hours. My housemates weren't so lucky (although unlike me they could afford to hit a restaurant and bar that night), most had to work and i think Simo had driven out to Moiwa so I knew he'd score the goods over there!
It's always harder to get motivated when it's just me. Don't get me wrong, I actually enjoy riding alone sometimes but when there's no friendly race to lace up i find i fuck around for far too long. This particular morning I forced myself ready in a hurry and made the 4th or 5th chair up Hanazono, solo.
I didn't expect anything to be open above the tree line, the upper lifts had been closed for at least a day but i was actually seeing blue patches of sky and perfect white canvases off to my right as i sat on Hanazono quad 3, I was ON! Ski Patrol were still 'testing' the snowpack as i got off the chair so gate 5 was still closed.
Do i wait for patrol to open the gate or rally an inbound run? This decision holds a heavy weight on the outcome of my day!! Fuck it i thought, and I was one of the first to take tracks into a tree run close to the chair and boundary rope... Trees were wide enough to spot my line for at least 50 metres on the snow was DEEP. Adrenaline was thumping through me by the time i got back to the quad, no space in the mind for thought just get me back up there! I noticed a tall kid in a red jacket work his way through the lift line at a similar pace to me. As soon as we sat down, we both laughed, carried on about how good it was and did the intro thing. Khaiya was a 19 year old kiwi kid on vacation with his old man who had taken a rest day, he could clearly ride his snowboard so we teamed up for run number 2.
As we made the crest we had another tough decision to make. They'd just opened the king single chair and people were starting to line up by the gates in anticipation 'lets keep going up' we decided. We were amongst the first 10 to unload from meat hook but two of the first to make the summit hike! We'd overtaken a few crew and were strapping in amongst the cloud knowing full well we were about to fly right out of it within seconds.
The video tells the rest of the story better than i can but we had one of those mornings that doesn't seem real at the time, it's too dreamlike! Khaiya and i only actually knew each other for a couple of hours and there's almost 15 years between us but that doesn't mean shit when you've shared an experience like that. We're already planning on taking some laps in NZ this year and we'll probably be mates for years to come. THAT is what people camps is all about!