· 

The Powder Union

Niseko-backcountry-ski-guide-Japan
Terry breaking the ice Photo: Kenji Boekholt

I first met them working for Methven Heliski in New Zealand. Big days out heliskiing the southern alps was always followed by scones and tea on a high country sheep station. Then the journey down the Rakaia River back to Methven where the clients would typically fall asleep, giddy on a day of untracked turns.

 

I could hear an Australian couple chatting busily behind me about what their intended plans were upon arrival back in to town.  It was either to go for a run or a workout at the gym. While everyone else had passed out, tired out after a big day of skiing, Terry and Sue still had energy to burn.

Hokkaido-backcountry-ski-guide
The most stylish pole plants you will see Photo: Kenji Boekholt

The first thing I remembered about Scott was some sort of hybrid soft and hard ski boot that I had never seen before. He had made the long journey from the States to the South Island of New Zealand to ski the other side of the world. There was this long period of stable weather that enabled us to fly each day for around nine days and he skied almost every one of them. The snow conditions were good, and the strange ski boots held up well.

Niseko-backcountry-ski-guide
Scott is now in regular boots Photo: Kenji Boekholt

Sometime after that, the three of them must have had a day out heliskiing together and hit it off, and from then on they have been skiing with each other every year. These days, they meet in Hokkaido and start their ski trip with us consisting of four days skiing around Niseko, then travel to Furano in Central Hokkaido for another 5 days.

Japan-backcountry-ski-guide
Sue in full flight, Photo: Kenji Boekholt

The season start had been exceptional and we spent the first few days skiing untracked snow from the lifts. Usually the side-country terrain around the resorts after Christmas would have some bamboo grass poking out of the snow, but this year there was hardly any. Old timers told us it was the best start they had seen in years.

Hokkaido-backcountry-ski-guide
White, with a dash of orange Photo: Kenji Boekholt

A highlight this season was skiing from the top of Mt Yotei, also known as 'The Fuji of the North.' They have been coming for the past 11 years and we had made two previous attempts only to be stymied by the weather. To ski 1,500 meters from summit to valley was a great way to spend the new year's eve.

Yotei-backcountry-ski guide
The Yotei Party Photo: Kenji Boekholt

There is the expression that you hear from time to time, 'no friends on a powder day.' But in reality, there's nothing like sharing good turns with friends.

Write a comment

Comments: 0