Got rang up to see if we were coming down for breakfast – need to go to bed earlier. Feed up well in preparation for the day’s skiing. We make enquiries about other resorts and settle on Iwatake (it’s relatively easy to get to). We rush through to make it to the bus on time. Iwatake is a bit smaller than Happo, not as high or long, but we find some good runs that work well for us. There is also a bit of untracked powder about 200mm deep if you head off track. We spend the morning on the front of the mountain, mainly on the black runs to the left where we can work on a bit of technique and speed. Last run of the morning is a race to the bottom which I lose after taking a close look at the local powder. We join the 98% Japanese clientele for lunch, which is good and filling, like most of the meals we have had.
This will keep me going for the afternoon
View from Iwatake
In the afternoon, we head over the top to see what it is like over the back of the summit and the answer is: deserted. We head down the first run, which is pleasant enough but not taxing. We check out the other runs on the way up the chair. The black run Route A, looks okay so we will try that. The top is a bit tight for space, but then it opens up before a sudden drop into a narrow steep gully which widens out for a bit of manoeuvering before choking into another narrow point. G goes through cautiously but without issue, and down to the bottom before he gets bogged in powder. Pretty pumped with that, we look at the double black and think, it doesn’t look that bad, but there must be a reason it’s a double black, but we can see it and it looks okay, so they mustn’t know what they are talking about, let’s go down. So down we go. The top is unremarkable and smooth, then we get to the point where it heads down. We look over the edge, then lean out, then lean out a bit further – now we can see why it is double black. It is very steep, and plenty of moguls that were not apparent from the chair. Oh well, can’t go back now – not without losing piste cred. Down we go and G handles it well, a couple of small stacks when the board jars out from under him, otherwise all good.
To add to the first double black, G wants to head to the board park, where he gets to run his first bench before scoring some (minor) air of a series of jumps. He is well pleased and we head down the back again to do the last of the runs there, before repeating the black, which he hits more confidently this time. As we hit the bottom, we realise we have 20 minutes to get up to the summit and right down to the mountain base to catch the bus. This sees some of the fastest boarding and skiing of the day and we romp it in, with time to spare for a cocktail on the terrace before it is time to go.
The onsen really refreshes after a hard day in the snow
The soothing waters of the onsen do their thing again, and I could just as easily go to sleep at 5:30. But we are booked in for dinner, so off we go. We share our table with a father and daughter from Sydney, play some cards and chat. G is jealous as F’s state school has a snow sports program thanks to one enthusiastic teacher.
Back to the hotel. It is not snowing tonight, but was a bit this morning. All in all, we have had a great day at Iwatake.