Thursday, April 16, 2009

Japan-Powder Dumpage

day 5

'On the fifth day god said let there be powder'.... We were at

Tsugaike again, this time having some feel for where to shred and

feeling more comfortable with stretching the rules a bit in terms of

boundaries and ropes. The Japanese homies are all about respect and

were ironically reluctant to be ninjas but they came around..... We

we're kind of eyeballing this upper zone the day before but weren't

able to get there in time. With the new snow we thought it should be

pretty sick and it was. There was a solid foot of powder and while

shooting pictures was damn near impossible we somehow found a way to

enjoy ourselves. Even with a foot conditions were pretty wild becuase

the base was so weak this year that occasionally you find bushes,

rocks or just straight up dirt. There was so much articulation in the

slope that often you couldn't help but catch air in between turns. It

was super fun. Weather in Japan is probably the thing I'll remember

most and this day totally stood out for crazy, weird weather. We saw

everything mother nature could imagine- sun, crazy wind, barfing

snow, wet snow, dry snow-  but nothing for more than a half hour at a

time. I'll have to look into how (in japan) it can be pretty warm,

like 29º or so, and the snow feels like Rockies powder. It can snow a

foot and all melt in a matter of hours. We met up with a couple of

locals; Tasuku, Nami, and Yone. They were super friendly, showed us

around and ripped. I'll always remember Tasuku's mastery of butter

moves on flat ground. People in the US are weak compared to this

dude. He made something that's usually pretty lame pretty impressive.

We hit this crazy Korean BBQ restaurant where all of the

quintessential "weird food" hit the table. Fish stomaches, cow

stomaches, a little tongue.....Forrest, how was that pig throat? No

shit....Odd as it was, we left fat and happy and cruised back to

Endo's to pack up and rest.


day 6

We woke up to some snow at the low elevation of Endo-san's house. I

sort of thought it was crazy to leave what we knew was going to be

sick snow but we had a bit of a schedule to adhere to. We finished

packing up and loaded up the cars. We took a couple of farewell shots

and said our goodbyes to Yuki ( Endo's girlfriend, so cool and made a

ridiculously sick dinner for everyone..thanks Yuki) and Daisuke from

AFD. Endo's house had this crazy little super steep driveway...I

thought we were going to slide right into the lake. On the way to

Akakura we stopped at this temple. Some of the biggest trees I've

seen anywhere, kinda legitimized the history of the little piece of

dirt. Endo showed us the customary "prayer" so with the toss of a few

coins we partook. It was the best 35 yen I've ever spent. About an

hour later we showed up at this mountain called Akakura. A couple

chair rides up and we met up with these dudes Goro and Shin. They

were super good snowboarders that were eager to show us around their

mountain. Right off the bat we could get a feel for a sick mountain.

The 2+ feet of fresh didn't hurt. We hit this crazy gully that was

kinda like a quarter mile long giant snake run in some big trees. So

many weird hips, little off-angle drops, and sick little field goals

all over the place. These Japanese dudes knew how to rally that kind

of terrain like crazy, it was sick. After a couple burners through

that area we went the opposite direction to a more open, more "roly"

section that was probably even better. It led us though a tunnel, a

first for all of us I think, and then to another chairlift. On the

ride up this new chair we came up over the first slope and were

looking at some SUPER sick stuff that the chair traversed over. I'm

not sure if there was any fog at all but it was snowing so hard that

you'd would've sworn there was. Every lift pole we crossed offered

more lines, more lines, more lines. It was some of the best stuff

I've ever see that was so easily accessible. Drops, pinball slots,

pillows, was a playland. There were like 3 little cliffy

bands that you went through per run, each with a gazillion sick

features. Some of the best runs I can remember anywhere. Usually you

like to know where you are going but this day it didn't matter, it

was so deep and so perfect. Pictures? yeah right.....No, I think we

got a few actually. Kei, one of our tour guide home boys, did this

line that we were eyeballing. He was all sneaky and quiet about it,

it was super sick. It was more or less a double pillow but he airedd

the whole thing ( maybe like 20-22') and landed. What made it crazy

was the wild hole that was left where he landed. I could've easily

swallowed a dude. Pretty burly. Forrest dropped a super sick roof

jump off of this abandoned sick. we quit close to dark

and headed to our new hotel. The hotel was unique and cool and right

outside our window was a cat making some park jumps under these weird

green and purple lights....We ate a rad meal prepared by the hotel

lady and hit the sack. The onsen at this place was pretty intimate.


day 7

day 7 was really just more of the same at Akakura. It's not that it's

not noteworthy, I just don't want to torture you with more stories

about the sickest day(s) I've had in a while. The fresh snow depth at

this point was edging 3 feet and we knew our way around a little. We

were laughing. Enough said. Thanks to Shin, Goro and anyone I'm

forgetting for showing us some super sick stuff at Akakura, those

guys rip.


day 8

This was the first day of the banked slalom we were slated to appear

at. The ski area was like 90 years old (literally) and had some real

crazy, old chairlifts that were notably loud. There were a few

hundred shredders attacking this single 500' vertical chairlift. The

powder went quick. We got some though and explored to find some more

Japanese gullies. I (zak) was eyeballing this little temple that

looked like it had some jump potential. I built this skinny ramp that

allowed us to get on the roof of the thing but I didn't hit it...

waited for a buddy to session with. The banked slalom event was small

and not what we were expecting but was fun and interesting. The

Japanese are all about style and not about death defying stuff. They

were just slashing, sliding and reverting on the banks, definitely

not going as fast as they could. Pulling airs off of the banks was

pretty popular too. For such a small and "free for all" style event

the turnout of rippers was pretty rad. After the banked slalom a

couple of us went to this "party" that was so calm that I could've

easily pulled some shut-eye....these guys were mellow.  It was

dumping so hard that it snowed like 4 inches in the half hour we were

in that bar. Some of the craziest, hardest snow any of us had seen.


day 9

The second day of the banked slalom thing was pretty similar to the

first but we explored out a bit further. I headed down to that temple

jump and caught Temple and Forrest traversing by underneath right

about when I got to the top of the   run in. The tranny on the run in

was super quick and there was a bunch of willows in your face on the

way through so it was kinda fun. The firs time I hit it It was

snowing so hard and the landing was so pristine (even after I threw

like 20 snowballs down to try to give it some definition) that I

couldn't see the landing at all...I landed and went over the bars and

just started laughing....the jump felt so good after getting beat up

a little and I knew the next few tries would be a lot better. Temple

and Forrest hustled up to hit it. For a pretty fun jump the hike was

super easy. Soon all the gang was hitting it. This guy named roro ( i

think it was) came up and was like "NO! bad luck! that is temple of

the mountain goat god!" I kinda laughed but then realized that he was

serious. I translated up the hill and that session ended. We decided

to roll back to Akakura and just pictures, no stopping,

just rip around with the friends we had made on the trip. Everyone we

encountered were so cool, friendly, helpful and generous. It's weird

to snowboard with people you can hardly communicate with. Not much is

said but the vibe is clearly interpreted. Facial expressions, sighs

and laughter evoked all the necessary emotions. Again the shred went

till almost dark. Another roof jump session took place before we

packed up and drove to Tokyo. The drive was at least a few hours. We

arrived at our hotel, checked in and turned around to get some food.

The restaurant served a bunch of skewered items. I specifically

remember what seemed to be quail eggs wrapped in bacon. Pretty rad.

Kei took us to a couple little, low key spots we had a few mellow

drinks. Temple borrowed this guys bike for a minute and ended up

getting harassed by the police. That basically ended the night.


day 10

After a long drive the night before and a late dinner we woke up in a

"western style" hotel in Tokyo. All the sudden it didn't really feel

like Japan as we knew it. We lolly-gagged around the city for a while

before making the drive to the airport. When we were about to head

through security at the airport I realized that I was kinda gonna

miss the guys (kei and taka) that toured us around. They made it such

a fun, easy, and memorable trip...guys were super rad. A packed 8

hour flight had us in Sea-Tac at about 11:30 am which to us felt like

1 in the morning.....on the ride back to Matt's house where we had

convened prior to the trip, I had a moment to reflect....largely

because there was a mishap and temp's back window of his truck got

blown out so I had a taped on plastic bag slapping me in the still

ringing ears....I learned a few things in Japan; I love this stuff

called milk tea, Japanese people are probably the 'raddest' in the

world, Japanese snowboarders rip and, oddly, you'll see more sausage

in Japan than you will in Germany.


    Forrest tree blaster
Forrest, getting it done
 No friend on a powder day or what ?
             Zak, tree attack

Tons of open terrain to rip up

   Snow fence line, never got hit

tube time

  Zak built this jump off a Temple's roof. Now he's gettin' it
Forrest, mute 1280
Matt, powder specialist
    Kay goes large and makes it
Forrest found this roof and killed it
much cooler packaging
    TV, incoming snow reports are solid
this man takes his job seriously
night time snow driving to hotel
              Banked Slalom Japan style
        Banked Slalom course

Shin, serious ripper, super nice guy, powder guide. thank you !!!
  High Speed quads to check out the lines and watch your bros 
Powder sucks, we are sad
   When there is new snow you need to be here !
   Downtown Tokyo
     Japan has lots of cool shoes
Courtney Love art
pig scooter
         Forrest powder slash with style
      Temple-son method madness of the Temple
    Zak, hitting the roof again
Forrest, Temple top booster
Line check
This guy was checking out Forrest something serious
Zak, tree slayer
Zak, wants to eat this guys harry dog. (in Lap)
Beer sampling with Goro's sweet camper rig
Temple, avid blogger

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Japanic- Oneballjay gets lucky in Japan

Day One-

The Oneballjay crew consisting of Temple and Matt Cummins, Forrest Burki and Zak Basher headed over to Japan for a couple grassy roots contest and to hopefully score some powder. We hooked up with our Japan friends, Taka, Kay, and snowshredder/ phototographer Endo. After an six hour drive we ended up at Endo’s Grandmother’s hostel where we would be based out of for the next six days. No heat or hot water but some of the best Onsens in Japan !
The next morning we woke and drove to the Bluewood Lake Resort for the Annual Bowl riding contest. It was raining but still lots of fun. Surf carves, board slides and transfers into and out of the bowl. Zak Basher took home double high lights. The first was a very hairball top rope bombdrop out of a possible 16ft scaffolding. One inch round steel pipe for balance, gnarl. Zak has no fear we learned when it's on. Back to Zak in a minute. The “doctor” M.C. was called on twice. The first being a wounded Japanese rider, final diagnosis, broken collarbone. Next, last call, last hit of the contest, Zak attacks, bam… shoulder dislocate. kinda burly. M.C. put one foot on neck other on ribs/torso and pulled arm till the shoulder let the arm back in. Zak pops back up and off we go, get some food and to the onsen.

Day Two-

The Rain turned to sunshine so we headed up to Hakuba Happo Resort thinking we were getting some backcountry pow but when we got to the top we realized it was frozen solid. Slushy session at the High Cascade Snowboard park and called it a day. With the forecast looking very grim and warm with freezing temperatures at night we were pushing hard to take this snow trip and camp out on the beach near Chiba for some surf, but the communication gab seemed to get a little further and we stayed put.

Day Three- Still Raining and the surf check out wasn't going to happen, so we got in the vans and headed out for an 8 hr. ride up in the hills to an old village town to sight see. We did see some monkeys along the road and some amazing backyard and more tunnels than i have ever been inside of collectively my entire life. Sketchy roads, steep valleys, a very cool part of Japan to check out.

Day Four- we woke up early to see that it has snowed a couple inches, and with that we needed a new mountain that had better tree skiing with less of a pitch to hold the snow. After mentioning our need for smaller resorts with better trees, our Japanese guides took us right to the resort Matt and Temple had been there before ten years earlier.
(Tsugaike ) Six new inches of fresh, no tracks, and snowing, perfect shredding.
Calling the reports in the morning to see where to go and figured to go back to where we went the day before, good call, frozen base layer with another 5” on top. Lots of tree skiing powder lines and looking for hidden glades from the gondola ride up. Zak, still healing from his shoulder dislocation was at 70% maybe again and charging though the woods when a tree got in his way and served Zak in a big way. Matt heard people yelling for him and got down to him first. He was talking but not making any sense and ovbiousley in a lot of pain. Zak hit the tree with his head and back but saved his injured shoulder and newly repaired knee. We were all stoked he’s a cowboy and rode out another one but his head and body were differently feeling it for the rest of the trip. We shredded all day and found some cool dams and rivers to gap. Temple and Forrest was warming up and going off.
We got back to the hostel, and hit up the local skate park, then onsen, and Thai food café that happened to be throwing a big party from their last day being open of the winter season. All you could eat and drink for $20.00 ! Turned out to the the best day yet of the trip, still snowing hard outside.

~ stay tuned for the dumpJAPAN BOUND