PROBAR Ambassador Christine Donaldson, aka The Gear Gal, checks in with a report from her recent trip to Japan. Sounds like the ski trip of a lifetime, and she was glad to be #FueledByPROBAR. Follow Christine’s adventures at @chrissykay or @thegeargal.
From the world class skiing to the amusing snacks you can buy at the 7-11, there’s never a dull moment in Hakuba. People flock here with friends in search of the deep, deep pow! But by the time they leave, there is equal respect for the looming Japanese Alps, the delicious foreign food, and the natural Onsen hot springs on every corner.
I started my trip by flying into Tokyo and spending two days to see the city. It was an amazing place to be introduced to the Japanese culture for the first time. It’s the largest city in the world and it truly feels never-ending. It was great to get a sense of the urban culture before retreating off into the more relaxed mountain culture of Hakuba.
When we arrived in Hakuba (we drove the 5 hours by car) we were greeted by large fluffy snowflakes. It had been storming all day and would continue through the night. It would actually continue through the next two weeks with minor breaks! Apparently we arrived in Hakuba during some of the best few weeks they’d had in many years. Score!! In the morning we walked out into streets with snowbanks reaching 3-5 feet above our heads
Our first day was like a dream. It began snowing heavily on our drive to the resort and we knew we were in for a legendary day of skiing powder in Japan! We were lucky enough to be joined by some of the Oakley Japan skiers who knew their way around Cortina Resort very well. They took us to some steep tree zones where I skied some of the deepest powder I’ve seen in over 4 years!!! Everyone was bouncing around through the pow, smiling and yipping for joy like it was the best day on earth. I think it might have been, at that point But it just kept getting better!
The following week included adventures to new resorts, side-country skinning for untouched pow, and exciting trips to film lines in the backcountry. It just kept snowing and snowing with occasional breaks where the sun would shine through and we’d catch a glimpse of the impressive mountain ranges surrounding us. In my luggage I packed an entire 2 weeks supply of PROBARs so that I could always have a meal in the backcountry and never feel forced to eat greasy food from the lodge restaurants. Good snacks for the backcountry were difficult to find in the convenience stores of a foreign country, and our free time to grocery shop was super limited! So I became the PROBAR fairy, sharing bars and bites to make sure everyone in our group was well-nourished and ready to conquer their powder turns.
We usually wouldn’t return to the hotel until around 5pm on powder days. Getting dinner was almost a nuisance alongside the overpowering desire to sleep enough before the next big day of powder turns and ski touring. But the food was SO GOOD that we always mustered up enough energy to grab sushi, Korean BBQ, or other Japanese local cuisine before hitting the hay. It wasn’t until a week and a half later that we got our first few blue-bird days. We took advantage of the sunshine by spending a day at Happo One resort where you can take chairlifts way up to the tippy-top of the mountain and get an incredible view of the Japanese Alps. I also took a rest day (my legs needed it!) to explore the temples in the nearby town.
Three weeks passed by so fast in Hakuba! I was not at all ready to leave when the trip came to an end. Especially since there is no snow to speak of this season in California. My last few hours at the airport in Tokyo were, admittedly, an eating frenzy. The good news is that I’m in even better shape than when I left for the trip! Powder skiing really makes you strong when you do it for several weeks!! Especially when you have the right snacks to fuel your adventure. Thank you PROBAR!