The first day of spring

Base up top: 420 cm    Temp Top; -3 Degrees

Base at bottom; 250 cm

New Snow since close: 0 cm

Weather; Overcast

 

Its the first day of spring and the atmosphere is showing some signs of spring riding on the slopes of Nozawa Onsen today. With the freezing level sitting at around 1000 meters the temperatures are warmer today and the typical spring snow will be prevalent across the resort; expect firm and fast conditions softening by the afternoon. Shaded gullies will hold the best snow along with on piste areas. The park and pipe will also be particularly good, worth a look.

It was great to get some fresh powder once again yesterday. With cold temperatures and blue sky making a break mid morning it was a great day to be up on the hill. Powder stashes were prevalent at Yamabiko in the morning however the weekend crowds meant you had to look further afield later in the day.

Looks like we have a fairly good week ahead of us. Snow to low elevations is predicted tonight, probably around 20cm or so, and this will continue into Monday afternoon. A warmer day with the possibility for sun on Tuesday and then a cool second half of the week with persistent light snow showers is forecast.

Nagano landscape.

Nagano landscape.

Base up top: 430 cm    Temp Top; -9 Degrees

Base at bottom; 235 cm

New Snow since close: 20 cm

Weather; Overcast

 

Excellent winter weather has returned overnight to Nozawa Onsen. Since last lifts yesterday we have had 20cm of fresh powder recorded and very cold temperatures, dramatically improving conditions from the last week or so. Best to hit the slopes as early as possible today to avoid the 9am weekend gondola line and make the most of the fresh snow. All areas will be good including the groomed pistes and marked tree areas.

Yesterday saw light snow fall for most of the day however a frozen base made conditions very challenging. Dust of crust was the words of the day with on piste areas offering the best skiing. Today should offer a marked improvement from yesterday.

Throughout today we expect snowfalls to become isolated with a possibility for some sunshine later in the day. Tomorrow night we expect further moderate snowfalls as another cold front passes over the region. Light snow showers are then forecast to continue above 600m for the first half of next week. Overall this week looks like a much better line up than the week past.

Slushy Conditions Prevail

The beach not far from Nozawa. Mid season surf trip.

The beach not far from Nozawa. Mid season surf trip.

Base up top: 415 cm    Temp Top; -1 Degrees

Base at bottom; 240 cm

New Snow since close: 0 cm

Weather; Overcast

 

Its an overcast mild morning in the township of Nozawa Onsen. This is a good thing. Today we should not expect the sheet ice layers that have taken over the upper mountain over the past few days but instead some nice soft slushy snow. The surface should remain relatively fast so long as the liquid precipitation stays away and humidity remains low, possible given the good visibility on the upper mountain.

The Japan Uni Games are in progress in Nozawa Onsen this week and will continue over the weekend. Quite a spectacle is the huge ski jump near the Nagasaka slopes has been cleared and competitions have been held there the past few mornings. Spectating is free and highly recommended as its quite amazing to watch people fly 90m through the air. Also downhill events are taking place on Kandahar, worth a look too.

According to the forecast we should have some moderate snowfalls overnight and tomorrow with the freezing level decreasing to sea level. Snowfalls will become isolated into Saturday with the possibility for some sun on the first day of the weekend. The freezing level is then briefly expected to rise come Sunday.

Sharp edges required

Proper backcountry. Hiking for lines.

Proper backcountry. Hiking for lines.

Base up top: 415 cm    Temp Top; -6 Degrees

Base at bottom; 245 cm

New Snow since close: 0 cm

Weather; Overcast

 

With the summit of Mt Kenashi sitting at -6C we are back to near normal temperatures for this time of year in the Nozawa Onsen area. However a lack of fresh snow means conditions will be similar to your typical dry spell in other ski areas. Resort slopes are hard and icy on the upper mountain today and the lower slopes will be slushy but fast. Some sun will improve things however only brief patches of clear sky are forecast for today. Off piste areas should be avoided at all costs as they remain as chopped ice. More snow or sun is required here.

Yesterday we saw the best skiing on the lower mountain which was nice and slushy but fast. Crowds were low and quick laps of the challenge area accessed via the Hikage gondola was the best bet. The upper mountain was soaked in a thick disorientating fog that made skiing very difficult indeed.

Another warm spell is forecast for tomorrow and with this the skiing should improve across the upper mountain with the softening effects of warmth. Rain is also forecast however hopefully this holds off until late afternoon. Tomorrow night some moderate falls of snow to low levels is predicted, continuing into the weekend. In the long range we have rain events predicted for Sunday Monday and mid next week. Both are followed by moderate snow to low levels. The weather is extremely variable at the moment. Hopefully it soon settles into the typical spring pattern of sun with a weekly dump of fresh powder.

Colder with possibility of snow

Night scene near Myoko April last year.

Night scene near Myoko April last year.

Base up top: 420 cm    Temp Top; -3 Degrees

Base at bottom; 250 cm

New Snow since close: 0 cm

Weather; Overcast

 

Things have cooled off in Nozawa Onsen slightly today. Instead of Mt Kenashi summit temperature sitting well into the positives like yesterday it has dropped to -3C. Furthermore, the precipitation we experienced yesterday looks to have cleared for now as has the dense fog that hovered over the mountain yesterday. We can expect icy conditions today on the upper mountain, slushier down low. But at least the snow will be fast.

Yesterday was pretty bad. Light rain stuck around for most of the day and all but the most well ridden pistes were sticky and wet.

We continue to have a extremely variable forecast with huge ups and downs in the freezing level. Its very hard to trust the accuracy of the forecast beyond three days at the moment. Today we should see isolated snow showers above around 800 meters, continuing to around 700 meters into tomorrow. On Thursday another warm front is forecast with the possibility of rain. Snow is a possibility on Friday.

Light Rain

IMG_0628_1500_2

Base up top: 430 cm    Temp Top; 2 Degrees

Base at bottom; 250 cm

New Snow since close: 0 cm

Weather; Showers

 

With light rain showers meandering over Nozawa Onsen today marks a good down day to rest and recuperate. Overnight rainfall in combination with warm temperatures has turned the snow into moist slush that is sticky in all but the most well trafficked areas. Head up to Yamabiko for slightly better snow quality.

Luckily the freezing level is forecast to decline later in the day and the rain will turn to snow above 1000 meters. The freezing level will remain at this elevation with isolated showers until Thursday when another spike in temperatures is predicted. Following this some moderate to significant snow across the mountain is forecast for Friday.

A clear day for now

Groms smashing some powder turns at Yamabiko yesterday.

Groms smashing some powder turns at Yamabiko yesterday.

Base up top: 460 cm    Temp Top; 1 Degrees

Base at bottom; 280 cm

New Snow since close: 0 cm

Weather; Clear

 

So far its a clear one in Nozawa Onsen with visibility as good as it gets. We have some high cirrus cloud beginning to move over the resort and while it looks spectacular, this tends to indicate approaching fronts. In combination we have some moderate breezes on the upper slopes, true mountain weather. Today the groomed runs will be the pick and these will be fast in the morning, becoming slower during the afternoon, particularly so if the forecasted precipitation eventuates.

Yesterday we saw some of the best long range visibility all day. This is unusual as long range views are usually interrupted by a photochemical haze during the afternoon. The Sea of Japan was visible off to the west, all the surrounding 3000 meter peaks including the Hakuba Range and even Sado Island, well offshore, was easily visible. Probably the clearest day of the season so far. Likewise, the skiing and boarding was better than expected. Snow quality at Yamabiko remained dry all day where as the lower slopes became slushy in the warm sun, but did not have any lack of pace.

We have a real mixed bag according to the forecast. Rain is expected later today and tonight, tending to snow on the peaks by tomorrow. We may then have a clear morning on Tuesday followed by some isolated snow showers and much colder temperatures by the afternoon continuing into Wednesday. The next significant snowfall looks to occur around Friday next week. Continuing on the trend of good Saturdays this season, Saturday looks like it will be the best day this week.

Bluebird Saturday

Good morning.

Good morning.

Base up top: 470 cm    Temp Top; -7 Degrees

Base at bottom; 295 cm

New Snow since close: 0 cm

Weather; Clear

 

What a morning it is here in Nozawa Onsen. Light winds, a clear upper atmosphere and cold temperatures. We have some low cloud in the valleys that makes for a nice cloud sea backdrop from the summit but these are expected to dissipate. -7C at the summit, the temperatures are colder than expected and this will ensure excellent snow quality, at least before it warms later in the day. No fresh snow to report overnight.

Yesterday the ample fresh snow saw very fun skiing and the groomed runs were superb in the morning before becoming choppy later in the day. The snow yesterday fell at higher temperatures than usual so while quality was very good in the morning, lower slopes became heavy during the afternoon, an effect of the heat of the day.

Today marks the beginning of a bit of a warm spell. Temperatures are forecast to rise quickly peaking at around 2400m tomorrow. Rain is looking likely for tomorrow afternoon and into Monday but this should return to snow early next week once the freezing level declines again.

Many cm of fresh

Responsible and self sufficient exploring for all powder enthusiasts involves; knowing where your going with maps and route finding, never going alone and having the equipment and knowledge neccesarry for avoiding avalanches and facilitating self rescue. This has been something completely absent from a number of skiers and boarders this season blindly chasing powder and ski patrol have made several unnecessary rescues.

Responsible and self sufficient exploring for all powder enthusiasts involves; knowing where your going with maps and route finding, never going alone and having the equipment and knowledge neccesarry for avoiding avalanches and facilitating self rescue. This has been something completely absent from a number of skiers and boarders this season blindly chasing powder and ski patrol have made several unnecessary rescues.

Base up top: 470 cm    Temp Top; -5 Degrees

Base at bottom; 260 cm

New Snow since close: 30-35 cm

Weather; Snow

 

Looks like it has dumped hard overnight. Around the time of last lifts yesterday we saw flakes begin to fall. They were some of the biggest and thickest flakes of the season for about half an hour, accumulation was quick. Since last lifts yesterday 30-35cm has fallen up top and subsequently today the mountain will be completely refreshed from top to bottom. The riding will be excellent in the designated off piste areas and groomed runs will have a nice soft covering.

Yesterday was surprisingly good. With 10cm of fresh that was better in quality than expected there were more than a few fresh turns were had. To top it all off unexpected blue skies lasted almost all day. Nice.

According to the forecast this may be some of the last fresh snow we will have in about a week so make the most of it while it lasts. Tomorrow is supposed to be clear with light winds but by Sunday a dramatic warming trend with rain is predicted. Things will cool off again mid next week with some snowfalls on the cards.

Fresh Snow Falling

IMG_9679_1500

Base up top: 430 cm    Temp Top; -4 Degrees

Base at bottom; 265 cm

New Snow since close: 0 cm

Weather; Overcast

 

Its another cloudy morning in Nozawa Onsen, except today is different. We have white trees on the hill and this only means one thing, fresh snow has fallen. Although only a dusting in the village, there will have been much more fall up high. Visibility below 1600m is good, wind is light. It will be a good day on the hill.

Yesterday the freezing level was very touch and go with frequent transition between snow and rain down here in the village. Combined with high humidity the snow was quite wet and only at the top elevation was the marked beginning of a gradual transition to dryness. Nevertheless the skiing was great as the snow retained a good speed underfoot.

There is potential for a big dump overnight tonight but confidence on this is low citing wind direction variation. Light snow showers are predicted for tomorrow before a clear day on Saturday.