A Gift From Mother Nature
Show off your tricks in Ishikawa!
Are you a fan of the winter season? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not so fond of it! Fortunately, I’ve been able to enjoy most winters since I was a kid. For those like me who grew up with snow, I think that winter sports are the “keys” to be able to enjoy cold weather. In the snowy season I usually didn’t go to any mountains or such areas and thus I felt that winter would never end. On the other hand, once I started becoming involved with winter sports, I didn’t want it to end! I can’t deny that the quality of snow in Kanazawa is not so good, but in less than an hours drive from the heart of downtown, you can enjoy some good powder! Ishikawa has some good ski resorts at the foot of Mt. Hakusan. If you brought some of your equipment during your trip, you should check out one of the ski resorts in Ishikawa to show off your tricks!
Snowboarder: Paul Leahy and Michael Fanconi
At the end of 2010, I asked my friends if I could join them on their adventures and take some good pictures. They typically go boarding every week and were just waiting for a proper day to go shooting. After the heavy snowfall at the end of January, we decided to meet at the Sena Kohgen ski hill. Although they usually buy season passes valid for three resorts in Ishikawa, they didn’t get them for this season.
“What pass are you guys going to buy today?” Even though Paul had the day off, Michael had to work at 3 pm. “Boarding before work” sounds pretty cool, huh? Each of them bought a “Four-hour-pass”, which may not seem like much time to most people! Not for these guys! They are definitely athletic snowboarders. After the summer has ended, they start to think about snow and which hills they’ll conquer this year.
As soon as they arrive at the hill, they start to shred and don’t take any breaks for coffee or lunch. Nonstop four-hour-boarding!!! Since the gondola sits six people, there was plenty of room for the three of us. Which side of the seat do you want? You can enjoy the great view from the back seat, or you might see some of the Japanese antelopes that live in the mountain from the front. Well... here we are at the gondola station on the top, after the 10-minute ride.
It looks as if you are diving into a dam!
The gondola station at the top is located just in front of a restaurant. As a matter of fact, this ski resort was sort of my home when I used to ride downhill on my mountain bike. I helped my friends make a course for downhill riding as soon as the ski season was over, and usually biked it every weekend in the summer. –I was the slowest rider ever, by the way– Although I’ve used this gondola countless time, I had forgotten that the view from the top was so amazing. It took my breath away! The reflection of the Tedori-Gawa dam was beautiful! Snow boarders or skiers going down on the “Roon-Roon Course” look like they are diving into the water!
The quality of snow around the top was pretty good, and apparently the Snowcat groomed the path in the morning. I felt so good, even though I was slow holding onto my camera. Paul and Michael can go pretty fast, so I let them go and waited for them under the “Quad-lift (chairlift for four people)” on my way to the station. There they are! They gave me a nice pose from the high chair! It was tough to stop laughing and shaking my camera! Thanks! You guys are hilarious!
To feel zero gravity
After their second ride on the run, they suggested that I go first and wait for them just before I take the chairlift. It seemed they had found a nice edge with the powder, almost feeling like a state of zero gravity. Michael gave me the details in fluent Japanese about where I should wait. I followed their suggestion and waited. I was under the edge and couldn’t see them at all. “I wonder where they’re going to appear?” Suddenly... Paul showed up, with Michael following a few minutes later! Whoa! I missed my chance to get the shot. “Could you scream something when you get closer to me? I need some time to prepare!” They went down to the chairlift station immediately ran the course again.
The slope under the edge wasn’t groomed. I tried to walk up a little to get closer to them, but a 50-cm pile of powder obstructed my feet. It must be a cushion for the boarders if they happen to crash.
Speaking of powdery snow, I confessed to Paul and Michael that I usually avoid powder most of the time.
In spite of my experience in skiing and snowboarding, I still don’t know how to deal with it. So, I was envious of them boarding anywhere like birds. “When you're riding with deep powder, you need to keep your weight slightly toward the tail.” Paul explained to me. Hmmm... I need to practice more, I suppose.
Although it depends on the remaining snow, most ski resorts are open everyday from the end of December to March. There are many Onsen spas in the area, as well! I think we are lucky to have such nice places near here to enjoy the outdoors. It’s a gift from Mother Nature!
*Note: SENA Kohgen Ski Resort is closed down since March, 2012.