Fall is fading to winter here in Hakuba with some significant alpine-snow forecast in the coming week. So, with kick off for the coming season only a few weeks away, its time to start getting in the mood for the deep Hakuba powder.
……..and a perfect way to do that is with the photography of Scott Rinckenberger from his time at Morino Lodge last February. Scott`s an avid outdoors-man who turned to photography as a way to fund his non-stop outdoor adventures…….& it turns out he`s pretty darn good at it too. His enthusiasm for adventure is matched by an exceptionally gifted eye for all things mother nature. He`s a very gifted photographer as evident by the following pics that capture the essence of mid-winter Hakuba.
Rainy season is “officially” over & the long hot Tokyo summer has set in. Temperatures in the mid to upper-30s & lots & lots of concrete = not much fun at all.
The good news is that Morino Lodge & all our Deluxe Chalets are open for the summer & Hakuba is full of fun & relaxing ways to cool off.
Here` a list of Morino`s top 10 things to do in the Hakuba summer;
10 -Take a drive down the Azumino Art Line– With stunning views of the alpine landscape, & a dizzying array of cultural attractions, this picturesque piece of countryside is one of Japan`s best kept secrets.
9 – Wakeboard in Lake Kizakiko – Wakeboarding is not as difficult as you think & Kizakiko`s smooth waters is the perfect place to do it.
8 -Visit Miasa – Miasa is a charming little farming community about 20 minutes-drive from Hakuba. “Miasa” means “beautiful hemp” which is what they used to farm here. Nowadays it`s mostly soba & rice. Naturally, you`ll find some of the best soba restaurants in Japan here. But you should also check out Miasa Coffee– a charming straw-bale coffee house on beautiful grounds….a fantastic place for a walk.
7 - Tandem Paraglide– with a qualified instructor, sore amongst the majestic peaks of Hakuba.
6 -BBQ – whether you do it at the edge of the Matsukawa river, on the shores of Aokiko or on the deck of one of our chalets, this is what summer`s all about. We`ve got the bbqs & we`ll take you to the local butcher with cheap “inaka” prices.
5 - Take a Mountain Bike Clinic at Sweetriders – or if you already know what you`re doing, rent a bike & we`ll show you some fantastic trails.
4 - Take a walk – From short strolls in the valley to serious multi-day treks, the Northern Alps offer some of the most stunning scenery in Japan. There`s something for everyone.
3 – Take a nighttime Firefly Canoe Tour– A magical experience for folks of any age, this has quickly become one of Hakuba`s most popular summertime activities.
2 -Go Canyoning with Evergreen – Rappel, jump, slide, swim, down a cool mountain canyon equipped with 15m waterfalls & deep fresh swimming pools. The ultimate refreshment!
1 -Spend the day at Lake Aokiko– There is nothing better than this & if it`s the only thing you do here, you`ll leave refreshed & satisfied. The mountain fed lake is as pristine as it gets, the views are tranquil & the pace is slow. Swim, bbq, read a book, then swim some more. We`ll provide the lawn chairs, hammocks & other toys.
Honorable mention – Take a soba making class, Do the Ex-Adventure Course, Take the Gondola to the top of Happo, Play a round of mallet golf, Take an Evergreen one day Combo Tour, Ride a bike through the valley rice fields, Relax in an Onsen, Get the latest tricks dialed for next winter at the Water Jump.
Last night was the Hakuba Premier of the second installment in Big Mountain Legend, Jeremy Jones` snowboard movie trilogy, Deeper, Further, Higher….and i gotta say, it was some inspiring stuff.
In Further Jeremy & pals like Terje Haakonsen & Josh Dirksen push the limits of backcountry adventure, going to some really remote places with really gnarly lines. Camping out for weeks in the Wrangell Mountains in Alaska (an extreme environment where humans aren`t really meant to be) & the Atomfjella Mountains in Norway`s far North (they had clear views of the North Pole from some of their summits!) were 2 of the highlights for me….
….but the real highlight for me (& all the other Hakuba-ites gathered in the theater) was the first segment, where Jeremy & Forrest Shearer discover the magnitude of world-class terrain that is our backyard here in Hakuba. They spent nearly a month here camping, climbing & rapidly descending some of the finest lines on the planet. Indeed Jeremy himself gave Hakuba a heart-felt endorsement, proclaiming it amongst the best terrain he has ever ridden….and lets not forget, this guy has been absolutely shredding Alaska for the past 20 years.
And this wasn` just lip-service as its what we have known since we first came here 12 years ago. Very good terrain with very good snow!
Anyhow, Further is well-worth checking out.It`s available on here onitunes.
It was great to see all of Hakuba there last night & i think we`re all now eagerly anticipating the coming season. Be safe & pray for big snow!
After the cherry blossoms come out in early May it’s hard to think about snowboarding any more, especially as the powder is a long and distant memory.
There’s still plenty of snow left on the high peaks though and we planned a mid May expedition to take advantage of the spring snow pack.
From the valley I’ve often gazed up at the Hakuba three peaks and my eye is always drawn to Hakuba Yari. In particular the beautiful symmetrical East face cradled between steep cliff buttresses funneling down into the mother of all gullies in Hakuba – The Yari central gully.
East face of Yari. Yari onsen (campsite) in bottom left of shot
So it is, as we found ourselves snowshoeing up from Sarukura early on a Sunday morning. It was a stunning day and the Japanese backcountry enthusiasts were out in force. There was just enough snow to snowshoe straight from the car and full cover a hundred metres above the car park.