42.8882° N, 140.5965° E
So the snow in Niseko hasn’t exactly been ‘Puking’ recently as these Aussie fuckers say. Skies have been clear and even though I’ve been skiing the best powder in the world, I’m not about to become a snow snob when it doesn’t snow for a few days. With completely exhausting the runs in resort the previous day this meant that an adventure was on the cards.
Jac and I figured out a plan, dropped some friends a message (Ludek and another Jack…but just for the record this one has a K at the end of his name, you see?) and agreed that we would pick them up at 9am before heading out in to the backcountry. Yano, I wish I could stick to plan times, but more often than not you can always count on me being at least 30 minutes late. So of course we arrived to pick up the boys at 9.30, then spent 30 minutes faffing around with skins, then spent 5 minutes chuckling at Ludek getting irritated by our faffing…. Then, finally filled up the van and hit the road (until we reached Seicomart and pulled in to grab some sandwiches because obviously we forgot lunch).
As we drove around the back of Niseko and through the start of the Annapuri range we reached Nito carpark at around 11am. Deffinatly later then we had planned but we were here and after a quick Pieps check, began touring along the road towards the hills south face. Now, all of us had previously been touring up Nito, but for some reason we ended up following a really terrible trail up and then just started acting like complete buffoons. I was having major issues with heat regulation, Jac was sliding all over the place and other had Jack completely lost the ability to kick turn and in fact the ability to stay standing. It was Hilarious. Ludek clearly had enough of us before it had even begun and instantly decided to separate from the group and make his own way up. The 3 of us carried on at a stupidly slow pace, now all kick turning like knobs, prising ourselves up with trees after constant bails and giggling the whole way up.
When we finally reached our meeting point where it flattens out, Ludek was nowhere to be seen. We figured he would be back round again soon so then began touring a little higher to see if we should summit or just stick to the tree line. Just as we were coming out of the tree line Ludek called us and as we looked down, we could see him in the flat clearing. The cloud was coming in and the snow above the trees had turned from fluffy powder to wind press, so we told him to wait there and we would be down after hitting some jumps we’d scoped out. The first jump, I did a check for the boys to see if it would end with a tree to the face but all was good and after they hit that we all skied through the next one after another. The last one was my favourite. Not because I did it, purely because I love watching boys be boys. Especially when they encourage each other to do stupid shit. The landing to what was quite a long drop was obviously flat as fuck, but, being in the silly mood we were already in, it seemed apt. First to drop in was Jack, who instantly hit the deck when he landed, this left Jac to take second drop and after seeing what Jack did, god knows why he did it but he did. As Jac landed he ended up kneeing himself in the face and was pretty close to knocking himself out as he lay on the floor telling us he could see stars.
By this point we were back at the meeting point and calling out for Ludek. As there was no response and no answer on his phone we assumed he’d already gone down so traversed a little to the steeper area. Each picked our line and then blazed down through waist deep powder before joining up at the bottom on the path. Yeah, he was nowhere to be seen. As we pulled out our lunch for a quick break Jacks phone rang and it was Ludek.
‘Guys I’m at the summit where are you?’.
Of course this made us laugh, but fucking hell like, you couldn’t make this shit up. Anyway we agreed to tour up again and meet at the flat opening and this time actually meet up! This time we took a route on the far left which was almost as crappy as the one before but WE were defiantly more on point. We all arrived at the meeting point at the same time (Ludek had basicly managed to lap us) and then headed up a little more before traversing over right to the steeper section again. The run down was awesome, we started off kaining it through the trees whilst following each other before splitting of on to our own lines and then meeting at the bottom in a powder field. Not a bad day!
How to get there: From Grand Hirafu, Niseko follow Route 343 (main road) in the direction of Niseko Village. At the T-Junction, turn right on the route 66 and then right again at the next T-Juntion both heading towards Aanui. Follow this road until it becomes closed off by a gate, this is the Nito entrance. There are normally a few cars parked up and to access the mountain you will need to skin through the gate and along the closed off road.
Time to skin up: Nito Napuri can be split in to two sections. The first half takes about 45mins to reach the plateau (874m) and is great to lap for tree runs. After this the trees begin to space out and the time to the summit (1000m) from here is another 30mins. Skinning up the south face on lookers left can be steeper than the right. If your looking for a more mellow hike up, hit the west face and from here you can decide to stop at the flat or carry on 20 mins over the saddle to the ´true summit´
Nito terrain: Nito is short but awesome. From the summit it’s perfect for some long turns down an open face (depending on the snow conditions or clouds) once at the plateau the trees becomes full of pillows and drops and you can zig zag your way between trees on the steeper pitches or slash through the powder fields on skiers left. Its normally guaranteed freshies for 2/3 days after snowfall.
There is never 100% guarentee of safety in the backcountry and avalanches are always a risk, so if you have no knowledge or if in doubt then hire a guide with local company www.hmejapan.com. Ensure you ALWAYS have a tranciever, Shovel and Probe when riding and if possible ABS. Click here to see what I ski with