Lotte Arai, Japan’s flash new resort is still for powder poachers
The initial word about a new resort area in the Myoko Kogen region of Honshu, Japan wasn’t exactly that enticing.
Firstly, Lotte Arai, or Arai as it was formerly known, was actually a fully functioning resort up until its closure in 2006.
Secondly while refurbished hotels (the centrepiece of the ski area) get some people going, as a bit of dirtbag at heart I often find the sell on these things about as enticing as watching snowboard PGS.
But in the days leading up to my visit, any mention of Lotte Arai to those who’d been there was generally met with a knowing nod and simple acknowledgement I can best sum up as: “this place is the goods”.
Some say it’s the powder.
Some say it’s the culture and food.
Some say it’s the ease of access when coming from down under.
But if you want to know how Japan really sticks a dagger into the side of most other countries’ ski resorts, this frame from the Nozawa Onsen ticket office sums it up.
Anthony Sharwood doing some spring preparation on the Lake Run, Portillo. Pic: Glenn Cullen
When discussion turns to which ski resort you’ll visit this southern hemisphere winter the arguments will invariably be of the Noah’s Ark variety.
That is, depending on where you live and your peccadilloes, it will be in a two-by-two format.
Australia vs New Zealand. Victoria vs NSW. Perisher vs Thredbo. Hotham/Falls v Mt Buller.
But for a host of reasons I’d like to throw a third animal into the mix: Portillo, Chile.
I visited the South American giant in August last year and, while far from perfect, it’s a place every skier should head to at least once in their life.
The Australian slalom championships went ahead despite some challenging conditions
With the start of the Australian ski season a little over three months away the combination of these words are about as welcome as Trump and presidency; Nickelback and concert and Kyrgios and Tomic.
Unfortunately in its glimpse to autumn and beyond this is exactly what the Bureau of Meteorology tends towards for the eastern part of Australia in 2017.
So, should you be putting extra storage wax on your skis or board after the northern hemisphere season? Well …
Paul Scells enjoys some Heavenly views.
After four pretty ordinary seasons many felt California had lost its mojo.
Already playing in the shadows of the Rockies and Wasatch ranges, Sierra Nevada was starting to become more synonymous with its eminently drinkable pale ale than as base for a ski or snowboard trip.
But season 2015/16 brought it back to the fold. The numbers weren’t through (or over) the roof snow-wise but it was a solid season that again demonstrated just how good California can be. And some are suggesting a good to better one this season.
I’ve done Colorado and Utah and while it can’t compete for dry snow in most seasons there’s plenty of things to like about the Lake Tahoe district. Stick with me and I’ll take you through what tickled my fancy …