I remember thinking: “Follow your friends. Don’t get lost.” By then, of course, it was already too late. I was alone. No one around.
Look up: white snow. Look down: white snow. Left and right: white snow.
This trip had been rounded up weeks before in a frenzy London night out with Leo Alsved and Red Rainey – the guys in charge of putting The Ski Week in Japan together.
They told me about a remote ski resort in Niseko. A world of powder and sushi. “Are you ready for the best ski adventure of your life?” They asked.
Not that we all would say YES with a grin the size of a trailer, but once you start hanging with adrenaline junkies and modern explorers like Mr. Alsved and Mr. Rainey the tendency is to get amped very easily every time they offer you to join them on a trip.
The only thing that really worried me was the preparation. There is nothing in the world more helpless, sad and boring than a man alone in the depths of scheduling, packing and dealing with a trip programming.
Luckily, The Ski Week has it all figured out. You book a trip, they tell you where to be, what to pack. The rest is just you on auto pilot following orders. Perfect.
As they spoke, I didn’t want to listen to anything about whiskey bars which entrance is a small fridge or an speak-easy with an inside resembling a wolf den. Nothing about natural hot springs spas in the middle of the woods. “¿Après-Ski Sparkling Sake with fresh cut Sushi?” Stop.
“Enough talking, guys!”
By the time I realised, I had already confirmed and booked an apartment knowing they always sell out pretty soon.
Early next day I reunited a group of close friends to come with me (Joan, Andreas, Marc, Sol, Maria, Marc, Erin, David). They all had sampled almost everything else relating to ski vacationing, and now – it was time to visit a new world.
Arriving to Japan, we took a detour.
You have travelled to the other side of the world so why not? Arriving 3 days early, we decided to visit the city of Kyoto, spend some time at the Hoshinoya retreat resort, see the bamboo forest, eat dumplings and made our way to Niseko.
Deep snow everywhere.
The whole town of Niseko is winter wonderland. Every little corner shop has a vibe. All the coffee shops and bars have a new thing to taste. This was going to be so good.
But here I am. Lost in white world. Nobody around. I scream “Helloooo! Can anybody hear meee?!” No answer. No phone.
I look up: all white, nothingness.
I look down: all white, nothingness.
Left, right: all white, nothingness.
My feet are starting to get cold. My heart starts to pump. “Hasn’t it always been pumping? Why can I only hear it now?”
I reckon is fear, knocking on my door. I am in the middle of the woods. Off-piste. Snow above my chest.
“You wanted adventure, uh?” I hear myself say.
You have to let go.
And I do.
I let myself slide down the mountains. I slide through trees through steep canyons of nothing but snow. “This must be heaven.” Escaping thought.
The slope goes forever. I have never felt this good. Calmness. Gravity. Gone.
It is like a cloud. It is a cloud.
By the time I get down, visibility improves.
All my friends are dancing, drinking, laughing,…
I get hugs, screams, woooohooos!! “Is this love?”
Sparkling sake starts to flow.
We all walk inside a bamboo building. An onsen. “Natural hot springs!” Leo yells out.
We walk in, get naked, sink in hot water. So cold outside. So warm inside.
All my friends around. More new friends around. All skied-out. “An adventure.” I thought.
Experience The Ski Week Japan
Photos Peter Lobozzo