Niseko: Family run was mobbed by hundreds of bib-wearers so I continued up the second lift, the ACE #2 quad. The snow under my dangling feet is so deep that the lack of safety bars on the chairlift doesn't really bother me, it's only a short drop.
At the Ace Hill Rest House the wind blew a gale, discouraging loitering. Down the Furiko (Pendulum) intermediate slope, survival was simply a matter of skill. However the connecting Alpen green run shallows out and nothing short of endurance will bring you down in one piece. Just when I was getting used to the burning thigh muscles on my 7th or 8th run, one ski detached from the binding and screamed off down the mountain, "Oh bugger!"
Great, now what do I do?
Back at the hostel, the manager Kumi outlined details of a shop that stocks Telemark ski gear in the next town. A 1:20pm bus took me into Kutchan and with Kumi's directions I easily found the Sport Takiguchi store - closed! With broken ski bits in my arms and almost tears, a girl behind me says,
It's closed.So quickly the Northern hemisphere winter holiday I've been dreaming of for years, turned into my worst nightmare.
Then she told me that another sport shop is across the road. Boom is the dodgiest shop but I was desperate. I bought some old stock on special, but the guy had no clue about mounting Telemark bindings at all. Back to Hirafu on another bus and soon Kumi directs me to a workshop. Finally the guys at Toyru (who have more Telemark gear than I have ever seen in my life) put my mind at ease promising a tomorrow morning turn-around.
I drop in to Pension Create to catch up with the Crebbin crew. My late return to the hostel earns me a lecture from Kumi about dinner time,
My wife likes to serve it hot. Again dinner is served with cutlery and my competence with these tools is waning.