Japan Ski Trip Mar 2014: Ishiuchi Maruyama, Niigata, Japan

Not even two months after the previous ski trip at Nozawa Onsen, the friends in Japan organised another one, the last trip of the season. It made sense for them to go because they’re from Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore; I was the only silly person who flew all the way from Sydney again.

The non-local of us arrived on 15 March 2014 (Saturday) from separate flights, but our planes landed around similar times and I actually bumped into them at Narita Airport customs. We didn’t waste any time and took the Narita Express to Tokyo Station as soon as we got our luggage, then went on the “treasure hunt” Chee Yee planned for us to find our tickets from a locker that got us straight to Echigoyuzawa Station (越後湯沢駅), the station closest to our ski resort Ishiuchi Maruyama (石打丸山). Yep, this time we didn’t take some crazy 8-hour overnight bus!

Our lodge was a 10-minute taxi trip from Echigoyuzawa Station. We got there, left all the luggage in the unattended lobby (I’ve learnt to fully trust the Japanese on this), got our rental gear downstairs (no queue and very efficient!), and straight to the ski field we went. And the ski field was only a few minutes of walking away. Everything was just too smooth this time.

Skiing for the second time after a 2-month break felt… strange. I had much better gear this time so that part I didn’t struggle, but I had to relearn skiing all over again. With expectations this time, I felt a little frustrated at my slow progress.

The weather was also a bit unstable. One hour it would be warm and sunny; the next it was snowy and rainy. In the afternoon one day, it started snowing quite heavily. The brother and I were done skiing and I thought I would grab a can of hot black coffee from the vending machine on the way back. As soon as I took my ski glove off, my hand just froze. I couldn’t take any coins out and couldn’t put my glove back on; it was so cold my hand literally hurt. We had to take refuge inside another lodge and I was fantasising about putting my hands inside the fire of the fireplace. That sexy fireplace.

But we skied non-stop for 5 days. Thanks to the friends (who were all super patient seasoned skiers) spending what must have been boring time with me on the green slopes, and the brother later pointing out a mistake he noticed I’d been making (putting weight on the wrong leg), I eventually learnt how to actually ski. I was getting braver, going on ski lifts alone, and even accompanied the group further up the mountain and got to the peak.

Vickie on Summit of Ishiuchi Maruyama
I made it! Summit of Ishiuchi Maruyama!

Next time I would probably wear sunscreen or completely wrap myself up like Deddy.

We also went to the more popular and touristy ski resort, Gala Yuzawa (ガーラ湯沢), nearby. I tried a green/red (borderline) slope there as well. I fell throughout, but was happy I attempted when I made it down to the bottom. Meanwhile, the brother tackled several red slopes voluntarily.

5 days was just about enough of skiing; I think I’ve collected enough bruises now! I do not regret digging into my savings and using pretty much my last days of annual leave for the year. Massive thanks to Kenneth, Deddy, Donny, Benny and Jacky the brother for all of their patience, amazing support and eating all the food with me!

Ishiuchi Maruyama Summit: Group Shot
March 2014 Japan Ski Trip at Ishiuchi Maruyama: the rare group shot at the summit

See you all again next year, I hope! smile





Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.