Colorado gets three hundred days of sunshine. During the thirty-five days we were in Japan, we only saw the sun for two of those days. While we enjoyed the snowy wonderland of Japan, we definitely missed the sunshine.
About halfway through our trip the forecast called for a break in precipitation with partly cloud skies. When the plow driver woke us up at 6:00 AM, we finally got our first glimpse of Mt. Yotei, an inactive volcano rising abruptly from the valley. At 1898 meters, it boasts some of the longest ski descents in Hokkaido. We decided to take advantage of our Japanese alarm clock and headed to the trailhead for Mt. Yotei. Side note: Sleeping in a van in Japan can be difficult, as they taking their plowing seriously. We saw plows at all hours of the night clearing the parking lots of snow and getting as close to our car as possible. I’m actually amazed they didn’t take out any mirrors or hit the car at all.
The bottom half of the climb was a breeze and we cruised to treeline. Once in the alpine the conditions turned to patchy ice and we threw on our ski crampons. We enjoyed picturesque views of the valley below us and continued onward and upward taking advantage of this rare, windless day.
Once we reached the summit we looked into the crater and saw creamy turns awaiting us! We took two victory laps in the crater and cracked open an Upslope IPA. Anthony had hauled a few beers from Boulder and I had been staring at them for the last 3 weeks, so I was stoked to finally drink one!
With some weather rolling in, we decided to make our way back down the volcano to the car, since we had a few thousand more feet of riding to go.
After a day of riding and breaking trail, Anthony was wiped! We capped off the day in true Japan style by whipping up some ramen in the back of the van and looking back up at Mt. Yotei.