March 3, 2013

Hakuba had some messed up weather recently. At least 2 rain cycles to extreme freezing conditions with lots of pow on top followed by Happo's famous wind hammer. There was one day to 'ride' before the winds picked up again in the high alpine. Perhaps the only place to find some terrain that had not been subjected to the rain was the high alpine above 2000m.

I had no plan- just walk the ridge and if I saw a fun line that looked possible I would investigate. The thing with the Happo Ridge is you get to see everything for at least 2.5 hours and really get to process the lines you're about ride. The closer I got the easier it was for me to see that I was not going to be doing any riding.

There are 5 main faces you can see from Karamatsu to Kaerazu. All but one had ripped at some point in the last week- some bigger than others. The evidence of the multiple sketchy layers that local backcountry guru's had been driving home on the internet was glaringly obvious.

I hiked beside a friend on the way up, I wasn't actually with this group of 2. These two had there own ideas apart from mine. I had not actually realized how far apart until I was home.

At about 3/4 of the way to the summit of Karamatsudake I knew it was a 'mountaineering day'. I would summit Karamatsu, eat lunch if the wind let me and walk back to the resort area. The other group arrived to the summit shortly after me and after some empty conversation I said something like "if you guys know what your doing I am going to head back now". And I did. One is a friend who I genuinely wished the best for.

I was a little surprised to see them continue forward but mostly because of a lack of reason why. I did not ask why, all I knew was they seemed to think that because physically they could get there that was all they needed.

This is where risk VS reward and differences in perspectives really started to shine. Perhaps I had the luxury of previously skiing the areas many times already and had nothing to really accomplish. I also had the luxury of actually working this day and collecting data on my prototype backpack design. Walking back for 2-3 hours would give a lot more time to appreciate my work wearing and shooting out of the products I had brought with me. For me turning around was easy.

For the other group, one had never been there and by his own admission inexperienced (in my words sketchy) in the backcountry, the other more experienced and confident and had traveled this route once before. Any response to any serious question I asked the 'experienced' one was met with unique laughter- perhaps nervous. I thought it was really weird to not have a semi serious conversation out there- but so is life.

In the end the slope didn't move- at all, I took this image on my way back of the girl who dropped in first. No ski cut in to a light convex roll that quickly funnels into a choke that rarely has good snow. It was interesting to watch someones mental perspective on skiing from a far.

I know for the skier leading the group, that this day might have been a big deal for her. Mentally it would sooth her and bring great happiness and strength. For me skiing had very little value - or better put No Reward- plus I could achieve more by walking and working.

For some reason these events have nagged me- it seemed that snow conditions were irrelevant and that a persons current mental perspective will eventually control there own destiny (myself included). And maybe I feel cheated by my own critique of the snow pack and the reality that maybe I or we don't really have control of what we do.