AFTER an estimated 15-20m of snowfall this winter, the lifts has finally been turned off for the season, five and a half months after they started on November 23 last year.
Season 09/10 will be one that will be remembered and talked about for many years to come – it was one of the ‘big ones’.
To the end of February snow fell on about eight out of every 10 days, and close to half of those days had 20cm or more.
There was still so much base left at the end of the season – thanks largely to consistent good snowfalls right through March – that Grand Hirafu was able to stay open until May 9. Usually the lifts close at the end of the Golden Week holiday period on May 5.
The main slope may have been looking a little patchy by closing day, but incredibly just a week earlier there was no brown showing through right to the bottom of the mountain.
Amateur local weather watchers are estimating 15-20m of accummulated snowfall up on the mountain, while the official weather station in Kutchan town (about 5kms from the base of the mountain) recorded more than 11m.
The snowfall kicked off this season with a dusting on the peak of Mt Yotei on October 4, followed by the first snow at village level on October 31.
November ended up being rather disappointing, with regular warm periods between snowfalls.
This fickle weather continued through into early December, however from December 14, the snows came and barely stopped till the end of the month.
For much of January, Niseko just kept doing what it does best – snowing almost continuously every day, totalling well over 5m throughout the month.
February started out well, with very cold temps and ongoing snowfalls, but it all came to a rather abrupt end in the third week, and on February 25 the temperature got up to near 10 degrees, followed by rain.
The snow returned on March 1 and fell consistently throughout the month, which meant plenty of powder days for the thinner late season crowds.
Even April gave us a bit of fresh snow, rounding out an incredibly long, memorable winter.
We hope you enjoy the off-season, whereever you may be, and remember to keep an eye on Powderlife.com in the leadup to season 2010/11.
Check next season’s Niseko accommodation availability and rates live now at www.powderlife.com/niseko-accommodation.