TWO days and nights of heavy snow have instantly plunged Niseko in to winter, and pumped locals have already hiked up to score the first waist-deep tracks of the season.
The first snow of the season at village level fell on Saturday afternoon, with a centimeter or two settling before melting back on Sunday.
Overnight Sunday temperatures plummeted well below zero, the heavens opened and by Monday morning Niseko was covered in its first solid blanket of snow with big dry flakes still coming down hard.
It barely stopped snowing throughout yesterday and today, and there’s now a good 30-40cm+ building up around the village, with reports of 60cms up high.
Hiking for first tracks
Locals Jess Ripper and photographer Glen Claydon think they may have claimed first tracks of the season at Hirafu, hiking to the top of the Alpen Quad at 7.30 this morning and riding down just before 9am.
They came across a couple of Japanese also hiking for their first tracks, and there are reports some may have hiked up yesterday afternoon.
Glen says it was still a little sketchy today given it had all fallen so quickly without a base having been allowed to form.
"It’s pretty treacherous up the top," he said. "We went to the top of the Alpen lift – it was about 60cm deep up the top but it had all fallen so quickly there was no base so you’re going thru to the bottom a lot. It was all right if you were going straight but as soon as you turned you bottomed out completely.
"The last stretch where it opens up on the way to the Alpen (Hotel) was awesome – there were no roads and they had cut back all the sasa (bamboo grass) and it was really nice. You don’t really need to go to the top – just that last bit is the best."
Snow should melt back at village level
Temperatures are expected rise over the next few days and there is currently no sign of when the next fall will come.
Generally the resort opens after the first big storm (like this one) after November 20.
Keep an eye on our snow forecast page to keep track of the coming snowfalls, and stay tuned for our daily snow reports returning soon.