evoCrew member Philip Cantrick recounts the first day of evoTrip Myoko with evoCollective and Line Skis athlete Eric Pollard.
Day 1 – We arise groggy but excited, like kids on Christmas morning. A certain electric sense of anticipation is derived from traveling after the sun has set on a Japan that none of us previously visited followed by an early start. The town and mountain of Myoko, our home for the next week, are revealed amidst a veil of dancing snowflakes, each flake bigger than the last. Some guests first see this view while floating weightless in a natural outdoor hotspring or onsen, others through the gorgeous windows that face the mountain over a scrumptious breakfast. Just before our first shuttle up to the gondola, the light snow transitions to massive flakes signifying the snow that we came here to ski is waiting up at Akakura Kanko ski area.
The next 3 hours are a blur of whoops, high fives, pillow drops, impeccable tree skiing and competition for the deepest face shots. There are not enough superlatives to describe how good the snow is, but each evotrip member is generously rewarded with bottomless turns for taking the plunge and embracing a Japanese ski trip. 12 strangers become fast friends as each epic, weightless turn and heelside pow slash make us all forget the stress of the holidays while massaging away the fatigue of travel. Jet lag melts as the boundless energy of friends on a pow day lends greater strength to your legs and the lightness of the snow lets us all ski or ride bell to bell despite being half way around the world from where we started the journey 24 hours ago.
You know a day on the mountain was a success when the most difficult decision becomes the choice between the vegetable ramen, beef udon or the curry pork katsu at lunch! If only more ski areas had world class lunches included with their lift ticket. After lunch, beers and coffee, some of our group splits off for a backcountry tour up to the summit of Mt. Meyama, others session the same immaculately spaced white birch tree runs that would make Steamboat jealous, while others billy-goat down pillow lines and over avalanche barriers plucked straight from the latest TGR film ending in a traverse through an abandoned Japanese train tunnel. No matter your line, we all ski directly back down to the lodge and transition immediately into the onsen for another rejuvenating soak in the healing hot springs.
Muscles relaxed, the apres scene at the Morino lodge bar is in full swing with local craft beers, wine and spirits accompanied with bar snacks that delight and baffle our tongues. Curried rice cakes? Yes please! Seaweed peanuts, why not? All are accompanied with the swapping of stories and photos from the first of four epic ski days. No one can imagine their luck of hitting this amazing storm cycle but that’s the secret – winter in Myoko is one gigantic perfect powder storm.
After we finish a marvelous dinner at one of the great recommendations from the Morino lodge staff (sushi, Japanese BBQ, okonomiyaki or hot pot) the night flows into one of the many karaoke bars. Between heroic odes to David Bowie, shameless homages to Madonna or an attempt at a local Japanese ballad, these are some of the quotes that confirm this trip was a good decision.
“These days, that moment, once in a lifetime opportunities with #evotrip at Seki Onsen!!” – evo Seattle Store Manager Darren’s sentiment which perfectly encapsulated the feel of the best powder day of our lives.
“OTH!! Over The Head, all time, deepest turn. I just record the official Guiness book of records for the highest over the head powder turn recorded by a James Griffon!” – evoTrip winner James Griffin. “Why do they call it the white room?! When you’re getting constant face shots all I can see is black!”
“Snow ball fight…!” – everyone, but usually initiated by Eric Pollard
“I can’t believe I met all 12 of you like 3 days ago, I feel connected to you like old friends.” – Don Wallace