En Route: Japan

En Route Hokkaido documents a two-week ski trip we took to the island of Hokkaido, Japan. We linked back up with Black Diamond Lodge to document a mixture of snowmobile access, touring, road hits, chairlift access, and night skiing.

The trip consisted of Eric Pollard, Pep Fujas, Andy Mahre, Justin Wiegand, Ike Smith and me. It was our first film trip of the season, as well as the first chance we had to get the whole crew back together again. In addition, we invited along photographer Nate Abbott. We were all supposed to meet in Sapporo, but we soon found out through email communication that Nate was being held from his flight departing Tokyo to Sapporo due to the ANA employees thinking his flash battery was a bomb. With zero Japanese language skills, he ended up being forced to stay overnight, but he persevered in the end and got himself to Sapporo.

As expected, the snow was all time upon our arrival. I recall Clayton from Black Diamond Lodge saying Hokkaido received over 40 feet in December alone. Once Nate made it up to BD, we went directly out for a night ski session to kick off the trip. Unfortunately for me, that would be my one and only night session for the trip due to a severe clavicle injury four days later.

The worst part of it is I wasn't even doing anything cool. I was skiing back to the chairlift jumping and buttering along the side of the groomer when I went for a nollie and got punished before I could even react. It was an unexpected way to end the trip. I went straight to Sapporo to find a hospital because I needed an X-ray and a doctor's approval in order to fly, so my travel insurance would be taken care of. The hospital we picked was a neurosurgery specialist, and nobody there spoke English. After hours of using sign language and calling Japanese friends for help, I managed to get an X-ray and on the plane. The next 20 hours of travel were painful, but I made it back and am better than ever now.

As for the rest of the crew, they had more amazing conditions and traditional Japanese experiences. Everything is well documented in the webisode, so take a look and enjoy. And stay tuned for the next two websiodes dropping November and December.

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