For every ski season, there is a “first ski” (hatsu-suberi in Japanese). It usually means the first weekend that a ski resort opens for the season, but it also means the first time one goes skiing for the season.
For our first-ski this year, we took the JR day-trip package to GALA Yuzawa. 13500yen per person gets you a return-trip shinkansen (bullet train) ticket, plus a one-day ski lift pass worth 4500yen. Considering how much we would’ve paid in highway tolls, plus gas, it’s not a bad deal at all.
The train ride took a little over an hour and a half. All along the way, there was no snow in sight. Then the train went into a tunnel, and when we came out on the other end, it was like a different world. I stared and said, “But, but, it was sunny just a minute ago.” Feathery snowflakes engulfed our train as it pulled into the station. GALA Yuzawa ski resort is directly connected to the shinkansen station: you step off the train, go up one floor, and you are in the lobby of the ski resort’s main building. It’s so convenient, I don’t know why we never came here instead of insisting on getting up at 4am and drive to ski resorts.
Half an hour later, changed and our things stored away in the locker, we were ready to hit the slopes. I was extra glad that I took precaution and brought mini heating pads (the type activated by body heat). I had one in each ski boot, one stuck on my tummy, and another one slipped into the kangaroo pouch on my fleece pullover.
“I am ready!” said I to the snowflakes coming straight into my face.
And I was glad to find out that, unlike last year, my skiing muscles didn’t refuse to wake up after a one-year hibernation. But it was cooooold! I covered myself up as much as possible, but the few patches of exposed skin on my face still felt the freezing wind and a stray strand of hair quickly became an icicle hanging next to my face, grrrrrrr!
I guess this is the price to pay for the adrenaline rush and the fresh mountain air. Let the ski season begin!