A Visit to the Makino Ski Area, Part 1
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Hitting the Slopes Makino Ski Area, Takayama City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/2500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Hitting the Slopes
Makino Ski Area, Takayama City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan

Anthony has been wanting to go skiing ever since last year's YMCA ski experience, and finally yesterday the schedule allowed for it. Anthony and I took off early in the morning for the almost-two-hour drive north to the Makino Highlands, to the Makino Ski Area.

I didn't intend to pull my camera out much, wanting to concentrate on actually being a parent and helping him with the confidence-building experience that learning to ski could be. But it turns out that the 20 seconds of total ski time he had during last year's YMCA event was enough, and yesterday he basically put the skis on and just did it. I ran along side him the first time, but it was readily apparent that he could ski fine, so after a few runs, I broke out the camera. Yesterday's post was the day's first picture. The one above followed soon after.

Heading Upslope -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/6400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Heading Upslope

At first it was sunny and beautiful, but the foreboding sky made it apparent that it would not stay that way for long.

Foreboding to the North -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/5000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Foreboding to the North

To say the day's weather was “dynamic” would be an understatement.

As the sun disappeared, Anthony started a run, and the following sequence was pretty much all I could expect to get, photo-wise...

Starting His Run -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/2500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Starting His Run
Near Approach -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 27 mm — 1/3200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Near Approach
Concentration -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 26 mm — 1/3200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Concentration
And There He Goes -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/4000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
And There He Goes

I had my Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 zoom in the car, which would have offered me a lot more options photography-wise, but I was too lazy to head back and get it.

And speaking of lazy, this kid-centric place had no ski lifts, so you had to actually trudge uphill yourself, except for a short run in the middle of the slope where there was a peoplemover treadmill-type thing to bring people up hill. It's called a サンキッド (sankiddo) for reasons I haven't been able to figure out.

On The “Sankiddo” -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/2000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
On The “Sankiddo”
a minute later, still on A Storm Blows Through -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 26 mm — 1/3200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
a minute later, still on
A Storm Blows Through

It's just 100m long, but the slope is 5× that, so if you're older than 4 years old and want any kind of real run, it's essentially worthless. It is faster, literally, to ski uphill (I saw a kid do it) than to take the thing. And even if you do, you have to continue trudging uphill yourself to create a run of any meaningful distance. Good exercise, for some definition of “good” that my aching body today doesn't remember.

Here's a shot looking back downhill, with Anthony heading off and the peoplemover thing in the background behind him.

Long Run -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 66 mm — 1/800 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Long Run

The “urban clutter” backgrounds and repetitive nature of the event had me looking for different angles, so to speak, with the camera. Here's the best I could come up with:

Happy Trails -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 220 — map & image datanearby photos
Happy Trails

Oh well.

Mother Nature helped me out by making the weather very dynamic. A minute or so after taking the shot above, I heard a terrible racket to one side of the slope... a building with a wide roof was getting pelted by something from the sky, and whatever it was was heading my way. I'd never seen anything like it. It was like a mix between snow and hail... big airy “rocks” of snow, mostly the size of peas, but some the size of grapes...

“Snow Hail”? -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 34 mm — 1/200 sec, f/8, ISO 2500 — map & image datanearby photos
“Snow Hail”?

It was difficult to get a picture of them, having no hands free and being pelted the whole time. It was essentially identical to small globs of Styrofoam in every respect but taste. Unlike the big, wet, heavy, fluffy flakes that we experienced in Gokayama Village, these were quite hard, yet very light, and also very dry. They didn't stick to anything... they bounced off whatever they hit, and rolled around on the ground, were blown by the wind, and tended to accumulate in footprint-indentations in the snow, where they remained all day. Very odd.

The ratty looking glove I have in the photo above, by the way, is from a $5 pair I found at a Home-Depot-like home center here in Japan, with slits across the thumb and two fingers to allow you to pop your fingers out when you need a good grip on something, such as camera controls. They're extremely useful and I've used them for a couple of years, though the slit on the thumb could have used some reinforced stitching. Still, for $5 it's hard to complain, especially since I saw the exact same pair of gloves — absolutely identical except for the labeling — at a camera store in Osaka for $50.

Anyway, the freaky snow hail storm eventually passed. 10 minutes later it was a conventional everyday whiteout.

A Touch of Snow -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/160 sec, f/9, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
A Touch of Snow

Sometimes a storm would blow through with a lot of snow but no wind, and sometimes with a lot of wind. This particular time was of the “lot of wind” variety.

Just Trying To Stay Upright -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/160 sec, f/9, ISO 220 — map & image datanearby photos
Just Trying To Stay Upright

But whatever was happening weather wise was always sure to change soon, and indeed, it let up and he was off...

Run #723 or something like that -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Run #723
or something like that
Riding the “Sankiddo” as wind whips up the background -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 62 mm — 1/2000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Riding the “Sankiddo”
as wind whips up the background
Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 38 mm — 1/1600 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos

The weather kept me fascinated the whole day. Sometimes the wind was very localized, like a little tornado, and you could occasionally see little dust devils (snow devils?) the width of cars walking across the slope. But sometimes it was horizontal like a localized freight train of wind. I could see (the effects of) a line of wind cross the slope from the side and absolutely plow into a group of folks on the peoplemover thing, almost blowing their ski poles out of their hands, yet those standing 10 people in front or behind didn't feel the slightest breeze. The line of wind moved slowly downhill while the peoplemover moved even more slowly uphill, and I could watch the intersection of people and freight-train wind walk down the line, surprising each person in turn (since they couldn't see ahead, they had no idea the magnitude of what was coming).

Sometimes a localized gust would hit a tree, instantly deneutering it of every spec of its accumulated snow, turning the invisible wind into a big moving, expanding mass of particalized snow plummeting across the area.

Sometimes a localized gust would hit a rooftop, instantly clearing it with a loud woosh, yet five minutes later a two-minute bout of hyper-intense localized snow might leave it completely covered with a good centimeter of snow.

The weather was great. I really enjoyed it.

Meanwhile, the peoplemover thing continued at its glacial pace...

End of the Line -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/1600 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
End of the Line
Riding Again this time during a more convential snow storm -- Makino Ski Area -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/160 sec, f/22, ISO 1800 — map & image datanearby photos
Riding Again
this time during a more convential snow storm

All this was great, but it wasn't the highlight of the day....

Continued here...


All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

Loved the photos of Anthony, as always. Your descriptions of the weather changes, though, were fascinating. Makes one hope that you might one day also use a video camera in cases like these. The biggest problem with that is where will you stable your pack mule when he’s not at work.?

— comment by Grandma Friedl, Ohio, USA on February 8th, 2010 at 1:00am JST (7 years ago) comment permalink

I suppose the sankiddo is a pretty nice upgrade from the old tow ropes I grew up with despite how slow it is. A couple of pulls up the bunny slope using the tow rope would devastate your ski gloves trying to grab hold and pretty much ruin the rest or your day.

Looks like Anthony had an awesome time. Looking forward to the other photos.
Earnie

— comment by Earnest Barr on February 8th, 2010 at 6:02am JST (7 years ago) comment permalink

Awesome photos! Happy trails is my favorite. one question though, how were you able to protect the lens and camera with all the wind and snow blowing?

Protect the lens? Hmmm, never thought of that. Maybe I should have. 🙂 It wasn’t a wet, sticky snow, so I didn’t worry too much, and when it was really hard, I just protected the camera with my body, or put it into the camera bag. —Jeffrey

— comment by Sampson on February 14th, 2010 at 5:29am JST (7 years ago) comment permalink
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