Category Archives: Trip reviews

Bill Barker: on skiing with penguins and leopard seals in Antarctica

From ski patrol director to northern hemisphere back country guide, to one of the most photographed skiers in the country, Bill Barker is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most respected and recognisable skiers.

In the Australian summer, Bill runs big mountain adventures to Kashmir on the border of India and Pakistan, and – amazingly – the northern tip of Antarctica. Yep. Skiing in Antarctica is actually a thing! Continue reading Bill Barker: on skiing with penguins and leopard seals in Antarctica

10 reasons to take your kids skiing in Madarao, Japan, this summer

In late February 2018, my family and I travelled to Madarao, a small but emerging resort in the Nagano Prefecture, where we took our kids skiing for the first time. The kids aged 6 and 8 took to skiing like ducks to water, loved the culture and generally just loved the entire experience; from the trains to the food, to the endless amount of snow. 

Our holiday to Madarao in the Nagano Prefecture was seriously awesome – perfect even – and if you were to ask me should take their kids to Japan, my answer is a resounding YES. Here are my reasons why, with just a few tips and tricks thrown in… Continue reading 10 reasons to take your kids skiing in Madarao, Japan, this summer

Niseko Weiss Powder CATS: first tracks guaranteed

There’s no doubt that CAT skiing offers great value to riders looking for a new riding experience. It offers easy access to untracked powder, without hiking and without the risks normally presented by back-country skiing. It’s perhaps these qualities that have earnt it the tag ‘poor man’s heli-skiing’.

On a recent visit to Hokkaido (February 2017), we were lucky enough to give CAT skiing a try courtesy of Niseko Weiss Powder CATs. Niseko Weiss Powder CATs is an experienced adventure company operating out of the Hanazono Ski Area, in greater Niseko United. Although a lean season by Niseko United standards (they’d only received a lazy 8m of snow instead of 12m), the powder CATs adventure was an unforgettable experience and a great alternative to the hustle and bustle of the main Niseko skiing area, located just a few minutes away.

AA_Cat4 Continue reading Niseko Weiss Powder CATS: first tracks guaranteed

Review: 5 Days in Madarao, Japan

Small crowds, a ‘local’ feel, a variety of friendly lodges, lift tickets and food priced the way it should be and tonnes of snow, translates into epic powder days centred around a true Japanese cultural experience that visitors crave – all without those regretful stares from lift-queue’s, back up to quickly-disappearing fresh tracks.

Continue reading Review: 5 Days in Madarao, Japan

Sol Y Nieves is Spanish for ‘Sun and Snow’

Words and images by guest writer Richard Bumford.

This Christmas my wife and I decided to return to our home in Padul, Southern Spain, to spend time at our favourite resort, Sierra Nevada.  We very quickly remembered how incredible a resort it is.  Located just 30 min from Granada City and Airport it is certainly a great location with a very short commute to the mountains. With 117 trails, covering over 106km, spread over six skiiable areas and 32 lifts, it makes for a sizeable resort covering over 320 hectares.  Topping out at 3300m and with 1200m of vertical it is both the highest and steepest resort in Spain. Snow Making is achieved via 350 canons & 725 hydrants covering over 35 kms of piste on 44 runs. It is the most southerly resort in Europe which is why it is famous for both Sol Y Nieves or ‘sun and snow’.

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The resort has plenty of options for dining and Après Ski, as well as ski/snowboard hire and numerous outlets to purchase lift passes.  All of this makes for a very smooth transition from arriving to skiing.  Lift passes are reasonable at 42 Euros ($58) for a day pass.  Parking is also great at 11 Euros ($16) for the whole day and having over 4000 parking spaces, 2644 are underground,  also makes for a nice dry end to the day’s fun.

Other activities in the resort include a Cross Country Skiing circuit which is 5.8 Km long.  Night Skiing happens every Thursday and Saturday from 19.00 to 22.00hrs (subject to weather /snow conditions).  They also have a Freestyle Park: “SULAYR” which has a 165m long half-pipe, 1 Mini Park, Medium and Advanced Difficulty Areas covering 4 interlinked sectors complete with a full range of jumps & rails plus a small lift and Europe’s longest slope style run with the possibility of linking up to 46 different modules in one run.  This resort is so well noted for its freestyle facilities that in March 2017 they the area hosted the world winter freestyle championships.

We enjoyed a total of 22 days in Spain and spent a great deal of it skiing the Sierras both on and off Piste.  The days on the slopes were spent skiing challenging runs with the safety of wide open pistes.  Breaks and lunches were spent at numerous decked areas down the mountain sitting in t-shirts catching some sun.  All in all the resort is a magical and vibrant place which is not expensive to ski or dine at.  They have excellent facilities which are very reasonable and available to everyone.

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If anyone would like to experience the best resort in Europe we would love for you to stay at our home a link to which can be found at the bottom of this article. As a special offer, Snowriders Australia followers receive a 15% discount. All you have to do is contact Richard (richard.bumford@gmail.com) directly and mention that we sent you.

Casandra – In the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. Townhouse, Sleeps 8 http://abnb.me/EVmg/WNI0rtWboB

Review – Gulmarg, India

About Gulmarg

Nestled in the Pir Pajals, one of the six mountain ranges that make up the Himalayas, Gulmarg is a small town in Kashmir, in northern India. Gulmarg, which means “Meadow of Flowers”, sits on a 2,650 m plateau at the base of Mount Apharwat (4,124 m). The Pir Panjals receive up to 14m of snow annually, with regular snow-storms bringing several meters at a time. It is therefore no surprise that Skiing Magazine (USA) recently called Gulmarg the 7th snowiest ski resort in the world!

If you an advanced to expert skier or boarder, with a longing for adventure and a hankering for virgin powder, then Gulmarg in the Indian Himalayas could be the experience you’re looking for.  Our roving reporter, Matt Appleford, reports… Continue reading Review – Gulmarg, India

Madarao Kogen: An untapped Tree-Skiing Powder Paradise

Skiing and snowboarding in Japan is the hottest winter sports ticket in the world at the moment, and why wouldn’t it be: it consistently records the lightest and driest snow on earth, and it falls in quantities that’ll make your head spin – every time! Continue reading Madarao Kogen: An untapped Tree-Skiing Powder Paradise

Review: Niseko – Japan

About Niseko

Niseko is located approximately 100 km south of Sapporo, a city of some 2 million people on the Island of Hokkaido. For a long time, Niseko has been the Japanese skiing destination of choice for Australians. Once making up close to 70% of Niseko’s clientele, it may surprise some to learn that the proportion of Australians is now closer to 35% given the now large seasonal influx of people from Europe (8%), North America (3%) and Asia (26%) (mainly Hong Kong, but increasingly Thailand!); Aussies still predominate however, and its difficult to go anywhere without hearing that familiar Aussie drawl… Want to read more? Click here!

Review: Tignes – France

By guest blogger Sam Mead.

Tignes (pronounced ‘teen’) is the second highest resort in Europe and forms one half of the gigantic Espace Killy ski area. The resort is actually split into five villages; Val Claret, Le Lac, Le Lavachet (some folks consider Lavachet part of Le Lac) Les Boisses, and Les Brevieres. The four villages sit at various altitudes between 2,300 m and 1,550 m around the bottom of a huge bowl.

Want to read more? Click here!

Review: Park City & Alta, USA

By our roving reporter,  Andrew Spittle

February 2016: Leaving the rest of the Snowriders WA team in Hokkaido, Japan (see review here), our roving reported, Andrew ‘Spitty’ Spittle, jumped on a plane and traveled due-east across the date-line to Salt Lake City, Utah USA. Located in western USA, the great state of Utah is defined by its vast expanses of desert and the Wasatch Range mountains. While Utah does have its fair share of desert terrain, and rocky outcrops, there is so much more going on in the busy “beehive” state, with a raft of outdoor adventure activities topping the list, including snow sports…..in fact Utah boosts 7 skiing areas and 14 resorts, some of which are exclusively for skiiers (no snowboarders allowed, as draconian as that sounds!!). Our intrepid reported Spitty provided the following account in his own words….. Want to read more? Click here!