Why isn't the top lift on Happo running?
Tuesday, 10 January 2012 14:49
The top lift on Happo-one rises to 1831m and is the highest lift accessible point in the Hakuba valley. The top of the lift is also home to some of the best mountain views in Hakuba if not all Japan.The top lift on Happo-one rises to 1831m and is the highest lift accessible point in the Hakuba valley. The top of the lift is also home to some of the best mountain views in Hakuba if not all Japan.
The area is just in a protected national park. It gained notoriety in the buildup to the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics when the Olympic authorities wanted to raise the Men’s Downhill course inside the park. This was resisted furiously by Japanese environmental groups who were opposed to building a start hut as well as racing in a National Park. In the end a compromise was settled on with a temporary start gate being built and then moved further down the hill after the games.
To open the lift there needs to be a 150cm snow base, and currently the official depth is measured at 140cm.
Nick Kowal of Hakuba Powder Lodge and an avid backcountry skier has dug down through the snow and says that there is more than 150cm base. He puts the delay down to the abnormal rains of last year that meant the bushes in this protected area grew a lot taller than usual.
Let’s hope that whatever the problem is, it snows enough in the next few days to open the lift for the season.