From an extremely fun trip to Hokkaido for some skiing at Niseko and a little exploring in Sapporo, this being on top of Grand Hirafu resort after a small hike from their highest chairlift, classy little single seater.

It was a cold March night in Sapporo and the foggy storm told me it would be interesting to get out and take some shots despite it being late in the middle of the night, so I rolled out of bed with my camera and ended up with a few shots like this.

I was a little tipsy one night after eating out and ended up with a bunch of crooked, off kilter shots, but this decent one was found in that series.



We spent one of our ski days over at the larger of the Niseko area ski resorts, Grand Hirafu. It was by far my favorite as it was relatively uncrowded during the weekday we were there and had some epic back country easily accessible by a 10 minute hike from an old single seater lift that was just to the side of me when I was taking this shot.

Now, why did I not compose this shot to include the view of the amazing stratovolcano Mt. Yōtei? I did in another shot, but I inadvertently cut off part of the bull wheel and it didn’t take on the center role of this view since Yōtei is so damned cool looking and I was really interested in this really old lift for some reason and besides, I took tons of shots of Yōtei by then! How could you not?



Before I joined the Air Force my life evolved around 2 things: skiing and skiing. I grew up for 10 years at a ski resort and after graduating high school I proceeded to work at resorts as a bit of a ski bum for 5 more years. Skiing literally was my life, the reason I hated summer time and the only thing I thought about.

I ended up joining the AF mostly because I needed to find a way to break the cycle and start working on school so I could start the grind towards retirement so I could finally ski again, except not being in my prime.. It didn’t make sense, but I did it anyways and ended up meeting my amazing wife and finding my love for traveling. Anyways, after 6 years of cold turkey, I finally went skiing this week at Nozawa Onsen; possibly the most humbling day I have ever had.

Nozawa Onsen

I still thought a lot about skiing in my mind because I am weird like that and still go through powder withdrawals, so I thought I would not have lost too much of my brain cells dedicated to balance, technique, and the “feeling”. Basically, I thought I would step into my skis and take a run or two before I get back to my old self being able to have my way with whatever resort I was at or mountain I had climbed so long as I paid my respects to spatial awareness, inanimate objects, and avalanches. After 15 years of dedication, I thought I had earned as much.

I clicked into my skis after getting my, uhhh, square microchip device that was going to be my lift ticket and took my first kick in 6 years towards the ski lift. I knew after that first kick, a mere couple of feet that I suddenly had become what is known in the inner sanctum of ski bums as.. a beater! I suck at skiing, bad!


I thought this was like riding a bike, you never forget how to do it. I even severely underestimated the atrophy of my inner core muscles used for balance; I found myself driving from the backseat many times that day; I even felt out of control pointing my skis straight down the fall line of a groomer which used to be my comfort position after a long burner down a mogul run.

At first I despised skiing, tried to blame my ill fitting boots or the tail edges that the ski techs had not beveled off like a good ski tech should do. In the end, I knew I have become the mountains bitch.. the scum of the ski resort.. a beater. Luckily, I retained my knowledge of technique so I was able to help teach my wife since she has been a beater for life as well as reteach myself. I did start to feel much better as I took more runs, but I still think I would be counting in seasons, the amount of time it would take to get back to were I left off if I went back to skiing about 4-5 times a week. Good thing I found traveling and photography I guess! Maybe when we move to Germany we will be close enough to a resort to get back into it. I have about 2 years for the knowledge that I am a beater to set in before that time. /end rant.