Guess what we did yesterday – MORE SNOWBOARDING! I’m learning to heel-toe a bit better, rather than falling-leaf, not that there’s any point when we’re about to leave. There are hut restaurants all over the mountain, but the only places we’ve eaten so far are Boyo-Osen and the 1000 Metre Hut. Everywhere else is way too expensive. The 1000 Metre Hut is really cool, a cosy one-room cabin with a small fire, free water and good cheap food. Plus they sell Kit-Kats.

Roy’s board broke, so he and Rob took it into the shop to get it fixed, where they saw motherfucking Sam Neill. I was ever so jealous. They completely squandered the opportunity, though, not even saying hi to him. I don’t care if he’s on holiday, it takes three seconds to ask him if he’ll take a photo with you. Plus I could have asked him to do everything in his power to stop Jurassic Park IV, which will apparently feature velociraptors trained as mercenaries, I’m not joking, look it up.

Last night we went into town to go to a karaoke bar, where Roy got real drunk and treated us to a stellar rendition of Aerosmith’s “Don’t Miss A Thing” that he’d been practising for days. It was good fun, for the first four hours or so, but by 1:00 AM I was pretty tired and over it when nobody else seemed to be. I had no choice but to stay there anyway though, since a taxi home alone would be too expensive, so I ended up curling up on one of the couches and falling asleep while the others kept singing. On the plus side I ended up leaving without paying for the chips I bought.

DON'T WANNA CLOOOOOOSE MA EEEEEYES

DON'T WANNA CLOOOOOOSE MA EEEEEYES

We had a late start this morning, since everyone was buggered from being awake so late, and didn’t leave the lodge till about eleven. We hung out in a patch of snow near the bottom of one of the chairlifts making snowmen, despite shouts from one of the operators. Eventually he dispatched a passing Japanese tourist fluent in English to inform us that we were “playing in the toilet area,” where the chairlift workers go to have a leak behiind the trees.

Chris' new best friend

Chris' new best friend

We headed up the gondola and arrived halfway up the mountain in bad conditions, with a storm blowing in that was fucking up the visibility. After holing up in the 1000 Metre Hut for about an hour, hoping it would blow over, we emerged to find the storm just as bad. On the second last day we didn’t really have a choice but to snowboard regardless of the conditions. We wanted to head to Annapuri, which neccessitated going even higher and then snowboarding across, so we boarded another chairlift and ventured further up into the cloud.

Fucking whiteout. I could barely even see the chair in front of me. Nothing but white above, below and all around, with support pylons regularly looming out of the misty blur spraying Japanese pop music from the speakers. We reached the peak – a silent, gloomy world – and started snowboarding down.

This is the bottom of the chairlift; the top was 10x worse

This is the bottom of the chairlift; the top was 10x worse

Snowboarding in a whiteout is fucking awful. You can see people and trees (not that there were any, since we were above the alpine) for about twenty metres, but everything else is just a white blank fog. You can make out the ground before you for about one or two metres. This means you have to scrape horizontally downwards at a snail’s pace, or run the risk of flying right off a ledge into a ravine, where your broken corpse will be violated by bears, buried in snowfall and discovered by German hikers come spring. Roy actually did snowboard right off a ledge, into a ditch about two metres deep, which was hilarious because he did it right in front of me.

Once we emerged from the cloud about halfway down the peak it was’t a bad run. Amusing incident: I was snowboarding through a forest when I clipped a tiny little root poking out of the snow and flipped, cartwheeled and faceplanted it. But to do another run we had to take the gondola back up into the shrouded upper slopes, where it’s windy and freezing and the visibility is obliterated by that terrible foggy glaucoma, which completely robs you of your desire to snowboard. So instead we went back to the lodge and hung around listening to iPods, playing cards, reading and playing pool for the rest of the day.

CALORIEMATE??!!

CALORIEMATE??!!

I felt like a really good meal for dinner, so me and Chris and Steve went into town tonight to a pizza place that’s meant to be pretty good. It was good – absolutely delicious, especially after living off instant noodles – but tiny portions and insanely expensive. Again, I will gnash my teeth and rend my garments over the state of Australia’s economy. We ended up missing the last regular bus and had to walk around for an hour while waiting for the next one. Poked around in a photo gallery and watched the Australia vs. Japan soccer match in the welcome centre. Nil nil when we left, but I doubt Australia will win. I got really into soccer during the last world cup, when it seemed for a moment we might actually have a chance before Italy cheated its way to victory. Not sure why. Dull game.

And so tomorrow is our last day – and I’m hoping for fresh snowfall tonight and clear skies in the morning. I’m taking advantage of the lodge’s free wifi to download episodes of Lost and 24 which I’ll watch during our insanely long day of travel on Friday – we’re flying from Sapporo back to Tokyo and then training it to Osaka (or is it Kyoto?) Not sure how much free wifi will be available – dispatches may become more sporadic – STAY TUNED FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS, SEND LOVE TO WIFE + CHILDREN, END MESSAGE

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