Snow Angel by Dad Bear
Snow Angel, a photo by Dad Bear on Flickr.

It was my family’s first attempt at skiing on snow. We had heard so much from friends who had been there and done it, we figured we had to check that one item off out bucket list.

Snow arrived in Club Med Sahoro on the very same day we arrived in Hokkaido, Japan. The snow seen in Hokkaido is usually of the soft fluffy sort, quite different from the hard ice like quality you see in many other parts of the world. The reason for this is that moisture which gathers on the Siberian coast is carried across the Sea of Japan by strong Artic winds which then deposits their loads on the island’s mountains.

Soft fluffy snow is definitely more forgiving to older folk like myself who will have the tendency to injure myself more if I fell on hard unforgiving icy snow. During the first lesson, when we attempted to try to keep our balance on the slick skis, I must admit to falling a few times onto the soft snow, but the experience of just lying there in the soft powdery stuff was quite lovely.

By lesson 2, thanks to a great ski instructor in James Kururangi (an all-blacks fan himself), we were able to stop with confidence and after a 15 minute trek up the hill, even descend down the beginners slope #1. The feeling of controlled acceleration down the gradient of the slope, with the feeling of a howling wind blowing past your ears, coupled with continuous falling snow sweeping across your vision, can be described in one word, exhilarating!

No doubt we still lack the finesse of time and experience on the slopes, this first taste of the ski slopes left us yearning for more.

The kids with their lower centre of gravity had little problems picking up the sport. Being lithe and generally smaller, they could get up quickly after falling. Something which most adult beginners find hard to master on the outset.

V truly enjoyed her time in Sahoro. Her youthful innocence while messing around in the snow was a joy to everyone, myself included. We had a great time at Sahoro. If we have another chance, we will surely be back for more.

More pics can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tanyongkuan/sets/72157628289869147/

(Edit 14/12/2011)

With regards to taking photos in the snow, it was a very trying experience for me. When I went to the slopes to capture the multi-coloured skiers coming down the hill, it started to snow. In fact, it was in near blizzard like conditions, with the snow blowing strongly in my face and my hands near frozen despite the gloves. It was tough feeling for the controls on the camera, but that was nothing compared to the difficulty getting the pictures in focus with the snow falling heavily. Very often, when I depressed the shutter, the lens would send out a laser beam which bounced back off a snow flake, thus throwing the focus of the lens off, resulting in images which would be just a tad OOF, and hence not very usable. Not only that, even with the large hood in front of the 400mm F2.8 lens, I found snow flakes deposited inside the hood and on the lens as the howling winds found its way onto the lens. In short, shooting in the falling snow is not for the faint hearted. To do so, one would have to be very well prepared, and like in some sort of protected/sheltered area, not to mention, well-clad in enough warm clothing. The best insurance is to shoot in RAW and make adjustments on the big screen later on. The best time to shoot snow pics would be near the evening as the sun sets, to give the beautiful illumination on the faces of the subjects. Most preferably after the snow fall has stopped and the sun is shining. However, in the unpredictability of winter, that can often only be wishful thinking. :p

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