Sunday, November 6, 2011

Opening Tour

My plans for the round the world trip have solidified. Slope Infinity will open their indoor slope earlier than normal so that I can make a visit on my short stop in Hong Kong on November 12th. I will ski in Happo One in Japan on their opening day on Nov 19th. And Alyeska, Alaska on their opening day on Nov 23rd. Fingers crossed that my travel goes without issues and that the areas open as planned.

Opening day at Happo One, Japan

I would also have part of  one day free in Beijing, and could in theory try skiing there. Unfortunately, I've already been twice to the indoor place in Beijing, and it seems that the real ski areas do not open until late November or December. If anyone knows a ski area that is already open, let me know!

Opening day at Alyeska, Alaska

Otherwise, the only question is whether I should take one or two sets of skis with me on this trip. I recently purchased light weight touring skis and boots. My skis are K2 superlights, boots are Garmont Helix's and bindings are Dynafit touring bindings. These are all extremely lightweight, so they are good for going up. But they are good only for that and for a careful descent. The binding release mechanism is limited, so for safety reasons I would rather ski mostly on my regular skis.

The question is, am I likely to find myself in a situation where I need the light skis? Not according to my plan, but ... many things can go wrong on my trip, bad weather could delay the openings beyond my visit, flight delays could change my plans completely, etc. In Alaska I have three days to ski, so it would also be possible that I'll find some off-piste touring possibilities. However, the drawback with dragging two sets of skis around the world is that some airlines may charge for the additional weight. I won't be paying anything on Finnair, but I am less sure about the others. I'll be flying on Cathay Pacific, Dragon Airlines, Japan Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and British Airways. There will be at least some legs where I have to pay $10 per extra for one kilo of luggage, so getting the weight down will be important. Unless they respect One World Emerald frequent flyers somehow... from past experience with some of these airlines, I'm guessing that is not going to happen.

Resting on the sofa and getting used to the new boots

By the way, the first picture above is about Lonely Planet guides for this trip. I really love these books. I keep buying other books as well, but while the Lonely Planets are short on colorful pictures and they make boring reading from cover to cover, they also have the largest amount of information. Almost without exception there is more information about hiking, skiing, and climbing opportunities than in any other general purpose travel guide.

I bought the Alaska guide almost a year ago, and it is only now that I get to use it. Incidentally, some of the other books that I have about possible future places include Moscow, Turkey, and Iran. Unfortunately, recent news indicates that a military attack against Iran may be in the planning, so traveling to Iran at this time may be too risky, even for me. Too bad. I hope that the situation is better in the future, it would be a great place to visit. For instance, Tochal, a local ski hill near Teheran, has a ski lift that goes all the way up to 3,740 meters.

The new skis

Photo credits (c) 2011 by Jari Arkko, Alyeska ski area, and Happo One ski area

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