Japan Packing

Having travelled through the alps, going from season to season, exploring the best of what the mountains have to offer, it’s now time for Bethany Lloyd’s newest adventure – Japan! She talks about her past adventures, next steps and everything you need to know if you’re planning on doing a ski season this winter.

Up until now my skiing has seen me exploring some of Europe’s most beautiful ski areas. Early holidays saw me tumbling through my first powder snow experience in Les Arcs, then, in the hometown of Candide Thovex, I found my feet in the shadow of the Chaîne des Aravis. I spent three years exploring the pistes and backcountry routes of La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand, and with being only an hour from Geneva and along the main road that connects many of France’s best resorts, this was a great opportunity to see the Savoie region.

Christmas performance at the Hotel Les Aravis

christmas-performance-at-the-hotel-les-aravis

Following France I settled for a winter in the Italian Dolomites. Just over the border from the Austrian Tyrol the South Tyrol boasts a wonderful fusion of Italian/Austrian cuisine, short lift queues and one of the largest collections of pistes in Europe.

Winter team in the Dolomites 2015/16

winter-team-in-the-dolomites-2015-16

That season was straddled by two instructor courses. My BASI 2 in Zermatt, Switzerland and my BASI 2 resit in Hintertux, Austria. The winter helped me to knuckle down and practice and I was at the standard on my second try!

All of these seasons, holidays and courses have been fuelled by a love of skiing. They have been chances to explore, learn and meet new people and they all have something in common…. Europe!

Skiing in the Dolomites

skiing-in-the-dolomites

Europe is right on our doorstep, culturally diverse, stunningly beautiful and, as it currently stands, all we need is our passport and ourselves. If you are working as a seasonaire for a holiday company, as I always have been, often travel, insurance, accommodation and food is all sorted too. So we pack our ski bags, get our favourite beanie out and head for the hills! We don’t know how lucky we are.

But now, for me, it’s time for a new adventure, and I’m letting skiing take me further away from home than ever before. I’m going to a place and a job where I not only need to book my travel, sort my insurance, pay rent and do the food shop, I also had to apply for a VISA. (Is this what a grownup seasonaire does?)

This winter it’s all about Japan.

Niseko is fast becoming one of the world’s most popular resorts. With its record snow fall and ever growing resort, riders from all over the world flood to its gates every year. It’s been on my list for a very long time. As a keen off-piste skier, the images that come back from pro-riders and get plastered across magazine spreads and facebook feeds are difficult to ignore. Now it has somewhat of a skiers pilgrimage feel to it.

Standing on the edge of the Hidden Valley, Dolomites

standing-on-the-edge-of-the-hidden-valley-dolomites

There will be lots of firsts with this trip:

  • Language that uses different characters – No just guessing because the word looks a bit like the English word you know…
  • Travel time! – No two hour flight max or convoy drive, this is long haul numero uno pour moi!
  • Us Brits are thought to be quite polite – Sorry! – The Japanese are in a whole other league. I’ve been doing a lot of reading up on Onsen etiquette and slipper procedures.
  • New Cuisine – We all know about Sushi but I’m both looking forward to trying a whole new cuisine and nervous too.
  • End of the season – This time I have made sure to leave myself time to explore. When the snow season ends I’ll still have a month until my flight home leaves Tokyo, and I’ll be approximately 1000km north of the airport. It’s time to travel a bit, something I rarely have time to do between summer and winter jobs.

It will most definitely be an adventure and I can’t wait! There will be a lot of things that are new and maybe pretty daunting but many things will stay the same. Snow is snow and I know how that works –most of the time. Seasonaires are likeminded people, no matter where they’re from the motivations are usually the same too!

The Aravis at Sunset

the-aravis-at-sunset

My packing list will remain largely the same too. If you are about to do your own season these sort of lists are gold dust! Everyone’s lists are different but it’ll give you an idea of essentials, stop you from panicking and forgetting something or worse, over packing!

Gear –For when you are out on the mountain.

  • Skis/Board
  • Helmet
  • Goggles with x2 lenses (Low light and bright light)
  • Good pair of Sunglasses
  • Neck buff x2
  • Base layers
  • Tshirts for spring skiing heat
  • Mid layers
  • Ski jacket(s)
  • Gloves (I get cold hands and swear by mittens!)
  • Thermal tops and bottoms
  • Salopettes
  • Proper ski socks! (I go smartwool)
  • Ski boots
  • Transceiver (A must if your skiing off piste)
  • Probe
  • Shovel
  • Skins (if touring!)
  • ABS pack (expensive but if you are skiing off piste can you put a price on your life?)
  • Ski lock (Peace of mind)
  • Head camera (personal choice)
  • Poles

Day Wear –This will obviously vary on the kind of person you are and where you are working. Find out if your resort is a quiet village or a party resort. Maybe look up an events calendar for the season ahead. Will you need fancy dress/black tie or just casual wear? Is there a Christmas party? What I will say is GIRLS IT’S COLD. One of my favourite things about going out in a ski resort is that jeans, jacket, top, snow boots and a beanie is totally acceptable to party in! In fact you will look out of place with your legs out on a snowy night!

Le Grand Bornand at Sunset

le-grand-bornand-at-sunset

Most of your time will be spent on the mountain so what you’ll probably find is that you don’t need as many normal clothes as you think. You will probably only use them in the evenings and if you are provided with a uniform then probably even less!

  • Jacket (Ski jacket will do fine, or a down jacket)
  • A few pairs of jeans/leggings. (If you are working a chalet season cleaning you will go through them!)
  • Tops (Some for going out, some for work)
  • Hoodie
  • Jumper
  • Gloves
  • Warm socks
  • Comfy shoes for in the chalet
  • Snow boots
  • Beanies
  • Pants!
  • PJs
  • Fancy outfit for special occasions

Extra stuff –Five months in the mountains might seem like a long time but in reality it goes very quick! Maximise your time there and make the most of every opportunity. That said, it is knackering. People will think you’ve gone on a long holiday but trust me, you earn it and therefore down time is important. So taking just a few extra things depending on space to help you relax is important.

  • Laptop (Movie days will save those white out days!)
  • Kindle (I was against kindles when they first came out –destroyers of books! Then I was given one and I can hands down say it’s my best travel companion. You can’t take your whole library with you.
  • Headphones and music.
  • Diary/sketchbook (Get those memories down!)
  • Supplies of home comforts! Marmite, peanut butter, tea bags. Words cannot explain how great these home comforts are. Just ask any seasonaire.
  • Skype! Get it on your devices. I find it hard to sit down and facebook message friends and family timing wise but a good long skype session can put everything right! Stay in touch.
  • Pro Photographer or not…make memories!
  • Stock up on your favourite soap/shampoo/toothpaste if you don’t think you can live without it. Same goes for makeup, smellies and hair stuff. If you’re not fussy ski resorts have shops too!
  • NO not like that… but I’m afraid that it’s pretty likely that you’ll get ill out there. Everyone gets run down at some point as soon as there’s one cold in the chalet it won’t stop circulating. Take plenty of things to make you feel better because there’s nothing worse than being away from home and feeling rubbish. Doctors/chemists can be expensive in resorts so take all the paracetamol, ibuprofen, strepsils, lemsip and barocca you can carry. You’ll thank me for that!
  • MEGA LUXURY for me is a guitar. This is obviously very space dependant but if you find it hard to put your music down like me five months is a long time without it I promise…

Powder run in the Dolomites

powder-run-in-the-dolomites-taken-by-james-rushforth

Credit: James Rushforth

So there you go. I hope wherever you find yourself this winter, on a ski holiday or full season, you have a wicked adventure of your own. Be safe and enjoy it! Maybe see you in Niseko!

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