Friday, 11 May 2012

2012 Sunstone Ski & Snowboard Season (Gulmarg, Kashmir & Hakuba, Japan)

2012 in Gulmarg saw a dodgy snow pack in January and with the decision to ski guide in Japan for this month (because of previous lack of snow and dodgy unstable snowpack in previous Gulmarg seasons) it proved a good decision that paid off.

Getting the goods in Hakuba, Japan. Photo by Mitch.

Hakuba, Japan was simply off-the-hook. It's the FULL package of retarded amounts of powder, zeeperb food, chillaxed environment - hotpools, great service, genuine people and well organised transport & ski resorts. We'll be guiding in January 2013 so make your plans now and score some of those cheap air flights NOW. For further info/itineraries/early bird specials please contact Paul:

There's a lot of terrain in the Hakuba Backcountry to explore!
Photo by sunstone.

Gearing up about to ski the South Face Backcountry bowls in Hakuba, Japan.
Photo byJoona Olkkola

Paul gets in deep into the Japow! Photo by Mitch.

Oh yes the food.....Pic by sunstone.

Snow monkeys - rather unique in Japan! Photo by sunstone.

We ran tours for clients to Gulmarg, Kashmir in Feb through March with superb powder conditions - as always! Some other guiding companies risked skiing the Shadowsland bowls in the South and saw them getting clients buried & injured - luckily there were no fatalities although there were some close calls!

Skiing the Gulmarg backcountry. Photo by Robbie Richmond.

The Himalayas - epic backcountry skiing. Photo by Ted Stone.

Paul leading up with Ted & Scotty in the Gulmarg, Kashmir backcountry. Photo by Robbie Richmond.

Skinning up Monkey Hill, Gulmarg, Kashmir with the client crew - Dan, Phil, Wayne & James! Photo by sunstone.

And it's not all skinning & hiking.....There's a really PHAT gondola that drops you at 4000m! Photo by sunstone.

Eric boasting in the Powder. Pic by sunstone.

Party time. There's more partying in Gulmarg than you might expect! Pic by sunstone.

Heading out to the legendary 40-60 degree slopes of the 'Shark's Fin'! Pic by sunstone.

In this situation of high avalanche rish it's paramount to ski & snowboard lower angle slopes (below 30 degrees), stick in areas with good snow anchors (like trees) and on lower elevations. There's still plenty of great options in the Gulmarg area to avoid High Risk Avalanche areas and that's why its such a great ski environment.

Phil has his turn coming out of the 'Singing Tree'. Photo by sunstone.

Travis mixes it up with local army. Photo by sunstone.

Wayne's turn skiing the pow pow. Pic by sunstone.

It was another epic ski season and we were happy to report NO clients in avalanches and NO fatalaties - a record we have maintained since we started our ski guiding operations 5 years ago - a 100% client safety record which we're very proud of!

Local sledgewaller models the sunstone merch. Pic by sunstone.

About to drop into fields of powder. Photo by Jonas Scherer.

Here's what some of our clients said about sunstone adventures this season:

"Skiing in Gulmarg weeks 9&10 in February/March 2012 with Sunstone Adventures was amazing! Our guide Paul knew the place, the skiing, the snow conditions, the food and the people, and shared all of this with us in a way that made us feel we were skiing with a friend. The deal covered B&B, transportation, guiding, so the only thing we had to decide was where to eat dinner each night. I was recommended Sunstone by a friend, and now it's my turn to recommend Sunstone! We are already looking to book for next time..."
Tea, Finland.

"A side from the awesome skiing, it was the organization of our stay as a whole - professional, yet casual and personal, with a dedication to make sure we got as much as possible out of our stay, including the best available skiing according to conditions as well as seeing the local sights and cuisine and getting to know people. In fact many times it felt like hanging out with old friends."
Mans, Sweden.

Tea & Mans (above)after skiing a massive free ride line in Gulmarg, below Paul, Tea & Mans getting 'Chai-drated'! Pic sunstone collection.

"Gulmarg is such a loose and wild yet relaxed place, and Sunstone Adventures was a perfect match. Paul is all of those things, but also timely, knowledgable and professional. Paul's, safety considerations are always apparent and at no stage did we feel exposed to any unnecessary or unexpected risk. It was an extremely cost effective service which was invaluable due to the possibility of avalanches, the language and cultural barriers and other "unique" peculiarities of the area. An absolute must for any skiers or boarders touring the area for the first time."
Liam, Australia

Liam above hiking 'The Monkey', below Liam & Danica practising some Avalanche technique. Photo by sunstone.

"Great service! Gulmarg is a tough place to arrange things especially if you haven't been there before. Paul gave us the full run down of the place before we came and made it really simple and easy for us to get set up with accommodation, guided us around the mountain and organised airport shuttles etc, very easy and stress free. Cheers Paul"!!
Tim, New Zealand.

Cody, Alex & Tim do some erm 'Product Testing'! Photo by sunstone.

And thanks to all our awesome clients for making it another special season - super fun and of course just epic skiing & snowboarding at exotic locations!

Sunshine area, Gulmarg, Kashmir. Photo by sunstone.

Sunstone was also lucky to be a part of filming the new Gulmarg promotional ski & snowboard film to promote tourism in the Kashmir area by the Jammu & Kashmir Tourist Board. Thanks to film maker Will Lascelle and all the riders, Gulmarg Heliski operation and a great day of dropping steep powder lines in the Himalayan backcountry while being showered with sunshine!

Check out a video preview of the footage skiing the Sunshine Peak area in Gulmarg, Kashmir:

So what's up next for sunstone?

August, September, October 2012 - Skiing & Snowboarding in New Zealand

September, October, November, December 2012 - Trekking & Climbing in Nepal, Tibet & Bhutan

January 2013 - Skiing & Snowboarding in Japan

February, March 2013 - Skiing & Snowboarding in Gulmarg, Kashmir

March 2013 - Skiing & Snowboarding in Iran (Expedition to climb & ski off the 5671m Mt. Damavand - the highest peak in Iran & the Middle East)

March, April, May - Trekking & Climbing in Nepal, Tibet & Bhutan

Come get in the mix with sunstone!

Contact Paul:
Phone: 0064 (0) 0211314492

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Skiing & Snowboarding legendary Hakuba Japan

Well how do you explain skiing & snowboarding in Japan? But more specifically riding legendary HAKUBA?

Getting pow on the South Face! Photo by sunstone.

Steep trees and big mountain lines to compliment epic powder across a range of 7 ski resorts and other secret day trip spots too! Yeah that might be a good start....and more often than not it's snowing!

Unlike many other Japanese resorts Hakuba offers access to huge, open backcountry terrain- the extensive Japanese Alps. The highest mountainous region in Japan. So you can mix up the ridiculously good tree skiing with big, steep burly 1000m vertical lines! Purrrrfect.

The skin track leads the way...welcome to the Hakuba backcountry powder people! Photo by sunstone.

Crew getting ready. Photo by Joona Olkkola.

Mike dropping in some steep backcountry. Photo by sunstone.

Ready, set..... Photo by Joona Olkkola,

GO! Photo by Joona Olkkola.

The Japanese Alps extend a long, long frickin way above the top of Happo-One Ski Resort. Photo by sunstone.

Great bars and restaurants in laid back 'Echoland' area of Hakuba where you can hang out with like-minded powder junkies, find cute girls (or guys) and still have a party any night if you want to let's a holiday after all right!

The crew having Korean BBQ! Photo by sunstone.

and when it comes to Sashimi (raw) and Sushi you can really go to town.......

They have a great concept in Japan which is Izakaya - a drinking establishment (pub) which serves food to accompany your drinks. A bit like tapas. You can rock up to the bar drink great beer and have a variety of 'food to die for' served up right to you after getting ya face smashed all day!

So we've got powder, we've got great people, we've got killer food and what would top it all off????...maybe some kind of hot natural springs to add to the equation and you have ONSEN! Japanese have become obsessive about bathing in the Onsen and I guess so have I! In fact I plan to post the 'Onsen Diaries' which will have a bit of insight into the 'Hot Spots' around town! Just what the doctor ordered eh!

On the other side of your powder gorging, food hogging and boiling ya bones you can grab some pretty cool local culture too. And while ya here why not check out one of the most incredible mega-cities of the world -  big smoke of Tokyo. A great way to start or end your mission!

Yep it's Japan alright!

Snow monkeys hanging out in their own natural onsen - crazy. Photo by sunstone.

Ice sculptures in front of Matsumoto Castle, near Hakuba. 

Yep it really is Japan. Laura &Julie steel the kids thunder. Those Alaskan gals I dunno ;-)

Is that some kind of fancy ABS!?!? You do see some sights in Japan! Photo by Mitch.

Yebisu Beer Museum, super presentation of the history of the legendary brew in Tokyo.

The new Tokyo tower will be open in a few months!

The Asahi Flame. Signifies the headquarters of Asashi Breweries Headquarters. It's meant to represent the froth on the top of the beer glass. It's affectionately known to locals as the 'Giant Turd'!

For those less inclined for the Wild West destinations of Gulmarg or Iran, Japan could be the wife (or husband) pleasing deal with all the big resort facilities on ski school for the kids ;-)

Right just a few more pics for your viewing pleasure....

Kamoshika - A type of half deer-goat mystical creature of the Japanese woods. Photo by Maarti Larjo.

 Ville getting some. Photo by Lauri Larjo.

To book your Ninja Powder Adventure and Get in the mix to get JAPOWED email

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