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Night Shift

27 January 201502:21PMjapan-2015travel

I just got back from night skiing and it is unbelievably freakin' cool.

(It is also, according to the novelty size thermometer at the top of the chairlift, incredibly freakin' cold, edging out somewhere slightly colder than ten below zero.)

ski poles

The mountain is all lit up with these gigantic stadium-style light poles, and there are a couple of chairlifts and a gondola that keep running until about half past eight. For context, it gets dark at around five-ish. So on a good day, you'll get three hours of skiing in after the sun goes down.

Everything looks different after dark. Familiar runs that you've done before in the light become unknown. There are shadows everywhere - sharp, unnatural shadows from point sources, not the fuzzy diffuse ones you get from the sun shining through a cloud layer. The snow is harsh and beautiful and somehow manages to look even colder.

It looks, I reckon, a bit like the surface of the moon.

moonscape one

It's quiet, too. Not just not-busy, although it certainly is that. It's actually physically quiet too. I had a chairlift chair to myself on the way up, and the only thing I could hear was the the wind howling through the chairs coming the other way, and the gentle swooooooooosh - silence - fwapswooooooooooosh of a snowboarder jumping something somewhere below.

A lot of times I was the only one on my chair. Or the only one on my run. Sometimes, if it weren't for the grinding of the chairlift poles, I could've been the only one in the world.

only person in the world

Normally I guess this would give you first dibs at tomorrow's fresh snow, if it was falling heavily. It was actually falling today, but we'd had a bit of rain earlier so everything got harder and slushier as you got down. By the bottom everything was pretty crusty and compacted, which made the first couple of turns of lighter, powderier stuff at the top of the lift on the way back up all the more refreshing.

This is all probably incredibly dangerous. Never mind the fact that I enjoyed it so much that I did my first solo runs - possibly ever - when the other guys went home (it was very cold). It was patrolled though. And I don't think there are any wolves.

I'm not into the whole 'do X before you die' thing, but seriously. If you ski or board, find somewhere with lights and do some sliding after dark. Preferably before you die. It's absolutely incredible.

the team

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