Surfing&Biking in Spain&Portugal

Surfing&Biking in Spain&Portugal

In the fall of 2017 we decided we hadn’t had enough of biking yet, but also needed to get in the water to get our surf fix. Before making any big plans we packed up our car with bikes and surfboard, roof tent on the top of the car and headed south.

With about 2 months to play around we where mainly focussing on the surf, and whenever the swell would let us down we’d move inland to find some trails to ride.

Bretagne looked cold and stormy and the rest of France wasn’t high on our todo list so we found our way down that coast pretty quickly with just some quick stops at the more famous beach breaks.

From Spain on we took it easy and tried to check out most of the spots along the way. The diversity of this country is insane, the people so friendly, the language so beautiful, the food so good!

After two full weeks of surfing we where almost happy with a little lall in the swell where we could take a rest from the water and head inland to discover some trails. A place called Miranda del Ebro surprised us with three good days of biking. Just a hand full of locals around and a good amount of trails to choose from.

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Back to the coast we continued our way west along the northern coast of Spain. Pointbreaks, beachbreaks, big waves, small waves, sunrises, sunsets, old friends and new friends.

 

We fully got into surf mode when another big lall this time in the swell showed on the charts. So again we packed our surfboards and headed a long way inland this time to discover the area of Madrid and it’s biking scene. After a day spent in one of the bike parks we got a list of go-to spots around Madrid. This became our week long bucket list and we hit all the spots this friendly local guy told us about.

It blew our mind! I’d never expect all that much from the Spanish biking, asking around you don’t find much information. Being spoiled with the swiss maps we use over summer it is a bit of a hide and seek adventure. But with a little help of some locals, a couple of apps on our phone with which we connected some dots together, it ended up being a week of amazing bike rides in an incredible scenery. 

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And back to the water! Sad when we found out that the rest of northern Spain looked stormy we headed far far west straight through the mainland to the west coast of Portugal. Weeks we found ourselves floating along this coast a bit up, a bit down, surfing our arms of and enjoying the last warm days. We where even able to bike thought the day in the area of Sintra and have a sunset session at one of the beaches close by. YES!

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When the down jackets had to show up more and more regularly, when the wetsuits didn’t seem to keep warm after one our or so and we had to pack ourselves up in Merino at night we decided we where about ready for winter and headed back. 

 

Ski Adventures, Georgia

Ski Adventures, Georgia

When in Japan, it impossible to get enough of snow, enough of skiing/ boarding, whatever. It only get’s your stoke higher and it makes you want more. At least, that’s what it did to us. So while choking on pow on Hokkaido, we where planning a trip for spring. We had a blast on Hokkaido but where missing big lines. So you can guess what we where hunting in spring, big lines. We checked of Rishiri, see the last blog, which was a big line, wanting more.

We planned on going to Kamchatka, just a bit further north of Japan, which gets the same amounts of snow but has bigger mountains. A bit of research learned us that we needed a lot more preparation to go to this crazy place, visa’s, a lot of permits, invitations and a whole lot more where needed. Being in Japan we couldn't arrange the visa’s in time to get to Kamchatka when we wanted, ok, postpone plan A, go to plan B, Georgia, a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Yes.

A quick stop in the Netherlands where we repacked our bags and before we knew it we where in Tbilisi. We planned a month, rented a big Toyota 4runner, which you definitely need to get around in this country and off we went.

The trip didn’t go as planned. Georgia has a Continental snowpack, so after two months hardly any snow (feb/march) and cold temperatures, the snowpack was faceted, almost in all areas, all aspects. So basically we could only ski real mellow lines, but even this was a gamble where we encountered big whoomps and cracks. We observed like a million older avalanches up to size 3. 

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Within a week we drove through (what felt like the whole country) most of the mountain ranges. Checked out some REAL fun and silly CHEAP skieareas. Which have great slack country options. Gudauri, close to Tbilisi and Tetnuldi far north.

We booked a couple nights at Mnt Kazbek in the hut but when we got close to it we figured it had no snow to ski. 

We only toured a handful of days, just couldn’t do what we came to do there. We definitely did not scratch it of our list and will sure go back one day. We returned our rental car a week and a good amount of kilometers later. Repacked our bags again and went surfing in El Salvador, plan C?

Seafood and blower pow.

Seafood and blower pow.

This winter we decided to leave the main Island of Japan, Honchu for the north Island of Japan, Hokkaido. This promised us new terrain and even more snow. Can this be possible?

Mid January I was scheduled to tail guide for the Hokkaido Backcountry Club’s cat skiing operation. This operation is located out of a small fisherman's town located on the west coast of Hokkaido, called Shimamaki. With the town being right on the Japanese sea everything is about the fishing. There are two onsen hotels, and two local restaurants where in one of them all the fisherman come in to weigh there fish. Which get’s photographed and hung on the wall, a nice decoration. Sea urchins are the biggest market, they get sold expensively to China. In winter the town is calm and empty, not many fisherman are able to go out, since the sea gets wild and stormy.

These same storms make for crazy amount of snowfalls, and an insane snowpack. Every morning we drive from the coast 15minutes into the mountains where we change onto a so called ‘cat’. Also known as a piste bully, with a box built on top of it fitted for 12 powder seeking guests and their ski gear.

loaded cat

We drive another 40minutes in the cat to reach to feet of the mountains we wanna be skiing that day and than get the cat to drive us up there, and we get let loose to chase the blower pow on the way down. Over and over again. A big ridge offers us some alpine like turns while on stormy days we ride through the perfectly spaced Japanese silver birch trees. 

Two weeks in a row I found myself blown away by the quality and stability of the snowpack, not even mentioned the daily reset of +-20cm we got….

To finish the day up in style we would make our ways back to the onsen hotels, go for a hot soak in the onsen and grill the widest variety of fresh seafood on a table grill. 

 

Only in Japan.

Rishiri

Rishiri

A tiny island a little north of Hokkaido, the island is nothing but a volcano. A 1721m high non active volcano, fully covered in snow. 

 

It’s been on our to-do list from the first day we’ve been on Hokkaido, the north Island of Japan. And the second weekend of March it was the time. We where done working, had still two weeks to play around Hokkaido and a big high pressure system was right where we wanted it to be.

After our last day of work we pack our bags and set up our car to be our temporarily home for the next couple of days. 6/7 hours later we arrive to the ferry terminal of Wakkanai, where the traffic signs are also written in Russian, making us realise how far north we are, and we convert our car into our bedroom. 

We wake up with the sun rising out of the ocean and not a single cloud in the sky. A short nap on the ferry extend our sleeping time and we get to the island of Rishiri at 8.45h in the morning.

The volcano is looking amazing, the last week has been very snowy and there has only been little wind. Jackpot!

We definitely want to ride one of the north facing lines, and decide to bring up our sleeping and cooking equipment to allow us to spend a night on the mountain. 

It takes us about 5 hours to the summit, where an amazing view with 360 degrees of ocean around us awaits us. In the distance we see the island of hokkaido and the even tinier neighbouring island Rebun. It looks like we can ski down on all aspects, but having the sun out all day we pick our lines distanced from the south face to get the best snow.

We pick a nice line and ski down to the a hut which we find on an elevation of +-1230m. The hut is covered in rime which makes it almost hard to enter, but with a little help of our ice axes we find our way in. The hut or bivouac how it seems to be called does not look like it has been of any use over winter and is not equipped whatsoever. But we came prepared and settle right in, after which we are right in time to see the full moon rise in the east and have the sun setting in the west. 

We roll out our sleeping bags and cook up some ramen. And than try to keep ourselves warm in our sleeping bags which we also fill with our boot liners and gloves (the only way to sort of get them warm for the next day).

When our alarm goes of the world has turned around and we see the sun rise on the east and the full moon set in the west, it couldn't have been any more perfect.

we leave our overnight equipment behind and make our way back up to the peak. The day seems even sunnier than the one previous and the up-track goes quick. A little boot-pack and some so called ‘billy goating’ on a solid crust of ice on a 50 degree angle above no fall zone got us into the north face. Right where we wanna be, exactly on top of the line we picked out. 900 vertical meters with top to bottom blower pow on a big open face asking us to open up. Hands down, best line of the season.

Another line is staring at us, we make our way back up, pass by the hut and pick up our stuff and get ready to ride all the way back to the car, back to the ocean. More blower pow, more steepness, more opening up is happening, quit possibly there was some hooting and howling going on.. 

 

Mount Rishiri is all we could wish for.

Yotei

Yotei

We moved into a place in Niseko town, a 15 minute drive away from the office where we have our morning meetings before we head out every day, chasing pow. This 15 minute drive gives us an amazing view on Mount Yotei (whenever it's a clear day).

Mount Yotei is an inactive stratovolcano 1898 meters high. As soon as the first clear day came around our mind was set, we where going to ride this mountain, ASAP.

The 5th of Feb was such a clear day, it was even forecasted days ahead, and we where definitely not the only ones with the idea of climbing this beauty.

An early alarm made us able to enjoy a beautiful red coloured mountain while the sun was rising in the east. We had planned to hike the south-east side and come down in one of the good looking chutes down that same side. The skin track was put, there where several early birds ahead of us, and the first climb in a little gully through the trees warmed us up. Before we knew we where at the bottom of some big avalanche paths and we decided to stay on a high ridge along the paths to make a nice, safe and easy to climb skin track. This is where we lost the crowd, who manly followed up the summer route which included a good amount of boot packing.

Winds picked up a bit while getting into the alpine, but the sun kept shining on us, and a bunch of switchbacks later we found ourselves cracking a beer at the hut located just little ways away from the peak. Sheltered from the wind and with our faces in the sun we enjoyed our lunch and planned our decent. 

We climbed the last few meters, summited Yotei and got to ski down the crater! Yes, you can ski down in the crater of Yotei, where it actually holds it's best snow, some smooth soft turns got us excited for the rest of the decent down the actual face. We got back onto the ridge, walked a loop around to see how the northside is looking from the top (next clear day, check.) and dropped into some wind hammered snow op top which soon turned into some boot deep pow down the chutes on the south/ south-east side of the volcano.

A great day, a great adventure, a great mountain. 

 Route planning.

Route planning.

 The hut, located just a couple more switchbacks away from the summit.

The hut, located just a couple more switchbacks away from the summit.

 Looking down in the crater of Mount Yotei.

Looking down in the crater of Mount Yotei.

Hokkaido

Hokkaido

Sometimes it seems that life is running faster than you can actually keep up. That's what's happening with us right now.

After another amazing fall season spent on the Canary Islands, La Palma Robi had to make his way to Canada. The 2nd and 3rd Module of the Canadian Avalanche Association Level 2 course where awaiting him in Whistler. 2 weeks studying, digging in the snow and freezing your toes of since it was freezing cold in Canada at that time. All worth it, he can call himself a avalanche technician now. 

I made my way to Japan and Robi crossed the world a couple weeks later and before we knew we moved in to our new home for the season on Japan's northern island, Hokkaido;

Hokkaido home

We'll be here for the season, guiding around the Niseko area and taking clients into central Hokkaido for the real Japanese experience. Stay tuned for some powder updates!

Out of a photographers eye……

Out of a photographers eye……

So we’re the adventurers, we travel, adventure, explore and enjoy. This doesn’t mean we’re the best in actual capturing what we see or experience. And when we do it’s with a quick picture made with our phone. Somehow we did get our friend, Steve Shannon from Canada, convinced that the place we’ve been spending our last 3 falls is pretty amazing, well worth the visit. Steve is a professional photographer, and after not even a day spend on the island he told me ‘you guys haven’t really done a great job on showing how amazing of a spot this really is……’

Steve is hanging out with us for two weeks, biking his bum of and shooting pictures as much as he can. He brought professional biker Emily Slaco from Canada to make the whole biking thing look even better, en I can tell you, she did!

We continued doing what we do every day, biking trails followed by some beach time and sunsets.

What's up next?

What's up next?

Realising that the last blog I wrote was back early June, when we just had moved to Davos in Switzerland, where it was still cold and wet, it's been a while.

We've had an amazing summer, we have gotten blown away by the amazing trails, mountain biking opportunities and peoples (and their stoke level) in and around Davos. 

But what's next!?!? A question we probable ask ourselves as much as the people surrounding us do so. But we actually have an answer this time. We actually know what we're doing for the next 5 (almost 6) months!

Robi just jumped onto a plain to Canada. Where he is going for the CAA level 2 module 1 course. A 4 day classroom course where he is getting smarter about the human factor involvement in a avalanche environment. He might also have some beers and meet some friends....

We'll find each other back on Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam just before the end of the month to make our way 'back' to the Canary Islands, La Palma. 'Cause you might think we've had enough of riding bikes after this summer, we think different! 1,5 month of epic trail riding, volcanoes, sunshine, beach time, surf, friends and seafood is awaiting us. Let me remind you;

When we get back early December Robi continues getting smarter flying back to Canada to finish the CAA level 2 course with the 2nd and 3th module. After which we will meet back in..... JAPAN!

Not only the snow, but also the food, the culture, the people, the mountains have stolen our hearts. After having spend the last two years on Honshu, we're headed to Hokkaido this year, up for a new adventure! Come ride with us, give us a shout, or check out the company we will be guiding for this season: BlackDiamondTours 

Soooooo, and what's next for you!?

 

Summer in Switzerland.

Summer in Switzerland.

And so we moved to Davos, Switzerland.

As you might have find out by now, we’re always on the hunt to find epic locations. Where we can live the (our) dream, and afford it somehow (some call it work). Switzerland and affording doesn't seem to fit together but we’re making it work, and so can everyone.

Davos is the highest city in the Alps. And yes, it’s a city. It’s not the typical romantic mountain town, filled with rustic wooden chalets. No, rustic concrete it is.

The beauty of it is not something you’ll see at ‘first sight’. The area, where Davos is located is BEAUTIFUL, the city is surrounded by mountains, and windy roads going over/ through / along them. Making them all, but really all, very accessible. Winter and summer. Ski touring 3000 meter peaks right out of your car. Mountain biking through the alpine just quickly after work. Nothing special around here. 

And that’s what got us here.

We’ve been here for about a month now, planning on being here for the summer. Seeing where life will take us next. Exploring the trails in and around the area. With the snow melting slowly of the mountaintops we can’t wait to hit into the alpine on our bikes. But happy to have figured out that there is a lot more than just the alpine trails. Davos is surrounded by endless single trails, giving us a crazy amount of options every day!

And what about the ‘Bahnentour Davos Klosters’ a 80km biketour, with only 635m to bike up, and 8470m to enjoy down on alpine singletrails?

Come bike with us, click here for a great DEAL!

 

 

 

Mount Brennan.

Mount Brennan.

Canada BC has been having an AMAZING winter this year, record breaking snowfalls!

We spent our winter in Hakuba Japan (not to shabby either.....) where seasons don’t run all that long. So it’s an easy decision to pack our bags at the end of March and fly to Canada, right? We’ve spent several seasons in Canada, Rossland BC, and we love it, and there’s no other place we’d rather be. But that’s just a side note.

April will be a sweet month to fill with some springtouring missions! After a quick stop in Calgary we made our way into the mountains, where we could see how much snow they had gotten over the season. The snowpack was looking pretty damn good!

But than.... Spring kicked in. And spring got hot. Spring felt like summer. With not even cold nights to freeze things up and deliver sweet corn snow in the AM. None of that. Snow has been melting, bikes have been ridden, a lot. Couldn’t hold us from one sweet trip up to Mt Brennan tho. Located in the so called 'Goat range' in BC. Car’s packed, tent’s packed. Leaving Rossland with bluebird and summer temperatures. Every kilometer we drove we got closer to some dark looking clouds, hmm?

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We set up camp around the corner of where we were going to start our hike in the morning only minutes before it started raining. Campfire and pizza’s in drizzling rain. Not quite what we expected. 4am alarms set anyway.

4am: Pooring rain, reset alarm to 6am.

6am: Drizzling rain, slight loss of motivation.

6.30am: Very awake and feeling we should give it a shot. 

7am: Leisurely breakfast, sucker holes showing up, moods turning very motivated.

And than before we knew it we where all sledding up a very snowfree dirty dirt road.

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It took abit of flying dirt, but we got to the trailhead around 9am, ready to rock and roll and bag that peak! Sunshine got us hot and steamy, and some interesting sunburns. But arriving near peak clouds bullied us again. Patience and quick acting when we’ve got some visibility where key, and before we know it we’d bagged the peak and where riding pow!

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dropin

Not all the way, but for about 500 vertical meters, and than it turned into very sticky snow, known by some people as velcro snow. Which made us once again realize how quickly winter had changed into summer, forgetting about spring. But once down we where all stoke and smiles, ready for bbq’s, bonfires and beach time.

beachtime

Thnx for this amazing adventure pow shredders; Pete, Katie & Rachael!

Mission White Horse.

Mission White Horse.

Sometimes, it`s worth it, to sleep in a 0 degrees environment, with your (smelly) boot liners in your sleeping bag.

Wintercamping

Last week we set up our tent in the mountains, in the snow, at around 1900 meters. To quickly catch some sleep, or maybe more shortly close our eyes and get up at 2am to climb a peak. Shirouma dake 2932m.

Wintercamping

Camping in a tent....

Bobthebuilder

Or building shelter....

 

Dinerinthemountains
dinner

Diner.

Sunrise
Sunrise

Sunrise.

Ridgewalks
ridgewalks

Stormy ridgewalks.

Dropin

And this is why it`s worth it, at 7.30am the next day, this is where we were dropping into!

 

 

 

Pictures made by the most amazing #Dylfoot & Lisa Dreier

 

 

 

Cultural Japan.

Cultural Japan.

While we actually spend all of our time in the snow, and don`t see much more than only that from Japan, I sometimes feel like we`re lacking on experiencing the Japanese culture.

Not after January 15th.

It takes about one hundred villagers to build the shrine for the Nozawa Fire Festival. The shrine which they will try to burn down in full force on January 15th.

Nozawa Onsen is the town where the Fire Festival is happening. Every year on the exact same date. Nozawa is a beautiful ski town situated an hour or two away from Hakuba where we`re at (if you don`t decide to drive the summer road which takes an hour extra, been there done that).

The trees they use for the festival are cut down in October a brought to town two days before the festival takes place. Surely they`ll have some sort or more sorts of ceremonies around this shrine for the two days towards the festival, but on January 15th is the so called “fire-setting battle”. An offensive team which pretty much includes all man in town attack the shaden (also known as wood pile with 42-year-old man on top of it) with blazing torches. The shaden (and it`s man) gets protected by all of the 25-year-old man out of the same town. 42 and 25 are unlucky ages in Japan……

So, just to get you to picture this for yourself, man attack man and a big burnable woodpile with more man on it with fire, and try to light it all. Right.

The festival ends with a huge bonfire, the whole shrine will go down by the end of it, the 42-year-old man which were on top of the shaden actually have a hidden ladder on the back of the shaden where they escape on. Nobody actually gets burned, everybody involved does ends up with cuts, bruises and surely also burn marks. And everybody involved and all of the crowd gets slightly intoxicated by the liberal sake which gets poured all night. All I can advise you is to go, enjoy and not to wear your new down jacket.

“The festival originally began as an invocation for a good harvest health and good fortune in the coming year, but has expanded to include a good ski season as well”, AMEN!