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Cold Hard Numbers

31 January 201506:29PMjapan-2015travel

So this is what I look like to my lift ticket...

January 21

January 22

January 23

January 24

January 25

January 26

January 27

January 28

January 29

January 30

The ski passes at Niseko have a pretty neat feature. You can log into a website, and it'll give you all the data they've got about your lift usage for each day.

This is pretty cool, because - apart from the bit where all the lift names are in Japanese - it gives me a neat reminder of what I did, roughly where I went, how much I skied, and how long I spent on the mountain.

Here are some datariffic highlights.

January 23rd was really, really horrifically windy - but we gave it a try anyway. Once we got up there, we realised that there were only a couple of lifts open, and that we'd basically be alternating between skiing in utterly rubbish conditions and waiting in very long lines to get back up into those rubbish conditions. We sort of gave up after that. Not without clocking in though, which gives us that coveted 'skied every day' achievement!

January 27th was the other rubbish day. It rained that morning, turning to snow in the afternoon. And then we went night skiing which, though we could probably have picked a better day for it, was brilliant.

Our longest day in terms of time, and slope distance was January 24th, which was the day we headed over to the other side of the mountain. Our longest in terms of vertical distance covered was the 22nd, though. Don't ask me what vertical distance means - I'm not really sure. The 24th, 25th and 29th are equal highest altitude, probably because they were all at the top of the same chair.

The little ziggy-zaggy bits at the tail end of the day usually indicate where Matt and I stayed out after Dad had headed home. We stuck to the Ace Quad Lift for those ones, and if the graph is to be believed, did it slightly faster than we otherwise would. Well, than I otherwise would. I tend to get a bit more confidence when it's pure sibling rivalry spurring me on, apparently.

We also did a fair bit of back country stuff alone too, which included probably my worst stack to date. I came down into a bit of a gully, having left matt behind, and I must have caught my skis under something because I came off one, then came off the other, then did probably two decent front flips, crunched my head into the snow (it was the snow that crunched, luckily, not my neck) and came up basically okay but for some bruised pride. It was really one of those moments I was glad to be wearing a helmet.

(PSA: For the love of god, wear a helmet when you go skiing or boarding. We were waiting on some to become available for our first day, and I can't express how exposed and thin my skull felt under nothing but a beanie. Who cares if you look stupid. Wear a helmet.)


Another pattern to look out for is the one-two-three starting at base and ending around 1000m. That't the Hanazono lift system, which is three chairlifts in a row in a different area to where we were staying, and the only way to get back from there is to catch all three up to the peak and ski back down another set of runs. Australia day has a pretty decent example of one of these.

You can even see when we went for lunch. They're the bits around midday wit a much shallower gradient. Obviously since the system is tracking lift rides, it doesn't know that we stopped, so it looks like we slowed riiight down and just took a verrrrry long time on that run.

I'm not sure how it figures out when we finished though. You don't have to tag off the mountain, so maybe it just takes your average speed and assumes you do that down to the base of the lowest lift. It looks to me like that's what's happening, actually, and I guess that's a pretty reasonable assumption.

We did some comparisons against Dad's ski tracks app, actually, and generally the assumptions it's making seem to hold up. Obviously all the lift bits are correct, but the estimates for vertical and slope are all within about 10% as well, which gives me some confidence in talking about my favourite bit:


We spent an hour every day on lifts, and about ten hours on lifts in total, which is longer than the flight I'm sitting on to write this. If you put all of those lift rides together - and were willing to sit there for the requisite ten hours - you would pass the Karman line, putting you officially into space.

Now that's some cool data.

Gratuitious plug to, who are responsible for this data wizardry. You'd get even more bonus points if you let me export it to a spreadsheet, or had the lift names in English, but kudos all the same.

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