#quattroroadtrip - HOKKAIDO CALLING

A trip to Japan for three Freeriders – Jérémie Heitz (SUI), Sam Smoothy (NZL) and Dane Tudor (CAN).

Thrilling, daring and intense: a very special kind of road trip. Join three freeride specialists seeking to explore unknown terrain on their way to Hokkaido and read the report of experience of New Zealand´s legend Sam Smoothy.  


"We etch a simple line across the silent flats, one solid line slicing through white perfection, pockmarked either side by soft circles, our skin trail the only human trace to be found here", Sam Smoothy.


Sam Smoothy (copy), Mason Mashon (photos).

Next stop: Japan

The island nation of Japan is home to 127 million people, making it one of the most densely populated places in the world. "I wonder, is it possible to stand where nobody has before? To discover that which remains unknown?", said the freerider Sam Smoothy.


Screeching to a halt on the icy tarmac of Sapporo is the calmest part of the freeriders entry to Hokkaido. Baleful neon lights scream down their invitations to buy as downtown they gather their supplies. Insulated rubber, steel spike sole boots take top priority for them all. Overwhelming life and never ending movement, a million disconnected lives smash past their shoulder, firmly fastened to their 4G fantasy phones. "As soon as the Audi’s are loaded we bolt north, far from the chaos and into the white", this is what Sam Smoothy had to say.

An all-enveloping white, a soft roar billows past their ears, whispering the sweetest sweet nothings the freerider have ever heard. Every night it snows fifteen fresh centimetres and every day they ski a different chest deep zone in this backcountry powder haven. The snow here, a beautifully blinding eraser of every noise, pain or grievance with the outside world, has so competently frozen their beard they barely mind the twenty three minutes it takes to defrost it. It’s a job well done and kudos must be given.

Skin. Ski. Sushi. Onsen. Repeat.  

A gentle blur of group self-satisfaction, a shimmering mirage hidden in the steam of the lapping wood walled baths, one they daren’t stare at too much in case it all melts through their leather bound fingers. The freeride skiers move from one shrouded vale to the next, turning from the populous and seeking deep, hidden turns, darting through the laden trees that soak in their high volume hoots.


Imperfect symmetry rears up from a hydroelectric dam wall, a voluminous eruption of evenly spaced savage concrete ledges, graced with metres of velveteen landing pads. Sam Smoothy: "Our own personal pyramid of Giza is our prize to plunder at will. In complete contrast to the peace we have found in the trees, we drop in and barely cling on to a wild, bucking ride as we bounce down the face before skidding to a halt above dark, iced water that moves not."


They roll up another isolated mountain pass, pushing their wheels higher through the mounting snow in order to poke the ski tips further round yet another bend. Exhausted but purely content, the freerider´s evenings alternate between falling asleep in bowls of ramen and staring off into the distance, a floating vision of delicately dancing flakes falling past the lashes. "The faintest faraway smile plays across my face, blind to anything but this perfect reverie. One that has been repeating in our daily reality for what seems far longer than the vague amount of days we have been here", so Sam Smoothy.

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