Snow has been forecast for Sapporo for the first time this winter:

Screen shot 2009-10-31 at 2.59.16 PM

As you can see from the graphic above, there is a 70 per cent chance that this afternoon clouds are going to turn into snowmen. You can also see that the temperature is now officially cold and probably getting colder.

I’m quite fond of cold weather but I can’t see the point of living somewhere cold unless you get to enjoy snow. Even though I can’t ski and flounder helplessly on ice skates or any other form of cold weather transport, I still love the snow. Maybe it’s because I can make snowballs – and I still have very fond memories of my first teaching job at  high school in the Czech Republic where I was able to hit the head-mistress with a snowball and get one of my students blamed for it – or possibly because snow just makes anywhere look nice, dampens the sound of traffic and somehow makes the landscape seem very peaceful. In any case, when I saw snow on the forecast I became very excited. ‘Where is the best place to find snow?’ I asked myself and the obvious answer is up a mountain so I decided to head up Teineyama – my local hill climbing training spot – and see if I couldn’t get snowed on.

And just in case it didn’t snow, I thought I’d better take plenty of photos to document my trip out there and up my favourite climb. First I got wrapped up in my warmest cycling clothes, although I did make the blunder of not putting on full-finger gloves, a decision I later regretted as I was descending a chilly Teineyama.


Moments before exiting the flat.


The bike is rearing to get out of the lift.


I would have taken a photo of the front of our apartment block but some neighbours arrived and I was suddenly self-conscious so you get the back of it instead.


Up the road and past the high school on the right. The poor kids have to go to school on Saturday - how unreasonable.


A few turns takes me to this busy street which will take me most of the way to Teineyama.


An overpass takes me over a river.


Mt Teine looms. No sign of snow yet.


Looking back at that same road again.


And now from the same spot I turn left and go this way.


Ever vigilant for unusual punctuation.


A ramp over the train line. Sometimes I take the road, sometimes the pavement, It depends on my whim.


Coming off the ramp was this bizarre thing. I couldn't tell if those are wing mirrors or not. He's overtaking one of those motorised oldpeoplemobiles.

Finally I got to the base of Teineyama but no sign of snow. Google Earth has cunningly anticipated what Teineyama looks like with a bit of snow on it, which is something like this:

Screen shot 2009-10-31 at 3.22.34 PM


This traffic light is my start line for the Teineyama climb.


There's a few more houses.


Until finally the forest starts.


The road soon kicks up.


The bottom right number says 10 per cent gradient.


My first landmark is the bridge.


And the view from the bridge is this.


Past the bridge.


These dips in the road are a bit of a hazard on the way back down.


The road up to the golf club is a bit deceptive. There's an incline which fools you into thinking you can keep going pretty quickly but the road then turns up to 8-9 per cent before hitting 12 per cent on the corner before the club.


This is what golf looks like.


Apparently there are bears somewhere.


To the right of the golf club, the ski fields are getting ready for winter.


And here's a relic of the 1972 Winter Olympics. I was born in 1972.


There's a Columbia ad to remind me that not only will I never sprint as fast as Mark Cavendish, he can out-climb me as well.


The next landmark is the entrance to the fun park. There's a drink machine there.


Is it through an underpass or under an overpass?


Oh look - 12 per cent gradient.


Here's some cyclists coming the other way. I saw a snake around here in the summer.


Nearly there. Get out of the saddle here for the last charge up the hill.


That's the finish line up there at the entry to the car park.


And there's the Olympic building with the steps I sit on.

But I knew it would be a chilly descent so I didn’t want to stop and cool down. In all, the Teineyama climb is 8.5km and my GPS reports the average gradient to be between 6 and 6.3 per cent. I suppose it varies because the GPS doesn’t record data continuously. There were clouds about at the top but no sign of snow so I thought I might as well descend and ride up again and to try and beat my personal best and hope that by the time I got to the top, it would start snowing. I beat my PB but it didn’t snow.

Screen shot 2009-10-31 at 4.39.23 PM

Look - lots of numbers that I don't understand*.

I then had a descent that froze my fingertips followed by a chilly ride home, two cups of nice, hot coffee and a nice, hot shower. Sadly, still no sign of snow but some fog/clouds moved in over the mountains.


Here's the view from our balcony a little earlier. You can't see any of the mountains now.

Sad to report, I don’t think we’ll be getting snow today. I think it’s trying to but all we’re getting outside now is mushy rain. And now I have to find a way to the pub to watch the Bledisloe Cup on the telly.


*By which I mean I only spent several hours scrutinising them last night.

12 Comment on “Hunting for snow: Teineyama

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