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Hakkoda

Discussion in 'Japan' started by RyanMM75, Mar 30, 2019.

  1. RyanMM75

    RyanMM75 Hard Yards

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    Has anyone been to Hokkoda?.
    Thoughts? Is there enough mountain or nearby mountains to spend 9 days there?.
     
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  2. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    You mean, Hakkoda, right?. It's Yes and No. I mean, there are many very snowy good mountains for backcountry. If you are willing to pay to hire guides for 4 - 5 days, you can enjoy 9 days in the region, but if you are going to ski only inside ski resorts, 9 days is too much.
     
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  3. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    A day at Aomori Spring Ski resort without hiring a guide(The ski resort is on Mt.Iwaki, very near Hakkoda mountains and it has very big half pipes and terrain parks, so if you like them, you can spend two or three days there). Aomori Spring Ski resort has English speaking backcountry tours to Mt.Iwaki and Hakkoda mountains, so one backcountry tour to Mt.Iwaki and one backcountry tour to Hakkoda. One of Hakkoda mountains has a ropeway, and you can spend 2 or 3 days there without guides. There are some other very snowy mountains good for backcountry, but those mountains are a lot less common, so I'm not sure if you can find English speaking tours there(there are tours for Japanese speaking people there, though). Aomori is very close to Iwate and Akita, so if I were you, I would go to Iwate / Akita after skiing in Hakkoda region for 4 or 5 days, though.
     
  4. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Resort can be covered in a day or two.

    The real skiing is bc, etiquette is you use guides. Also because the best lines need a taxi back.

    I’d go back for a week but maybe not 9 days.
     
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  5. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thread title corrected.
     
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  6. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    Hakkoda is not the next logical place after Niseko and Hakuba. It is so far removed from what makes those other places popular. As others have mentioned, it is more BC focussed. Gets crazy wind and weather. Focus your investigations on exploring Myoko and Yuzawa if you are after tree skiing. Also think about investing in a car - you will find some nice little gems with little competition mid week.
     
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  7. Draizuh

    Draizuh One of Us

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    Hakkoda is most famous in Japan for killing 199 soldiers when they were trapped in a blizzard en route to an onsen as part of winter warfare training. Due to heavy snows and its extremely costal nature the area is prone to Juhyo.
     
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  8. Rabid K9

    Rabid K9 One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    I like Hakkoda for it's winter wildness. Return regularly. Five to seven days is the usual.

    Easy to get lost, but plenty of fun. Has been monotonously WNW winds, > -10C & more than 20cm a day everyday I've been there. Rarely good visibility during peak winter, but part of what makes the place. Snow quality & vegetation is pretty special.

    Terrain can be underwhelming without getting to know it a little more intimately. For the better routes, guide with transport, long walks or hitching will be required. Have done all three, female decoy works well for the hitching.
     
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  9. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    You need to specify what sort of place you are looking for.

    Hakkoda is not a regular ski area as others have pointed out. If you are looking for a regular type of ski area look elsewhere. If you are into backcountry options then yes. Also depends on when you go. Mid winter conditions are often pretty stormy but in spring much milder which opens up many more touring routes.

    Otherwise if you are looking for regular ski areas with several options in northern Tohoku look at places around Morioka like Appi etc.

    Have a look at my past TR's for an idea (includes Hakkoda in 2009, 2010 & 2012).
    https://www.ski.com.au/xf/xfa-blog-category/japan.14/view-entries
     
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  10. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

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    Hotel Jogakura also have backcountry tours to Hakkoda mountains. I recently heard a rumor that Bluemoris would start backcountry tours. Bluemoris is a Japanese ski brand from Aomori Pref. Ao = blue, Mori = forest. So, Aomori prefecture means 'Blue Forest', and that's why the founder named his ski brand Bluemoris. They used to be just a ski manufacturer but last year, they made a tourism agency. They offer you some different outdoor activities around Hakkoda mountains.

    Hotel Jogakura : https://www.jogakura.com/en/

    Bluemoris : http://bluemoris.com/bluemoris.html

    八甲田 = Hakkoda. They name the ski "Hakkoda classic"
    [​IMG]
     
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  11. buckwheat

    buckwheat One of Us

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    Hakkoda was my home hill for a season when i lived in aomori for a year. If you stick to the 2 official courses, you'll be bored in a day. If you venture off piste "in" bounds, a week would be great, but def recommend finding a local to show you around, it is proper forest with lots of creeks that catch people out, esp snowboarders due to restricted ability to schlep through waist deep pow. Not unusual for a visitor to be benighted! The backcountry is very good but winter weather is rarely kind at hakkoda (refer 199 soldier deaths above) , i saved most of my bc for spring. And avvy danger is very real! But yes, with local guiding 9 days would be ok, 7 may be better.
     
  12. Rabid K9

    Rabid K9 One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yep, lots of terrain traps, can stumble into them without even knowing in the poor vis right on treeline up there.

    Have triggered small slides up there right on that transition from alpine plateau into steeper high altitude forest, don't even realise until you squint & see the blurry outline of the cracking in that blur of wind, snow & cloud.
     
  13. buckwheat

    buckwheat One of Us

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    This was an avvy in the BC we came across the morning after it happened. Was kilometres long, from the summit to the valley floor, all the way to ground. Freaky schizzle!
     

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  14. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Still waiting on the OP to specify what he is actually looking for.
     
  15. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    That was at Hakkoda? :eek:

    We had sluffs, waist deep sluffs but all stopped with us. In February at Hakkoda, Simon was the guide.
     
  16. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    @RyanMM75
     
  17. buckwheat

    buckwheat One of Us

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    Yep skifree, was on the backside, not the resort side. From memory descending odake. Nuther pic attached
     

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  18. Rabid K9

    Rabid K9 One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    That is massive. Was it a wet slide? Anything to do with geothermal?
     
  19. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    That’s HUGE!!!
    You would not want to find yourself in the path of that thing.
     
  20. buckwheat

    buckwheat One of Us

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    Pretty sure not geothermal, and pretty sure natural release, but not clear on exact release mechanism. A few years later in a similar spot was the avvy where the Thredbo patrollers (on holidays) rescued a Japanese group.
     
  21. Nozawaman

    Nozawaman A Local

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    DPS Driver was one of them .
    How it going mate ????
     
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  22. sara777

    sara777 A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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  23. buckwheat

    buckwheat One of Us

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    Hey nozawaman, all sweet! Toying with the idea of dragging my 4 year old on a japan trip next year, may swing by! You still at Sasa?

    If DPS driver was on that rescue then i dare say he knows my half sister. PM incoming!
     
  24. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Yeah that's me in the blue and white probing for the lost guy.

    I actually found him when I was digging a shelter for one of the others. That's him in the other picture. He was under for 90 minutes. We probed the hell out of the entire slide site and were I found him we had probed at least twice right above him with correct procedure and never made a strike. Luck of the draw.

    My shovel hit his arm when I was digging, they said one of his injuries was a broken wrist, think I might have been responsible for that.
     
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  25. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks for sharing this info DPS Driver.
    We all learn something from every personal account of rescues, close encounters and the like.

    This is interesting.
    And just goes to show, keep looking. Don’t rule out an area just because you didn’t find someone the first time.

    I’m sure he didn’t mind.

    I’ll never forget when the one person in my course asked how hard they should shove the probe in because they didn’t want to hurt the buried person... I think everyone erupted at the same time with go hard or go home, we would rather you injured us and found us before we suffocated than be an undamaged corpse!

    This account also emphasises how vital beacons are. If he had been wearing a beacon you’d have found him so much earlier and not wasted so much energy searching vast areas of debris. Even if it is just for body recovery - do the searchers a favour and wear your beacon.
     
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  26. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Yeah for sure. Wear a beacon, couldn't believe a group of 24 with no beacons and guided.

    Probing is not an exact science. Even after we dug him out and he was only under about 30 cm's, I went over the probe site trying to figure out how we missed him. We started in the centre of the slide debris where most of the survivors were and asked who the missing man was standing or skiing next to so thought we had a reasonably good chance to find him quickly but to no avail.

    What made it difficult is we had the two dead at the top end of the debris and one injured snowboarder at the bottom end, roughly a distance of 100mtrs apart, so couldn't rule out any area of the path after not finding him and probed the entire area. he ended up being about a 2 metres from the guy I was looking after, which is where we started probing and where we thought he should be. hence we probed that area several times. He was twisted but mainly on his side with his head face down legs splayed and arms. I estimate we probed between his legs, either side of his torso and under his armpit etc missing very time. Wear a beacon.
     
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  27. geeoff

    geeoff Hard Yards

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    Was the slide on north east face of Mt Maedake near dozo route?
     
  28. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Yes it flows down into the drainage. The slide filled the upper section of the drainage.

    We climbed Maedake to the peak. We knew the storm was coming and we were supposed to have another 2 hour weather window but that didn't happen. I was second to summit and as the third of our party summited it hit with 120klm winds and was loading the run we were going to ski with heavy wet snow from the south west. In total there was eight of us, 7 in our crew and the guide Simon. By the time we were all assembled at the summit it was off the scale, so we decided to side step down the ridge line adjacent to the face we climbed.

    When I was 2/3rds of the way up I turned and saw the group of 23 who were caught in the slide. They were on the small ridge prior to the drop to the base of Maedake. That was the last I saw of them until we came across them later on.

    What happened is they circled the eastern side of Maedake and skied onto the Nth East face, well half of them did the other half took the safe route. When we got down we skied through the trees on the flatish ground on the eastern side. We were probably 80 metres to the east of the slide. All we saw were two groups of people standing around, we didn't know it had slid and couldn't see any signs of a slide from where we were. But the way they were standing and moving didn't look right, so we decided to push across to see if they were OK. As we approached the edge of the drainage we could see what had happened.

    They had no shovels, no peeps, no communication and most were in shock. We dug 10 people out, 2 dead and worked on one of them for a while with CPR and ventilation and attended to eight with mild to serious injuries, ruptured kidneys, broken bones & ruptured spleens. We worked on them for a couple of hours comforting and building shelter with the storm raging away. Simon had a two way radio and alerted emergency assistance which took a few hours to arrive, due to the location. First up was a young female guide from Hakkoda with a flask of hot tea.

    We thought our job was done as police, fire & guides flooded the scene but then the police chief turned to us and asked if we could ski some of the injured down, so we ended up skiing all of their equipment in our arms as they didn't have enough sleds and one sled with one of the injured to the road as well. All the time with the police chief who couldn't ski that well and was slowing us down, so one of the boys hip checked him into the drainage and we carried on without him.

    We came out of the quiet forest to an absolute circus of media, emergency services, locals and snow blowers everywhere. It was unbelievable. We jumped in our bus and got out of there back to the Sansou for a hot bath.
     
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  29. Beerman

    Beerman One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Great work @DPS Driver.

    People that put themselves out for others are true humans. :thumbs:
     
  30. geeoff

    geeoff Hard Yards

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    Sounds very heavy!
    We were there last year with a Japanese guide. We had 20-30cm of consistent dry snow each day with no significant wind loading or temperature variation, but even still he was extremely cautious on that face. Dug a pit the first day and then second day wasn’t happy and we retreated back along the fairly mellow tree line to the right.
     
  31. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

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    I hope the OP will choose somewhere else as they are not experienced enough.
    Here is another post from OP in another thread.............
    "Love some advice what Japan resort to go to 2020.
    Skiied Japan last 4 years myself and my son and his mates. (I’m the only Skier others Boarders) All of us can Ski virtually anything. We go 3rd week Jan every year no other date option, ski 9 days straight.
    Skied Hakuba, Hakuba, Hakuba, Nesiko.
    We spend most of our time skiing trees and back country but don’t hike or have any avalanche gear. Last year Rusutsu was the best mountain I’ve ever skied just loved it. In a perfect world would love to go back there and somewhere else as I feel 9 days maybe too long at just Rusutsu, thought Niseko a little too busy, been suggested Hokkoda but worried a little too restricted for options for 9 days. Anyone have any thoughts for me?."
    These sort of posts are very concerning!!!! Especially for peeps such as DPS who had to deal with the shit.
     
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  32. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Which is exactly why I replied in that other thread on the 29th of March, as follows:
     
  33. buckwheat

    buckwheat One of Us

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    Reminds me of the cattle rustlers i met in gulmarg. "Avvy gear? We're not scared of avalanches, we wrestle bulls for a living". Couple of days later one caught in a small slide and scared the crap out of them, didn't see em on the hill after that!

    DPS Driver, you are a true legend! I could only pray I'd be half as capable as you guys if a similar situation ever arose
     
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  34. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Nah, no legend mate, would've preferred a gentle ski day, a cup of tea at the tea house and laugh with the boys. Didn't turn out that way.

    Just the right people in the right place at the right time. I should also point out that my patrol mates weren't just a bunch of vollies, one was the ex president of ASPA, another is one of ASPA's lead instructors and a couple of others ex pro patrollers who've worked around the world and all with over 20 years patrolling experience. So we had a bunch of capable people and we just clicked into rescue mode. It wasn't a conscious decision, we had no choice but to help. The carnage, confusion, pain and grief we saw when we got there was palpable. The choice was made for us.
     
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  35. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Yeah but not unusual.

    The majority aren't like the bull wrestlers Buckwheat alludes to. Must just haven't been educated on the mountains and particularly the back-country. They don't know what they don't know.

    The problem is the ski media glorifying the back-country and the ski manufacturers making gear for easier access to the back-country. All of this without any general education process in place. The avi course crew are scrambling to catch up but the horse is bolting. Even some of the avi course providers are culpable. The two day awareness course, i'm torn over this. Is it giving enough information to the student to make educated course decisions, in many cases I don't believe it is.

    So we have a mix of educated back-country travellers mixed with a bunch of over confident, slightly aware with undeveloped skillset travellers and no cluers out there. It's a perfect recipe for disaster. Add to this the resorts total non acceptance that avalanches even happen, because it's bad for business and voila. The resorts are where everybody starts, it's where the education needs to start from and it needs to be open and easy to find. That is how we start to inform those who have no clue about how dangerous the back-country can be. If the resorts can turn this into a revenue stream then it will have legs. I see some early signs from some resorts but more needs to happen.
     
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  36. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    100%
    Best thing I’ve read on the internet this year.

    The awareness should start while people are still skiing in the resort, years before they even contemplate any backcountry.

    And it starts small, like not sitting or standing in the exit path from a chairlift - basic situational awareness. If they can’t see something as blatantly obvious as that, how are they going to notice all the small signs of instability on the ascent? (Or worse still, lift accessed, no ascent to assess and just drop and hope for the best).

    I know it’s WAY off the topic of Hakkoda, but honestly if the resorts get one or two early lessons with people who will later go on to head out back maybe instead of giving them the L1 single season instructor they should be sending out an instructor who can fill them so full of information and understanding that more lessons are important, the mountain code is not just words on the lift towers.and back country training is essential to stay alive. Just seems a missed opportunity to me.
     
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  37. nezumi

    nezumi One of Us

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    Watching a video of a couple of my favourite Youtube snowboarding channel I found out about the Avalanche Ranch at Revelstoke. This is a training area for people to practise/refresh their backcountry skills before going out of bounds.

    I agree that adequate training and gear is essential (given that I have only just committed to my first board for in-bounds riding, I think I am a little ways off that purchase or education). I am both encouraged by and wary of community-run groups for backcountry activities, the same as I am with open-invite road cycling groups. I don't want some random person's inexperience to put me at risk, but by the same token I realise that to grow the take up of the activity and get people moving, we need to make people feel welcome.
     
  38. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Oh! forgot to mention, for those that knew him. Simon passed away last year. The big C.

    He was a good bloke for a snowboarder.;):thumbs:
     
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  39. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yes I had posted that somewhere last year or maybe even year before that.
     
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  40. skifree

    skifree grey Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    An interesting character, spent two days with him in the Hakkoda white room.
     
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  41. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Yeah, he was an interesting character. He came out here the year after and went through some ASPA training to better arm himself for guiding. He was more a tour guide than a mountain guide.

    I took him up for a stroll to the top of Australia one afternoon, so he summitted Kosciuszko.
     
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  42. Endless_Winter

    Endless_Winter One of Us

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    Not dissing anyone’s point of view, but I’d like to think it all comes down to personal responsibility.

    The responsibility for backcountry education that’s been mentioned needs to borne by the individual.

    I don’t think “ski media” or resorts or gear manufacturers that make backcountry gear are really to blame for anyone coming to grief out in the big, cold, white world of the backcountry.

    Of course, who doesn’t see some amazing picture of someone skinning bottomless jap powder on Instagram and go, “wow, I wish that was me!”.

    People need to understand that when you’re out in a storm in northern Japan in winter that there’s a certain risk factor involved. It’s up to YOU to mitigate that risk. How you do that is up to you. Generally, there’s always going to be people that are willing to help/rescue you, but it’s a matter of how quickly and/or easily they can get to you. The stats say that if you’re buried in an avalanche, outside help is unlikely to save you. Avalanches are merely a subset of bad shit that can happen to you. If in doubt, it may be wise to pass that risk mitigation onto someone more experienced, with local knowledge and appropriate training i.e. a qualified guide.

    DPS drivers experience shows us that prevention is way better than cure. Those people (that lived) were so lucky he and his group were there. I’ve been in that situation... Corpses, broken bones, chaos and helicopters. Not pleasant. At all. Really. I’ve spent an hour on the phone to someone I’ve never met and had to explain how their loved one died in an avalanche in front of me. Personally, I see avalanche rescue gear as a “Hail Mary”. It’s a last ditch “shit has hit the fan this m-a-y save us” thing. Having said that, of course I carry a beacon, probe and shovel in avalanche terrain, the probe and shovel have non-rescue uses so I almost always have them in the snow anyway.

    I find the proliferation of airbag packs interesting. I was initially really keen on buying one, now not so much. Not to say that they don’t have their place, but I don’t think an airbag pack is going to help you much in an avalanche below the tree line.

    This is in no way to claim I somehow know more then anyone else, am immune to risk and have some magical sense that always keeps me alive out there while other people come to grief. Far from it. I sincerely hope I’m aware of my own limitations out there, I take certain risks, but try to minimise them and when I do expose myself or my group I also try to minimise any adverse consequences. My attitude is that the only mandatory goal for the day is to make it back to the car/hut, every other goal is optional.

    I’d rather ride with someone who has no beacon but a really well dialled sense of risk and awareness who changes the plan at the drop of a hat and is happy to say “no” based on intelligent analysis rather than someone who carries “the gear” but rides the line they want “because that was our goal for the day” regardless of the conditions or events.
     
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  43. Rabid K9

    Rabid K9 One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Very interesting style, with the poles & stance.
     
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  44. Lonepeak

    Lonepeak Hard Yards

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    So.....back to the topic. Hakkoda (ropeway) has been on my list for a few seasons. I would certainly intend on hiring a guide, but big question I have - when to go? I see a lot of info on real nasty weather causing ropeway closures. Is there a certain time to shoot for to hopefully still have the snow but maybe not overly nasty weather? Other lift served areas would be the bad weather back-up, but I would like some latitude to hit Hakkoda when decent/works.
     
  45. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Depends on what you want. If you want powder you need to be there mid winter when the weather may be potentially nasty.
    But if you want to do a bit of spring skiing and touring say March & April the options open right up. Lots of routes possible.
     
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  46. Lonepeak

    Lonepeak Hard Yards

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    Definitely for powder. Route exploring could be a follow-on season adventure.
    Mid winter is...? Anytime January-February? Or mid Jan to mid Feb? I'm flexible but I'm trying to talk my son in to coming out from the US, so I'm hoping for prime time conditions. Past season he left massive west coast snow for dry Hokkaido mid Feb. I know it was an off season, but still want to have best odds for pow.
     
  47. buckwheat

    buckwheat One of Us

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    Anytime in feb would be best. Having said that, i had pow from 1st dec to april 30 the year i was there - but statistically, February sees only 2 fine days, the least of all months. And a smidge later (ie not jan) means the creeks are more likely to be filled in. Important if you want to duck the rope and ski between the 2 official courses!
     
  48. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    I wouldn't get too distracted by the "bad weather", wild stuff.

    It's a little more exposed than some areas but it's not that bad from a weather perspective.
     
  49. Lonepeak

    Lonepeak Hard Yards

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    Good - February works best for me anyway. I just need to convince him to come out. Otherwise, I lack an accomplished powder buddy - and most mates I go with are.......boarders.