The Big Japanese Backcountry Thread 15/16

Ramenman

A Local
Mar 3, 2014
5,312
6,742
563
I'm interested in mountains in Aomori prefecture too now. Aomori is very far from Tokyo and far from Hokkaido (I mean, Sapporo, Shin-Chitose Airport, Niseko, etc), so mountains in Aomori are not popular or not well known much, but it seems it has good mountains for tree skiing / backcountry skiing. According to AMeDAS ( = Automated Meteorological Data Acquisition System), Sukayu is the most snowiest place in Japan. Sukayu is an onsen village on the base of Hakkoda mountains. Ah, this is AMeDAS.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automated_Meteorological_Data_Acquisition_System

The base station of Hakkoda Ropeway is about 600m, and the top station is about 1,200m, but the highest mountain in Hakkoda is about 1,600m, so if you hike up to the peak, you can enjoy 1,000m vertical drop:cool:. But, you need a good professional backcountry guide, I mean, Hakkoda mountains can kill you, read this:eek:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakkōda_Mountains_incident

Hakkoda is very near Hokkaido, so even when Honshu ski resorts(Nagano, Niigata, etc) lack snow like this winter, Aomori mountains have abundant snowfall, which is nice. Tree skiing on snowy mountains is what I love the most:cool:

This is the snow depth of Sukayu. 4m to 5m is usual in Sukayu (it says 429cm). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukayu_Onsen
687474703a2f2f702e7477706c2e6a702f73686f772f6f7269672f695a547157



There is another mountain in Aomori that I'm more interested than Hakkoda mountains. It's Mt.Iwaki. The elevation is about 1650m, and the base is about 400m, so the vertical drop is about 1,200 meters. There is a road called "Skyline" up to 1,200m and there are lifts too, but both the road and lifts are closed during winter because it's too snowy up there (It's only for late spring & early summer skiing).

This is Mt.Iwaki. https://www.google.co.jp/maps/@40.6543492,140.2989017,15.08z/data=!5m1!1e4
DSC_0112.JPG


You can see a road in this pic. The road is closed during winter, but you can use the road when you hike up to the peak and you can ski down on the road too.
26c922bf.jpg


genba01.jpg
 
Last edited:

sbm

One of Us
Aug 2, 2010
3,064
3,375
363
Sydney
huckanddyno.wordpress.com
I dropped by Damian B's blog to read his take on the doom and gloom of this terrible Honshu season, and to my surprise he was raving about "...one of the better 50cm deep loose dry powder experiences you could hope for, with very little wind effect, and very uncrowded easy access backcountry terrain. Powder was almost Hokkaido-style."

Seems the high alpine backcountry in Hakuba is the place to be right now on Honshu! He goes on

"Skiing below treeline remains mostly poor due to a severe lack of snow, though it is very slowly getting better. Skiing at treelines is mixed, more snow is needed, though what we do have is mostly great quality snow. Skiing in the alpine is good or very good, so long as wind, visibility and snow quality is accommodating....

This season is different, and that could surprise people who are used to one-dimensional winters (endless snowfall). Things that could surprise: periods of clear weather producing surface faceting, or surface hoar. More generally, the air surface being exposed for longer periods before the next storm arrives, which can make the bond with overlaying new storm snow a little less predictable. Other things that can surprise include planning a backcountry trip based on very little new snowfall at valley bottom, only to encounter far more than anticipated at higher elevation. A great problem, so long as your plans are adjusted accordingly. Also, cold air and thinner than normal total snow depth may result in some surprises. Whilst hardly continental in character, we do not have the normal warm and deep mostly-style coastal snowpack that regular local risk takers are familiar with. Perhaps none of this will be a big deal, but keep it in mind."
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ramenman

Donza

Dogs body...
Ski Pass
Platinum
Apr 21, 2004
127,959
85,055
3,563
woonona
I wrote this on Damiens FB. I'll post it in weather as well
An Interesting comparison can be made to the season of 1997/98 . It was a strong El Nino year. Much like this year..Hakuba had a lack of snow during December and up until mid January. (So much that the olympics were in danger of no snow on the courses) . Then it started snowing. It was relentless during Feb (the Olympics were marred by postponements due to blizzards ). Its food for thought.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ramenman

Ramenman

A Local
Mar 3, 2014
5,312
6,742
563
I wrote this on Damiens FB. I'll post it in weather as well
An Interesting comparison can be made to the season of 1997/98 . It was a strong El Nino year. Much like this year..Hakuba had a lack of snow during December and up until mid January. (So much that the olympics were in danger of no snow on the courses) . Then it started snowing. It was relentless during Feb (the Olympics were marred by postponements due to blizzards ). Its food for thought.

Today, JMA issued heavy snow alert to Nagano for a week from January 17th. So it might snow very heavily from Jan 17th to 23rd just like 1997/1998 super El Nino year:p
 
  • Like
Reactions: Donza

Belly

A Local
Ski Pass
Oct 22, 2003
9,982
6,658
563
46
South Coast NSW
I've banged on years ago that in my 2 Honshu trips across nearly 3 weeks in the middle of winter I didn't get a genuine powder day. So I lived above the tree line ;)
I had no idea how this season was going but thought I'd click in as Brian Wilson is heading over in a couple of weeks.
If you exclusively want guaranteed pow go to Hokkaido. With all due respect most with that attitude don't belong above the Honshu tree line anyway. Just saying...
 
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass

jeroen

First Runs
Jan 7, 2016
2
0
1
Hi guys,

i have a more general back country related question. I live in Austria and freeriding here is pretty cool, you can ski wherever you want. How are the rules in Japan, Hokkaido? Are there specific rules that i must follow (can i duck the ropes ;) )? I heard there are some areas like kamui links has a good regulation.
 

seefarr

Hard Yards
Dec 10, 2010
45
53
68
London
Hi guys,

i have a more general back country related question. I live in Austria and freeriding here is pretty cool, you can ski wherever you want. How are the rules in Japan, Hokkaido? Are there specific rules that i must follow (can i duck the ropes ;) )? I heard there are some areas like kamui links has a good regulation.

It tends to vary by resort - some don't seem to mind and some are strict. I think this website has some good info on attitudes of various resorts:

http://www.powderhounds.com/Japan/Hokkaido.aspx

You should be aware that Japanese ski resort management often don't have the same level of avalanche training that you find in Europe and mostly don't practice active avalanche control. This is often the reason that they rope off areas and are very touchy when people cross the boundaries.
 

Sandy

Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
Moderator
Ski Pass
Jan 1, 1998
70,590
29,958
1,515
Yokohama, Japan, Melb. Expat.
I've banged on years ago that in my 2 Honshu trips across nearly 3 weeks in the middle of winter I didn't get a genuine powder day. So I lived above the tree line ;)
I had no idea how this season was going but thought I'd click in as Brian Wilson is heading over in a couple of weeks.
If you exclusively want guaranteed pow go to Hokkaido. With all due respect most with that attitude don't belong above the Honshu tree line anyway. Just saying...
When and where did you actually ride in Honshu?
 

Belly

A Local
Ski Pass
Oct 22, 2003
9,982
6,658
563
46
South Coast NSW
When and where did you actually ride in Honshu?
When early-mid Feb, 2 x hakuba 1 x nozawa over approx 3 weeks of hill time. Not a single day / overnight fall > 20cms. Hunted old fresh in trees and 3 trips above Tsugaike includimg a self guided hike to top of Norikura. Probably done with regularity these days but not in circa 07 ;)
 

smackies

A Local
Ski Pass
Oct 29, 2002
8,190
2,854
563
Bit of an effort to get to it, but there is another Hakuba avalanche bulletin put out by Doug Krause. It's usually out well before JAN and is very descriptive. It's also in English (and Japanese).

Tsugaike-centric.

http://actjapan.org/
 
  • Like
Reactions: sbm

oreo

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 15, 2007
1,669
764
363
37
www.skidescent.com
I broke that trail (kutchan route) all the way to the summit yesterday. Very tired legs with deep snow trail breaking then falling through crappy rimed bushes. Glad you made it to the top.
 

oreo

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 15, 2007
1,669
764
363
37
www.skidescent.com
Were you the solo in front of us (Hirafu, moon lake side)? If so thanks.

Yeah but I ended up skiing with a bunch of Canadians who I met at the top (they came from the Makkari Route). I'm pretty sure I'm the brightly coloured skier at the front of the five other skinners coming out of the crater in your second last photo. It was a great day and I did get just deserves all the way down.
 
Last edited:

Myazma

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 10, 2009
3,716
7,304
363
Jindi
Thought we were going to catch you, until we hit the steep cruddy section before the falsie. Well done.
 

smackies

A Local
Ski Pass
Oct 29, 2002
8,190
2,854
563
Entertaining excerpt from today's (Tsugaike-centric) bulletin.

The snowcat operator reports 100 cms of new snow overnight at 1.7k which puts our storm total in the meter and a half ballpark. The wind is strong in the Alpine and likely near Treeline as well. It does not take a wizard to recognize some of the most dangerous avalanche conditions of the season.
 

EkaiJ

First Runs
Feb 10, 2016
1
0
1
Hey I'm a lone traveller looking to make some friends to hit some Hokkaido backcountry.
I'm in myoko now, Outlook is poor. I was in hakuba riding slack country between cortina and tsugaike which was sketchy at best.
Anyone up in Hokkaido? Headed there this weekend. Would like to ride asahidake.
Is anyone up there and would like to meet up?
Alternatively does anyone know any resources like message boards to meet up with groups?
I have quite a bit of actual backcountry experience and have with me my shovel, probe, beacon, poles, split board and skins.
 

Rimey

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jan 28, 2010
1,687
1,197
363
66
The modest end of the Great Divide
Entertaining excerpt from today's (Tsugaike-centric) bulletin.

[/The snowcat operator reports 100 cms of new snow overnight at 1.7k which puts our storm total in the meter and a half ballpark. The wind is strong in the Alpine and likely near Treeline as well. It does not take a wizard to recognize some of the most dangerous avalanche conditions of the season.QUOTE]

The snowfall has been still and steady making for stable conditions, until yesterday.
There is a suncrust on southern aspects under this dumpage.

@BrianWilson disturbed 20cms of newness sitting on a suncrust on a skintrack on a SE aspect off Hyodori ridge above Tsugaike a few days ago.
 

sbm

One of Us
Aug 2, 2010
3,064
3,375
363
Sydney
huckanddyno.wordpress.com
Maeyama (Myokosan front peak) this morning. Above a sea of clouds.

LrylhS8.jpg
Run down was very good, sticking to the north side of the ridge as the sunny south aspects were already getting dangerously wet. Back in time for lunch.
 

Rimey

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jan 28, 2010
1,687
1,197
363
66
The modest end of the Great Divide
Maeyama (Myokosan front peak) this morning. Above a sea of clouds.

LrylhS8.jpg
Run down was very good, sticking to the north side of the ridge as the sunny south aspects were already getting dangerously wet. Back in time for lunch.

Similar here at Hakuba/Goryu. By eleven, the pinwheels were rolling and growing. South facing was becoming hard work.
 

Rabid K9

A Local
Ski Pass
Jul 15, 2008
6,009
6,808
563
I broke that trail (kutchan route) all the way to the summit yesterday. Very tired legs with deep snow trail breaking then falling through crappy rimed bushes. Glad you made it to the top.

Thats quite an effort setting the track all the way!! Do you think you could dash up tonight and flatten it a bit more after the snowshoers have massacred your good work? Was hoping to head up tomorrow before the weekends weather to finish off a good couple of weeks in Hokkaido.
 

Rabid K9

A Local
Ski Pass
Jul 15, 2008
6,009
6,808
563

Nice work and weather, but I hope you haven't butchered the route to much with those accursed slowshoes? I've been guilty of many a skin track destroy with my MSR's, before the lord smite me down with a splitboard'o.

Spent a few days riding another volcano last week, track set beautifully on the first two days, thought we'd dash up for a late afternoon blast on third day and found a group of three shoe bags had turned a thing of beauty into a potholed filth mire!!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Bloke and Myazma

Myazma

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 10, 2009
3,716
7,304
363
Jindi
Maeyama (Myokosan front peak) this morning. Above a sea of clouds.

LrylhS8.jpg
Run down was very good, sticking to the north side of the ridge as the sunny south aspects were already getting dangerously wet. Back in time for lunch.
Psst leave the selfies for fb,
 

Rabid K9

A Local
Ski Pass
Jul 15, 2008
6,009
6,808
563
Yotei was a wind blasted butterslop today, and busier than the Tokyo subway compared to last visit in 2011. Happily passed some Japanese slowshoers amongst the conifers, but decided to call it a day couple of hundred metres above the treeline with the wind and pretty average snow.

Mongrel Japanese equivalent of a 'foehn' was getting in everywhere, bit of a shame really to so quickly damage what has been nicely consistent conditions in Hokkaido since back in December.

From a quick observation, snowpack in areas around Niseko is considerably lesser than what I'd considered normal.
 
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass

Log in

or Log in using
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass