In this age of warming global temperatures, abnormal weather patterns and diminishing snow, there is one known in the ski industry. If you want guaranteed powder, ski Japan.
Some of the first foreign skiers to Japan were the Australians, who realised they didn't have to travel all the way to North America or Europe to satisfy their skiing fix during the hot Australian summer. Then news spread of Japan's white riches to North America, where regions like California were experiencing drought year in year out.
Europe also has not experienced a good season in a while either, at least that is what I hear. Either it is a good start and peters out, or a good finish, but rarely a good full season. Last season we had two Chamonix based guides working for us who's colleagues spent the first part of their winter guiding ice climbing because there was no snow to ski guide. Keen skiers, they will be back working for us again this season.
If I am sounding like the harbinger of 'bad news,' fear not... for there is always Japan. When I question Canadian returnee clients why they make the long journey back to Japan, their reply is the same, "Japan is guaranteed powder."
Skiing isn't the only sport where information is shared. Surfing is another. A few years ago we guided the Swedish national surf champion and we got talking about the internet. When he searches for new breaks he goes searching alone, and when he finds one, he tells no one, not even his best friend. We are social creatures and this shows a lot of restraint.
For powder chasers staying in Niseko, the peak is one spot you go on a powder day. A period of a few days of storms and high winds may mean that the top lifts at Niseko are closed.
When the winds abate and the top lifts open, there will be a constant stream of traffic heading out the gates.
Be early, and you will have fresh lines down to Hanazono. Be late and you will be crossing tracks.
If you are a cyclist you may have heard of Strava which is a way of sharing rides with your friends. A Facebook for cyclists perhaps. Any ride which is uploaded to the application is automatically added to their global heat maps and so you are able to see where people ride, anywhere in the world. The above example is a partial map of southern Hokkaido and the lines denote roads which cyclists mostly ride. The deep vein red lines are the most popular routes and the more faded the red, are the less ridden routes. The blue lines are the least ridden roads.
If it were actually a skiers heat map of where the most skied areas of Hokkaido, you would find deep red on ski areas where there is an abundance of accommodation at the base of the resorts. As an example, Niseko would be deep red, Furano a lighter red. Asahidake would be a deep red. Your image of Asahidake is a volcano out in the middle of nowhere right? Well, it is, but it does also have around eight hotels at its base which really puts a strain on the small terrain that the one ropeway accesses, regardless of how much it snows there.
We are in constant search of the blue lines and the lines not on the map yet.
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