Nowhere is more pronounced than the seasonal shifts at Asahidake and those who come to experience it. In Autumn, the alpine foliage turns a combination of bright orange and reds and the tram is filled with a mix of people, who have all come to see its autumnal grandeur, from high heeled ladies to seasoned hikers.
As the colors descend in to the valley, there are occasional flurries in the alpine that precede the full blown snow storms that seem to swallow the landscape, turning everything in to a white hue. It heralds the arrival of expert skiers from all around the world and the start of the powder season.
It is one of the smaller ski areas in Hokkaido. I call it a ‘ski area’ as it doesn’t have the safety and conveniences of a regular resort. First, it is unpatrolled and grooming is limited to two cat tracks which snake down the short 500 meters of vertical. Hotels can be found at the bottom. The apre-ski is the hotel hot spring and there is no night life.
There are two types of weather conditions at Asahidake, clear or stormy. When it is clear, you can see the magnificence of the volcano, surrounded by multiple smoking fumaroles. Although, frequent precipitation means that there is a greater likelihood of skiing Asahidake during a storm, when visibility is minimal. Certainly my more memorable days have been under these conditions. On a deep day, you can’t see from the face-shots anyway. Visibility is overrated.
If the visibility is often limited, so too is the terrain. On the days when you are groping around in the vertigo inducing veil of white on white, I will use the cables of the tram to guide me down. On clear days, skiers farm the terrain by fanning out further and further left or
right from the tram. A typical run will involve a boot-pack, then ski, and then a traverse back to the cat track. Prepare to work for some of your turns.
I never talk up the terrain to clients. The tram wasn’t put in for the skiers, but for people to access the alpine area in the warm months, even in high heels. The locals who ride the terrain in winter, know how to link the short descents together and carry speed over the flat
sections. Fall in one of these areas at your own peril, as a walk out from the waist deep snow can leave you wet from perspiration.
The terrain isn’t exactly snowboard friendly, but the locals do bring long powder boards to mitigate the flat sections. It’s not an uncommon site to see a 160 cm Japanese guy dwarfed by his 180 cm powder board, and a 180 cm western guy with a short 160 cm board standing next to each other.
The weather can be severe and the alpine area is very exposed. Up until about six years ago, the tram would go on hold when winds got to to 14 meters per second. Now it is 17 meters per second, which is only about 60 km/hr. But at these wind speeds, it can swing quite
close to the pylons.
So what it is about Asahidake? With limited terrain and exposure to harsh weather conditions, why do people come here from all over the world? Without doubt, it is the snow. When conditions are at their best, it is some of the deepest and lightest powder you will ever experience. And for me personally, I have had some of my best ski days of my life there.
Write a comment
Tes Mutton (Tuesday, 06 November 2018 15:32)
Looking to book some guided touring days based out of furano in feb 9-12. Asahidake and Tickachidake sound insane! Group of 2 or 4, all experienced in terrain and weather (from alaska), 2 boarders, 2 skiiers.
Could you provide quotes for day tours and package deals please?
Jani (Sunday, 03 February 2019 15:52)
Looking fir a ski guide fir Tuesday for 2 people.
One skier one boarder, both advanced.
What are the costs and availability ?
Danielle (Thursday, 07 February 2019 11:52)
Hi -- I'm looking for someone to guide 2 people on 2/18 and 2/19.
Jason (Thursday, 17 October 2019 23:31)
Hi I will be visiting Asahidake and Furano in late January. Can you tell me how much for a guide? My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Bryan (Friday, 06 December 2019 02:31)
Hi, 2 of us would like a guide to ski the Asahidake Volcano either January 19th or 20th with a preference for the 20th. Please contact me at email@example.com
Antonio (Saturday, 18 January 2020 18:39)
I a looking for a guide on feb 21, we are two advanced skiers.it would be great if you could contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike (Sunday, 26 January 2020 06:45)
I was hoping to get a guide on Saturday, March 14th for two advanced skiers. Could you send a quote to mikeburns19@gmail dot com
Powder Ski Japan Hiro (Sunday, 01 January 2023 07:15)
We Powder Ski Japan is an inbound tour operator based in New Zealand.
We have got a customer who wants to join the backcountry ski tour in Asahidake.
Can you guide our customer in the below detail?
I would appreciate it if you provide a commission for us.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Nicholas Horton (Thursday, 26 January 2023 04:30)
Looking for a guide on January 29, please let me know if you are available.
Martino Napolitani (Monday, 30 January 2023 08:40)
Looking for a guide on February 5th, please let us know if you are available. thank you.
Scott Fowler (Friday, 28 April 2023 08:35)
We are a group of 2 boarders and 1 skier. Reasonably advanced.
What is the cost per day for a guide in early february next year.
Regards Scott Fowler