Season 20/21 was unforgettable for a few reasons. Covid struck and then the international borders closed, save for business travelers.
Then it started snowing in early December and didn’t really stop. Nights where it snows I am woken by the beeping of the snow groomer. I didn’t need an alarm clock this winter due to the frequency of overnight snow.
As the season progressed, the roads became narrower as the snow banks built up. Houses became engulfed in snow and first floor windows slowly disappeared. We experienced numerous days of untracked skiing straight off the lifts, the feelings were somewhat bittersweet given the circumstances.
The downtime from guiding work gave us the opportunity to examine more closely an area that we had previously earmarked as a good backcountry location. We had spent some time there a number of seasons back and had some fantastic tree skiing.
The terrain features a number of leeward bowls that are northerly facing and make for good skiing on all sides, accessed easily with a snowmobile tow-in across the approach. Old growth trees give just enough protection from the wind and are spaced perfectly.
It is one of the highest snowfall areas of Hokkaido. Perfectly located to catch the snow from the jet streams that carry moisture off the Japan Sea. My first day there the snow was falling at a rate of close to 10 cm per hour and the road groomers couldn’t keep up with the precipitation build-up.
The region is attractive for us as it is well off the beaten track. In the last few years, save for last season, there has been a growing number of visiting skiers to Hokkaido. Our intention with our newest itinerary is to provide a unique Hokkaido ski and cultural experience, far removed from the popular backcountry destinations of Hokkaido.
Let’s hope for open borders for next season!
Chuck started out as a skier on the small island of Tasmania riding rope tows with nut crackers. A dream to ski deep powder brought him to Japan back in the mid 90’s, living in northern Honshu for 2 years. Afterwards he followed the winter seasons between Canada and New Zealand working in the heli-ski industry. He has been operating Hokkaido Powder Guides on Japan’s northern island since 2003. He is a qualified ski guide with the New Zealand Mountain Guide Association.
Please contact us if you would like to find out more or want to make a booking.
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