Backcountry Avalanche Danger Rating
Current Avalanche Problems
Wind Slab | Likelihood: possible | Size: small
Cornice | Likelihood: possible | Size: small
… I’ve been out touring around a bit this week, mainly around Annupuri. Got out into the Back Bowls yesterday and had a brief window of decent visibility. Cornices are developing, but nothing is overhanging yet. We kicked off a medium sized chunk onto a 35+ degree slope with no results. It took a bit of effort to cut the block loose with some stomping. Keep an eye on these as they develop during upcoming storm cycles. Several very small, isolated pockets of windslab popped loose with ski cuts, but only ran a meter at most. Still something to keep an eye out for.
Shinyasan’s avalanche page mentions a hoar frost layer down about 30cms on South facing aspects between 600-700m. I haven’t come across this personally but will be keeping an eye out for them this week as conditions have been such that surface hoar development is certainly a possibility. Two snow pits this week between 700m and 1000m showed no evidence of this layer.
The 12/4 rain crust is getting close to a meter deep in most places. ECTN23 & ECTX on that layer from different pits in Annupuri backcountry. That said, it still feels like a pretty ideal bed surface with the right slab on top of it. Prior to last storm cycle, the NW face of Annupuri was scoured right down to that rain crust, so be mindful of it in shallower areas that may have been scoured and then laid over with a wind slab during this week’s storms.
Overall snow structure is looking pretty good from what I’ve seen, but do your homework! Get out there, poke around, and share your observations and findings. My information is based on data gathered by only one or two guides right now… which is far from perfect. Join the Hokkaido Backcountry Obs facebook group to share what you find and stay up to date.
I’m pegging overall avalanche hazard at Low. That does not mean no danger exists! Be smart and alert to changes in the snowpack on isolated features. Additionally, it is still early season/low-tide conditions out there. Ski with caution. Plenty of shallow obstacles out there ready to take you down ;).
As a local guide and avalanche professional, I have chosen to share this hazard assessment in the interest of encouraging better information sharing within the local community. This avalanche bulletin is to be used at your own risk and is based on very limited data gathered by myself and other guides working for Japan Powder Connection. Please use this information in addition to other resources and take responsibility for your own actions in the backcountry. Also, please respect and abide by all Niseko Area Rules. This information applies only to backcountry areas accessed externally from all area resorts. This information is normally published the evening before and in effect for the following day.
As always, remember that making good decisions in the backcountry takes a lot of practice and experience. Having the gear is a small part of the equation. Take an avalanche safety course and hire a properly trained guide so you don’t learn the hard way!
Japan Powder Connection - Professional Backcountry Guides and Instructors
Niseko Avalanche Information - Shinyasan’s avalanche information page. Not a ‘bulletin’ by Western standards, but Shinyasan has been doing this for 20+ years and knows these mountains far better than myself.
Snow-Forecast - Niseko Area Weather Forecast
Niseko Now - Local Weather and Conditions Summary