Backcountry Avalanche Danger Rating
Current Avalanche Problems
Storm Slab | Likelihood: Likely | Size: small - medium
Wind Slab | Likelihood: Likely | Size: small - medium
Today was a bit of a nice surprise! With only 10cm forecast to have fallen overnight, I was a little shocked to wake up to 30+cms on the car this morning. With this in mind, my personal hazard assessment bumped the danger rating up to MODERATE for the day simply based on the amount of new snow. Once out in the field, I found it to be more of a CONSIDERABLE hazard for the day. I wish I would have had a chance to update this bulletin, but was already on the clock before realizing how different conditions ended up being. Lots of shooting cracks and reactivity from ski cuts on slopes over 30 degrees within the storm snow layer. I had a CT1, Q2 result on a test pit on a S facing slope, directly below a corniced ridgeline, at around 1000m. Lots of fractures and collapses int he snowpack today, however, very little observed in terms of releases. I kept our group on conservative terrain today and still had an all-time day of perfect pow shredding!
Cornices are growing rapidly, but still manageable. Today’s storm brought strong Northerly and North Easterly winds, so be wary on S - SW aspects below ridgelines. Cornices are starting to overhang and release very easily. I observed one small, natural release directly below a corniced ridge this am (1 - NTL - S - N - SS - R1.0 - D1.0).
The surface instabilities due to the storm slab will likely settle out overnight, so I am pegging tomorrow’s hazard at Moderate. Be on the lookout for sudden changes in ski pen on cross loaded and leeward slopes, especially near ridges with visible cornice development. My main concern is going to be these wind slabs on isolated features. Also worth noting is that today’s storm layer had some significant graupel/rimed particles accumulating in the top few cms. See photos and video below. This may or may not become a problem with the next storm layer, definitely something to keep an eye on.
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