Note: this bulletin is published in the pm and effective for the following day. Be alert to differences in the forecast and actual snowfall amounts and weather activity overnight.
Backcountry Avalanche Danger Rating
Upper (>1000m): MODERATE
Mid (800-1000m): MODERATE
Lower (<800m): MODERATE
Current Avalanche Problems
Storm Slab | Likelihood: Likely | Size: small - medium
Wind Slab | Likelihood: Possible | Size: small - medium
Limited field observations again today. I did get some reactivity in tonight’s storm snow on small, steep features inbounds at Hirafu. It was snowing heavily this evening, so be heads up tomorrow especially in the lower elevations where the surface snow may have been more impacted by the recent warm spell and rain. Tomorrow’s hazards are remaining at a MODERATE rating. Most forecast models are calling for strong winds out of the west, with very strong gusts. Tonight’s low density pow will create a nice fetch for wind loading, so use caution on wind effected slopes. Cornices, wind lips, and changes in ski pen [how deep your skis penetrate the surface snow… shallower ski pen indicates a stronger surface slab] should all alert you to the presence of potentially dangerous wind slabs. Additionally, assess more sheltered and lower elevation slopes for storm slab instabilities [be on the lookout for shooting cracks; use slope cuts on small test slopes with minimal consequence]. Any changes in elevation or aspect [the direction a slope faces] requires re-assessment.
For reference, I am including the North American danger scale in today’s bulletin. Familiarize yourself with the language associated to each danger rating as this is the system that I am basing these bulletins on. Remember that even a LOW rating does not mean there is no danger of avalanches. In North America, the majority of all fatal avalanche accidents happen on days with MODERATE and CONSIDERABLE ratings.
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 area resorts. This information is published the evening before and in effect for the following day.
As always, remember that making good decisions in the backcountry takes years 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