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Niseko Avy Bulletin

Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan Avalanche Bulletin.

Niseko Avalanche Bulletin for Wednesday, January 16th

Eddie Schoen

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): CONSIDERABLE

  • Mid (800-1000m): CONSIDERABLE

  • Lower (<800m): MODERATE

Current Avalanche Problems

  • Wind Slab | Likelihood: Likely | Size: small-medium

  • Glide Slab | Likelihood: Unlikely | Size: medium


OK folks, finally, we are back to our regularly scheduled program of dumping Hokkaido powder. However, this comes at the cost of rapidly increasing avalanche hazard. Don’t let the powder fever lead you to making poor decisions out there. We all make mistakes, it’s part of being human. That’s why we carry avalanche rescue gear ANYTIME we are outside of controlled, inbounds terrain. However, there is such a thing as bad decisions when it comes to skiing and riding avalanche terrain. Most of the time you get away with it. Every once in a while you don’t. So be conservative and make informed decisions. If you do make a poor decision and see something, please share it on the Hokkaido Backcountry Obs facebook group. We can all learn collectively from each other’s mis-judgements. The more we share the stories of our close calls, near misses, and accidents the more educated we all can be. Sharing information is powerful and we’ve been working hard to build a platform where that can be done safely and free from judgement.

Problems to look out for tomorrow are primarily surface instabilities in the freshly fallen storm snow. Winds are kicking up as the storm moves in, so any wind deposited snow on steep and unsupported terrain features should be treated as suspect. Look for obvious signs of wind drifted snow above and below you. A fresh load on the existing snowpack may stress existing glide crack slabs to the point of failure. Several big glide slabs have avalanched on S and E aspects this past week, and many similar cracks are still lurking. Avoid skiing below known glide crack areas. Additionally, be alert to storm slab development on lower elevation slopes that have seen some sun and warmer temps. We had a brief period of rain here in Hirafu this evening, so also be on the search for any buried rain crusts.

Hazard level tomorrow will be at CONSIDERABLE for mid and upper elevations, MODERATE at the low elevations. Stay safe, stay warm, and enjoy the freshies.

Please familiarize yourself with the danger rating scale. You can find some great information on it here

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 - Niseko’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