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
Wind Slab | Likelihood: Possible | Size: small-medium
With clearing weather and some high pressure in the region, our avalanche hazard is decreasing slightly back down to MODERATE. Storm slabs should be settled out, however, wind slabs are still a real concern. There was a partial burial due to a skier triggered wind slab in the Goshiki area this week. This tells us that they are lurking and will run big enough to bury, injure, or kill a person (ie, size D2.0). Use caution on, above, and below wind affected slopes. How do you know if a slope is wind affected? First of all, take an avalanche safety course to learn about specific avalanche problems and how to deal with each one. To refresh… there are some tell-tale signs of wind affected snow. First, if you see snow plumes blowing off of ridgelines, the snow below that ridgeline is going to be wind loaded. Look for clues on the snow surface (changing textures, changing hardness, etc). If you are traveling through powder snow and all of the sudden realize that the snow changes to a much firmer, denser feeling, sometimes even hard like a crust… you likely just found yourself on top of a wind slab. Stop, re-assess your options, and choose low angle terrain (below 32 degrees) if you are unsure.
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