Hakuba MountainLife Blog

Hakuba MountainLife Blog

Thoughts on Guided Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding in Hakuba

As the local Hakuba backcountry ski season approaches I like to review past experiences and training. This gets my brain back into professional guide mode after being out of the game for the last 2 months in between north/south winters. A great place to start is to remind myself of what is expected of a professional guide, and think about times in the past when I hit the nail on the head, and more importantly, where I did not do well. Don't trust any guide who claims to never do a poor job! Guiding is a fun job with many nuances and challenges.

Guiding in New Zealand

One of the big benefits of pursuing professional guide qualifications under the ACMG (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides) is that it has opened up new working opportunities that before were just not possible. For example, I have been very very fortunate in New Zealand, where I am working for Alpine Guides Limited. They run a number of guiding operations which I thought I'd describe briefly in this blog post.

Operational Risk Management

We are a backcountry guiding operation, and safety comes first, always. In this blog we describe some of our daily risk management routine. This has been daily habit for several years now, whether we are guiding that day or not. This is what we believe to be the minimum required professional standard of care owed to paying guided customers. Do not assume everyone does this.

Gear That Outperforms: Gloves

People often ask me for reviews and opinions. So occasionally I will list a few gear items which I think outperform the others. Pieces of gear which do their job really well, and make my job more fun, more comfortable, or safer. In this blog post, it is a pair of sunglasses, and a pair of gloves. Let's get one thing honest from the start: I do not get any free gear from brands. Typically I try to buy from brands which support the avalanche and guiding industry, but only if their products are good in the first place.

Remote Terrain, Kita Alps, Japan

Take a look at the photos in this blog post. One of these days I will run a guided trip into this section of the Kita Alps. It is, without a shadow of doubt, the best ski touring (and guiding) terrain in all of Japan. It won't be an easy trip, nor cheap. I would anticipate at least a 5 day tour. Depending on the depth of soft snow (ski penetration) it takes 8-12 hour just to reach the fringe of the zone, without one single downhill turn along the way. It would be a shame to take two days just to execute that approach move. Tough first day, ey.

Mount Steele, Yukon, Canada


In early June 2016 we made a trip to Mt Steele in Kluane National Park, Yukon. Due to a large storm and inappropriate avalanche conditions relative to the final 1000m of ascent terrain, we did not bother trying for the summit. There were four of us in the group, of which three were old friends from Canmore and originally Swiss migrants to Canada, past and present Mountain Guides, and very active outdoorsmen. The oldest in the group was 72, I was the youngest, 43. Two in the group had been to the summit of 'nearby' Mount Logan in 1977. It was a privilege for me to be invited to join this great group on an expedition style trip.

Backcountry Guiding


The highest quality professional backcountry guiding in Hakuba. Group sizes limited to 4 people. Our valued customers come to Japan for the backcountry, and book months in advance.

Weekly all-inclusive backcountry tours for 2018. Pro guiding, food, lodging... all taken care of:

Classic Week, Jan 7-13 [FULL]

Skiers Only Classic Week, Jan 14-20

Ryokan Roadtrip, Jan 21-27

Explorer Week, Feb 4-10

Beginners Week, Feb 11-17

Alternatively, book early for customized private guiding

Private Guiding - BOOK NOW!

Avalanche Courses


Well known as the best value and highest quality in town.

2018 AST1 Courses...

AST2 Jan 1-5, 2018

International


There is nothing like a helicopter to enhance your backcountry experiences. Join us outside Japan for that.

New Zealand
Heli-skiing
Heli-camp tours
Heli-assisted avalanche courses

www.mountainlife.nz

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