Remote Terrain, Kita Alps, Japan

Hakuba MountainLife Blog

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. Getting out is faster, but still takes up most of a day, and doesn't have much good skiing unless you purposely go off-route to find it, or take a route with far higher mountain hazard. Which is quite unlikely.

Packs would be heavy, particularly going in when we'd be carrying an additional 3 days of emergency food and fuel. The idea is you plan to never tap that supply - you bring it home or leave it there - unless something goes wrong. A cache could be dropped off in advance, but that would take me 2-3 days of work, which adds to the cost. Due to the remote nature, I think only 3 maybe 4 customers, and definitely 2 guides, would be a good ratio. And only customers I'd gotten to know from previous guiding.

I imagine mid-February would be the best time: after the big storms have mostly finished and before the higher elevation rains arrive. No matter when we go, wind would always be our enemy, as would too much storm snow. Trust me. To get deep into the zone and then back out again would require moving camp almost every day, and that becomes tiresome and reduces pure downhill skiing time (and time skiing free of a heavy pack). To remain stationary and ski from a basecamp is much more fun-efficient, but what you'd see in the distance will pull at your heart. Perhaps 7 or 8 days is a better time budget. With heavier packs.

There is a lovely Japanese inn located in a super remote mountain village at the trail head. It serves a hot and tasty nabe made with locally hunted bear. We'd say there the night before departure.

Here are some photos.









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