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Source: Gaijin Pot

Backcountry skiing in Japan has blossomed in popularity over the past number of seasons. There are various options available here for those who are branching out and pushing their boundaries to the seasoned vets taking the sport to new limits.

Most backcountry skiers and snowboarders progress from skiing on groomed runs at resorts to searching out tree runs and other sidecountry options. Eventually, they will gain the confidence and experience needed to leave the resorts at the established backcountry gates and further explore the possibilities.

Welcome to Asahidake

Photo: iStock/ Sean Pavone
Daisetsuzan National Park Asahidake

During my first trip to Hokkaido, I developed as a skier. I had my introduction to Asahidake in the Daisetsuzan National Park. This mountain is the highest peak in the prefecture at 2,291 meters. Thus, consider your group’s ability when planning a trip to Asahidake, as it is nothing more than ropeway access to supreme backcountry conditions.

There are no gear rentals, no ski patrol and two thin, cat-groomed trails that serve largely as a highway system to push you through the flats and guide your way back to the ropeway base station.

The more experienced riders, with proper backcountry gear, will affix their skins at the top ropeway station and begin their two- to three-hour climb to the mountain’s peak. You’ll bypass a small emergency lodge and several steam vents releasing sulphuric gases into the freezing mountain air.

CocoHeli

Photo: iStock/ Keattisak A
Soft, white powder as far as the eye can see in Niseko.

One safety feature that is extremely useful and available in Hokkaido is known as CoCoHeli. Essentially, a tracking beacon that riders …continue reading