Dreams of Japan Come True


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Getting ready for white sushi.

Getting ready for white sushi.

After six weeks of work/travel to some of the warmest parts of our planet, a knee injury that is eleven weeks on the mend, and unrelenting reports of massive amounts of snow accumulation from the Pacific Northwest to Japan, I’m more than ready to dwell in the white room and get my fix of deep powder snow. So what do two 24 year old seasonal workers do? We make a long awaited pilgrimage to the infamous white-capped isles of Japan.

Within days of returning from Australia for a dear friend’s wedding, Henry Hagood and I depart Bellingham, Washington to complete a frantic pack job and hop on a 5 a.m. flight through San Francisco and (once again) over the the largest body of water on earth to Tokyo, Japan.

Our plans are loose and largely will be figured out on the fly, but we do know that we will roll out our sleeping pads in the Tokyo airport and catch a budget Jetstar Japan flight Monday morning up to Sapporo on the north island of Hokkaido — a couple of powder hungry snow sliders chasing the Japan powder fairy tale.

I figured I would take a moment to show you all a seemingly disorganized photo of a 30 minute packing session and briefly mention what I’ve decided to take with me.

With a 70 lb bag limit we were able to keep the luggage down to one checked ski bag and one carry on (our touring packs) each. So we milked the added weight allowance with things like; Costco trail mix, pockets full of Clif bars, dried fruit, a block of cheese, an extra splitboard (in case conditions are less than deep), a stove, and sleeping bags for when we decide to forgo added hostel accommodation and sleep in the rental car :)

With a 70 lb bag limit we were able to keep the luggage down to one checked ski bag and one carry on (our touring packs) each. So we milked the added weight allowance with things like Costco trail mix, pockets full of Clif bars, dried fruit, a block of cheese, an extra splitboard (in case conditions are less than deep), a stove, and sleeping bags for when we decide to forgo added hostel accommodation and sleep in the rental car :)

The big ticket item that I am beyond excited to test out is the Voile V-Tail splitboard. With all the reports of bottomless, almost "too deep to ski" snow that taunts my soul, I had to bring along a pure powder slaying stick. I will have more to say on the "shred-ability" of this board in a few days, so stay tuned.

The big ticket item that I am beyond excited to test out is the Voile V-Tail splitboard. With all the reports of bottomless, almost "too deep to ski" snow that taunts my soul, I had to bring along a pure powder slaying stick. I will have more to say on the "shred-ability" of this board in a few days, so stay tuned.

Another item I’m happy to have along for a number of reasons is a pair of Black Diamond Carbon Compactor poles. I have seen these around while touring with numerous folks and finally have my hands on them. They are impressively light, weighing in at 520 grams for the pair and collapse down significantly smaller than other BD poles I’ve had. The idea of getting poles off the outside of my pack and neatly tucked inside for the descent is very appealing. I’ll keep you posted on how they fair out in the field.

An additional point worth mentioning is the backpack I chose to bring along for the journey. I have been using a BCA Float bag since last spring and have enjoyed its functionality. Unfortunately, after doing a bit of research realized that it is extremely difficult to find a fill station for the canisters (please chime in and comment below if you have any information regarding this!). So instead of carting around a pack with its main feature deemed unusable I decided to bring along the Black Diamond Revelation Avalung Pack. This 35 liter pack has a few features that piqued my interest, such as a helmet carry sling, crampon pouch and a rope strap. The added feature of the Avalung was also attractive as another way to bump up the margin of safety. Also, more on this after some days in the cherry blossom trees.

To go through and list all of the pieces of gear that I decided to bring might be overkill, but a few important ones are worth mentioning. A pair of Mountain Equipment Kamchatka Salopette bibs to keep the white stuff out, my Outdoor Research Inertia jacket for the same reason, and my favorite Mountain Equipment Eclipse Hoody baselayer also made it in the bag.

This transmission was written as we rode the ole’ aluminum tube across the ocean. We will be posting trip reports of our time here periodically so check back in. Here are a few shots from our first day in Japan.

Can of Happy anyone?

Can of Happy anyone?

Inspiration from Lou: guess that pastry.

Inspiration from Lou: guess that...pastry?.

Budget Japanaire

Jetstar Japan landing in Sapporo, Hokkaido.

Our destination, Mt. Yotei in Sapporo.

Destination number one -- Mt. Yotei.

I know there are a lot of readers out there who are seasoned Japan visitors and may find this as yet another internet exploitation of a mythical gem, but we are excited to finally have the opportunity to experience this place, even for a short time, and share the stoke. All comments and suggestions are welcome.

Wish us luck, deep stable snow, and safety!

Comments

24 Responses to “Dreams of Japan Come True”

  1. Kyle February 25th, 2014 10:01 am

    Nice, Looking forward to the reports.

    What kind of binding setups are you using?

  2. Lisa Dawson February 25th, 2014 10:59 am

    My dream too. Bring on the trip reports!

  3. Pierce Oz February 25th, 2014 11:10 am

    Just got back from 2 week ski trip to Hokkaido a week ago. Let me know if I can help with questions! Have a blast. It’s hard not to. And don’t forget to try the Pocari Sweat or the squid candies.

  4. Sam February 25th, 2014 11:14 am

    Pastry – mango rice cakes? Doesn’t look as good as a Sachertorte, although I hear Hokkaido Cream Cakes are superb.

  5. Greg February 25th, 2014 12:33 pm

    Pocari Sweat for the win. Love that stuff!

  6. Sue February 25th, 2014 12:52 pm

    For my birthday wish list, I sent my dad links to gear reviews, mostly from this site. Now my bucket list is becoming just a list of your trip reports. Ridiculous! Love how you guys get after it. Hiring soon?

  7. Lou Dawson February 25th, 2014 1:17 pm

    No job openings right now, but we could always take up match making? (grin)

  8. Sue February 25th, 2014 2:40 pm

    @Lou
    For a ski date in Japan? I’m game!

  9. Lou Dawson February 25th, 2014 3:01 pm

    Wildsnowmatch.com! When the boys in Japan get tired of powder skiing and drinking vending machine beer, perhaps they’ll get in touch (grin). Lou

  10. Jay February 25th, 2014 4:16 pm

    Costco block of cheese? I’m surprised airport security didn’t confiscated it as a dangerous weapon.

  11. David B February 25th, 2014 4:29 pm

    Jonathan,

    As a 15 season Japanski veteran, the best advice I can give based on your blog is this:

    There’s a Costco in Sapporo:)

  12. Louie Dawson February 25th, 2014 6:46 pm

    Awesome! Psyched to hear more about the trip!

  13. Jason D February 25th, 2014 8:22 pm

    What’s the conversion rate to Japanese powders?

  14. Coop February 26th, 2014 3:11 am

    Thanks for all the stoke! We are absolutely loving this country and it’s people!

    Kyle, I am currently riding the Karakoram SL setup. It’s working great for me.

    Just finished my first Pokari Sweat moments ago, hooked! I will also be visiting an onsen everyday after skiing. This one was conveniently located at the base of a volcano we skied. More pictures and words to come!

  15. Coop February 26th, 2014 3:12 am

    And wildsnowmatch.com has wild amounts of potential!

  16. Brian O'Connor February 26th, 2014 9:34 pm

    Hi,

    Ironically, I think BCA is the only avi bag pack approved and able to be filled in Japan (although you have to get in filled at the factory and takes a couple of days). Rhythm in Niseko sells the packs and canisters. They can also get them filled. I just leave my canister in Japan (at the airport storage) to avoid the hassle of flying. Make sure you do side country at some the coastal resorts as they have been getting more snow than Niseko and often have steeper lines. I just came back on Tuesday from a five day breathtaking backcountry tour of Hokkaido – was as good or better than the movies. Enjoy!

  17. g February 27th, 2014 8:35 am

    I get so tired of advertising pitches dressed up as trip reports. Who cares what gear you are using. I know that it probably the minority position on this site, which is gear geek oriented, but i guess i will rant anyway

  18. Lou Dawson February 27th, 2014 9:05 am

    G, I hear you, we try to balance things out but it’s never perfect. We’ll try to do better. Lou

  19. Gerard February 28th, 2014 3:21 am

    This season in Japan both Honshu and Hokkaido has not been one to rave about.
    Right now it’s spring conditions and no major precip or cold weather in the forecasts.

    This was season three for me and I’m already planning next years trip.

  20. Hank March 1st, 2014 7:09 pm

    G you are definitely are the minority on not wanting to hear about how new gear performs from a BC skiing blog… and BTW this is hardly an ADVERTISING PITCH, more like “this is what I brought on my trip”. The amount of curmudgeons on the internet never cease to amaze me!

  21. Ben March 3rd, 2014 2:04 pm

    Pocari sweat = good
    Pure gold energy drink = bad (unless drinking liquid nicotine is your thing)

  22. Jim March 5th, 2014 2:58 am

    In Hokkaido now 3-4-12 and its dumping every day for 4 days 11 cm an hour…thigh deep blower. Best lighest pow. Only 20 skiiers and 7 cars at Kurodake. Asahidake has about 200 skiers. Lift tix $40/day or $10/per run. Sick backcountry with very very few out. Thigh deep today with snow boiling under arms and full disapearance. SICK! Full room and board for $60 400m from bottom. Super friendly folks.

  23. Jim March 5th, 2014 2:59 am

    oops..1cm/hr.

  24. Kelsie Schelle March 27th, 2014 8:14 am

    Woah – I have never seen a split board before! I want to try so super bad!! I just moved back to the states from Japan, unfortunately I didn’t get to do any boarding while there :-( However I did begin the creation of Snoenix. Snoenix is an all weather, waterproof running shoe / boot. It can be worn as a shoe or boot because it has a detachable calf sleeve so it is perfect in ALL WEATHER! Way cool! http://www.snoenix.com

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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