January 1st, 2008

Happy New Year to all you powder freaks around the world.

And may the snow gods bless you as they have been blessing the Hakuba Valley over the last 3 days.

Snow, Snow and more SNOW!!! The last 3 days have been insane with the amounts of snow that Hakuba Valley and the resorts have been receiving. This morning was a slow start for most not only because of last nights New Years festivities but also the fact that it took at the least an hour to dig out your car. Roads are snow covered and traffic is moving slow even though snow removal has been happening at an amazing pace. Imagine cars buried in snow everywhere you look, Japanese tourists in 2 wheel drives sliding backwards down roads, people and pensions and hotels snowed in. You need snow-blowers to clear the path to where your snow-blower is parked. Insane…even on the ski-fields make sure you find somewhere steep or you’ll be sinking at least to your waist unless its a well-groomed slope.


On the slopes today the powder hounds were out in force and the snow eating grins on their faces could not be hid. Chest deep powder in untracked areas this morning and knee high on runs that were groomed early this morning. Conditions by the end of the day were soft bumps or cut up powder. Courses on the resorts will mostly be groomed tonight and tomorrow in the early hours but with the snow still falling expect more powder on the runs again tomorrow.

Some lifts up top were closed this in the afternoon of the first as winds became strong out of the North West. Expect continued Moderate to strong winds out of the North West at elevation and light winds to calm in the valley.


-4 degrees C.


-8 degrees C.


Light – Moderate North West




San Alpina, Yanaba, Hakuba Goryu, Hakuba 47, Happo-One, Tsugaike Kogen, Iwatake, Hakuba Norikura,Cortina, Minegata and Hakuba Highland; all lifts open with some limited service due to heavy snow-fall/avalanche control.


After a slight lull in the storm overnight expect continued snowfall from early in the morning January 2nd through the week as multiple slow moving low pressure systems persist from Siberia. It is the classic ‘Fuyu Gata Kiatsu’, meaning Winter Low Pressure Storm. Some of you may remember December 2006. Get ready for another one of those! Constant snow from the North West for the next week at least. Buy Fat skis or a long powder board TODAY and you will definitely be loving life.


Backcountry Travel Advisory:

4 backcountry travelers dead after being hit in their tent by a large snow Avalanche in the Hakuba area. Middle of the night January 1st, 2008.

EXTREME caution should be taken by anyone planning to go into the back country over the next week. Travel in the backcountry is ill advised as all slopes are being rapidly loaded with large amounts of snow, that is over riding the December 29th rain crust that can be found below tree line. Expect large scale loose and slab avalanches occurring in the upper surface layers. There will be definite instabilities in the new snow and possible slabs from the Rain crust / New snow interface. High winds from the North West in the Alpine have produced enormous cornices on lee slopes as well as rapidly loaded South and East facing gullies. Be especially cautious if moving from scoured ridges into gullies and around stressed convex terrain. In addition to being VERY DANGEROUS in the backcountry at present, slogging up through 2 metres plus(+) of deep powder makes for a bit of a mission as well. Not a week for hiking in the backcountry. A great time to stay in bounds and get some great face shots. Don’t get greedy for powder this new snow needs time to settle!


Above tree line: Extreme

Tree line: High

Below tree line: Considerable

See Below for International Danger scale classifications or click on the Canadian Avalanche Association web page for the International Danger Scale.



Natural avalanches very unlikely. Human triggered avalanches unlikely.
Travel is generally safe. Normal caution advised.


Natural avalanches unlikely. Human triggered avalanches possible.
Use caution in steeper terrain on certain aspects.


Natural avalanches possible. Human triggered avalanches probable.
Be increasingly cautious in steeper terrain.


Natural and human triggered avalanches likely.
Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended.


Widespread natural or human triggered avalanches certain.
Travel in avalanche terrain should be avoided and confined to low angle terrain, well away from avalanche path runouts.