We’ll begin and end this expedition visiting some lesser known sidecountry areas of Hokkaido. Expect to bookend the Rishiri mission with secret tours around Furano (and group dependent) a crack at Tokachidake. Our team’s main focus will be the remote and elusive Rishiri volcano. Working with my local partners at Stealth Backcountry allows us to hit the goods from the moment we land!
Floating the Volcano
Rishiri Island is a backcountry skiing haven with a huge variety of ski and snowboard terrain for those willing to earn their turns. Mount Rishiri is a dormant cone-shaped volcano at the center of the remote Rishiri Island. In the native Ainu language, “Rishiri” means “island with a high peak”, which pretty much sums it up! Others call Rishiri the “floating island”, possibly because you’ll gain a lot of pleasure from floating in the deep powder!
Skiing Rishiri Island is on the bucket list for many Japan backcountry skiing aficionados. Powder on Hokkaido is world renowned because of the abundant, light, fluffy, amazing cold smoke that results from the weather systems that blow down from Siberia. Compared to most Hokkaido ski areas, Rishiri Island is much further north (and closer) to Siberia so the powder there is even better than amazing!
And if devouring all that Japanese powder isn’t enough for you, there’s also an abundance of local seafood to satisfy your appetite. A Rishiri ski trip provides a delightfully unadulterated Japanese experience.
Where is Rishiri Island?
Rishiri Island (Rishiritō) is a small island in the Sea of Japan, about 20 kilometers off the northwest coast of Hokkaido. The Oshidomari Port on Rishiri Island can be accessed via ferry from Otaru or Wakkanai (Hokkaido’s northernmost town). Wakkanai is a 5.5 hour train trip from Sapporo.
Mount Rishiri has an elevation of 1,721 metres. Depending on weather conditions, the backcountry terrain we’ll access will include a combination of ATL alpine zones and NTL/BTL tree skiing. Mt Rishiri has many ridges, gullies, and bowls- some of which are super steep, and there are several peaks to tackle. BUT, there is also a reasonable amount of mellow terrain below treeline for us to explore.
We will utilize a snowmobile to cover the long and flat distances at the base of the mountain before committing to human-power. No worries if you’re not a seasoned sled-neck!
Rishiri Ski Season
In late winter and early spring there’s a greater chance for clear days, although the main, year-round weather inhibitor to summiting Mt Rishiri is the wind. Rishiri is renowned for its oft-gusty conditions! Our expedition will run from 2/22/20 to 3/1/20.
Every morning, I repeat the same daily ritual. Rise sans alarm in the dark, stumble to the bathroom, make coffee, check the weather. And each day I grow excited for what the forecast could (should?) bring. I log into NOAA, check out Wunderground, bounce over to Intellicast and finally commit to the CAIC rabbithole. These early am times fuel my passion, fill my notebook with data and obs and motivate me to get after it on the daily. Unfortunately, the 2017-18 season in the San
The 4 inches we got up on Red Mountain Pass Wednesday night/Thursday was blown into a P hard 43 cm wind slab on Sat. night. I was living up high with Level One students, bivying at the Captain Yurt and we rode out three distinct pulses of 70+ mph winds within the greater storm. Winds at Putney remained steadily above 50 that night. Coming into this weekend's course, I had no idea if we could facilitate snowpit curriculum safely- turns out, the students got some great obs.
December 24th December 18th December 14th READ MORE December 12th Snow Obs December 4th Snow Obs December 3rd Snow Obs November 29th Snow Obs November 28th Snow Obs November 20th Snow Obs November 15th Snow Obs November 1st Snow Obs October Snow Obs September Snow Obs- Sept. Summary- We had three snow events in Sept. in the SJs. Nothing stuck around long as temps remain above freezing most nights. Interesting to be on RMP in warm sunshine while in-town durango was crushed wit
I've mentioned my affinity for Durango Snow Lovers before. Jeff's update on Thursday is giving me reason to hope. 12/7/17 Thursday 4 am Everyone is asking when it will snow. If you look back through history big storms in November are nearly non-existent. Big storms in December have happened and are usually memorable, but they are not as common as you think, in fact going back to 1991, there were 12 years we had a total of 10 inches of snow or less for the entire month of Dece
The professionals at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center are always releasing neat stuff to think about. Although the news regarding future precipitation remains quite grim until we bust up Heartbreak Ridge. "Unfortunately, only our dreams see significant snowfall in the near future and without snow in the forecast, we can expect little change in avalanche danger. Heartbreak Ridge remains our nemesis, as this ridge of high pressure along the west coast is blocking or de
Working with beginners in the backcountry takes a special touch. One of the activities I do in the classroom on the first morning of my L1 avy courses is the route finding slide activity. I give a student volunteer a laser pointer and ask them to trace a route through complex mountain terrain that I've projected on a screen. Students struggle with this exercise. They are overwhelmed and often times fall into a weird, Analysis Paralysis state. And we're not even outside yet...
As we've seen in these Early Season Snow Observations the 2017/18 winter has struggled to kick in here in the San Juans. Temps have remained above normal and precipitation events have been a bust so far. This story has repeated itself across the American West with a few notable exceptions like Tahoe and Jackson Hole. If your in one of those locations, you're psyched. For the rest of us, there's always the hope of another storm on the horizon. You can follow this season's sto
With a glut of VRBOs, slope side condos and exclusive tourist resorts in this neck of the woods, where's a traveler on a budget to spend the night? You shouldn't have to survive on saltines and ketchup packets from Telluride to afford your vacation in the San Juans. Too many of us have chosen to weather negative temps and deep snows up on the pass in our vehicles to save a buck. I say no longer! If the price tag for local lodging has you more scared than that crux pitch or