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.
Season's Greetings Shredders. Santa was incredibly good to us this year. After another Silverton based, Avy Rescue and Level One push, my holiday kicked off in earnest on Monday, the 24th. With over a foot of fresh snow above Camp Bird, I was beyond stoked at what was left under (around, and on top of) the tree. After making the 3 mile trek into the Mt Hayden Backcountry Lodge, our team of elves rallied for some of the best powder we've skied in a while. We tee'd up amazing
Jeremy Yanko inspects an intentionally triggered wind slab last week. Conditions continue to be touchy and avalanche prone./ Photo by Stephen Eginoire On the downward slide
As avalanche fatalities decline, awareness and education remain priorities by Tracy Chamberlin - 12/20/2018 As one member on the Colorado Avalanche Information Center wrote in the nonprofit’s most recent annual report for the 2016-17 winter season, “Unfortunately Colorado had one avalanche fatality, one fa
Season’s Greetings Snowflakes! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice and Festivus. We’ve been gifted an amazing winter to date here in the San Juans. Although the precipitation momentarily paused this past week, there’s something special under the tree for us this year. I spoke with Santa and he’s guaranteed me we’re due for a Holiday Dump. I hope you’ve been good this year, kids- It’s about to get real the end of December. San Juan Mountain Guides kicked o
Congratulations on completing your SJMG Level One Rec Course. I hope your experience this past weekend serves as a solid foundation upon which you will build a brilliant life in the alpine. But remember, this is only the beginning of your journey in the backcountry! Some Post-Course thoughts to consider: On multi-day ski tours and avalanche courses, we learn and experience a ton. Students are living and traveling at altitude, climbing and touring in alpine terrain, experienci
"Why do I climb for hours for a handful of turns in untracked snow? Why do I grin and dance afterwards? Why is fun such and anemic answer to the question above? Powder snow skiing is not fun. It’s life, fully lived, life lived in a blaze of reality. What we experience in powder is the original human self, which lies deeply inside each of us, still undamaged in spite of what our present culture tries to do to us. Once experienced, this kind of living is recognized as the only
Congratulations on completing your Level One Rec Course. I hope your experience this past weekend serves as a solid foundation upon which you will build a brilliant life in the alpine. But remember, this is only the beginning of your journey in the backcountry! Some Post-Course thoughts to consider: On multi-day ski tours and avalanche courses, we learn and experience a ton. Students are living and traveling at altitude, climbing and touring in alpine terrain, experiencing mo
Congratulations on completing your Avalanche Rescue Course. You’ve made an excellent investment in you and your partners’ safety. But remember, these skills are perishable and you must constantly practice to remain competent and confident in these techniques! In the want to support your ongoing avalanche education journey, I’ve assembled some very important materials below. There are many articles, videos, case studies and websites out there and I’d love to hear about new one
It’s o’dark thirty and the thermometer here at home says -2. Yesterday, it was a balmy 3 degrees. Almost two new feet of fresh snow fell on the pass over the last four days. Meteorological, (and real frickin cold and snowy) Winter is solidly in place. Avy danger following this past storm rose quickly. I experienced a really neat rumbling collapse in safe, low angle terrain on Monday. Regardless, always scary when the cracking and whumphing are widespread. Another robust w