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.
We’re feeling the love here in Silverton and Cupid has been shredding his wings off this week! It’s an exciting time of year as days grow longer, temperatures rise, the snowpack stabilizes, and backcountry travelers become smitten with the arrival of Spring. SENSE MAKING As of Saturday, February 15th the Avalanche Danger in both the North and South San Juans is Low, Level One at all elevations and on all aspects. The CAIC continues to note a lingering Persistent Slab problem
Snow Bunnies and Shred Hounds, As the first month of 2020 closes, the Stellar reflects upon our season to date and we’ll consider some sobering stats. Avalanche Danger dropped this past weekend and it’s evident from the ample tracks, appearing on some of the range’s biggest lines, that folks were ready to step it out. However, this atypical, open season approach to our mountains in January, is a mindset we remain suspicious of….We are in San Juan’s after all and a recent spat
Recently, a good friend reminded me of the following videos from the Avalanche Geeks In these videos, we observe Lucy and witness her attempts to educate Rocket and his steezy posse of bro brahs who like to dance with the big man in the white coat. Some classic quotes in this hillarious set of clips- Enjoy! Video One "We dance with the White Death...it's who we are!" This first video addresses Terrain Recognition and the need for Avalanche Education Video Two "But it is sick,