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Japan 2014/15 - A slightly different start to the winter

A different kind of season start: belly-deep powder every day

by Patrick Fux 12/25/2014
This year I'm back in Japan for another three months to enjoy JaPow to the full. I arrived in Hakuba on December 13th, which is rather early for skiing in Japan. The snowy season usually doesn't start until January, although it often snows properly around mid-December and the season begins.

This year, the start of winter is showing its extreme side. It was still far too warm in November and the ski resorts were unable to open the first slopes as planned. But then it really got going a good two weeks ago and it snowed for days on end. Two meters of fresh snow and more during the last seven days and so we already have a snow base of 2 to 3 meters, which is usually the case in mid or late January.

The first few days were indescribably good. Just face shots and untracked slopes every day. The crowds haven't arrived yet and only a few tourists and locals are sharing the slopes. Some areas were still completely closed and the others are only partially open as there aren't enough guests yet. This will change abruptly very soon. Hakuba is fully booked in January and new inquiries are coming in every day. It will probably be a scary shit show when countless inexperienced people start skiing down the slopes away from the ski resorts again without even having a clue what they are doing. In Japan, too, the freeride trend is growing every year and represents not only sometimes unpleasant competition for us and many other "serious" backcountry skiers, but above all a constantly increasing risk.

After the first seven good days, as is so often the case, there were a few hours of heavy rain up high and the snow that was forecast afterwards was a long time coming. Nevertheless, nobody is complaining here, we've never had a start like this before and when I see pictures and condition reports from the Alps, I almost don't dare to put these words online.

Photo gallery

This article has been automatically translated by DeepL with subsequent editing. If you notice any spelling or grammatical errors or if the translation has lost its meaning, please write an e-mail to the editors.

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