Our first day at Tokachidake had been beautiful. After seeing heavy snowfall begin during our evening onsen session, excitement was in the air. We were psyched to head back to the terrain we had found the previous day, now coated with fresh fluff. We woke early, made the short drive to the trailhead, and headed up. Surprisingly there were far fewer people around than the day before. We almost had the place to ourselves.
Although we’d only had minimal (for Japan) snow overnight, it was still dumping. In the few hours it took to skin to the top the fresh snow nearly doubled to a respectable foot or so. It was also frigidly cold, making the snow some of the least-dense I’ve ever skied. Breaking trail through the light fluff was a breeze, and we were soon at the top of our first lap.
The first run was incredible. As the light flakes flew around my head, I finally felt like I’d reached the mythical Japan that I’d heard so much about. With whoops and hollers and frozen faces, we quickly joined up at the bottom and made ready for another session. As we skinned, even more snow fell; our hour-old skintrack already had several inches of new on it. The next run was even better.
Although it was only noon, we unfortunately had to leave early. We reluctantly pried ourselves away and made our way back to the cars.
Over the next few days we explored another nearby area. We experienced sunshine and boot-top pow. As a plus, we had the place to ourselves (we’ll keep the exact location private for now). We spent a few days skiing sunny pow laps in that area, before heading to Kurodake.
Louie Dawson earned his Bachelor Degree in Industrial Design from Western Washington University in 2014. When he’s not skiing Mount Baker or somewhere equally as snowy, he’s thinking about new products to make ski mountaineering more fun and safe.