This personal blog contains snow, avalanche and weather data along with weekly commentary that may be useful in planning your Hakuba backcountry outings.
1. More important than anything else: read the Hakuba Avalanche Bulletin provided by the Japan Avalanche Network. NOTE: The website is still showing last years final bulletin, I understand that updates will commence soon.
2. Understand the International Avalanche Danger Scale.
3. Check this page for some Hakuba backcountry first hand field observations from Japan Avalanche Network volunteer members.
4. For nice photos and other info, take a look at Hakuba MountainLife Magazine, especially the center fold
5. Follow my guiding and avalanche training business Facebook page for regular Hakuba backcountry comments and photos.
Recent weather data recorded at 6am each day for the preceding 24 hours.
|Date||Cloud Cover||Precip type and rate||Rain Altitude||6am temp||Max temp||Min temp||24hr New Snow||24hr New Water Equiv||24hr New Snow Density||Storm Total||Snow Depth||Baro Pressure|
|20131219||Overcast||S < 1cm/hr||~||-1C||2C||-2C||6cm||4mm||74kg/m3||6cm||67cm||918mbar|
2013.12.20 Hakuba Backcountry Conditions Weekly Report
Besides summarising, I won't repeat anything that is already available in the above sources of info. Please read them, especially the avalanche bulletin.
The last week:
The last week saw the end of a solid classic winter pattern 4 day storm which produced enough snow in the alpine to result in a significant natural avalanche cycle with numerous Size 2-3 windslab avalanche occurring from near ridgelines above 2500m. The powder skiing was good during and after the storm. The snow depth after settlement at 800m was 67cm, which is decent for early-mid December! At treeline snow depth hit 200cm or so and the skiing was much better than the same time in previous years. A nice start! The storm tapered and as is common in Hakuba, milder weather arrived. Avalanche danger trended lower. Windslab still lingers, however overall settlement and bonding was progressing well in a warmer deep pack at treeline.
Then it rained to about 1500m, but only light. This has formed a low altitude surface rain crust that will get buried by the next storm. The rain and very light valley snow actually produced 30cm of good powder at 1900m as of today, 20th Dec. There had been little wind to create a dense slab, however this may well be different above the treeline, where old windslab would still be lingering in ridge crest pockets.
The next few days:
The weather is not easily predictable right now with mixed forecasts coming from different sources. I think colder is reliable, cloudy and snowy, though moderate amounts, perhaps 10's-20's of cm over the weekend. Then clearing by Monday for relatively low winds and cool weather for at least three days in the alpine where I think the best skiing will be. Avalanche danger will be trending higher again over the weekend with new snowfall. Low altitude southerly aspects with fresh snow sitting on a crust may also likely be hit by the sun and weakened on Monday when the sun comes out. So keep that in mind as a possible scenario. Also keep a very open eye for glide cracks that have opened in the snow from last week. They are a hazard right now and need to be filled in by a big storm. Remember - they are almost impossible to see from above, so chill out and take it easy.
Avalanche risk can be reduced by minimising your exposure to avalanche terrain. Try to weave your up track through low angle terrain features, forested areas and most of all, ridge crests. Avoid climbing for extended periods in gullies where it is quite likely multiple avalanche paths are aimed at you.