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Hakuba mountains lure snowsport lovers from around the world

During the season, Hakuba Valley attracts countless skiers and snowboarders from around the world. One of their goals is Hakuba's quality powder snow, thanks to Hakuba's high elevation. If it's just the quantity of snow or snowy weather you're after, there are plenty of places in Japan where you can enjoy powder. So why Hakuba? Aside from the superb snow quality, it's because Hakuba is home to steep lines and majestic views of the 3,000-m Northern Alps. Not to mention all the other resort attractions, like onsens and gourmet foods.
These snowscapes lure even world-class riders who frequent Alaska and the European Alps. After seeing these top riders speeding down the slopes in videos, enchanted by Hakuba, skiers and snowboarders from around the world head to Hakuba bristling with excitement. And maybe the Hakuba experience they have in mind is mostly off-piste, backcountry skiing and snowboarding.

The charms of backcountry skiing

Recent years have witnessed growing popularity of backcountry sport, where people step out of professionally managed ski pistes, climb mountains themselves with necessary equipment, and enjoy gliding down through untouched fields of soft powder. What's more, there's a special sense of accomplishment; you trudge up the mountain without a lift, feel the team spirit with your friends, absorb the openness, and leave yourself entirely to the mercy of nature. It's you who creates the first tracks in virgin snow. And you feel exhilarating speed that's out of reach on-piste. Nothing beats the highs that you can only get from backcountry skiing.
The special thing about backcountry skiing in Hakuba is that in most cases, you reach the top of the ski piste in a not time at all on a gondola or lift, and start climbing from there. Compared to other regions' backcountry routes, Hakuba's shorter climb still offers a greater vertical elevation for you to ski down. So aside from its breathtaking scale, Hakuba's backcountry skiing is popular thanks to its easy accessibility.
Bear in mind that backcountry skiing is not for anyone to enjoy at leisure. To enjoy it safely, you need a certain level of technique, knowledge about mountains, and equipment. You need careful and thorough preparations as you are heading into an uncontrolled area at your own risk.

Using a guide for backcountry skiing

So what's the best way to enjoy backcountry skiing in Hakuba? The answer is to join a tour with a local backcountry guide company. There are many guide companies in Hakuba, from large to small, offering various tours that fit each person's condition and skill level.
Notably, Evergreen Outdoor Center is a popular tour company for foreign tourists. The company has a variety of programs not just limited to backcountry tours, but also ski and snowboard lessons, snowshoe tours, and avalanche survival lessons. They also have full equipment rental services for winter sport, including splitboards and beacons, so you can easily join the tour even if you have never experienced backcountry sport.
If you want professional knowledge about how to escape or survive an avalanche, it pays to join an avalanche lesson. Evergreen offers a three-day course (AST1+CRS) and a five-day course (AST2), officially approved by the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA). These courses provide the latest knowledge in safety on and off the snow. Why not check it out?

Local rules

Hakuba and Otari have official local rules that describe absolute no-go areas, warnings and other rules to enjoy backcountry sport safely. If you are going in to the mountains, make sure you read these rules first.
Don't forget that in backcountry sport, which takes place in nature, unexpected things can happen. To minimize the risk of accidents, it's essential for you to use a qualified guide, or learn appropriate knowledge. Once you've done that, there is nothing that will beat you being there, safely enjoying this unbelievable backcountry world to the full!
text : Kensuke Itahara

Facility Information

Evergreen Outdoor Center

4377 Hokujo, Hakuba-mura, Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano 399-9301
At the foot of International ski piste, Happo One Ski Resort


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