This personal blog contains snow, avalanche and weather data along with weekly commentary that may be useful in planning your Hakuba backcountry outings.

More important than anything else

1. Hakuba Avalanche Bulletin by the Japan Avalanche Network.
2. Understand the Avalanche Danger Scale.
3. Know what the avalanche problem is and how to avoid it.
4. Carry beacon, shovel and probe in the backcountry. Know how to use them.

Other useful info

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Recent weather data recorded at 6am each day for the preceding 24 hours. Altitude 800m.

Date Cloud Cover Precip type and rate Rain Altitude 6am temp Max temp Min temp 24hr New Snow 24hr New Water Equiv 24hr New Density Storm Total Snow Depth Baro Pressure
20180316 Obscured Rain - light 2500m? 4C 18C 4C 0cm ~ ~ 0cm 112cm
20180315 Few Nil ~ 1C 16C -1C 0cm ~ ~ 0cm 120cm
20180314 Clear Nil ~ -1C 16C -2C 0cm ~ ~ 0cm 126cm
20180313 Clear Nil ~ -1C 6C -5C 0cm ~ ~ 0cm 130cm

180305 Hakuba Backcountry Snowpack Summary

The feature from the last week was a mostly stable snowpack that had thin dry snow on shaded terrain. On top of this came rain to 1100m with 30cm of snow above that, immediately followed by extreme winds (150kph at 1800m). Then slowly rising temperatures until we hit +17C at valley bottom on Sunday. That's right. It is now raining again to about 2800m.

Snow will follow this rain. Then clearing midweek. Then more high freezing levels, rain, followed by snow Friday to Saturday.

It is pretty obvious what all this means for the snowpack and the rolling avalanche cycles.

Some people call this "spring". But that really depends on where you are from. A New Zealander would call this winter. A Canadian would call it early summer. One thing for sure, in terms of snowpack stability and ski quality, spring in Hakuba actually started a few weeks ago. This is now beyond spring. At our low latitude, central Japan has a very wide range of seasonal extremes, and that means very rapid changes. You can't accumulate 200cm of snow at 800m from Dec to Feb just to see it replaced with 200cm high sweetcorn and sunflowers and weeds by August without dramatic changes in short periods.

-damian, MountainLife Backcountry Guiding,

Seasonal Comparisons