Skiing a live volcano in Northern Japan
“And you thought it was always deep pow in Japan”, jokes Hokkaido Powder Guides director Chuck Olbery as he makes his way up Mount Tokachi in conditions he describes as “boiler plate”. And while the snow conditions in this edit of his don’t quite compare to the blower powder in some of his early season videos, this one is particularly interesting for another reason: he’s climbing an active volcano.
“This is a volcano trip wire that will alert someone sitting in an office in Sapporo whether an avalanche has gone off and debris is coming down the mountain”, remarks Olbery at one point in the video.
And the trip wire is there for good reason. Mount Tokachi has erupted three times in the last 100 years – the most recent in 1988.
“As you ascend up on skins you realize just how active the volcano is with the webcams which are pointed on the caldera, the seismic study plots and also the trip- wires up the mountain”, reads the description on the video.
“They used to be a ski resort on the mountain but it was disbanded the last eruption having sustained some damage. You speak to some locals and they remember skiing the mountain with a ski lift.”
The 10-minute video otherwise shows many of the hallmarks of an April day out in Hokkaido’s Daisetsuzan National Park, with crisp blue skies and stunning alpine views. The area is regarded by many (including Hokkaido Backcountry Guides) as home to the best backcountry skiing in Japan, with some of the highest mountains and volcanoes in Hokkaido, as well as the lightest, driest powder you’ll find anywhere on the planet.