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Snow Report
A sprinkle of fresh (pellets)
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The snow fell a bit through the night; the official average at the snow plot (poking the ruler in several locations on the board) is 5.5cm. The snow is not the kind that gets us real excited, though. Let’s call it graupel, or soft hail, but small—little round pellets of snow. Welcome, of course, but the kind of snow that can be a real pain to ski in if there’s a lot of it. The little round units (about 1.5mm in diameter) sit so close together that it can be difficult to move forward in (think of breaking trail downhill—have done it!).

Under the fresh, the old surface is now a breakable crust: the foot penetration test (all my weight set on one foot) saw a greater depth than yesterday, disregarding the new snow. Meaning it’s softer under, crunchy on top. Not fun.

High winds during the night may be partly responsible for the crust (it was really blowing about 3 am). A light wind was coming in from the east early this morning; windy.tv is showing very strange winds coming from all directions all over the Japan Sea in Niigata, Toyama and Ishikawa. It feels (and nothing scientific here) like things are getting ready for the next weather cycle. Which looks to come in very hard, especially Tuesday and Wednesday. Still mild temperatures today; tomorrow will likely be even milder, perhaps sunny, and then things get colder again.

New snowfall: 5.5cm Wind: Calm. Fog up high, clear skies off to the south

Time for a snow dance
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It tried to snow there early in the morning. Got some good info off the hill yesterday: there was snow up high, up to 50cm, one guy reported, but there was also rain on the new stuff further down. Pretty steady rain early this morning has just continued to settle the snow; the surface at base is even-more-well-connected round crystals.

There is a huge low pressure cell off the Pacific coast that seems to be just pulling wind right across Honshu (take a look at www.windytv.com). It’s hard to see what’s coming next, but next week the word is cold and snow. It also looks like the change will come slowly, which will help new snow conditions with old, keeping us safer up on the hill. Never can be sure, of course, and we’ll add what information we can to help, and keep talking to knowledgeable folks up on the hill (and please send us a note if you find something interesting to share from out in the snow!)

New snowfall: 0cm (plenty of rain). Wind: Calm here at base, trying to be sunny with decreasing fog up the hill.

Rain, rain...
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It is wet. The snow is wet.

Got a call earlier from a guide who said it was snowing up high, but our main guy Miles went up and found some fresh snow that had been rained on. Meaning tough turns and not much fun.

The snow is quite saturated with water, but the crystals are also nicely bonding. Today’s loupe shows nice, big, rounded crystals all nicely connected by bonds between them. Once again, if the temperature suddenly goes down and we get an ice layer, it’s time to be worried (and it depends how high up the rain went up the hill—it’s at least up to the top of the ski area, or about 1500 meters). The snowpack is going down, but it’s also settling, which is not a bad thing. Fresh, of course, will be nicer.

New snowfall: 0cm (plenty of rain). Wind: Calm here at base, with fog

Warm and wet
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Pretty steady rain overnight has settled the snow at base level; early in the morning this turned to small ice pellets mixed with rain. Not pleasant.

Heavy fog from about 7am to 8, then suddenly things cleared up. We decided not to go out on the hill, however; yesterday any slope exposed to sun was getting a sun crust, and snow lower down was a heavy oatmeal texture. We did wonder with the high ridge blowing high up how much cornices have built up; don’t think it rained up high (which could have brought them down); still looks like snow rather than rain up high.

Things are pretty tracked up after the weekend; looking forward to a refill of snow, but of course there are concerns about rain creating possible ice layers or wet layers that could change within the snowpack. As always, time to be careful and observant when things are changing. It would be great to start moving toward (a more common) consistently cold January and early February….

New snowfall: 0cm (rain and a thin coating of ice pellets). Wind: Calm here at base. Surprisingly sunny, especially after the fog.

Last day of powder for a while?
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Deep snow out there on the hill, but already sun crusted low down, and very heavy. Did see some pretty good stuffing after people skied on north faces; nothing to worry about in open areas but could be nasty in a narrow valley (like, lots of snow coming in on top of someone). Very strong winds and blowing snow on the very high peaks today, although not bad at the top of Mt. Maeyama (1932 meters). Not as much wind-effected snow compared to the end of last week (and not icy surfaces, either).

Tomorrow is looking better than in earlier forecasts, although rain is coming late in the day and into Wednesday. The freezing level is coming down, but not as far as we have had recently (like 0 meters). But the forecast is still for snow here at Dancing Snow World Headquarters level, and we hope it works out that way.

New snowfall: 0cm Wind: Calm here at base, strong blowing very high up

SNOW!
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I said we weren’t getting the snow others were; we got that snow in force last night. Heavy snow from late afternoon into the night; I came home about 9:30 last night in crazy snow, only one lane for cars and mad snow clearing going on, but at 5 this morning there wasn’t that much more so it probably stopped before midnight. Total of 62 cm, and it feels very dense to walk through, although my calculations had it as very light… Maybe the difficulty of getting a good sample when there’s that much snow (maybe I need to rethink my gear….). Anyway, the snow contained lots of rounded forms like small graupel (soft hail) and snowflakes with lots of rime on them, which could make for some heavy going. First report off the hill is deep, heavy and could sluff a bit, so watch out for terrain traps like narrow valleys.

Tomorrow should slowly get warmer as that freezing line moves up. Hoping that the maximum level will keep coming down; the forecast is still for the freezing level at 2000 meters on Wednesday, lower than previous forecasts, but still with rain. Hope that changes!

Becasue of all the snow and the density, we cancelled our tours for today. Partly becasue the clients weren’t that keen on climbing, partly becasue the hike up would be miserable, and there’s the chance of not moving forward except on the steepest slopes. Safety first (fun a close second) at Dancing Snow!

New snowfall: 62cm; snow is still falling very lightly, even as the sun gets ready to come out. Wind: Calm

Cold and a little snow
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Our usual snow patterns have been turned around over the past few days; the areas along the ocean have been getting hit heavily, while things have been lighter here, at least at the ski area level. Some great snow up high yesterday, though; some wind scouring of the windward sides of ridges left some unpleasant ice surfaces exposed, while snow deposits on the lee side could be very compacted and heavy (stopped my skis on a steep slope!). Nice in the trees, with the layer of fresh declining a bit around 1300 meters (some rebounding off the ice underneath the snow when making turns). There are some icy chunks in the snow under the trees, probably the snow bombs brought down off the branches by the rain and frozen afterwards.

It was really cold overnight; a minimum of about -10°C here at our center, and still in the minus now.

Snowing up on the mountain now; nothing at base; and it’s sunny and really clear to the south/southeast. Probably can see all the way to Mt. Fuji if you look carefully….

Calm at base today but with the occasional set of gusts, and has been since very early morning. Waiting to hear from a team up on the hill about wind, loading, etc. on the peak. The gusts make me think there could very well be some strong breezes up high. Keep watching for wind loading on lee slopes.

New snowfall: 14cm Wind: Calm low but with some gusting.

Archive of previous weeks' reports
News
Hone your avalanche safety skills
Guide Ricky dug us some holes, and we have the beacons buried in the snow and ready for people to practice using their avalanche transceivers.

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The BCA Beacon Park features a remote control so you can select any one of four (at the moment; we may add up to eight later) units buried out in the snow. Use your beacon just like you would in an actual avalanche emergency; follow the signal (or search fo a distant signal until you pick it up), follow to the "victim," then use your probe. If you hit, you'll feel it and the control unit will let you know with a loud beeping noise. It's a serious job, but learning should be fun—and it's free (battery donations are accepted!). The staff will also help you out for a very small fee. If you don't practice, you won't know what to do if the unthinkable happens—and avalanches do happen.

See us if you need a new wire!
The BOA closure system found on snowboard boots, our Tubbs snowshoes, boots, golf shoes, running shoes and a whole lot more is a tough, clever way to get tightly into your footwear.
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The wires can break (apparently the twist unit can get bashed to death by some of you mad tree bouncers)—although it doesn't happen that often. If it does, just come by Dancing Snow. We've been trained, we have the parts (which are free), and we can get you back in pristine form and ready to head back out on the hill. The labor will be affordable, too&madash;just buy a beer and relax while we rethread the wires! (or a coffee, or a new BCA avalanche transceiver. We aren't fussy). Let us know if we can help!

Get your new skis!
Ready for some new skis just right for the Myoko snows? You can get those shiny new boards right here at Dancing Snow!

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We can get you set up with all the skis from K2 and Line, put on the bindings of your choice, get them waxed and ready and hold them here for you until you come to visit! We can also ship around Japan as well.

And, if you like, we can also store your skis right here in Myoko for you over the summer. We’ll put on a thick summer wax to protect the edges and bases, store them, then have them ready for the coming season. Just contact us at info@dancingsnow.com if you'd like more information, or want to place an order.

We also carry the full line of BCA snow safety equipment, K2 and BCA poles, helmets, skins, Tubbs snowshoes, and some fun Myoko-original clothing and goods in our center.

Dancing Snow is a BCA Snow Safety Center
  BCA logo Dancing Snow provides sales and rental of beacons, airbags and air cylinders from BCA, the premier manufacturer of snow safety goods. Float 32 airbag

The air cylinders for Japan are different from those for Europe and North America, meaning they can't be filled in the country—so just rent a cylinder, or a complete Float airbag system, for your stay in Myoko. Let us know well ahead on the airbags, though, so we can be sure and have one ready for you.


Join us in Myoko!
Dancing Snow has something for every adventurer, from hiking in the woods for complete beginners, to big descents from area peaks.

You don't have to be an expert skier to enjoy your own backcountry adventure with Dancing Snow!

Backcountry doesn't necessarily mean the ultra-steep slopes and narrow chutes of ski videos; if you're ready to have fun in the snow, we have something for you (and there are some steep and challenging runs out there, too!). In fact, we really enjoy giving people their first experience in the backcountry.

Start by sending us an email about what you'd like to do; we'll do our best to arrange a program to make it happen.

Tell us a bit about your experience, and what you'd like to do. Please let us know at least a few days in advance, so we can arrange everything needed, and get together people with similar interests and skills. Also, we keep our tour groups small for both safety and more fun.


What we do

Winter
red box  Backcountry tours
maize box  Snowshoe and ski hiking
dark blue box  Snow safety
blue box  Multi-day tours


Spring to autumn
green box Hiking and trekking
skiy blue box Sea kayaking

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