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Snow Report
How much rain; how fast snow?
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This is the day something is going to happen. Hard to tell early in the morning, as it was sunny, a few clouds, not that warm. A few minutes later and a lot of clouds had suddenly formed; now it’s a thin layer of high clouds that still lets the sun through. It is definitely warmer, though; the barometer has continued to fall through the morning. The SW wind was pretty steady early on, although it’s not doing much at the moment. A lot of heavy snow is still up in the trees; when it does warm up it will start falling—I would say look up as you’re traveling through the woods today but it’s hard to ski (or snowshoe, for that matter) while gazing at the branches. The snow on the surface today was again sparkly surface hoar, but very small and already becoming more round and bonding by 9 am. There will definitely be sun crust out there; the nice powder that was still lingering even on east faces will be gone today and it could get kind of nasty. Hope the forecasts are good, and it gets cold and whatever rain does fall quickly turns to snow (and hopefully without forming an ice layer in the snow). The Niigata Meteorological Office already has the possibility of 5 cm in mountain areas up to tomorrow; looking forward to what the Prefecture website says at 3 pm, when it issues its overnight forecast.

New snowfall: 0cm Conditions: Calm at base; same as yesterday, steady S/SW winds fell off by 9am; barometer is slowly falling.

Last day before...?
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Another cold start to the day, with a glittering covering of surface hoar on the snow. As we have talked about before, in a lot of places that sparkly, sharp stuff can be the cause of concern—in some places it will grow feathery, get buried in the cold snow, and just stay there, a fragile layer under new snow that will break and cause mayhem (i.e., the slab avalanche). Here, it usually disappears almost immediately, just a beautiful sight on the snow and not much more.

Niigata prefecture’s official forecast was off again for this morning (20 cm, vs. the tiny coating we got). I don’t want to say too much bad about them, though; it is the best and most reliable of the snow forecasts around. snow-forecast.com for the freezing level and winds; windytv.com for the winds (obviously) and other elements (snowfall, snow depth, waves, etc.—see our inset at bottom right), the Japan Coast Guard for offshore wind directions and strength…. Look at a lot and still get flummoxed at times.

The snow is a little more settled than yesterday, with a warmer snowpack at the top levels as well. There were some pretty steady S/SW winds early, but it still hasn’t gotten that warm here at Dancing Snow World Headquarters. Watching the trees for all that snow hanging on the limbs to start falling, and the white stuff is still up there. Haven’t heard if sun crust is forming heavily down low (our team out today is on a sprint, it seems).

Tomorrow, let’s hope that rain doesn’t come. It’s going to go cold fast again after that, but another warm spell is predicted for the middle of next week, with the freezing level possibly going to 1300 meters on Wednesday. maybe if it just stays at snow—and even some heavy fall?—tomorrow late so we have a fun Sunday.

New snowfall: < 1cm Conditions: Calm at base; steady S/SW winds early dissipated by 8-9am; barometer is remaining high at this time. Waiting for tomorrow’s warming...

Nice new fresh, and cold
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Got a nice amount of snowfall up to the morning today—22 cm—nothing too overwhelming, but a nice fill of good flakes after a few days with no new accumulation. Cold temperatures continue, too, with a lovely -10°C greeting me out in the snowplow this morning. It stayed pretty cold, especially high up on the peak. Yesterday our guides found some nasty wind crust up on the open faces of the peaks; today it was a lot softer but they still found some whoomphing (the sound made when the snow surface collapses slightly under the skis, most likely the wind crust under new snow). Got to dig a pit at about 1700 meters on an east-facing, rather steep slope: there was a visible layer about 55cm down in the pack (wind and sun?), but it wouldn’t move during tests. Below that was all good all the way down past one meter. Just increasingly dense white Myoko snow. Those nice cold, fresh crystals also made for some amazing skiing. Hero snow. Everybody looked good. Looks like it could get warmer during the weekend (did I really see the possibility of rain?). Let’s hope that freezing level decides to stay low and the temperatures remain cold.

a New snowfall: 1cm Conditions: Calm at base; some strong winds early that dissipated around lunchtime; barometer has risen through the day—sun tomorrow?.

Deceptively blue skies?
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Only 1 cm of new snow since yesterday, and it’s cold and clear out there. Major winds up on the peaks and ridges; seeing lots of snow tornados coming off the top of Mt. Myoko and the lower peaks, so the possibility of wind slabs and snow deposits on lee slopes is increasing. I did hear from a pro photographer that they were finding some sliding on an icy layer on southwest-facing slopes, but in general people have been reporting pretty stable conditions.

Although it’s a perfect blue sky right now, the Niigata prefecture report is predicting 8cm up to 4 pm, while the Niigata Meteorological Office has an even more optimistic 25 to 50cm. There are clouds starting to move in from the north/the ocean, so let’s see! It’s also interesting to look at the unusual wind patterns offshore from the Note Peninsula to Sado Island: really strong winds going right along the coastline (similar to what brought all that snow to Joetsu, but not us, yesterday). Would like to get a really good coating of fresh out there in the hills, even if we do have to be a bit careful about new on any lingering sun/wind crusts. Only 1 cm of new left on the study boards this morning, but it was nice, airy, flaky snow (bits of broken stellar crystals). Should be nice out there, and there’s likely more snow higher on the peaks.

New snowfall: 1cm Conditions: Calm at base; strong winds on ridges and peaks; barometer has risen 8 mbar since 8am.

2PM UPDATE: FROM THE FIELD Our tour team for today found some serious crusts all the way up from Suginohara to near the top of Akakurayama. Cracking and whoomphing on the ridge up to the peak; serious wind effect up high, with wind drifts/waves. Much better conditions down in the beech forest. Now snowing heavily, maybe two cm per hour. Winds also died out on top around noon.

Where did the snow go?
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Well, we dug out the beacons in the BCA Beacon Park in preparation, but that big snow never actually arrived (but the beacons are going back in, so do come and practice your beacon and probe skills). Lots of snow along the coast, it seems, with reports of nearly a meter in Joetsu City to the north. The big low-pressure cell off the coast to the north is really pulling winds in fast along the coast to the east of Noto Peninsula, but it’s nice and quiet (and not so snowy) here. Looks better for the rest of the week, though, although the heaviest falls seem to be further north and east. Today’s snow was more of the nice light stuff I saw on the plot yesterday—bits of broken stars with plenty of air in there, too.

We only got about 8cm of new snow at the base level, but there definitely was more snow higher up on the hill. It was nice and calm, though, even at the peak of Maeyama, something we always appreciate (you can enjoy lunch on top, and also not see the cornices building before your eyes). It’s been one of those days of sun to the east and south, and gray, maybe snow, high up, from about the top of the ski area.

New snowfall: 32cm Conditions: Calm at base; now snowing lightly and likely heavier higher up; barometer heading down over past two hours

Nice start to a refill of the hill
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Nice bit of snow overnight; almost exactly what the Niigata Prefecture forecast predicted (35cm, vs 32cm out on our study boards). It’s continuing to snow nicely right here at the World Headquarters, while the word from guide Miles up on the hill is a bit more up on the main face of Maeyama. Light snow, too; lots of broken bits of stellar dendrites (the “snowflake” flakes) meaning lots of air in there too, which means good skiing. Calm conditions here and at 1800 meters, also nice to hear.

The freezing level is back to 0 meters and will stay there for most of the week, so good cold conditions for the snow. Would like to get up on the hill and dig after we get some more fresh, to make sure the new is bonding well on top of some of that old snow, which did get some sun exposure and was crusty and even icy in places high up as well. I did notice that the crust was softer yesterday when I went out to the snow plot, which hopefully means soft old snow bonding nicely to soft new snow. Did dig out in back as we did some avalanche courses, and found some nice, well-compacted Myoko snow (but still with that old rain layer sitting way down in the snowpack at more than a meter down). Some of the predictions on the TV news were for up to 70cm by tomorrow, so let’s keep an eye out, and think about the danger of sluffs as well if we hit steeper slopes, valleys and such in the deep.

New snowfall: 32cm Conditions: Calm at base; with snow falling now about 1 cm per hour; barometer steady

Good snow and ready for more
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Got some great turns in over the last two days—and got crazy busy, so even though I went out and did my snow poking duty, I didn’t transfer the data into useable form on this report. Sorry about that.

In a sense, though, there wasn’t that much to report. The beautiful sun on Wednesday started to make for some sun crusting and heavier stuff down low, but the snow in the trees and on north faces has remained good (light, powdery). Today we had unkai, the sea of clouds, down below, and a beautiful day for people above maybe 1700-1750 meters or so.

The question now is, when will that big snow fall? The forecasts are slowly moving back away from a Friday heavy fall, but snow should be falling over the coming days. Colder weather is on the way, too, with the freezing level falling from Sunday to 0 meters on Monday.

Still, I think I’ll dig up the beacons in the BCA beacon park out back—but I’m happy to put them back in when people want to train in the park! It’s a great way to get used to using your beacon and probe (and I have BCA handouts on these and shoveling if you would like a copy!).

New snowfall: 0cm Conditions: Calm at base; snow is getting heavier (and tracked out) lower; barometer up slightly today

Much more than expected
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Niigata prefecture’s website may be one of the best sources on snow depths, but it was short today. Maybe they got the numbers backwards: 54 cm, not 25—and it is still falling very heavily.

Pretty strong winds with the snow early in the morning, but these faded by 6:30 or so. Very light, soft snow, though; should be great skiing, but there is also a very real risk of stuffing on steep slopes when this new soft, unconsolidated snow shifts as someone skis by. Did hear from several people who fell recently on steep slopes, ended up head-down and being unable to get out without help. Scary. Doesn’t have to be an avalanche to suffocate!

Noticed that the Japan Avalanche Network’s forecast for the day had higher danger low and high, less at treeline. The word from the hill is that there is a little less snow at the top of the lifts (although not much wind), Might be a little trickier on this side of the mountain; should be great skiing, but teamwork and caution are both in order today!

New snowfall: 54cm of light snow Conditions: Calm at base; still snowing heavily; barometer up slightly today

Archive of previous weeks' reports
Hone your avalanche safety skills
The BCA Beacon Park is ready for people to practice their beacon and probing skills!

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The BCA Beacon Park features a remote control so you can select any one of 8 units buried out in the snow. Use your beacon just like you would in an actual avalanche emergency; follow the signal (or search for 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.

Our approach
You don't have to be a mountaineer to have a great adventure in the hills.

If you're pushing your own abilities, testing yourself and trying new things, you’re having an adventure—even if it just means getting on skis for the first time ever. (Or your first descent from a 2,000-meter peak in 50cm+ of fresh snow—face shots or face plants, laughing all the way down.)

Our goal is to help you find a new adventure, right here in the beautiful setting of Myoko. We love being out here, and showing our guests some of the best places to play in the snow. Myoko is a pretty mellow and fun place—with lots of snow—and our approach is likewise to have fun, to enjoy the great scenery and slopes, and make some new friends from around the world. And, of course, to do it safely.

Dancing Snow was founded at least in part to answer the needs of an increasing number of international travelers, while also welcoming Japanese guests as well. In fact, some of our favorite tours in recent years have been with groups combining all kinds of people—it's amazing how quickly people start speaking both Japanese and English!

We welcome Alpine/AT/randonée skiers, telemarkers and snowboarders for all our tours. We use snowshoes and light Nordic skis for our hiking courses.

For tours, we really focus on going to local peaks and skiing down. We don't—and can't—do sidecountry (skiing directly off the lifts). One course has minimal hiking, but it's up and away from the ski area. A lot of countries have had to decide how to handle skiing in the trees, etc., and change is definitely coming to Japan. But as part of the local community, Dancing Snow, like our other local guide friends, have agreed to hike up for our skiing down. In Myoko, the climbing is what we find more fun, and more rewarding.

If that sounds good to you, too, we're looking forward to climbing with you!

For snow hiking, anybody's welcome—we'll go as far as you feel comfortable, and make sure that our lunchtime break is something that you'll enjoy.
This is Bill... I'm reworking the pages on our guys, because they're great and we need a better introduction. Keep checking here!

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