Dancing Snow: Myoko Outdoor Adventures
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Spring skiing tour time is here! Take a look at the big events, and remember that we're always ready to plan a trip just for you!
Hiuchi Spring Tour
The gentle, big mountain in our backyard
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Our spring trip to the highest peak within Niigata Prefecture: a big, open mountain with great lines for all skiers. It's also wonderfully natural—you won't see many signs of civilization until you get to the peak itself. Staying at Koya Ike Hut. Be sure and reserve early: just drop us a mail and join us for one fo the best spring skiing in all of Japan.

Tateyama Spring Tour
Sun, white snow, big mountains, great onsen, and lots of skiing....
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We're heading to Tateyama and a stay at the Raicho-so hotel. Spring is great in this big Alpine bowl, with tons of places to go, and some great times even when the weather goes bad (which happens way up in the Alps). We've got room for 12, so be sure and reserve early: just drop us a mail and let's head out for one of the great trips of the season! It's not powder, but huge slopes and great corn snow.

Snow Report
Corn snow and north winds
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I’m spacing out reports now, I know; the action in the snowpack is pretty steady now and we’re unlikely to see a really big snowfall (but it always could happen!). Yours truly also had to go to Tokyo on the 15th for the daughter’s high school graduation (yes, proud father time). But things did change after that….

Great corn snow on the 14th, as that snow finally settled and things got very warm for several days—right up to the 16th, in fact. Once the snow stops falling, we almost hope it won’t fall much again, because it just makes the skiing more difficult/dangerous for wet snow slides. And the snow on the surface was classic spring crystals: melt/freeze forms with rounded crystals bonding very nicely to each other

The 16th was pretty nasty, with colder temperatures and light snowfall—and lots of wind. The snow didn’t really amount to much, but the morning of the 17th came with a bit of crust and what looked like what could be tricky snow on top (maybe even no-go-snow). In fact, one of my correspondents said it was in fact really nice up top, with a temperature inversion and a beautiful unkai—the sea of clouds—below. Will try it tomorrow, when hopefully warmer weather will soften things up even more.

New snowfall: 2 cm of graupel/soft hail on the 16th. Conditions: Calm, sunny for most of the day. Barometer high and steady.

Spring is here
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It is warm; the birds are singing (they know). Looks like a nice sunny day and we might as well look towards settled snow rather than powder. Yesterday (12th) we had a pretty pronounced crust under the light fall of graupel (soft hail about 2mm in diameter); today that has firmed up a lot, so I could walk out to the snow plot on the surface without breaking through. I hope that’s a good sign that the snow is settling, so as it warms we could get some fun corn snow. The word yesterday from our team was pretty icy conditions up high, so I’m actually lookgin forward to warmer/softer conditions over the next few days. With warming comes the danger of cornice collapse, so do keep an eye up above you as you climb (especially at the entry to the climb at Suginohara; when those cornices come down they can fill the valley below, and even jump out onto the flats just above the lift; also the big ones on Mt. Mitahara).

New snowfall: 2.5 cm of graupel/soft hail on the 12th; nothing on the 13th. Conditions: Southeast breeze earlier, probably going southwest. Barometer high and steady.

Rain turns to snow
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Those winds finally calmed down after taking away a lot of the snow. The rain helps, of course, but it's really the wind that The walls on the north side of the streets leading up to the resort are really, really low. Scary low, even—Miles even found a fuki no to (I guess they call them butterburs; bitter sprouts that are the first thing to pop out as soon as the snow melts. Kind of our signal of spring, and good tempura'd).

Interesting yesterday at the Yama no Kami event, as the south wind swung around to the north and the snow started up. Not a lot over the past day, though, but it is snow and it is white out there. It's fairly dense, pellet-y snow. It should taper off today (Saturday) before the sun starts shining and we get a real spring week. As it gets warm, watch out when you're climbing under the cornices, and possibly soft snow slides, too.

New snowfall: 12cm of graupel/soft hail. Conditions: Wind has come down to a light east breeze. Barometer is rising.

Blowing up a storm
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I’m sitting here at Dancing Snow’s World headquarters, wondering if our roof is going to fly off (already had some roofing from somewhere land in the yard on a previous day of blowing like mad). The snow is turning to a spring structure, with yesterday’s little bit of irregular crystals of fresh snow transmogrifying into melt-freeze, rounded, bonded, big crystals. Maybe we should really hope for settled snow, instead of one last chance at powder (OK, never say that…. sorry). We might get some snow Friday, and it would be great if was a plowable depth. I don’t mind getting out early to clean up if there’s some good white stuff out there.

The wind was just screaming in from the south up high, too; we could have a lot of blowing and even some addition on the cornices up high with this. I did notice (and forgot to mention) that Suginohara closed the No. 3 (top) lift and said it was becasue of avalanche danger. I think that probably was more for people heading out of the area, because the resort does pile up big snow deflectors above the lift, and avalanches do come down from the cornices above that top area. Lots of things could happen in the coming days!

New snowfall: 0cm Conditions: Strong wind through the day is eating up the snowpack; a little rain but nothing heavy yet. Barometer is falling fast at the end of the day.

A little snow and sun before….
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It was a nice day out there; still a bit cold, but with a warm sun. The snow really firmed up; got a bit of crust doing the foot penetration test, and the foot went down about 11 cm (not that much, pretty well settled). We keep hoping for a good snowfall (one last powder!), but only 1.5 cm here at the base of Akakura Kanko.

Had some fun over the weekend on south slopes: hugely wind-affected snow on the south face of Mitahara—looked like a million people had skied down up high, but actually soft and pretty fun, hard to turn but sunny and fun down low.

The word from the hill today was ice up high on north-facing slopes (like, scary skinning on fat skis, my contact tells me), more fun on warm south slopes. "A day for enjoying the hike, not the skiing," I believe he said.

Tomorrow that freezing level heads way up again to over 3000 meters (crazy), then another fast fall down to 700 meters during Friday and continuing all the way down to sea level by Saturday. Each time this happens the forecasts have the promise of heavy snow, but I’m not holding out much hope! Don’t want to jinx a chance for one more powder day…..

New snowfall: 1.5cm Conditions: Light east wind at base; pretty sunny through the day and getting warmer already (if the outdoor sensor, which is not great on maximum temperatures, is correct).

Not looking good
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Nice day out there today: sunny, some good powder on north faces. Not a lot of new (especially high up), better lower…. But it’s not going to be good for the rest of the week. The sun today has crusted things up; there was some wind down low that didn’t help; and the freezing line is going to keep heading up to Thursday when (drum roll) rain will fall. I would say think towards settled spring snow, but there’s still a good chance of powder ahead. Just not soon.

Light surface hoar on the surface of the snow today, but that definitely disappeared in the sun today. The foot penetration part of today’s test — full weight on one foot in the snow — resulted in less than 15cm depression. Not soft powder. Let’s see what happens; the forecasted freezing level for Thursday has moved down a bit, and mountain weather does change…. There’s still lots of good ahead!

New snowfall: 0cm Conditions: Calm at base; winds picked up low mid-day. barometer is high and steady….

The reporter returns
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It’s been a while, thanks to influenza A and the lingering after-effects for your reporter…. I missed getting out every day to measure the snow, although, fortunately, we didn’t have a lot of exciting changes in our gap in the info here…. Pretty consistent temperatures, not a lot of strong winds, the biggest snowfall was 49 cm on the 18th.

But things are going to get very interesting from now on, so time to get these reports back up! 15cm of fresh today, made up of not very large, irregular crystals. Unlike the huge stellar, “snowflake” crystals on the 22nd (absolutely beautiful, sparkling on the surface, 4.0mm in diameter). That could account for one not easily disturbed layer down i the snowpack that we found during a training session at the World Headquarters for the police and fire department. But nothing much to be concerned about.

And the beacon Park is open again, and we have enough distance to the far beacons that you can also practice the initial search stage of searching for a signal. Then follow the flux line in, do your fine search, probe and… success. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, come on by and give it a try!

New snowfall: 15cm; snow density 114kg/m3
Conditions: Calm at base; temps are pretty mild, barometer is up, humidity moving down quickly. Light winds along the ocean, coming in from the north. The freezing level will be moving steadily up, especially from Tuesday. Could be very warm Thursday, possibly with (yuk) heavy rain.

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.

Sea Kayaking
We’re in the mountains, but we love to go out on the water. Myoko’s a great place for sea kayaking: Lake Nojiri is just minutes away, and is ideal for a first, wave-free kayak experience. And within an hour, we can be on the ocean in an area that’s fun for beginners or experienced kayakers alike.

We also have a great deal of experience in hosting multi-day sea kayak touring on the Sea of Japan. Destinations include Wakasa Bay in Fukui, the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa, Awashima Island off the northern coast of Niigata (a great first camp/kayak destination) and Sado Island, right off the coast here. For tours, we often work with our partner Granstream.

We would be very happy to develop an itinerary and estimate for you, based on the number of people, days and destinations.
First paddle
Dancing Snow Tour Schedule
About backcountry activities
Please read and understand the following before taking part in a tour:

1. Depending on weather and snow conditions, tour destinations may be changed, or the tour cancelled.

2. Backcountry skiing and snowboarding involves the risk of injury or death. For that reason, we require all guests to sign a waiver before taking part in backcountry activities (a pdf version can be found here). At the same time, our guides have training in first aid, avalanche forecasting and rescue, and are dedicated to providing the most enjoyable, well-planned experience possible

3. Every Dancing Snow client is automatically included in our group insurance policy at no additional charge (please contact us if you would like more details on coverage). We also strongly suggest that all those taking part in backcountry tours have their own active insurance policy which covers outdoor activities.

4. If you do have a chronic health condition, we appreciate your letting us know. We know that many people can take part in outdoor activities despite some conditions, and we respect your ability to judge if a tour will be within your abilities. Your information will be kept strictly secret, but will be very useful in helping us respond should anything happen during the day.

Note on personal information
To ensure the safety of our guests, we do ask for personal information including telephone numbers, emergency contacts, etc., as part of registration for lessons and tours. We will not use this information for anything other than this purpose, nor will we release any personal information to any third parties.

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