The town of Furano is blessed with an amazing ski resort, but the primary reason I’m based here in Central Hokkaido is the access to Daisetsuzan National Park. Located about a 45 minute drive away, it’s the largest national park in Japan and is home to an endless number of backcountry skiing options. Daisetsuzan, which translates to “great snowy mountains,” receives some of the coldest, lightest snow anywhere in the world.
Located in the northern end of the park, Asahidake is the highest volcano on the island and has a cable car that was built to give summer hikers access to alpine hiking. Fortunately for skiers, it also runs in the winter and is well known for providing many with the deepest day of skiing of their lives.
There is no ski patrol or any marked runs here, so you are on your own. If it is storming, you most likely will be choking on deep snow in the birch trees below the cable car. If you are lucky enough to catch the rare clear day, hiking into the alpine terrain above offers spectacular touring and incredible scenery.
Slightly further south, the active Tokachidake Volcano and the surrounding peaks offer some of my favorite ski touring in the area. From deep powder storm skiing below treeline on Furanodake to clear day alpine tours that span as far as the eye can see, this area always delivers.
This week, we scored two very rare blue sky days and were able to climb up into the smoking caldera of Tokachidake. Standing next to the towering plume of smoke pouring up into the blue sky, the pungent smell of Sulphur and imagining the power of an eruption made me feel tiny. It’s very safe to say it is an experience no one could ever forget.
We spent the rest of the day skiing knee deep powder in the wind deposited gullies on the frontside of the mountain and finished watching the sunset from the spectacular Fukiage onsen. It’s really hard to imagine a better day.
Editor’s Note: Will is a Steamboat Springs based skiing and ultrarunning running fanatic and is currently pursuing a ski guide certification through the American Mountain Guide Association certifications. He will be sharing his experiences working for Hokkaido Powder Guides from Hokkaido, Japan with us throughout this winter.