Frequently Asked Questions

What should my ability be? 

While we can customize our tours to every participant’s skill level, we suggest that skiers and snowboarders are intermediate to advanced, and comfortable riding off-piste and fresh snow at their local resort. Most of the best powder is below treeline and between trees, since open bowls are not very common in Japan conditions, hence it’s important to be able to consistently turn in deep snow to avoid trees. We will be hiking to and from the various side country zones at each resort so strong cardio is preferred.

What board or skis should I bring?

We suggest bringing your favorite powder board or skis – minimum 110mm waist, to float effortlessly through the deepest snow of your life. We are the official distributor of WNDR alpine skis and boards in Japan, so if you don’t want to lug a heavy bag across the world, contact us to reserve your model of choice. We have a selection of Powder and Touring skis with hybrid bindings (Maker Duke PT) or AT Demo bindings (SkiTrab Vario.2), and splitboards.

What boots should I bring?

Your alpine ski boots or snowboard boots will be fine for freeride and resort-guided tours. If you do not want to carry them, we can introduce you to rental shops, but please note shops do not usually rent ski boots with flex higher than 100.
For backcountry tours, you would need a touring ski boot. Our touring ski bindings are compatible with ISO 9523 boots, but please check in advance with us. Note that ultralight touring boots might not be the best on intensive lift-accessed freeride tours, since moving a 120mm wide ski with those boots requires skill. It might be recommended to rent an alpine boot for those freeride days and use the touring boots only on backcountry days with long uphill tours.
We do not offer touring ski boot rental.

Do I need Avalanche Safety Equipment?

Yes. Our tours are focused on off-piste and variable snow backcountry conditions, and it is required to carry -and know how to use:
– A 3-antenna transceiver (usually any transceiver after 2012)
– A probe longer than 2m (6 ft.)
– A shovel with a metallic blade
– A backpack with dedicated Avy gear storage for easy access.
As La Colina tour participant, you get access to discounted rentals at La Colina Gear.

Avy equipment is not required for Resort Touring guides.

What clothing is recommended?

Conditions in Japan are not much different compared with other mountain areas, except that a good waterproof outer layer (like Goretex) is recommended. Temperatures in Hokkaido/Tohoku during January and February can reach -20C, and in Nagano around -10C, so a three-layer system is recommended, with a more beefy down jacket for northern conditions. See below our general recommendations

Base layer
Synthetic (polyester or nylon) or wool long underwear and socks. Avoid cotton underwear, t-shirts or socks.

Mid layer top
Breathable fleece with insulation, vest, or down/synthetic puffy jacket.

Outer layer
Hardshell jacket with hood and pants/bibs (goretex or similar) to get the most weather protection.

Other
– Thin gloves and warm gloves. We recommended Temres Waterproof Gloves for powder days.
– Cap, beanie or tuque
– Helmet
– Face mask, buff or neckwarmer
– Googles. In Hokkaido/Tohoku the sun rarely comes out, so yellow, rose or clear googles lenses are recommended. We also recommend having a backup pair as well, particularly on pow days.
– Sunglasses
– Sun block and lip balm

What is an onsen?

An onsen, a natural hot spring, is deeply embedded in Japanese culture and renowned for its healing properties. Rich in minerals, onsen water is believed to benefit the skin, circulation, and overall health. During winter, the experience of soaking in an onsen becomes even more magical. Surrounded by falling snow, the warm, therapeutic waters offer unparalleled relaxation and a perfect respite after a day of skiing or snowboarding. This combination of natural beauty, cultural tradition, and health benefits makes winter onsen bathing a uniquely soothing and rejuvenating experience.

Should I bring cash?

YES. Despite Japan gradually moving towards becoming a cashless society, ¥EN is king, and there still are many restaurants and places that only accept cash.