The consistent falls of last week were replaced by settled sunny conditions and it was time to hit the backcountry.
North faces have been well below zero since mid December and the snow-pack albeit shallower than normal seasons was in very stable bomber shape.
First day we hit the Goryu backcountry.
Next day was spent in the Happo north faces. The snowpack is still quite thin on the Happo north faces and rocky areas here and there were hidden waiting for vulnerable planks – I got a couple of core shots and everyone came away with gouges in their bases.
The 19th was a splendid day. The valley was climbing above zero but the north faces at altitude were still in great shape. Decided on a cruisy tour behind Tsugaike and ending at Norikura taking in the peaks of Higashi Hiyodori and Wakaguri along the way. Nice fast powder on both descents and the valley between the two peaks was a rare place in Japan – somewhere you can hear the sound of silence!
The weather since then has been mild and with very dense wet snow. The wet snow will have bonded fairly well at high altitudes but less well below about 1300m-1400m with heavy wet slabs sliding off the cold low density snow beneath fairly easily. Time will tell if this creates a weak layer but if we get enough snow to quickly bury this layer in the coming cold period we should be fine. Otherwise, cold temperatures with little snow will create faceting in the wet snow that might persist for a while to come as a weak layer.
Take care out there!