Japan Avalanche Network launches Niseko weekend avalanche bulletins

Posted on Jan 16, 2021
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Posted on Jan 16, 2021
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Reading time: 4 min
The wider Niseko area of southwestern Hokkaido (Niseko/Yotei/Yoichi/Shiribetsu) has received a boost in avalanche awareness tools this week. Japan's largest avalanche awareness association NPO Japan Avalanche Network (JAN 日本雪崩ネットワーク) has launched their own independent avalanche bulletins for the area. Bulletins are currently posted once a week on Saturday mornings. Their international-standard avalanche reporting style adds some familiar risk communication skills to the avalanche risk reporting in the area. JAN's weekend bulletins add a welcome complement to existing daily reports by the Niseko Avalanche Survey Center ニセコ雪崩調査所.

Last updated Jan 27, 2021

The Japan Avalanche Network (JAN) has upped the game for weekend warriors heading to Hokkaido’s western hills with weekend avalanche bulletins for the wider Niseko region. Currently posted  once a week by 7am each Saturday, JAN’s international-standard risk reporting style gives readers quick and easily digestible indications of snowpack stability below, at and above the treeline. At present, JAN’s current Hokkaido bulletins cover Niseko, Yotei, Shiribetsu-dake, and Yoichi (Yoichi includes Kiroro).

INTERNATIONAL STANDARD

We’re very excited to see some familiar avalanche reporting styles introduced to the Hokkaido backcountry space (see screenshots below). JAN’s communication style is direct, to the point, and easy to digest. Clear references to typical Hokkaido hazards are appreciated, delivered in clear prose. The website is well adapted to smartphone viewing.

KEY POINTS

The Japan Avalanche Network (JAN) has launched weekend avalanche bulletins for the wider Niseko area, including Yotei, Yoichi and Shiribetsu. JAN’s site uses international standard reporting. Backcountry travelers now have two sources of avalanche information in the area: JAN’s weekend reports, and the Niseko Avalanche Information‘s daily reports. Used in conjunction, these reports should give an excellent overview of snowpack and avalanche risk conditions in the area.

Screenshots

AREAS COVERED

JAN’s website states their Hokkaido bulletins currently cover the “ニセコ・羊蹄・余市・尻別 Niseko Yotei Yoichi Shiribetsu” area. These are all popular backcountry skiing locations in western Hokkaido. 

We’ve spoken to people involved in JAN’s Hokkaido bulletins, and there’s a hope that reporting can be expanded to other areas of Hokkaido – such as central Hokkaido – in the near future.

 

Graphic by JAN

EXPANDING OPTIONS

With the launch of JAN’s wider Niseko area avalanche bulletins, backcountry travelers in the Niseko area now have two options for avalanche information.

  • Niseko Avalanche Informationhttp://niseko.nadare.info/ 
    Frequency: Daily
    Area: Area immediately around Niseko Annupuri (source)
    Content: Detailed wind-speed/direction, temperatures, and wave heights in text format. Comments on avalanche risk in common vernacular, as well as banter regarding skiing conditions. Includes information on Niseko resort area gate closures/openings.
  • Japan Avalanche Network Shiribeshi Area Avalanche Bulletinshttps://nadare.jp/avalanche_informations?q%5Bavalanche_area_id_eq%5D=6
    Frequency: Currently once a week on Saturday mornings by 7am
    Area: Niseko, Yotei, Shiribetsu, Yoichi
    Content: International standard visual communication of avalanche risk, content broken down into easy-to-read sections.

ABOUT THE JAPAN AVALANCHE NETWORK

Founded in 2000, the NPO Japan Avalanche Network is not-for-profit professional association involved in over 20 years of avalanche safety for outdoor winter recreation in Japan. Their operations revolve around four main activities: Avalanche education, avalanche information/bulletins, avalanche incident audits, and resources. They maintain close connections with the Canadian Avalanche Association. Membership is made up of a wide range of individuals, from professional mountain guides, ski patrollers, search and rescue personnel, avalanche researchers, and members of the public who have gone through high-level training. Full details (in Japanese) here.

Japan Avalanche Network Avalanche Bulletins

The Japan Avalanche Network currently produces professional level avalanche bulletins for five areas in Japan. Bulletins are produced by Japan Avalanche Network volunteers, based on contributions from professional members local to each area.

  • Hakuba 白馬 (daily) – link
  • Myoko 妙高 (daily) – link
  • Kagura Tanigawa Hotaka かぐら谷川武尊 (daily) – link
  • Tateyama 立山 (daily) – link
  • Niseko Yotei Yoichi Shiribetsu ニセコ・羊蹄・余市・尻別 (once weekly) – link

Other JAN initiatives: Beyond the Ropes

Just in case you haven’t seen it, the Japan Avalanche Network is the genius brain behind the hilarious (but spot on) Beyond the Ropes backcountry safety communication campaign.

See the full PDF here.

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Japan Avalanche Network launches Niseko weekend avalanche bulletins Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

D

25

Time ascending

D

0

Technicality

Altitude

D

0

Hazards

D

Navigation

D

Totals

25/100

GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.