PRESS RELEASE | Tohoku backcountry ski route documentation tour

Posted on Nov 13, 2019
26 0
Posted on Nov 13, 2019
26 0
Sapporo City | Popular not-for-profit English-language website has announced a tour of the Tohoku (東北) area of northern Japan this winter, to document up to ten of the region’s most popular ski touring routes. From January 25th till February 2nd, the team will document established routes in Aomori Prefecture (Hakkoda and Iwaki-zan), Iwate Prefecture (Hachimantai), and Akita Prefecture (Moriyoshi-zan and Komaga-dake).

Why Tohoku? Aren’t you a Hokkaido-specific website?

The Tohoku region has come onto the international backcountry skiing radar in recent years for good reason. The region gets even more snow than well-known areas in Hokkaido, and it has something Hokkaido doesn’t—the ‘real Japan’ experience of thousand-year old architecture and Japanese history. With overnight ferries from Hokkaido allowing travelers to fall asleep in one snow apocalypse and wake in another, the region is extremely accessible from Hokkaido, with very little time lost to travel. We’ve already documented a 7-day cycle tour in Aomori Prefecture, and we absolutely loved it. This winter season, we really want to get down to Tohoku to see what everyone is raving about, as well as write some route guides to make Tohoku just that little bit more accessible.

Tentative areas we’re planning to document
Nine days is woefully short to capture even a glimpse of the depth of backcountry skiing opportunities in Tohoku. But as far as time, weather, and stamina allows, here’s some areas we’ll be checking out.

  • Aomori Prefecture – Hakkoda (八甲田), Iwaki-zan (岩木山)
  • Akita Prefecture – Moriyoshi-zan (森吉山), Komaga-dake (駒ヶ岳), Nyuto-zan (乳頭山)
  • Iwate Prefecture – Hachimantai (八幡平), Iwate-zan (岩手山)
  • See full tentative schedule, including plotted routes, here (PDF): English | Japanese

Documentation Team

  1. Robert Thomson (New Zealand) is the founder of He’s penned over 100 English-language online route guides for the Hokkaido area. He’s involved in planning, photography, writing, and map-making duties. He’s an assistant professor at a university in Sapporo (digital media/communications). He has lived in Japan 14 years and is fluent in Japanese.
  2. Chris Auld (New Zealand/UK) is a writer for, owns a cabin in Niseko, Hokkaido, and has extensive skiing experience in Hokkaido, North America, and New Zealand. He is also a qualified ski guide. For this tour, he’s involved with drone photography, writing and driving duties. He works in the data science field for Microsoft in Singapore.
  3. Katie Basham (United States) is an American backcountry skier, whitewater rafter and Onsen enthusiast. She has spent her life attempting to blend these activities with a love for exploring new places and cultures.
  4. Andy Pressman (United States) is a USA-based adventurer with a passion for skiing, mountain biking and rivers. He loves traveling and exploring wilderness areas across the globe. An Emergency Medicine physician by trade, he has studied, instructed and researched medicine in austere and extreme environments.

About | The Hokkaido Wilds is a non-profit website that exists to inspire people to explore and enjoy Hokkaido and the surrounding areas’ extraordinary outdoors by ski, bicycle, foot and canoe in an informed and responsible way. In addition to detailed written route guides with great photography, we also provide GPS route files, custom English-language GeoPDF topographical maps (using Japan government map data), and safety notes. enjoys the support of local Hokkaido NPOs and tourism promotion bureaus.

See more about the Hokkaido Wilds project at this PDF: English | Japanese


Rob Thomson (Founder, The Hokkaido Wilds)
TEL: +81 (0)80-4228-6132 (Japan mobile)
Instagram: @hokkaidowilds

Example of PDF topomap for ski touring routes 

Example of route photography 

(these are from Hokkaido)

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Filter by location

About Filters

REGION: The general mountain/geographical region the route is in.

BEST MONTH(S): Time of year a route is suited to visiting. Some pop all season, some are more limited.

DIFFICULTY: How strenuous a route is, and how technical it is. Full details here.

FREERIDE/SKITOUR: Very subjective, but is a route more-of-a-walk-than-a-ski or the other way around? Some routes are all about the screaming downhill (freeride), some are more about the hunt for a peak or nice forest (ski-tour). Some are in between. 

MAIN ASPECT: Which cardinal direction the primary consequential slope is facing, that you might encounter on the route. More details here.

ROUTE TAGS: An eclectic picking of other categories that routes might belong to.

SEARCH BY LOCATION: You can find routes near your current location – just click on the crosshairs (). You may need to give permission to to know your GPS location (don’t worry, we won’t track you). Or, type in a destination, such as Niseko or Sapporo or Asahikawa etc.

Please let us know how we can make it easier to narrow down your search. Contact Rob at with your suggestions.

PRESS RELEASE | Tohoku backcountry ski route documentation tour Difficulty Rating





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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.