For the past few days, Hakuba has been thrust back into the center of a storm, and there is no end in sight. Zach Paley has taken a collection of photos that show what storm skiing in Hakuba is all about.
It probably goes without saying, but getting all covered in the white stuff is the coolest part about storm skiing here. The big metal thing is an avalanche barrier – they don’t usually form natural ramps here like they do in Hokkaido, but they sure are fun to ski between.
Flowing water is a huge part of life in Japan. Given the amount of rain and snow that happens here, it seems like wherever you are in Japan, the sound of flowing water is somewhere in the background. Or, as in this case, in the foreground.
Japan is an archipelago, so wherever you are skiing here, you’re probably not far from the ocean. Ocean means coastal snowpack, and coastal snowpack means pillows. If you haven’t ridden pillows before: yes, they are just as fun as they look.
The Japanese LOVE building enormous cement structures. Its pretty surreal to be skiing powder in the mountains by yourself, and to come across behemoths like this. A regular experience skiing in Japan.
Its all about tree skiing during storms. Japan has rather unique forests, in that they are almost exclusively deciduous. It makes for some very different visuals than North America or Europe, where there are a lot more evergreens in the mix.
To add to the visuals of storm skiing here, the trees get completely plastered with snow. Beware of gusts of wind, as you may find yourself in the white room from above.
Snow sticks to everything here.
All photos are by Zach Paley, all skiers are Lee Lyon.