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Sad to hear of fatalities but - do people really want to go out to a place like that in blizzard conditions? Apart from the wiseness of doing that, it just doesn't sound like any fun.

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Unfortunately fukdane, some people I would say myself included, have to save up for such holidays, you don't have many days off work and you want to make the most of a ski trip. Its easy if you live near to a mountain, but if you are there for just 2 days and its a blizzard or the lifts are closed you will often trek up to the top regardless.

 

If the conditions really were so bad, I wonder if they took the ropeway up, on Japan Today it said the avalanche happened beside the ropeway, so I wonder if it was running in the first place.

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Really tragic news that. I was at Hakkoda last weekend and it snowed 40cms on Sunday so Monday was truly epic conditions but there was a really unstable layer of snow up top. I was caught in a small avy that day that buried me up to my knees after I cut underneath one of my mates further up the mountain. Hakkoda is not a mountain to be taken lightly at all and what happened today has made me feel real humble and has highlighted what a mountain can do to people. As far as conditions go. The Hakkoda gondola stops at winds of 25m/s and we experienced 22m/s on Sunday. It was a complete whiteout up top. The 1-2 meter visibility combined with that horrendous wind, 2-3 meter deep tree wells that you just couldn't see made the first 100 meter drop of the peak quite uncomfortable and disorientating. We rode with a mate who has lived and ridden the mountain for 5 years so I felt very confident as my mate knew the mountain and routes extremely well. Today's nasty event will have at least one positive outcome as I now fully want to learn everything there is to know about about avies and safe riding.

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Add'l Info by Yomiuri Online NP,

- The avy happened apx 11:00 am on Feb 14,

on the north face of Maetake peak (1,252m) .

- The route name is Douzou (bronze statue) course.

- The avy size was 200-300m long with 25m wide.

- The victims are two men (44 & 39) living in Tokyo.

- The customers stay at Sukayu Onsen Ryokan.

- Seven members of an Ausie mt rescue team happened to be passing by and gave them hands.

 

Add'l Info by NHK TV news,

- The avy size was 100m long with 5-10m wide.

- The new snow fall was estimated to be 40cm.

The snow pile is 3 meters depth.

- They saw blue sky when starting from the mt top sation of the ropeway. Soon, the weather was getting worse. Snowstorm came. A gust of 30 meter per sec was recorded at the mt top station.

- The avy attacked behind them when they were skiing down.

 

Yahoo! Map - Maetake peak

http://map.yahoo.co.jp/pl?lat=40%2F40%2F...map&size=s&sc=5

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sad. it sounds like avalanches are rare in that area... mentioning the last time there was an avalanche victim (1990), and being that the guides all thought the area was safe that morning.

 

--rapidly changing conditions

--what the faithful daily reports (for hakuba, at least) say about always watching out for "the threat from above" (thanks, SJ and DR people)

--traveling in HUGE groups (18 or something like that in one group?!)

--the victims were the last/some of the last skiers to go down the slope (more people who have skied on a slope = more wiegh loading on the snowpack, easier for avlanches to occur)

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and yet, what was the aussie group doing out in such sh*t conditions. let's not burn the japanese alone. the seppo wannabes shouldn't have been out there either, right. takes all kinds of idiots from all countries and nationalities to make this world FUBAR. being a seppo, i know. best bet is to follow the simplest of all BC rules, if it's puking, don't go. too easy. if you spent a vast sum of money for a dream vacation, control the urge to become a another avy stat and live to play another day.

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