Welcome to the #1 mountain in Japan for POWDER SNOW!

What people are saying about Simon's Powder Tours:

I had three great experiences boarding with Simon. Two at Hakkoda and one at Mt Iwaki. I enjoyed great hiking and snowshoeing. Spring boarding is a great experience that offers benefits unlike winter-hiking in t-shirts, great views on clear warm days, and amazing spring snow. I am glad I got these experiences before leaving Japan, even more amazing in late April and May. Thanks Simon.

Scott Zakaluzny, 5/2006

It was an amazingly different ski trip, the one I had to Hakkoda, not what I had expected at all. A friend who skied here in 2005 talked about two weeks of continual dumping snow, deep powder and minimal visibility.
I was fortunate to get 7 days straight sunshine. OK, my first and last days were full on blizzard conditions but the week in between was sunny. This was not the average weather pattern for late February but a freak warm spell that hit all of Japan.
Why was I fortunate? I got to experience ďspring skiingĒ conditions that are more the norm for March and April.
We went out back touring each day, climbing (with skins or snow shoes) different peaks and skiing (or boarding) long untracked backcountry routes down to a road system that seems to circumnavigate the entire area. Simon would organise a van or bus to meet us at some pre-arranged location and we would be driven back to the resort. Some treks were so big that we only did the one in the day.
There were fantastic views to Aomori city, the ocean and surrounding mountains. The ďsnow monstersĒ as the Japanese refer to them (you may know them as ďsnow ghostsĒ) were a spectacular sight in the thousands. We encountered some wild life during our long outback runs (up to 7kms) and I even got to see one the rare native deer on the day of my departure.
The accommodation in Hakkoda is top rate and Simon showed us some great spots to get fresh tracks. Surprisingly, there were quite a few guided groups out amongst the 7 or so peaks doing what we were doing. We didnít get anything really deep due to the weather conditions but with a base over 4m it was obvious that there is a lot of good snow falling during the winter months.
I highly recommend the spring skiing experience and hopefully will get the deep powder winter experience on my next visit. My advice is take all the gear that Simon suggests (I never expected to be wanting lightweight clothing and sunnies) and get fit.
As a final word, I must admit I have never seen a boarder do tighter turns than Simon. That probably comes from his previous life as a skier and the fact he uses ski poles when boarding.
Here are my Hakkoda web pages: http://www.ciau.com.au/snow/jpn2006/japan06e.htm

Richard Pascoe, 4/2006

Simon's track is the centre track!

Check out my "Hakkodasan 2006" photo album at Neptune.com!
Friends, this was my Adventure in the back country of Mt Hakkoda, Japan.
Had a fantastic tour, thanks to the expertise and backcountry guide, Simon Bernard.
For those I'd invited and missed out, let's try it again next year.
And for those of you who would like to try it, let me know.
Please let me know how the video played, OK?

Ken Sein, 4/2006

Crew: me (Chris), Yumi, Fish, Jimmy B, Sam

This time around, we were a little better organized and our expectations had been set higher. In one of our smarter moves, we pre-booked a personal guide, Simon Bernard, to show us the full potential of Hakkoda's back country. Over the last two years, we'd only done a small fraction of what the area had to offer and since we had seen that the weather could be pretty uncooperative, we wanted to make sure we could maximize our time there.

Day one - we got there at around 11am and by 1pm we had started our first hike out to the Onsen Route. It took us a total of about three hours from start to finish and we switched between snowshoes and our boards about three times. The weather was beautiful, but slightly warm and the snow alternated between crusty and powder. If it wasn't for the guide, we probably wouldn't have found any powder to play with at all. He even led us off a fantastic 20-foot drop off launch cornice. He could have led us to an even greater drop - but he had to assess our abilities and what better way than to see if your customers can take big mountain riding than by leading them to a drop-off?

Day two - this was the day we were long looking for. It had snowed the night before but only about 5cm - barely enough to cover the tracks from the day before. On this day, Simon had opted for the Hokibitai Route, the 7km run involving a monster trek that would take pretty much all day. But due to a massive group of skiiers that we didn't want to tail, we kept a very brisk pace ahead of them and shortened our break times down to the very minimum! After about three hours of solid trekking uphill and spanning two peaks, we finally put on our boards for a long one hour mix-powder/corn ride down to the pick-up point. There was even a 50 degree chute that we went off one at a time, comparable to the 20 foot drop the day before.

We pulled in about 3 in the afternoon, dead tired but eager for a third day.

Day three - it was warm, extremely windy and slated to start raining by noon. Due to the time pressure of getting out before rainfall, Simon opted for the Dozo Route, the same route that Yumi, Ken, Fish and I did last year. This was a short but sweet trek that involves a hard hike up a steep peak. Unfortunately, the winds were blowing between 15-30kph and we were almost blown off our feet several times when walking with our boards on our backs. The boards felt like sails and only the crampons of our snowshoes and poles kept us anchored to the ice. At the end, we literally crawled on all fours to get to the top.Coming down was a blast!

We finished the day at around noon and tried to hurry back to the hotel and airport to change our flights just as it really started to rain.

All in all, it was an awesome and unique experience. And having done Hakkoda three years in a row, and having each year becoming one for the record books, means that Hakkoda may very well be the single most memorable mountain experience that I'll carry with me the day that I leave Japan.

from Chris's blog, 3/2006

This is the open bowl of Mt. Maedake that we went down on day 3 which leads to the Doozo Route

A beautifully posed photo of the "Crew"

Dear NGA editor,

My husband and I are always dreaming and talking about the snowboard adventures that we intend to take next. It is because of your article ["Japan's Back country Dojo," February] that Hakkoda-San became our most recent destination. This dream became reality in a very short amount of time!

We received our National Geographic Adventure in the mail the end of January and my husband began to search for affordable tickets not long after. He did in fact find decent priced tickets with set days in February. So on February 10th we made the quick & final decision to leave on February 16th for Japan! We would return on February 22nd. In those seven days my husband made arrangements and reservations with Simon Bernard (contact from your aticle).

We joined Simon's snow tour for three days. We were so pleased to have him as our guide. His first priority is safety. He is very knowledgeable, and he has a great sense of humor. We really enjoyed every minute of this vacation. The people we met were extremely nice and helpful, the food was amazing, and the powder and snow monters were truly a breathtaking experience. The 14 hour flight was so worth it!

I would like to thank National Geographic Adventure for putting the idea into our head, and to Simon Bernard for creating a back country memory that we will carry with us forever, and to my husband, Brian, for being so spontaneous, optimistic, and diligent during a short span to plan!

Sunshine Stearns, 2/2006


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