Snowboard backcountry powder tours, advice needed.

Discussion in 'Japan' started by libbster, Apr 12, 2017.

  1. libbster

    libbster Just Registered

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    Hi,

    I was wondering if anyone knows anything about Powder Recon tours in Myoko.
    I'm an experienced snowboarder and solo
    traveller but like having a guide for the backcountry and other people to ride with.

    I've been snowboarding in Japan before but saw this tour and thought it might be fun!
    Although I have mien gear they offer powder boards for rent which I thought could be great also.

    Any advice welcome or other snowboard tours people would recommend?
     
  2. PerthBoarder

    PerthBoarder Active Member

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    Not used them myself but a quick look at their website and I find no mention of any safety credentials.
     
  3. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room
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    Have you completed an avalanche course?
     
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  4. libbster

    libbster Just Registered

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    Yes, a while back. I always rent my avalanche gear and go with a guide if I'm doing any proper backcountry riding.
     
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  5. libbster

    libbster Just Registered

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    What credentials should I be looking for?
     
  6. libbster

    libbster Just Registered

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    E.g: For the guides to be accredited or should I be looking for more than that?
    I'm sure I could ask them that directly though.
     
  7. PerthBoarder

    PerthBoarder Active Member

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    This is by no means a promotion, I've not used this company either but compare the guides qualifications stated http://blackdiamondtours.com/guided-backcountry-tours/guides/

    Surely a company would be keen to list on qualifications their guides have. Problem in Japan is any joker can call themselves a "guide". Experienced first hand the problems of this, my advice - be confident when selecting a guide that you are actually getting a qualified guide.
     
  8. blowfin

    blowfin Well-Known Member

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    Did a week with powder recon in Feb. They are not backcountry tour guides. I can't make that clear enough when people start banging on about guiding certifications and the like. You will get a morning of good quality "mountain hosting" for each day you're with them, sometimes this involves riding on piste, sometimes they will take you to sidecountry, sometimes you will bootpack to lines out of the resort. It depends on the snow conditions and the hill you go to on any given day. If you go out of the resort, they will always sign the group out with ski patrol. If there was a risk in the terrain we were approaching, a guide went ahead and dug out a pit to check the snowpack before the group even approached. The guides I met had all done avalanche training to some level, and they run snowpack checks and refreshers for their guides every single weekend during the season. IMHO it is a safe operation. The terrain was very low risk during my tour too (I have done AST1 so have a fair idea). What you should not expect however, is dedicated back country guiding, they are not in that game but elements of touring is something the owner was considering for future seasons. There are great opportunities for that in some of the spots they frequent.

    But basically: Did I have a ball? Yes. Was I still riding untracked snow 4 days after the last dump. Yes. Was it good value for what I got? Totally. Would I go on the same tour again? Maybe, given the right circumstances. I'm more than likely going to try something a little bit different next year.
     
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  9. libbster

    libbster Just Registered

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    Thanks so much for the advice!
     
  10. libbster

    libbster Just Registered

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  11. onceayear

    onceayear Active Member

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    Not a promo - although I have toured with Aki in the past - have a look at North Nagano outdoor sports - runs out of Madarao - but the guys there have very good knowledge on most surrounding hills. Saying that - I see Aki is now running a cafe as well and seems to be tied up with some tour companies that I definitely would not use.
     
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  12. smackies

    smackies Addicted Member
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    So, not backcountry guides but doing things that are backcountry guiding. All with maybe an AST1 under the belt?

    No thanks.
     
  13. blowfin

    blowfin Well-Known Member

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    Not really what I said, give them a call by all means if you need to clarify the level of their guides, their training, and experience. I did before I booked, and was satisfied. From what I know about where you ride though, it's not a suitable style of trip for you anyway. Worth mentioning that Hakuba backcountry would be several orders of magnitude more dangerous than anything these guys expose their clients to, and if I was doing something like that, I'd definitely want a reputable guide who had a great deal of experience in the area.
     
    #13 blowfin, Apr 13, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
  14. smackies

    smackies Addicted Member
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    Maybe I misunderstood, but all those things you mentioned them doing, are backcountry guiding type activities. Fair enough, that may be only 20% of what they do and you may choose not to call them backcountry guides, but it doesn't diminish the fact that that's, at least in part, what they are doing.

    Sidecountry Resort-accessed backcountry Myoko slides.
     
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  15. blowfin

    blowfin Well-Known Member

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    Yes and like I said, I was confident with their training and experience when those situations arose. Some of the guests were another story entirely. Call them if you have an issue with it, I've already defended them enough. Are you implying they've been involved in slides at Myoko? I think you'll find they've been spending time around there for longer than a lot of the forum members here have known about the place.
     
  16. smitty484

    smitty484 Old And Crusty
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    When you leave a resort boundary with a guide your life is now in their hands. Personally i'd make sure they were appropriately qualified and experienced with the area. One wrong turn, one avalanche and you're dead.
     
  17. libbster

    libbster Just Registered

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    Thanks again for the tips. I'll
    definitely do some more research before I book anything.
     
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  18. blowfin

    blowfin Well-Known Member

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    I'd strongly advise ringing each operator you are considering and having a decent chat. Ask them about any safety concerns, or concerns with their staff. Let them know what you are looking for out of your trip, and they should in turn be able to give you an indication of whether they can provide that.
     
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  19. libbster

    libbster Just Registered

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    Thanks,
    I will do.
     
  20. M_G

    M_G Dedicated Member
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    Disclaimer: Bryce the owner is a mate of mine

    Do your due diligence but TBH, if you're going to use a foreign guide service in Myoko you either go for PR or Dancing Snow. We are getting a few newbies setting themselves up here as 'guides'. Least said about those the better.
     
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  21. Zimboo

    Zimboo Addicted Member

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    My son's mate's dad = legend in his own lunchbox (knows everything, just ask). Spent a season (has money)...........thinks he knows the local mountains backwards. "Follow me, follow me", no thanks.
    Had to explain to my son, that I'm not anti social and neither should he feel that way. Just ask what professional experience the person has before leading you out into areas that you have never been before (most likely poor vis)............I prefer to stay alive. Many dumb people around (not always young) that don't respect mother nature.
     
    #21 Zimboo, Apr 13, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
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  22. brel

    brel Active Member

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    I was forwarded the link to this forum by several people and at this stage I feel it is time to weigh in with the facts. I am not here to get into a back and forth but to be honest there seem to be a lot of arm chair experts out there.


    Firstly in regards to our experience and qualifications. We have a range of foreign and Japanese guides with the foreign guides having up to 19 years experience in the areas we guide and the Japanese guides having up to 40 years. Our guides range from current to ex ski patrollers both from overseas and Japan, ex Olympic skier and pro skiers/snowboarders. In terms of the guides qualifications they also range and this determines what terrain they take you into which is initially determined by your ability level. I am not going to list all of our the individual guide qualifications here. However our foreign guides predominantly pursue their NZMSC Avalanche qualifications through Otago Polytechnic (Stage 1 and 2 Certificates).


    In regards to why we don't list our credentials. Well we don't list a lot of our tours either. Each person who enquires with us is spoken to individually and we take them through our safety protocols, experience and qualifications etc. We do this because we are a lifestyle company and not a business who takes limited numbers each season. We work closely with resort management and ski patrol in the resorts we travel to so as to not only ensure we operate safely but in a manner that is sustainable for the resorts and does not make the ski patrollers job any harder.


    What I have noticed with all of these comments is that you are missing some of the most important points......a companies SOP (standard operating procedures) and safety protocols actually make one of the major differences to how safely they operate. And we take safety very seriously and as a result only travel to a few select areas where we are based all season so that among other things we can monitor weather, snow and build up accurate snow profiles over the course of the season. Every morning we have safety briefs based on real time conditions etc.


    As I mentioned I am not here to get into a back and forth but rather to set the record straight as to what we do and don't do....blowfin has fairly accurately detailed what we do.


    Smackies if you don't know (i.e. what our qualifications are ) ask us......don't make assumptions.....or call our number it is listed on our website. And I would be very careful if you are implying we have been involved in causing any slides or put any of our clients at risk as I take this type of slanderous comments personally and very seriously.


    Libbster whether you travel with us or not is a decision only you can make. We focus on off the beaten track whether it be in resort (the lesser knows ones) or the side country with potentially short hike in/hike out. In the more than 12 years we have been operating our safety record is unblemished however we do help mitigate the risk by avoiding alpine and focusing on tree riding.


    At the end of the day experience, qualifications or the company you work for do not make you a good ski/snowboard guide but rather a combination of all three plus a passion for what you do. Personally I or my staff would not take any clients into any terrain that I would not take family or friends into .....i.e. we treat those who travel with us with the same diligence as we would our own family.
     
  23. smackies

    smackies Addicted Member
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    Hi.

    You'll see my comments were in direct response to some statements made by another poster in this thread. I don't know you or what your qualifications are. At the risk of going over old ground, I was pointing out that the activities he described were backcountry-type activities.

    You've referred to some qualifications you have. If you choose not to advertise them, well, of course that's a matter for you. If I were looking at your website (and I did, it's nice), I'd be interested to find out what they were without having to ring and ask you. That's just me though.

    Finally, thanks for suggesting my comment was slanderous. Rest assured I know what constitutes slander, and that wasn't it. But just so it's clear for you and others who may wish to engage your services, that comment wasn't making any reference to your business, which as I've pointed out I know nothing about. From your comments above you say you regard safety highly. The point that was being made - again in response to the comments of another poster - was that sidecountry is for all intents and purposes backcountry. A nomenclature issue. And, as it is backcountry terrain, it has a propensity to slide. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Perhaps don't make assumptions.
     
    #23 smackies, Apr 13, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
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  24. brel

    brel Active Member

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    Assumptions! You mean assumptions like

    "So, not backcountry guides but doing things that are backcountry guiding. All with maybe an AST1 under the belt? "

    What you insinuated was that we were involved in activities we were not qualified for and putting our clients at risk.

    "I don't know you or what your qualifications are." Yes you don't and Libbster asked for informed advice not assumptions from somebody who has not taken the time to do their due diligence.

    "Rest assured I know what constitutes slander, and that wasn't it." hmmm given your above response in regards to what assumptions are this is questionable.

    "as it is backcountry terrain, it slides". Everything has the potential to slide including managed slopes (i.e. in resort ). But this is not about trying to define sidecountry and backcountry and the avalanche potential makes up only a component of this.....especially in Japan, where most people who go off piste ski trees. The major risk being getting injured or lost.

    So yes the difference is sidecountry has a reduced response time for professional medical help in situ help and/or extraction. It is generally also a more defined area which if properly selected can allow the guides to set out easily definable boundaries and identify hazards.

    So while there is no difference between side and backcountry in regards to snow stability (i.e. avalanche), statistics indicate the main concern in Japan for those skiing/snowboarding off piste is actually getting injured or lost. In this regard there is a major difference in regards to how far out of resort you are i.e. sidecountry / backcountry.

    All I ask is that being behind a computer does not excuse you from making ill informed comments based on lack of due diligence and/or first hand experience.

    As previously mentioned I am not here to get into a back and forth simply to set the record straight.

    Fro those of you who do want to debate the merits of what I've said or impart your wisdom on me you are welcome to do so in August......here comes the plug.

    We run ( and pay for ) a volunteer summer camp program over the summer school holidays for orphans from Fukushima. So for those who have enjoyed what Japan has to offer over the winter months and would like to give back I will happily listen to your pearls of wisdom here in Myoko during August and will even take care of the accommodation side for you while here.

    Thank you.
     
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  25. libbster

    libbster Just Registered

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    Thank you Brel for your information. I will contact your company directly for information about the tours.
    Thank you everyone for your advice, I think we can end the discussion here.
     
  26. libbster

    libbster Just Registered

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    Your volunteer camp sounds like a great program too.
     
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  27. smackies

    smackies Addicted Member
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    Reckon that, without the rest, would've made a nice conclusion.

    As just a plain old consumer hiding behind my keyboard, if "due diligence" required me to ring a business (who otherwise had a very nice, informative website) in order to find out their skills and qualifications, I'm *personally* not sure I'd make that phone call. But that's just me. I like to be (in an internet sense) hit in the face with that kind of information. I prescribe to the "if you've got it, flaunt it" school of thought. Did I mention, hey that's just me.

    There are a number of people here singing your praises. That's a nice upshot of this discussion.

    Good luck with your business which you are obviously very passionate about.
     
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  28. PerthBoarder

    PerthBoarder Active Member

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    I'm surpised you don't advertise your credentials. Obviously each companies markets different but IMHO I would think that the creditials your team has is a strong value proposition. I'd want to get that up front.

    In the past I've instantly dismissed Japan guiding companies if they don't like credentials
     
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  29. dr80

    dr80 Well-Known Member
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    I wouldn't get overly hung up on credentials.

    It is a consideration for sure, but so is the personality, attitude, experience and local knowledge of a guide.
    And of course the conditions: terrain, type of snowpack and recent weather.

    What Brel says makes sense to me.
    Care for clients and safety record counts for a lot.

    And at the end of the day it's up to each person as to what they are comfortable doing, where and with whom.
    It is not that hard to stay safe below the alpine in coastal Japan.
     
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  30. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    I've used BDT and despite the credentials they talk about on their site, the reality of what they actually do is another thing. If you own a business, you wouldn't hire someone just because they have a qualification on paper right?? when your livelihood may depend on it

    As I was short of a probe that day, I had to ask for one, I got one, but the comment was "you wont need it though!"
    Also, there was zero training/discussion on what to do if something goes wrong.
    However, the guide was a really good dude. He'd been skiing this particular spot his entire life. Experience definitely counts for something. In the area where we went, I felt safe.
    This season however, in the same spot, I saw evidence of slides into gullys where you most certainly could find trouble
     
  31. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend
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    My favourite thing on the internet is people on the internet bemoaning all the armchair experts on the internet.
     
  32. Gimp

    Gimp Dedicated Member
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    l met a powder guide at Niseko last year, English bloke, been in country a couple of days, some people and their money are easily parted
     
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  33. M_G

    M_G Dedicated Member
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    We have a couple of the newly foreign owned hotels advertising 'free day of guiding included'. Then punters being approached by bar staff aggressively spruiking 'guiding services'.

    One day soon someone is going to be killed or seriously injured by one of these cowboys. And good luck with the insurance claim.
     
  34. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room
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    So what happens when YOU need to be rescued by someone, or YOU need to do the rescuing? Or any situation where the guide/s arent able to do anything of the things that each person in the group should be trained and proficient in doing? That's where I worry with these kinds of operations. Yeah, it's low risk, and most of the time nothing goes wrong and it's a ball, but people died in an avalanche on a green run on Mt Nasu this year, so there is always risk.
     
  35. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room
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    Good thing he was a good bloke, otherwise you may have been at risk of something bad happening. Everyone knows that you can waive lots of things by being a good bloke.
     
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  36. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    No, I should have glanced at the website and seen his credentials, then surely there would be no risk of something bad happening
     
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  37. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room
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    No need, the good bloke factor always overrides that kind of thing. Mate, down here good blokes are allowed to DUI, it's just part of the privilege of being a good bloke.
     
  38. blowfin

    blowfin Well-Known Member

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    Pretty sure I've covered all that already, and what I haven't, @brel has filled in the gaps. Long term though, conversations of this tone and with such bold assumptions made are not healthy for these forums. I know of one solid contributor that was quite interested in reporting snowpack conditions in Japan, who no longer posts here as a result of this sort of thing.
     
    #38 blowfin, Apr 18, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
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  39. PiedPiper

    PiedPiper Active Member

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    Well you rely on your mates/riding partner to save your ass and pull you out!
    I ride with blowfin, and I know I trust him to save me if/when we get in the shit.
    Just as i know he trusts me.

    We've been in the shit, and we got out.
    Guides are all good an such, but i think that having a trusted riding partner is even more important.

    Although admittedly we need to work on our terrain evaluation and selection in the future ;)
     
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  40. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    Sometimes... or a lot of times... I think threads need to be closed rather than die a slow death

    LOL
    Here it's more based on the colour of your skin and how good your job is...