We often hear that people wants to try backcountry but they don’t always have a clear image of what backcountry riding is or how to start. When you hear the word backcountry, what do you imagine? You might imagine spraying deep powder where nobody has ridden or dropping into a steep shoot. The number of people who wants to try backcountry is increasing and media and guides like us are working hard to show people how fun backcountry riding is. But there are few things you must know about it before you head out.

First, you have to know about avalanches. Japan Avalanche Network that our lead guide YMKN is a member of runs avalanche classes and training programs. They also publish books that talk about avalanches and safety in the mountains. We suggest that you learn more about avalanches through those resources first.

Digging pit and checking snow pack.

You will need a few pieces of equipment to safely go into the backcountry. You need an avalanche beacon, probe and shovel. These tools are useless if you don’t know how to use them so please practice using them and get conformable with your beacon and probe. You also want to have a backpack that you can carry your board, snowshoes and other things you need. You will also want some good winter outerwear that is easy to layer and pack. You can use your snowboard but you might want to set the binding a little bit back for powder riding.

Beacon training.

Next is hiking and riding. For a beginner tour, you will hike about 2 hours. Of course the guide will set the pace for you but you might want to start getting ready by doing some basic exercise like cycling or jogging.

Hike up to the peak!

We always get asked, “How good of a rider do I need to be to ride in the backcountry?”. The anser is “You don’t have to be an expert level. If you can ride down a 30° steep, non-groomed advanced course without falling, you can do it.”

We have our riding levels at NORTHSTAR Outdoor Adventures to help people find their level. Riding level for backcountry tour is above R8. If you want to skill up your riding level, please try our freeride lesson to get you ready for backcountry.

Let’s spray powder like this!

So if you think you are ready to challenge Mt. Norikura’s backcountry, we suggest you to try our Beginner Backcountry tour where you can learn about avalanches, how to use beacon and other skills you need for backcountry. If you want to improve your riding level before going out for backcountry, take a freeride lesson and get yourself ready for a spring backcountry tour. There are backcountry tours in many other areas in Japan but NORTHSTAR Outdoor Adventure’s tours are combined with our snowboard school so you can experience backcountry and improve your overall riding level.

For experienced riders.  
We offer 1 day backcountry tours to the peak of Mt. Norikura. And from mid February we have 1 night 2 day custom tour package with lodging at Kuraigahara mountain hut. Not only you can ride 2 days but you can watch stars and sun rise from 2,350m.

Beautiful sun rise from Kuraigahara hut.

We want all our guest to enjoy riding and have a safe season in the backcountry. Hiking up to ride in the backcountry is part of the roots of snowboarding today. And the best part of being in the mountain is riding the natural terrain. Come ride with us on Beautiful Mt.Norikura.