Backcountry skiing requires three simple things: snow, weather, and terrain. If you just want snow you could go to Buffalo NY, Moab is usually sunny, and the coast of Hawaii has steep, interesting terrain. The moment the three elements are combined it becomes a complex problem of local weather, repeat avalanche offenders, and snowfall history. Its hard enough somewhere you know like the back of your hand, let alone on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
After an incredible time in Hakuba in January 2015, Alex and I couldn't wait to go back. Erik Mehus, Ken Hill, and Josh Wulff were itching to join. There was just one problem: it was raining in Hakuba. So, one week before flying west, we changed our whole trip.
There were no van rentals left in Hokkaido, so we'd have to drive north from Tokyo - at night, jetlagged, on the wrong side of the road, and with no knowledge of Japanese. Driving away from the airport was terrifying.
Going north there was less and less road and more and more snow.
By dawn we were almost to Hakoda.