Skiing on a living volcano in northern Japan

“And you thought it was always deep powder in Japan,” jokes Hokkaido Powder Guides director Chuck Olbery as he climbs Mount Tokachi in what he describes as “boiler plate” conditions. And while the snow conditions in his edit don’t quite compare to the powder in some of his early-season videos, this one is particularly interesting for another reason: he’s climbing an active volcano.

“This is a volcanic tripwire that will alert someone sitting in an office in Sapporo if an avalanche has triggered and debris is coming down the mountain,” Olbery remarks at one point in the video.

And the tripwire is there for a reason. Mount Tokachi has erupted three times in the past 100 years, the most recent in 1988.

“As you go up on skins you realize how active the volcano is with the webcams that are pointed at the caldera, the seismic survey plots and also the tripwires at the top of the mountain,” reads the description on the video.

“They used to be a ski resort on the mountain, but it was disbanded the last eruption with damage. You talk to some locals and they remember skiing the mountain with a ski lift.

The 10-minute video also shows many of the features of an April day in Daisetsuzan National Park in Hokkaido, with bright blue skies and sweeping views of the Alps. The area is considered by many (including Hokkaido backcountry guides) to be the location of Japan’s best backcountry skiing, with some of Hokkaido’s tallest mountains and volcanoes, as well as the lightest, driest powder you can find on the planet.

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