Home  >  Magazine  >  Issue 51 (Spring 2014) : Apr/June 2014  > Features >  Avalanche Awareness in Japan


Avalanche Awareness in Japan
By Bill Ross

It was a typical season-opening day in Tateyama. Hundreds of skiers, boarders and climbers were out to get the first powder of the year. There’s only a tiny window of opportunity up here in November, between the time when there’s enough snow to cover the rocks (hopefully with plenty of soft powder) and when, toward the end of the month, transportation and accommodations in this big alpine bowl simply shut down. Skier and climber Tracy Lenart was outside Raicho-so on this day, the mountain hut/hotel with a commanding view of the sweeping range of alpine peaks almost completely surrounding it.

“Someone said, ‘Hey, there’s an avalanche,’” Lenart remembers. “I’ve seen quite a few avalanches, but this was the largest.” A huge snow cloud was racing down the folded valleys and ridges of Mt. Masago, just to the southeast of the hut...
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