A quick additional general point about Nozawa.
Nozawa is pretty dangerous. Because its kinda flat in teh middle and because loads of people duck ropes on it or slide those grey areas in the various tree runs, its easy to let your guard down on it. But there are plenty of cliffs, plenty of places youll get stuck, and plenty of areas you can seriously fuck up your day by ending up in a stream or triggering a slide. Its also very easy to get lost in and lose your bearings. Theres a great thread on ski.com.au with some fun horror stories about it. Theres a particularly funny account of one person taking one run on the line hinted at above and witnessing 3 slides. 2 of which they triggered and got a waist deep burial, and one they saw that was apparently rather large but didnt come on their line. Its a tempestuous line that you really should be more educated about before hitting it up. Then theres the story of the dude who popped towards said line, went too far, and turned up four days later the next village over. I dont recall hearing about any deaths so far, but the slackcountry is busy and i rarely see anyone with safety gears (unlike at kagura or niseko which honestly both have much more straightforward slackcountry thanks in part to kagura being very straightforward/flattish with the real slackcountry requiring a decent hike, and niseko offering the gates system). Its also predominantly japanese people riding these lines before people talk about gaijins ruining it for everyone.
So yeah, take a guided tour if youre unfamiliar with it. I strongly recommend it. Because i do explore things, Ive ridden up to a couple of seriously drops trying to tease lines out a little further than i should have and got myself in a little over my head on other occasions. When it gets deep as well, it can get pretty serious (took a header under the lifts at yamabiko a week or two ago and ended up in one of those nasty bottomless dives. If i was going faster then it could have been pretty nasty). Definitely be careful on that mountain (any mountain of course!), but that one particularly because it seems more simple and straightforward than it in fact is.
Last edited by ippy; 01-15-2013 at 05:21 AM.