Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: yongpyong, korea
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I wouldnt say im not one of them. Im an opportunist and i make decisions disproprotionately based on numbers of lines i see heading in a direction. I do look for cracks there though, and do a few cuts and jumps just to get the feel of it on my first run down each time im there. If i plan on riding it beforehand ill also have my beacon, probe, shovel, but if not, i wont.
Its super dangerous not necessarily because of the line itself (which is super dangeours, but probably no more so than any backcountry line with a slide path leading into trees), but because its so easy to find and access.
You speak with the patrol, so you probably know the answer. But whats their actual policy on it? ive never seen them enforce the rope there. But nor do they publicise information on stability ratings in off piste areas.
They need to decide what theyre doing with it to be honest. They need to either have zero tolerance on it and pull passes at the entrance/exit of it, or they need to have a gate system on it (or at the very least inspect it daily and publish a report on it). I know gates sounds more dangerous, but if you learn nothing else from niseko, the one thing you learn is that when its shut, its shut with good reason. And if theres one thing you learn about japan its that when people know theyre leaving the resort they usually come prepared (the sheer number of bags of gear you can find in kagura at lunchtime tells you that those people aint dicking about).
I appreciate its a dangerous run, but the resort honestly needs to take responsibility for it. It needs to protect against people riding it completely, or it needs to carry out scheduled checks on the snowpack and publicise this info so people can at least have some information about it and at least have some kind of idea on when to risk it. As you say, when its stable its fine, ive never ridden it yet when its unstable, and its certainly pretty decent. But once that avi level goes up to moderate or severe then id probably think twice on hitting it. Throw in a gate when they can shut it on slide days and youll have a much safer and more aware public on not just that line, but also on most of the lines in and around nozawa.
In addition, the sheer number of tracks as well as the cut up state of it last saturday (first day i popped in it this year and i was GOBSMACKED at how tracked it was), tells you that its a pretty popular run now and really serves to illustrate that this is a decision they should be taking sooner rather than later. Maybe they could go tomamu and do a bib system. There are ways to regulate it. I just dont think roping it off and assuming the rope is enough to deter all but the most determined is the way. Well, not without consistent and regular enforcement.