Japan By The Numbers

SMG guide Marc Hanselman checks in with a report from this winter’s trip to Japan. Through his company Pro Alpine Guides, Marc guides for a month or more in Japan each winter – where more often than not the snow quality lives up to the hype. This winter his wife Heidi and daughter Esle joined him for the adventure.


Marc: age 43, Pro Alpine Guides owner/guide .

Heidi: age 43, Pro Alpine Guides CFO, wife, mother, skier, moral booster, connoisseur of fine Sake.

Esle: age 4, daughter, skier, mother to many stuffed animals (constantly increasing), Onsen (Japanese hot spring bath) enthusiast.

By the numbers

Total number of seasons guiding in Japan: 6
Total number of years living in Japan: 2.5
Total days in Japan this year: 51
Total days guiding in Japan this year: 40
Total number of clients: 20
Total number of prefectures skied in: 4
Total number of hotels/lodges stayed in: 8
Total number of cars rented: 3
Total number of trains traveled: 8
Total number of resorts skied: 8
Total number of peaks summited and skied: 15
Total number of face shots: too many to count
Total number of guide wipeouts witnessed by clients: 2
Total number of resorts in Japan: more than 500
Annual Average snowfall in Hakuba: 10m
Annual average snowfall in Niseko: 16m
Annual Average snowfall in Myoko: 18m


1st Group: Nagano and Niigata Prefectures. Day 3 rain to 1950m! Powder conditions above 2000m but terrible breakable from 1650-1950m.

2nd Group: Nagano and Niigata Prefectures. Started snowing on day 2 and didn’t stop until they left 7 days later. Some of the deepest snow I’ve ever skied and hardest trail trail breaking.

3rd Group: Nagano and Niigata Prefectures. New snow almost everyday with accumulations from 6-18″. Two 18 year old boys that hucked themselves off everything they could find. They said Japan was limitless playground and the best skiing they’ve ever had.

4th Group: Hokkaido Prefecture. I spent 2 weeks in Hokkaido with 8 days of guiding return clients on their 2nd trip to Japan. It snowed every day I was in Hokkaido. Accumulations vary depending on location, but we had several days of 18-24″ of new.

5th Group: Nagano and Gifu Prefecture. Conditions finally began changing from winter to spring in the Kita (Northern) Alps, with more sun than snow and lots of settlement. We had one powder day with 14″ of blown in new snow and lots of wind up high. The predominantly sunny days allowed us to tour above treeline and ski off several summits.