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Mindboggling Snow Depth of 72 Feet at Japan Ski Hill

That's over twice as much snow as one of Canada's most popular backcountry ski areas

Over 20 metres of snow has accumulated at a ski resort in Japan. The Lotte Arai skill hill has had at least 22 metres (72 feet) pile up over the past few months. We caught wind of the snow depth after Canadian pro skier Mike Douglas shared the news.

We touched base with Dave Iles who runs snow safety at the hill, and he said that the resort reopened in 2017 after being closed for around 10 years. “In the five years we have been open we had snowfall accumulations between 19 and 22 metres in four of five years,” he said. “Mostly between mi- December and late February. The ‘off’ year was still 12meters. So this year was not an anomaly.”

For comparison, IFMGA mountain guide and avalanche expert Jordy Shepherd told us there’s an “average of 10 metres of annual snowfall at Rogers Pass.”

When asked about snow conditions, Iles said, “We haven’t seen weak layers that last beyond the end of a storm. Our main problem is loose, dry surface instabilities during storms but these can be significant when the h2d is over 50cm. Generally things settle and bond quickly as in a few hours after the storm ends we get few if any results with xe or sc. That said, we had two backcountry cycles in February that produced widespread size three and a size four right next to the area boundaries. Occurred during storms with around three metres of accumulation and strong winds.”

Iles said that the resort hasn’t been busy at all. Saturdays in late January and February saw some lineups first thing. “Weekdays we were continuously ski cutting (skiing) to keep the sluff volume down,” he said. “There wasn’t enough public on these days to ski the amount of terrain that was open. Never a lineup. Never skied out.”

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