Stuart Larman talks to winter sports specialists, Elsewhere, about the phenomenon of backcountry skiing. As experienced skiers seek more thrills, backcountry skiing looks set to stay. But what about the dangers of skiing away from the recognized ski runs?

Could you tell us a little about Elsewhere?
Whether it’s a hardcore weekend away in the mountains or group party weekends, we cater to large groups of experienced riders and skiers in order to foster community. Elsewhere is about bringing together like-minded people who can fall into the following category; they have been snowboarding or skiing for a while, certainly more than five years; they are always looking for new challenges and new territories and don’t hesitate to fly off to distant lands in search of them; they are rather particular about their experiences and have set a bar for quality.

What are the current trends in winter sports in Japan?
Japan is mirroring North America and Europe in the rise of backcountry riding. Whilst still considered to be taboo by the local authorities, that doesn’t seem to be stop people from looking for the next level in riding. This sadly will result in more tragedies, but it is up to the rider or skier to take responsibility. The benefit of this will be that the local ski scene will mature into a better emergency operation with more avalanche training and understanding of what makes the new rider tick. We may see an overall quality rise in the courses themselves, as outside of Niseko, not much has changed since the 1980s.

How is Japan regarded by overseas winter sports enthusiasts?
Japan is no longer a secret to overseas travelers. Visitors from Australia and Hong Kong are coming in droves and this is clearly one of the big reasons for the new developments in Hokkaido. Whilst this is great for overall infrastructure improvement, it could potentially drive prices higher, but hopefully not out of reach of local skiers and riders.

For more information on the excursions, apparel, and snowboards offered by Elsewhere please call 03-3455-3778 or check their website at