Hiedayama Couloir (Cortina Landslide)

The weather today was mixed, heavy rain/snow mix overnight and warm temps with lots of clouds over the high peaks ruled out doing any meaningful alpine touring today.  So Nate, Andrea and I decided to have an adventure skiing something cool that isn’t too high up in the clouds. Cortina ski resort in Hakuba is a mecca for storm-pow skiing. The ski resort features mellow-ish tree skiing at lower elevations protected from the wind and located in a snow-catching northern end of the Valley. But hidden from view behind the ski resort is a large landslide face that is commonly referred to as the Diaharoku. From the highpoint, located a stones throw from the unload station of Chair 4 at Cortina, there is a steep, cliffy, couloir that snakes through the landslide and out to the valley bottom.

Heidayama Couloir as seen in nice sunny weather

The top of the couloir a near vertical entry that requires a rappel to negotiate. Thankfully there is an easy tree anchor right near the edge, almost like it’s planted specifically for that purpose.

Nate and Andrea about to setup the ropes for the rappel
Andrea and a pano of the ridge top
Nate at the bottom of the rappel setting up a nice ledge for transitions to skis
Andrea about to start the rappel
Joel at the transition ledge

Unfortunately, the end of the 60m rope wasn’t quite long enough to get us all the way to a safe skiable zone and we needed an extra few metres. Nate and Andrea tied some extra cordelette to one of the ends of the doubled over rope and with me on the rope with an ATC they rappelled down with skis and boards on to the better skiable line.

Nate descending the extra few metres beyond the length of our initial 60m rope

I had to add three extra dyneema loops to the end of the cordellete to increase the length of the doubled over rope enough to make the second rappel location and still be able to pull the 60m (and extra gear) down to recover.

Joel stepping down on rappel

After that there was some steep careful skiing (and sidestepping) to do to get down the couloir far enough to be at a comfortable angle and width of the couloir.

Nate looking down the couloir from where we started skiing
Nate jump turning down the less steep portion of the couloir
Andrea jump turning down the less steep portion of the couloir

That couloir was definitely the steepest thing I’ve skied so far this season in Hakuba. Most of the time, things look steep from afar in Japan, but when you get close, it’s not nearly as steep as it looked. This wasn’t the case, steeper!