IMAGE QUEST PHOTO CAMP JAPAN

Experience The Legendary Deep Snow of Furano-Otaru in Hokkaido, Japan and Learn Skills From Pro Photographers Tom Winter & Jeff Cricco.

OVERVIEW

Trip #1 Dates: Jan 3-12, 2019
Location: Furano & Otaru, Japan
Duration: 10 days | 9 nights | 8 Ski Days
Skill Level: Strong Intermediate-Expert
Guide to Client Ratio: 4 to 1
Price: $2995 per person

If your passions include photography and action sports or skiing, and traveling, this unique trip to Japan is for you. Hosted by the guides at Le Grand Adventure Tours, and founded by action sports branding and event maestro Tom Winter with legendary skiing photographer Jeff Cricco handling photo instruction, Image Quest’s “education through experience” program might just be for you. With a mission to jump-start careers in the action sports space, the 2019 edition runs from January 3rd to 12th 2019, and combines skiing and riding the deepest snow on the planet with après ski seminars that give “campers” the tools they need to score a dream job in the action sports industry, from becoming a professional photographer to managing athletes to overseeing marketing and branding in the action sports ecosystem. 

Furano-Otaru in Hokkaido, Japan is a skiing and snowboarding epicenter. There’s a wide variety of terrain and skiing opportunities in and around the Furano and Otaru zones from classic Japanese volcanoes to perfect tree skiing. Media + Marketing track participants focus on content creation and photography, while participants in the Athlete Experience component will work on ski techniques and overall mountain & backcountry skills. All participants will leave the camp with a portfolio of images shot by Tom Winter and other content that will jump-start a career in action sports.

The on-snow experience is complemented by Image Quest’s Aprés Ski Seminars. These informative group sessions will include the essentials to take your brand to the next level, regardless of if you’re hoping to become a sponsored pro skier, find a dream job in the ski industry or make the breakthrough to a career in professional photography.

Featuring a 4 to 1 student-to-instructor relationship, participants in IMAGE QUEST JAPAN enjoy the unique opportunity to work with and learn from some of the most talented and recognized individuals in the action sports industry today, while experiencing the unparalleled outdoor location of Furano & Otaru, Japan. Experience the legendary deep snow of Furano-Otaru Japan with your instructors and pro photographers Tom Winter & Jeff Cricco.

TOM WINTER | PHOTOGRAPHER | MEDIA

Tom Winter Media | Le Grand Adventure ToursWith over 20 years of media, marketing and event and brand management experience, Tom Winter was the founding editor of Freeze Magazine, has held senior editorial positions at both Powder and Freeskier Magazines and has worked with brands such as Nissan, Rossignol and Eider. He’s won an ISPO BrandNew award for innovation, is a four-time winner of the Howard Hirsch award for ski photography, and has been published by ESPN, the Los Angeles Times, Skiing, Powder, Outside and more. Tom is currently the Americas Manager for the Freeride World Tour.

JEFF CRICCO | PHOTOGRAPHER

Jeff Cricco Photography - Le Grand Adventure ToursJeff Cricco has worked for many of the best known names in ski media from Powder, Ski, Skiing to Freeskier to The Ski Journal. His commercial clients feature top brands from Strafe to Patagonia. Jeff is known for his good humor and intense passion for sharing his love of photography and skiing with everyone.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Lift Tickets: All Lift Tickets to Ski around Furano & Otaru
Guiding: 10 Hosted Days – including 8 Guided ski days at the surrounding resorts and backcountry. We go to the goods every day!
Coaching: Ski Technique & Backcountry Skills Sessions with Professional Skiers and Guides
Airport Transfers: Private Transfer To/From Chitose Airport
Daily Transportation: 2 Private 4×4 Vans Everyday
Lodging: 4 Nights in Furano and 5 Nights in Otaru. *Based on 2 people per room (twin/double share). If you would like a room to yourself please contact us.
Meals: Breakfast Every Morning with traditional Japanese and Western Favorites, Welcome & Farewell Dinner
Onsen Hotspring Tour
LGA Welcome Gift Bag

OPTIONAL:
*Alpine Touring & AT Touring skis from Scott during the trip are available for $150 for the week
*Scott E1 Airbags, Avalanche Beacon, Shovel, Probe are available for $150 for the week


WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED

  • Airfare
  • Lunches: Guests will be able to have lunch at local villages and ski resorts during the week
  • All Dinners (except 2) are left open for the group to explore town together or experience the local cuisine with new friends. Recommendations will be provided.
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Gratuities for Guides
  • Travel & Trip Insurance: We require trip insurance for all trips abroad.
    We recommend World Nomads as they are the ultimate in travel protection and global emergencies and evacuations.
  • Gear: Skis, Snowboards, Backpack, Avalanche beacon, Probe, Shovel, Skins, and Helmet. If you have your own equipment please bring it. Avalanche safety gear is required on all of our tours and is available to rent for $150 for the duration of the trip.

GEAR – SCOTT Sports Demos and Recommendations

We suggest you bring your own ski and backcountry gear if you have it. For the trip we do recommend a touring set up as this will allow the group to really ski a wide variety of areas. Having this as a daily set up allows us to find the best snow on the resort, quick laps in the sidecountry or going a little deeper into the backcountry. There are also options for ski touring days if the groups wants.

If rentals are needed, we can arrange snow equipment for the week through our partnership with Scott Sports. We will have a selection of powder skis with touring bindings to choose from. There will also be the brand new Scott E-1 Patrol Backpack and avalanche kits available for rent for guests during the trips. Both items can be rented for the duration of your trip to save you time and money. If you wish to rent ski/snowboard equipment please let us know so that we can coordinate your rental. Always bring layers, good gloves, 2 goggles if you have them or extra lenses, winter clothes for after skiing, and a down jacket.

THE RIDING EXPERIENCE

Deep Japanese colder powder and home to some of the best snow in the world. Every day we lead guests on a guided exploration of the beautiful untouched backcountry areas. The Otaru area is well known for having some of the deepest snow on average every year and our guides know the area very well. There is always powder to be skied! From perfect birch tree glades to deep powder fields too long backcountry runs, Japan has something for everyone. Untracked powder awaits you after short lift lines, easy hikes, and secret spots only our guides know. 

Japan has a reputation for having some of the deepest snow on the earth.  The terrain offers wide open bowls, perfectly spaced birch trees and endless side country and backcountry options to explore. With an average snowfall of 15+ meters or 50+ feet per season (2017/2018 season 60+ feet), it’s no wonder that the Furano and Otaru area is a perfect snow destination. Experience as much powder as you can handle with our private 4×4 vans for the group to search for the deepest snow. See the real side of Furano and Otaru with our guides and enjoy an epic trip for your soul. This is an strong-intermediate guided tour where we spend the majority of our time off-piste in the lift accessed side/backcountry of each resort, skiing the birch trees of Japan and the open bowls. 

During the day, participants will be on snow. Mixed weather conditions, changing lighting and other forces of nature will offer up exceptional chances for photography, regardless of if you are in front of the camera skiing for glory, taking photos yourself or creating your own branded content. Because of the varied terrain, participants should be at least strong-intermediate skiers or snowboarders with the ability to ski mixed snow conditions and out-of-bounds slopes of moderate difficulty. There is nothing like skiing or snowboarding in Japan and our team is ready to take you there!


THE CULINARY EXPERIENCE

Enjoy daily breakfasts at the hotel with a wide variety of food and traditional Japanese Breakfast items. Our welcome and farewell group dinners are one of our guests favorite times on the trip as we get to experience a couple of our favorite restaurants in the area. The last night is always a fun time to celebrate and enjoy one last cheer’s before the trip ends. The hotels have easy access to all of the nearby restaurants and bars during the week so you can taste the incredible cuisine the area offers. The growth of the area over the last couple of years provides ample selection of small independent coffee shops, restaurants, breweries and sake bars. Visitors have every chance to dive into the local cuisine like never before.

Japan, home of amazing fresh sushi, seafood, and delicacies from the sea as well as its traditional dishes of soba, udon, yakitori, curry and more. The seafood quality is known around the world but we bet after trying some of their local specialties you will leave with a whole new respect for Japanese cuisine. Sample a wide variety of local and regional cuisine, from Wagyu beef, Yakitori BBQ cooked on the table, Shabu-Shabu, Bakeries & Coffee Shops, incredible curries, and of course no trip to the Japanese isles is complete without a warm and hearty fresh made soba noodle bowl.


THE LODGING EXPERIENCE

Our hotel partners welcome you with friendly service and an unmatched experience that you will never forget. Our location is ideal to access several ski areas in the region with our private 4×4 vans so our groups are always skiing the best conditions that day. The hotel is walking distance to a wide variety of restaurants, shops, and bars. Free WiFi, daily breakfast, and comfortable twin rooms await you at our favorite hotel in the area. Enjoy easy access to soak in hot Japanese Onsens at our partner hotels and also natural onsens in the mountains that our guides can take you to. It’s a great way to relax after a day of skiing powder. The hot onsen water rises from deep underground and contains a blend of many different minerals that are nutrient rich. A long soak in an onsen is one of the best ways to relax one’s body after a day of skiing powder.

SAMPLE ITINERARY

Day 1 – Arrival Day

Fly into New Chitose Airport (CTS) by 1pm where the group will be there to transport you. In some cases, you may need to plan your arrival the day before. There are many hotels near the airport offering shuttle service so it is easy to meet the group back at the airport at 1pm. We suggest using Booking.com to find a nearby hotel.

Le Grand Adventure Tours welcomes you to Japan! Upon landing at New Chitose Airport (CTS) you will have a private 4×4 van transfer by our guides to your hotel. Settle into your comfortable room and prepare for the the ski week ahead. We will meet for a relaxing welcome reception to meet and get to know the new crew for the week. The evening offers your first chance to explore, dine or relax at the hotel with new friends. Relax, enjoy local cuisine, and get ready for a week of powder skiing!

If rentals are needed, we can arrange snow equipment for the week through our partnership with Scott Sports. We will have a selection of powder skis with touring bindings to choose from. There will also be the brand new Scott E-1 Patrol Backpack and avalanche kits available for rent for guests during the trips. Both items can be rented for the duration of your trip to save you time and money. If you wish to rent ski/snowboard equipment please let us know so that we can coordinate your rental.


Day 2 – 4: Furano

On the first day, we will be exploring Furano ski area. We’ll be hunting out some powder stashes and warming up for the week ahead. Celebrate an awesome first day on the mountain with the Welcome Dinner and a great après with the Image Quest team.

Over the course of our time in Furano, our guides will show you the best the area has to offer. Our first day on snow we will be exploring the powder stashes around Furano resort. Guests will be skiing some of the classic lines as well as open bowls and perfect birch trees the resort is known for. Lots of easy side country lines to ski so we can maximize our vertical and number of runs. Incredible views of the surrounding mountain ranges and on a clear day you can see the fumaroles from the volcanic peaks in the distance. Celebrate an awesome first day on the mountain enjoying a cold beverage, an onsen and trying one of the many restaurants in town with the group.

The following days in the Furano powder belt will take you to some of the more hidden places as well as the classic resorts in the area. Ski Asahidake’s volcanic flanks, the open bowls of Tomamu, the secret stashes in Kamui, and the deep untouched areas around Tokachidake. Every day is a new adventure, a new ski resort, a backcountry peak with untouched powder and experiencing what skiing in Japan is all about. Over the course of the camp, we will guide you through the trees and bowls of Hokkaido, teach you the tips & tricks from the pro’s, and at the end of the day, we will share the photos of the group to reminisce about the great powder we skied. There is a reason why they call Hokkaido the powder mecca and our Image Quest team is ready to show you around! Finish your days soaking in an onsen, exploring the town, trying something new to eat and meeting other people from all over the world.

If conditions permit we have the option to ski tour a hidden gem for untracked snow or head into the Tokachidake mountains where our guides will spend the day taking guests for a ski tour through untracked powder, long open bowls and endless terrain options– one of the most scenic mountain ranges with loads of fresh skiing.


Day 5 – 9: Otaru

Pack your powder snorkel as we head to Otaru for the rest the trip. Our guides will transfer the group after breakfast at the hotel in the morning for a day at Kokusai. This powder gem has some of the best side country and backcountry terrain in Hokkaido. With its close proximity to the ocean, this area receives some of the most consistent and deepest snow in Japan. After skiing, we have a short drive into the city of Otaru where the group will be staying in the center of town. The hotel is close to all the restaurants, shops and nightlife and has an entire floor dedicated for the onsens. A perfect spot for our base as the city is known for its whiskey and sake distilleries as well as access to the epic terrain this area has to offer.

Day tours to Tiene, Kokusai, Kiroro, and other resorts near Niseko are possible. Our guides use their extensive knowledge of the area, storm tracks, and network to pick the best spots every day. These areas get loads of snow and are known for the quality of powder they receive. The options to ski off the resorts and into the backcountry are endless and on a clear day, the views out to the Sea of Japan are all time. If the group has a down day due to weather or just being tired from skiing too much powder, our guides know some great drives around the coast to check out some of the lesser visited temples and villages. A great opportunity to experience the culture, try new food and learn the history of the Ainu people that originally inhabited the area.

On the last day, we will have a farewell dinner party to round off your Image Quest powder experience on Hokkaido. We will share photos, videos, and stories from the week at our last après session with gifts for each participant. Tonight enjoy the last group dinner at a traditional Japanese bbq on the canal. Our guides will show you some great spots around town to spend your last night in Japan!


Day 10 – Departure Day

Time to check out and say goodbye to your new friends and transfer to Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport for your flight home with memories to last a lifetime!


NOTE: This itinerary is an example. The tour may be altered to adjust for weather and conditions. Our guides will plan the tour around the conditions to make sure you have the best trip possible.

FAQ

Check out our General FAQs section. Here you will find answers to your general questions.


What is the Best Way to Get There?

Fly into New Chitose Airport (CTS) by 1pm where the group will be there to transport you. In some cases, you may need to plan your arrival the day before. There are many hotels near the airport offering shuttle service so it is easy to meet the group back at the airport by 1pm. We suggest using Booking.com to find a nearby hotel.


When Should I Make My Travel Arrangements?

Please wait until you receive confirmation from Le Grand Adventure Tours before making any travel arrangements. Our team is happy to assist you with any travel needs.


Hotels Before & After Your Trip

There are a lot of great hotels in the Chitose area close to the airport if you plan to arrive early, a day before the trip start, or if you plan to stay for an extra night before you leave. We suggest using online resources like Booking.com to check availability. We are always happy to help and offer recommendations for all of our guests.


Can I Reserve My Trip With a Deposit?

Yes, you can reserve your trip with a Deposit for all Multi-Day Tours lasting twenty-four hours or longer. If you seek to reserve a spot on the Tour more than 90 days prior to the Date of Departure. The Deposit amount is twenty percent (20%) of the Tour Price. For Private Group Tours the Deposit amount is fifty percent (50%) of the Tour Price. Within 89 days or less prior to the date of departure, the full amount is due at time of booking.


When is The Final Payment For This Tours Due?

Final payment is due no later than 90 days prior to departure, or 7 days from booking confirmation if booking is within 90 days.


What Is Your Cancellation Policy?

  • 90 days or more prior to Departure: LGA will retain the deposit as an “Adventure Deposit” for a future trip. A full refund will be given.
  • 89-60 days prior to Departure: LGA will retain 50% of the total Tour Price and the deposit will be held as an Adventure Deposit for a future trip.
  • 59 days or less prior to Departure: LGA will retain 100% of the total Tour Price.Le Grand Adventure Tours cannot be held responsible for snow and/or weather conditions. Trips cannot be canceled or amended on the basis of snow and weather conditions.

What Is Your Refund Policy?

No refunds, reimbursements or discounts will be granted if, for any reason, Client misses the Tour, fails to join the Tour, leaves the Tour, is dismissed from the Tour, or cannot fully participate in the Tour. Any Refunds will be at the discretion of Le Grand Adventure Tours if you are involuntarily forced to leave a tour for any reason.


What is The Group Size?

Small group sizes that don’t exceed 10 guests.


Do We Need to Tip Our Guides?

Gratuities are not included. Tips are accepted at your discretion based on the overall trip experience provided by our team.


Do I Need Trip Insurance?

Trip Insurance is Not Included: We require trip insurance for all trips abroad. Protecting your trip & safety is our priority!
We recommend World Nomads as they are the ultimate in travel protection and global emergencies and evacuations.


What Type of Skis To Bring?

A ski with roughly a 100mm to 110mm is the best option. If you want to bring a wider pair of skis please feel free or we can rent these if needed.


Do I Need Ski Touring Equipment?

It is highly recommended but not mandatory. If you have a new pair of touring bindings (Dynafit, Plum, Marker, Salomon, etc) and are comfortable skiing a wide variety of terrain on them, please feel free to bring them.


Do I Need Backcountry Safety Gear?

Avalanche safety gear is required on all of our tours. If you have your own equipment please bring it. Ski backpacks including beacon, shovel, and probe are available to rent for $150 for the duration of the trip. (Option available to add-on at checkout. If you wish to add later please feel free to contact us.)


Ski & Gear Rentals

If you wish to rent ski/snowboard equipment please let us know so that we can coordinate your rental. Please advise the LGA Team before the trip if you will need gear.


What Should I Bring With Me?

Ski/Snowboard Gear:
Skis/Snowboard, boots, poles
Goggles
Helmet – stay safe on the slopes!!

Misc/Recommended:
Backpack
Avalanche Transceiver
Shovel/Probe
Touring Gear and Skins
Packable Puffy
(We can assist with some gear, please feel free to contact us)

Après Clothing:
You will be in the Alps for a week so please bring proper clothing for when you’re not on the slopes.

Travel Requirements:
Current Passport
Credit card, cash and/or traveler’s checks
ID or driver’s license
Medical insurance cards
Prescriptions or other medications
Important phone numbers
Proof of Travelers Insurance


What Is The Weather Going To Be Like?

For the most accurate weather please check the Niseko Weather Online a few days before your trip. If you want to experience the best snow in the world, you need to be prepared with good gear, as it can get cold. It’s not unusual to receive 30cm to 50cm+ (12 to 20″+) of snow overnight! Many storms will drop upward of 100cm’s plus or basically 3 feet every couple of days. We will be in the mountains so bring clothes that will keep you warm in a wide variety of conditions. We will guarantee you get the most out of your ski holiday as we have a wide range of activities that we can add to the trip in case there are down days due to snow storms or weather.


How Long Does It Take to Fly to Japan?

Flight time from the West Coast of the United States to Japan is approximately 10-16 hours depending on if you book a direct flight or a flight with stops.


Are There Any Rules/Traditions Pertaining To The Onsens (Hot Springs)?

Onsens are usually dedicated as either male or female baths. An onsen is a natural thermal hot spring. A word of warning – if you have tattoos you may not be allowed to enter. However, if you are a foreigner and the tattoos are not particularly obvious then you will generally be OK. Make sure you wash and rinse off your body before you get into the water. Note: Ritually these are full nudity baths, there are small towels to cover your ‘modesty’.


Can I Use My Credit Card in Japan?

Japan is mostly a cash-based society. Most larger restaurants and bars will probably accept international credit cards (non-Japanese), a lot of smaller restaurants, bars, and convenience stores will only accept cash. As crime in Japan is one of the lowest in the world, most people carry plenty of cash with them. A lot of ATMs in Japan do not accept international cards.


Which Languages are Spoken in Japan?

Japanese is the native language of Japan. The amount of English that is spoken varies considerably in Japan. A good rule of thumb is that English is much more widely spoken in destinations that are popular with international tourists.


Is It Safe to Travel to Japan?

In general, Japan is one of the safest countries in the world to travel around. This is due largely to one of the lowest crime rates in the world and the incredible hospitality of the Japanese people.


Why Does Japan Get so Much Snow?

The abundance of powder in Japan is a result of the Siberian snow stream, the largest example of lake-effect snow in the world. High pressure over Siberia and low pressure over the Western Pacific leads to a constant flow of cool air across Japan. As this chilled, dry air flows over the Japan Sea it attracts moisture and becomes overly-saturated. This air hits the mountain ranges of the Northern Alps and Japan is blanketed with powder snow. These cyclical weather patterns last for weeks, guaranteeing regular dumps of the lightest and fluffiest powder imaginable.


What Are The Japanese Mountains Like Compared to Europe and North America?

This varies somewhat between resorts and the different islands but generally, the major Japanese resorts are not as high and steep as their counterparts in Europe and North America. Ultimately one must always understand the snowpack as it can change rapidly in the mountains and is safest to travel into the backcountry with a guide.

Furano, Japan

Happy Customers.

Testimonials

ImageQuest Japan Trip was out of this World.

The snow in insanely deep and the culture is wicked cool all over Hokkaido. The guides are extremely intelligent and some of the coolest dudes you’ll ever meet (Jeff Roberson and Jeff Easter). It was a blast taking photos of all the action as well. I couldn’t recommend this trip enough to anyone out their looking to have the best ski trip of their lifetime. Do it! -- Ryan L.

Best Guides Ever!

These guys are as good as it gets. Full dedication to stoke as well as safety. We detoured our original location to chase the powder and it paid off in spades. Jeff & Jeff have the inside knowledge, contacts, and hunger for finding the best conditions and THEY DELIVER. Start to finish they were there for every need and want. I will truly never forget this adventure and highly recommend Le Grand Adventure Tours. A Huge thank you to their team! --James L.

The Holy Grail…

Jeff and Jeff are absolute all stars. These guys are not only technical masters of their trade, but they have the hunger desire and willingness to go hunt for POW that you’re looking for! All in all we couldn’t have asked for a better trip, because of the amazing snow of course and the incredible country, food and culture of Japan, but most of all because of these two legends. Thanks a ton guys, can’t wait till the next go around! -- Nick P.

Simply the best!

I have been fortunate enough to travel all over the world and I find that the location is important but not as important as the people you meet. We were blessed enough to have both with our trip to Japan and it is for one simple reason, Le Grand Adventure. Our guides went above and beyond to make our experience a memorable one. We had the most fun and rode the best POW. Thank you, Le Grand for showing us a country you love so much. --Reid H.

Unreal!

This is an absolute unbelievable adventure. If you want to ski big pow and are also looking for an incredible cultural experience, this is the trip for you. I’ve skied my entire life (last 18 years in Colorado as well as 3 years in Switzerland / Austria) and this was by far the best ski adventure I have ever taken. Some of the most memorable and best runs of my life. In addition to the incredible snow and terrain, Jeff and Crystal are true professionals both on the Mountain and off. This trip was butter smooth thanks to Le Grand Adventure Tours. A bucket list item for sure! --Ryan P.

An LGA team member will be in contact with you to discuss the trip to ensure a proper fit!
Please note: You will not be confirmed to book a trip until speaking with a trip consultant.