40-year-old woman dies in avalanche while snowboarding in Aomori


A 40-year-old woman died after being buried by an avalanche while snowboarding at a ski resort in the Hakkoda Mountains near Aomori City on Sunday.

Police said Makiko Takashita, a company employee from Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward, was caught in the avalanche at around 1 p.m., Fuji TV reported. Rescuers dug her out from under about 1.5 meters of snow 90 minutes later. She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Police said that before the avalanche, Takashita was snowboarding with three friends on a steep slope outside the ski resort’s controlled areas.

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People love those out of bounds areas on the ski slopes because the Japao is so enticing. But it is also extremely dangerous. Very unfortunate for her and family that she lost the roll of the dice.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Whenever I go to any of ski resorts majority of Japanese people don’t wear helmets. Not that the helmet would necessarily save you in this case but since lots of people are under equipped on the ski slope, I am also wondering whether she was equipped with avalanche beacon and tools? Not only she, but her whole party. Going off piste without necessary avalanche safety equipment is the same as driving without seatbelt with airbags disabled.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

She was snowboarding with three other friends...unfortunately it only takes one to say, "Let's try the powder under the gondola!" Reportedly, they were only 400 metres from the groomed ski slope.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

An avalanche in motion is like being in water. Then the flow stops and it packs in like ice, making it almost impossible to breathe - even if your head was poking out the top of the snow. I have a friend who survived being buried in one because he had the wits to create a small air pocket with his arms - and he was wearing a transponder - and his friends used it to find him in about 5 minutes and dig him out.


4 ( +4 / -0 )

I’ve snowboarded under the Hakkoda ropeway gondola before. Avalanches aren’t that common there because of the snow conditions, but it can happen anywhere.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Having avalanche gear means nothing if you don't know how to use it and more importantly, you don't have the skills to determine whether an area is safe or not. Also, it dumped on Wednesday , Thursday and Friday then the temperature rise very quickly at the weekend....near perfect avalanche conditions. Any sport has risks and you go out of bounds at your own risk.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

slope outside the ski resort’s controlled areas.

About 85% of the terrain in Hakkoda is "outside of the ski controlled area. Hakkoda is all about backcountry.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hakkoda is not like a "normal" resort. This is not a case of "jumping the ropes" like on maintained groomed resorts.

It is a mountain with a ropeway to the mountain top and 1 little lift. It only has a handful of groomed courses.

There are almost no facilities at all.

It is mostly "off piste" in the sense that the deep powder is available to all. Back country is why people go to Hakkoda. There is no prohibition on exploring the mountain, but everyone should be well prepared and complete a notification form of your groups details and what areas you will be going to.

There are some guide poles, tags to show the way on un groomed courses, but even these "courses" can be deep with powder.

Many skiers hire experienced guides.

The risk of danger while skiing Hakkoda is well publicized and posted. All people know this.

And sadly the woman who died would have.

Perhaps her group were or were not prepared enough. Maybe more information will come.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Hakkoda is famous in Japan for being dangerous, the Japanese military used the area to train for a battle with Russia, there is a film about it called 'Hakkodasan'. It is a sad story, however she died doing what she loved. Many more die needlessly commuting in their cars.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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