Guides

Our first priority is always your safety which is why all of our guides are all highly trained in avalanche risk management, backcountry travel, and first aid. All of our guides are involved in ongoing professional training and maintain certifications with their respective associations. Safety always comes first but, it is important to remember that there does exist inherent risks in backcountry travel meaning that anytime we leave the ski area boundary we require all of our clients to be equipped with a full kit of avalanche safety equipment (transceiver, shovel, & probe), and ask that any instructions given by our guides are explicitly followed to mitigate risk and ensure an epic powder day.

Each of our guides brings something a little different to the crew but one thing is for sure, they all share a passion for the mountains and have an intimate knowledge of Hokkaido’s best powder lines. We meet daily to discuss current conditions at each area, monitor the weather, and adjust the schedule to make sure you are headed to the best snow each and every day.

2016/17 Crew:

Chris Eckel

Chris Eckel

Head Guide

Chris is back for his third Hokkaido winter looking to get his fill of powder before heading back to Juneau where he will spend the Spring guiding with Alaska Powder Descents. In the summer you can find Chris leading bear watching tours.

Qualifications
AIARE Level 3
Level 3 Heli-ski Guide
Emergency Medical Technichian

Sandy Miller

Sandy Miller

Lead Guide

As someone who was born and raised around the waters and mountains of Alaska, Sandy grew an appreciation and passion for adventure in the outdoors that has led him on world travels, countless days in the mountains, and eventually a career in heli skiing and avalanche forecasting. Sandy has worked at Alaska Powder Descents as a heli ski guide for the past 5 seasons and has been one of the lead instructors of the Mountain Savvy progam at Eaglecrest ski area .

Qualifications
Avalanche/Helicopter Ski Guide (Alaska) level 2.5
American Avalanche Institute Level 3 forecaster
Wilderness First Responder and OEC technician

Chris Shelly

Chris Shelly

Lead Guide

Chris has worked as a ski guide in North America, Europe, New Zealand and Asia. He has also worked as a ski patrol director and snow safety director for ski resorts in the States and New Zealand.Chris also has a 4 year degree in forest biology and a Masters Degree in Education and Human Resources.

Qualifications
AMGA Ski Guide
Canadian Ski Guide Association Level 3
Canadian Avalanche Association Level 3
AIARE Level 3

Peter Leh

Peter Leh

Lead Guide

Peters professional ski guiding career began while working for Alpine Skills International and he has made the PNW his guiding base. Even with over 35 years guiding under his belt, you‘ll discover that Peter is usually the most enthusiastic one in the group to get after the powder! This will be Peter’s third season working with HBC and we’re excited to have him back for round 3.

Qualifications
AMGA certified ski mountaineering guide
AIARE Level 3
Member of the AMGA Instructor Team
AIARE Level 2 avalanche course leader
PSIA Level 3 Ski Instructor

Julian Hanna

Julian Hanna

Lead Guide

If you are looking for a split boarding mountain guide, Jules is your man. He has been guiding for 10 years and spends his winters in Tahoe and summers in the Pacific North West and Alaska. He is one of only a few splitboarders who has become certified with the AMGA as a Ski guide. Whether it’s a ski day or time to board, Jules enjoys the rewards that the backcountry experience provides. He is an AIARE 1 course leader and has logged many adventures in mountains up and down the west coast learning about the avalanche phenomena.
In addition to guiding, Jules has worked as a climbing ranger at Mt Rainer and as a mountaineer for the US Antarctic Program and has many stories to tell from his time on Search and Rescue in those locales. This will be his first season in Japan.

Qualifications
AMGA Ski Guide
AIARE Level 3
AAA Level 3
EMT

Robert Stöckel

Robert Stöckel

Lead Guide

With plenty of years of skiing and telemarking in the European Alps in Austria and Italy, Rob’s passion for skiing has lead him from his home in Germany to the Canadian mountains where we worked in the heli-ski and cat-ski industry in British Columbia. Living and working in the ski business and gaining his ski guide certs in both Austria & Canada, Rob is a fun-loving, dedicated ski guide and can be found on any given day ripping the best powder lines!

Qualifications
CSGA Level 2
CAA Operations Level 2 (to be completed in Dec 2016)
Wilderness First Responder (80 hours)

Brad White

Brad White

Lead Guide

Brad has over 25 years of experience in the industry. He is currently employed by Parks Canada as a Visitor Safety Specialist with responsibilities for mountain rescue and avalanche forecasting in the National Parks of Canada. Brad is a professional member of the Canadian Avalanche Association and has been teaching advanced avalanche courses for many years. He has worked on many of the committees that have been instrumental in developing the latest best practices for avalanche forecasting, hazard classification and public bulletins. He is also a ski guide examiner for the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides.

Qualifications
IFMGA / ACMG Mountain Guide
CAA Operations Level 3

Brian Muller

Brian Muller

Lead Guide

Brian is originally from New Jersey and has been working in the ski industry for 8 years. Brian got his start guiding 24 day ski mountaineering courses in Alaska, before moving down to Utah to work as a full time Ski Patroller/Cat guide out of Snowbird. In the summers Brian works out of Alaska and Washington, guiding Denali as well as the volcanos of the Pacific Northwest. When Brian is not working, he is out looking for new ski lines or climbing.

Qualifications
AMGA Certified Ski Guide
AAI Level III Avalanche
Outdoor Emergency Care

Eric Layton

Eric Layton

Lead Guide

Originally from Lake Tahoe, Eric spends his winters in British Columbia and his springs in Alaska, searching out the best powder on earth. Eric is one of the first snowboarders in the United States to pass the American Mountain Guide Association Ski Exam on his splitboard. He is also an AMGA Single Pitch Rock Instructor and is a Certified Heli Guide through the American Mechanized Ski Guide Program. Now owner of Splitboard Guides International a dedicated splitboard guide company, Eric is proud to share turns all over the world with people who share the same passion.

Qualifications
AMGA Certified Ski Guide
AAI Level III Avalanche
CAA Operations Level II
Wilderness First Responder

Yuya Kodani

Yuya Kodani

Multi-Day Tour Specialist

After growing up ski racing on Japan`s main island, Yuya eventually discovered Hokkaido`s powder and traded his racing planks for the longest, widest skis he could find and focussed his attention on freeskiing. After joining BDT in 2008 with limited backcountry experience but a keen willingness to learn, Yuya has developed into an integral part of the BDT crew and now specializes in our multi day trips. Along with knowing where to find Hokkaido`s steepest and deepest lines, Yuya is also particularly good at ordering up some of Japan`s most "special" cuisine.

Back for yet another winter of bottomless snow, you can look forward to hearing Yuya`s classic tag line... "follow me".

Qualifications
Emergency First Aid Safety (40 hour course)
Avalanche Operations Level 1 (Japan Avalanche Association)

Takehiro "Mattias" Hosogai

Takehiro "Mattias" Hosogai

Multi-day Tour Specialist

Mattias was born to Japanese and Swedish parents. Growing up in a few different countries and educated in English, he is as multicultural as one can be. Mattias‘ days outdoors began before he could even walk. He has been skiing, hiking and camping for as long as he can remember and this will be his 4th season working with us. Mattias considers Japan’s mountains to be its greatest treasure and he cannot wait to share good times with you in Hokkaido!

Qualifications
JAN Level 1
Wilderness First Aid (50hrs)

Phil Welch

Phil Welch

Tail Guide

Phil comes from the UK and has been living in Japan for five years. In the summers, Phil is guiding rafting and canyoning tours down in Honshu then flies back to Hokkaido for the powder in the winter. This will be his 3rd winter working with us.

Qualifications
JAN operations Level 1
Wilderness First Aid

Tim Johnson

Tim Johnson

Tail Guide

After studying Japanese in University, Tim lived in northern Hokkaido for two years teaching English at Japanese public middle schools. It was during this two years, spending his weekends searching for the deepest snow Hokkaido had to offer, that Tim decide he would return to Canada and work towards becoming an IMFGA Mountain Guide. After spending the last four years in Canada working in the ski industry, Tim is returning to Hokkaido for another season of the deepest snow he can find.

Qualifications
CAA Operations Level 2
80 Hour Wilderness First Aid

Junichi Saotome

Junichi Saotome

Tail Guide

Junichi moved to Hokkaido a few years ago from the main island. Working originally as a snowboard instructor at NOASC, he has made a shift to guiding last season with Black Diamond Tours. During the summer season, you can see Junichi helping out local farms in the town of Makkari.

Qualifications
JAN Level 1
Wilderness First Aid (50hrs)

Sam Roche

Sam Roche

Tail Guide

Sam is another heli guide from Alaska that got hooked on winters in Japan. This will be Sam’s third year exploring the mountains of Japan, and he’s excited to ride more deep Hokkaido powder with clients. In the spring, Sam will be guiding for Alaska Powder Descents.

Qualifications
AIARE Level 2
Wilderness First Responder (80 hours)

Gavin Williams

Gavin Williams

Tail Guide

Gavin calls the coast mountains of British Columbia home. He has spent the last 4 seasons teaching avalanche courses and chasing a career in ski guiding across BC. This pursue is what has drawn his attention to the mountains and snow of northern Japan. Having grown up exploring a deep coastal snow pack Gavin is no stranger to heavy snowfalls. He hopes to expand his learning into new places with new people and bring a deep rooted enthusiasm to the table. Teaching courses or guiding in the backcountry Gavin is looking forward to his first season in Japan

Qualifications
CAA Operations Level 2
Wilderness First Responder (112 hours)

Fleur Simons

Fleur Simons

Tail Guide

Fleur has been instructing snowboarding for 10 years and starting cranking turns in the Austrian Alps. Moving to interior British Columbia, Canada, Fleur furthered her career in instructing and guiding. This girls also rides mountain bikes and surfs a mean wave in the summer seasons.

Qualifications
CAA Operation Level 1
Wilderness First Responder (80 hours)

Kyle Boys

Kyle Boys

Tail Guide

Snowboarding between Austria and Australia Kyle spends most of his time in the mountains. We are lucky this always smiling Australian had time to fit in a season with us in Japan.

Qualifications
NZMGA1 operations 1 in wanaka nz
Anwärter Austrian
Snowboard level

Pam Higgins

Pam Higgins

Reservations

Pam was fortunate enough to be raised in the mountains, which is where her love for adventure came from. Her dad was an original Whistler ski-bum and wouldn’t have had it any other way than raising her and her brothers on skis. After graduating
from the University of British Columbia Okanagan the travel bug bit hard and she has been travelling for the past two years (but always managing to make it back to Canada for ski season). This year she is STOKED to be combining her love of travel with her love of shredding. Pretty much a dream come true!

Eileen Walsh

Eileen Walsh

Reservations

Growing up on the west coast of British Columbia, Eileen spent most of her weekends up at Whistler or taking trips to BC‘s interior mountains. After graduating from The University of British Columbia Okanagan, to get a “degree in snowboarding” as her parents put it, she spent some time travelling throughout Asia and Africa, including a short visit to Japan’s main island. Eileen is extremely excited to return to Japan and experience the deep powder Hokkaido has to offer.

Shin Doi

Shin Doi

Operations Manager & Tail Guide

Shin is a Tokyo native, originally from Australia by way of Kelowna, BC, Canada. He‘s a fluent Japanese speaker with the best Canadian accent you’ve ever heard. When not splitboarding, you can find Shin taking reservations and working with guests at HBC. Shin is a recent grad from UBC Okanagan.

Qualifications
CAA Operations Level 1
OFA Level 3 (80hrs) certification.

Makoto Koizumi

Makoto Koizumi

Heli/Cat Manager

Makoto hails from the island of Honshu, where he previously worked as a CIC (Commission Internationale de Canyon) canyoneering guide and swiftwater rescue technician in the Hakuba area. Makoto has more than 18 years of experience in guiding, and recently started the not-for-profit Helicopter Air Rescue Unit (HARU).

Clayton Kernaghan

Clayton Kernaghan

Owner

Clayton grew up skiing and snowboarding on the river banks of Edmonton, Alberta and the Rocky Mountain resorts of Jasper and Banff. Working at the local ski hill from the age of 15, he knew he wanted to be part of the ski and snowboard industry for the rest of his life.

In 1996, Clayton had the opportunity to visit Japan for the summer. After seeing firsthand the incredible popularity of snowboarding, his original plan was to bring Japanese snowboarders to Canada for multiple resort tours and backcountry experiences. With very little Japanese ability, no money, and no connections, he failed big time!

After studying Japanese and graduating with a degree in international business from the Universty of Alberta, he headed back to Japan in 1998 to make those connections, and immediately fell in love with the food, culture, and ridiculously deep powder.

While teaching English and gaining a foothold in Japan, Clayton finally had an opportunity to put his 7 years of exploring the resorts and mountains of Hokkaido to use. The rest is history!

Qualifications
Wilderness First Aid (40 hour course)
Avalanche Operations Level 1 (Japan Avalanche Association)