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.

2017/18 Crew:

Chris Eckel

Chris Eckel

Head Guide - USA

Chris worked and skied the backcountry on 4 continents before finding Japow. Now that he‘s been here for 4 seasons, and become a Nikka Whiskey aficionado we are pretty sure he’s a lifer. Springtime will find him guiding heliskiing in Alaska but we can’t fault him for that. Having been paid to drop couloirs in Italy, swim with whale sharks in Australia, descend deep into glaciers, toss bombs and whisper to grizzly bears in Alaska, Chris has amassed many certifications and skills. This will be his 4th season with BDT.

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

Peter Leh

Peter Leh

Senior Guide - USA

Peter’s enthusiastic passion for backcountry skiing is contagious. Through efficiency of motion and utilizing the right technique at the right time, he maximizes the skiing experience. His ski guiding career began over 35 years ago in the Sierra Nevada. He is a AMGA certified ski mountaineering guide and a member of the AMGA instructor team, AIARE Level 2 avalanche course leader, and PSIA Level 3 ski instructor. He can be found ski guiding powder in Japan mid winter, corn skiing in the Sierra in the spring or training ski guides and military personnel through out north America. Come Join him on a ski adventure.
This will be Peter’s fifth season working with BDT and we’re excited to have him back for round 5.

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

Sandy Miller

Sandy Miller

Senior Guide - USA

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. This will be his 4th winter with BDT.

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

Dawn Riley

Dawn Riley

Senior Guide - USA

A native of Juneau, AK, Dawn‘s love for mountain sports has carried her across the U.S., through Canada, and finally to her favorite mountains here in Hokkaido. A professional snowboard guide for over a decade, she earned certifications in both the U.S. and Canada. On a winter day, you will find Dawn on the snow; touring for fresh tracks, riding secret stashes in the trees, ski patrolling at Eaglecrest, or leading a group of heli-skiers. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Qualifications
AIARE Level 2
Level 3 Heli-ski Guide
Emergency Medical Technichian

Chris Shelly

Chris Shelly

Senior Guide - USA

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

Julian Hanna

Julian Hanna

Senior Guide - USA

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 second season in Japan.

Qualifications
AMGA Ski Guide
AIARE Level 3
AAA Level 3
EMT

Brian Muller

Brian Muller

Senior Guide - USA

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

Yuya Kodani

Yuya Kodani

Multi-Day Tour Specialist - Japan

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 - Japan

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)

Junichi Saotome

Junichi Saotome

Junior Guide - Japan

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)

Phil Welch

Phil Welch

Junior Guide - UK

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

Sam Roche

Sam Roche

Junior Guide - USA

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)

Kyle Boys

Kyle Boys

Junior Guide - Australia

Kyle grew up in Australia and as a carpenter, but his real passion is the mountains and being in the outdoors. He chases the snow and has done his Avalanche level 1 in New Zealand and has lived in Austria for two years in the Alps where he worked as an instructor and practiced his skills in the backcountry splitboarding. This will be his second season in Hokkiado and he can’t wait to show you the real "Japow".

Qualifications
NZMGA Avalanche stage 1
Wilderness First Aid (60 hours)

Erin Laine

Erin Laine

Junior Guide - USA

Born and raised in Southern Colorado potato country Erin has always had a love for high rocky places and deep cold snow. Chasing summits and patching blisters throughout the western United States, Denali, the Chilean Andes and now Japan. She‘s working towards AMGA ski guide certification and eventually IFMGA certification, which means most of her time off is spent climbing a new pitch on rock or ice. When she isn’t in the mountains she can usually be found perfecting her thai curry, visiting one of her four siblings, or napping in the shade with her sweet dog Willie.

Qualifications
AMGA Ski & Alpine apprentice guide
AIARE 1 & 2 instructor
ASHI Wilderness Medicine educator
Wilderness EMT

Jonathan Ahlander

Jonathan Ahlander

Junior Guide/ Cat Driver - Sweden

When it comes to being outdoors, Jonny is a good contender in any condition. Working on the water as a coach for sailing in summer time and ski instructing/guiding in the wintertime. It’s pretty much all about teaching and coaching. And riding, of course… The latest skill to add is Jonny being a snow cat operator, working with both smaller and bigger commercial resorts out of Sweden and Iceland. The more snow to move the happier he is, so where does one turn if not to Japan?

Qualifications
Austrian Ski Federation: Avalanche Training Course – Level 2
Alpine environment First Aid Course: Level 2

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.

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!

Shin Doi

Shin Doi

Operations Manager

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)