Tenjindaira Backcountry Tours - Reviews

Awesome tour, highly recommend!

Tom
22/02/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    18-35
  • Ability
    Advanced
  • Rider Type
    Snow Boarder
  • Country
    Australian
  • Month:
    February
I had the 3 day all inclusive package and it was well worth it. Much cheaper compared to other guide companies. Kieren and the whole lodge crew were super friendly and helpful. Luckily the weather was in our favour and got Tenjin perfect for 2 days! We got 1 meter of snow in 24hrs so pow was all time! I recommend staying longer as weather can get hectic up there, although Kieren has other options if tenjin closes. Thanks again to all the Tenjin Lodge crew for an awesome trip, I will be back for sure!

Tenjindaira Backcontry

Wayne
21/02/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    36-50
  • Ability
    Advanced
  • Rider Type
    Snow Boarder
  • Country
    Australia
  • Month:
    February
Hello all. We did 6 days hiking with Kieren from the lodge. Very professional and upbeat. He means what he says about time on mountain and knows all the secret Powderhounds stash spots.

If you're looking for deep powder time on mountain, a great fun positive day, talk to Kieren.

Lodge and the food was absolutely fantastic.

See you next year mate

Not as advertised

Erin Sanborn
20/02/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    18-35
  • Ability
    Advanced
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Country
    USA
  • Month:
    February
I'm sorry to say that we had a not-so-positive experience at Tenjin; both my friend with whom I travelled and I felt the information for "advanced backcountry tours" (as listed on the Powderhound website) was misleading.

We were both looking forward to actual "backcountry" as the name of the trip has this in the title; the description notes that "some terrain" is accessible by lift. We were OK with "some" lift accessible terrain, but paid the money for a guide through this service to actually access true backcountry. Everything we did for three days was side-country (i.e., lift access, boot pack, and ski down). We voiced this to Kieran, the "guide" (who with prompting indicated that he has only his avalanche level 1 certification, as I am used to working with IFMGA guides), voicing our preference to access true backcountry terrain (the conditions, per his opinion, were safe) and to even just use our skins for the first time. After lengthy conversation and, quite honestly, unprofessional and inpatient communication on his part, he offered us the option to try the side country at another resort in the area that we could use our skins to access. The next day he took us to this area and legitimately got us lost. He took us down the incorrect drainage; we were boot packing up random hills to get out of creek beds. He even admitted that he "took a wrong turn;" he was on snow shoes so we had to wait at least an hour for him all totaled at the end of the day on the skin path and again once we got out of the creek for him to catch up on a service road we ended up skiing down.

I am all for adventure, and mixing up plans and routes can happen. But not when you pay for a guide. We paid the money we did so that we could explore new backcountry terrain with a local and SAFE knowledge. Kieran has local terrain knowledge at Tenjin only (the nearby resort he clearly doesn't know well), and demonstrates poor snow safety (admitted to not digging a single pit this winter, did not keep eyes on all skiers as we went down -- I had to wait at the bottom of a gully to see my friend ski as he went ahead and left her to ski avalanche terrain solo).

I've never written a review like this in my life and I'm sorry to do this. I let myself think over the trip over the last week to make sure I wasn't just upset in the moment; but after thinking it through and talking with other backcountry skiing friends, I realize that voicing this complaint and these concerns will hopefully make others' trips more fun and safe.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Response from Kieren, Tenjin Lodge
"To read a review like this is disappointing however it provides a platform for clarifying a few points regarding Tenjin Guides Backcountry Tours. Firstly, the main aim of our tours is to provide clients with great snow and as much vertical descent as possible in a safe manner. This is accomplished through the use of lifts whenever possible (to cut down on unnecessary hiking) which is clearly stated on the Tenjin Lodge website as well as Powderhounds.

As for my qualifications, which are also clearly stated on the Tenjin Lodge website, I have completed Avalanche Safety Management Level 1, a week long, professional level course which is primarily for select ski patrol involved in avalanche safety management. The qualification is recognized in the system shared by Japan, Canada and New Zealand. Combined with many years of experience, it's hopefully had a positive effect on my perfect safety record.

The reviewer participated in a three day tour with day one spent in easily accessible terrain at Tenjin. On the second day, we hiked the peak of Mt Tanigawa. To call this side country is ridiculous for anyone who has ever visited the area. Other clients on the tour had finished at the end of the second day and the reviewer expressed a strong desire to hike. I'd offered Kagura as a touring option on Day 2 but the larger group at the time, unanimously chose to hike and ski Mt Tanigawa. Day 3 fell on a Saturday and I won't visit Kagura on the weekends due to inevitable road congestion and big crowds in the backcountry there. The lack of debate may have come across as unprofessional but my stance there was simply not negotiable.

Instead we visited Hodaigi which I know very well, and commenced the hiking which these clients were so keen on doing. We hiked past a dozen, untracked, North facing, chutes in the backcountry while the snow was still good in the morning. It certainly wasn't about the skiing though.

If client's want to hike and it doesn't ruin the experience of other tour participants, I am fine with it. So we hiked nearly to the summit of Mt Hotaka. All the terrain that we had access to, funnels down to one side or the other of Hodaigi resort. When the clients finally decided they were ready to ride down, I simply lead us down the nearest low angled terrain. It was my first time down that exact route but there was never a safety issue involved. Humans can't generally trigger an avalanche on slopes angled below 25 degrees and the route we took was more like 20 degrees maximum. We had to hike out of one gully, to a closed road that runs straight back to the resort. 

Anyway, for those reading this wondering if this is the tour for them, Tenjin is steep and if you are uncomfortable with steep terrain, as these two clients clearly were, this is not the place for you. If you want to hike from the bottom, ski one run and be done, this is not the tour for you.

Just to clarify something regarding digging pits here in one of the snowiest parts of Japan where the snow pack is meters thick and temps are moderate, anyone with a basic knowledge of snow science and some experience will tell you its an exercise in futility. Great digging practice but doesn't tell you anything. I live in these mountains and ski them every day. The concerns here are wind slab on steep terrain (easily avoided if you know how) and weak layers in the upper levels of the snow pack which are easily identifiable without digging and going through the formal process of documenting "a pit"."

Excellent

Harvey Noel
05/02/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    18-35
  • Ability
    Intermediate
  • Rider Type
    Snow Boarder
  • Country
    Canada
  • Month:
    February
I was traveling to Japan and had an extra 3 days. I signed up for the Tenjin 3 day guided backcountry. Our guide was excellent. He always made sure we got the most powder possibly for the conditions. There's no way I would have been able to maximize my time with our guide. He had some really great secret stashes. I would highly recommend.

Late Feb Japow

G.Griffiths
07/03/2017
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    36-50
  • Ability
    Advanced
  • Rider Type
    Snow Boarder
  • Country
    Australia
  • Month:
    February
Visted Tenjin Lodge in the 2nd half of Feb 2017 for a three day guided backcountry tour. Scored a super deep day at Houdagi, as the big mountain was closed due to all the fresh snow, was a deep fun day lapping fresh lines in the forest. The next day was all time at Tenjin after the big dump, clear skies and deep pow. Scored some great runs off the ridge, it is an absolutely spectacular mountain with lines ranging from mellow to crazy! The Tenjin Lodge is comfortable, spacious and most importantly the staff were super helpful and you could see they wanted everyone to enjoy themselves whether that was families with small children or crew wanting to shred the gnar:)!

February

AlexG
03/03/2017
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    36-50
  • Ability
    Advanced
  • Rider Type
    Snow Boarder
  • Country
    Australia
  • Month:
    February
Spent a great week at Tenjin Lodge that included 3 days of guiding with Kieran. Had a big powder day at Houdagi, as the Ropeway was closed due to the 60+cm of fresh snow which was a heap of fun then the next day at Tenjin was all time, blue skies and fresh lines all day! Will be back for sure!

Outstanding Local Knowledge!

Sam
07/11/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Age
    36-50
  • Ability
    Advanced
  • Rider Type
    Snow Boarder
  • Country
    Australia
  • Month:
    January
Tenjin Lodge is a great, cheap little pension right near the tenjindaira ski area, which has some of the sickest BC in all of Japan. Kieren not only offers some of the best value for money in terms of lodgings/food but also offers some great local knowledge and guiding expertise in what can be some pretty dangerous terrain. If you're considering spending any time in the Tenjin BC I strongly recommend starting off with a day with Kieren to start getting the lay of the land!!