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Help us document the first modern helicopter ski and snowboard operation in northern Japan!
Help us document the first modern helicopter ski and snowboard operation in northern Japan!
Help us document the first modern helicopter ski and snowboard operation in northern Japan!
57 backers pledged $18,401 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Hokkaido Backcountry Project, Niseko Japan

$18,401

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Follow Black Diamond Lodge owner/operator Clayton Kernaghan and Makoto Koizumi of Dragon Helicopter as they build the first modern helicopter ski and snowboard operation in northern Japan.

Our digital documentary will take you behind the scenes to explore the beautiful and rugged island of Hokkaido, while also working to create positive change in this powder paradise.

The Hokkaido Backcountry Project will:

  • Document the return of heli skiing and snowboarding to Hokkaido
  • Go behind the scenes with mountain guides and professional skiers and snowboarders as they explore the island
  • Work with the Niseko community and Japanese government to promote increased safety and backcountry access

We plan to film from December 2014 through March 2015 and release our documentary to backers immediately afterward.

The crew from Dragon Helicopter and Black Diamond Lodge landing on Shiribetsu-Dake in Hokkaido.
The crew from Dragon Helicopter and Black Diamond Lodge landing on Shiribetsu-Dake in Hokkaido.
Makoto Koizumi and Clayton Kernaghan meet helicopter entrepreneur Horiuchi-san and his wife. The 86-year-old Horiuchi-san worked alongside Gaman-saan to create the first helicopter operation in Hokkaido more than 30 years ago.
Makoto Koizumi and Clayton Kernaghan meet helicopter entrepreneur Horiuchi-san and his wife. The 86-year-old Horiuchi-san worked alongside Gaman-saan to create the first helicopter operation in Hokkaido more than 30 years ago.

Little do people know, but the Japanese were heli and cat skiing in Hokkaido 30 years ago!

An Olympic skier and world traveler, Gaman-san had the passion and vision to begin a heli ski operation in the early 1980's, and he ran it for 20 years. Unfortunately, a massive recession and rising costs meant 2003 would be the the last year of living the dream.

Original promo photo for Gaman-saan's heli operation
Original promo photo for Gaman-saan's heli operation

Many changes have taken place since Gaman-saan's helicopter operation shut its doors more than a decade ago. 

After a series of accidents linked to motorized vehicles, Japanese government officials began to discourage motorized travel in the backcountry.

Regulations are now unclear or contradictory when it comes to getting permission to access these public areas by helicopter, snowmobile, and snowcat.

Meanwhile, Hokkaido's amazing backcountry continues to lack a standardized system of avalanche prediction and safety precautions because many don't believe the need exists. 

We want to increase safety and awareness in the Hokkaido backcountry.

Black Diamond Lodge recently organized the Hokkaido Backcountry Club to help spearhead the development of responsible practices when it comes to both human and machine-powered access on the island of Hokkaido.

This documentary will help us to explore these issues, and present the case for a safer, more accessible backcountry skiing and snowboarding experience in Hokkaido.

With your help, we can work together to promote a safe practices program and risk management package that everyone can benefit from!

Yes, there's a reason they call it "Jalaska."
Yes, there's a reason they call it "Jalaska."

Your backing will help us

  • Shoot this documentary in 4K with Panasonic cameras
  • Purchase and/or rent equipment for shooting from a helicopter
  • Ensure high quality video editing capabilities with Adobe products
  • Offer rewards for guests who want to experience the Hokkaido Powder Project firsthand

Rewards

Pledge just $1USD and we'll say thanks on our Facebook and Kickstarter pages! We honor our backers at even the smallest levels.

Backers at the $10 level and up will get access to the Hokkaido Backcountry Project via digital download

Backers at the $30 level will receive a limited edition Hokkaido Backcountry Club t-shirt, along with the documentary via digital download.

Backers at the $80 level can choose a signed, 8x10 canvas print featuring one or more professional athletes who ride with us in Niseko during the 2014-2015 season. We'll also include the digital documentary download.

Examples include pro riders from:

  • Teton Gravity Research
  • Red Bull Media House
  • Matchstick Productions
  • Poor Boyz
  • Nimbus Independent.
BD Lodge owner/operator Clayton Kernaghan
BD Lodge owner/operator Clayton Kernaghan

Pledge $150 and choose from a Black Diamond Tours introductory or deep powder snowmobile tour (valued at $200), along with everything included in the $30 pledge.

Pledge $350 and choose three nights for two guests at Black Diamond Lodge (low, or shoulder season), plus everything in the $30 pledge. *Check lodging availability here

Black Diamond lodge is located near the small town of Niseko-cho
Black Diamond lodge is located near the small town of Niseko-cho

Pledge $500 to receive a 5-day, 4x4 van rental for 8 passengers on the island of Hokkaido for backers at the $500 level, plus everything in the $30 pledge

Pledge $800 for the Tour de' Jalaska for one person, including two days of guided skiing or snowboarding at our exclusive new backcountry cat zone, accommodation at a real hot springs lodge on the ocean, PLUS one day of guided off-piste resort skiing

Warren Miller Entertainment shooting aerial video on Hokkaido near Black Diamond Lodge in 2014
Warren Miller Entertainment shooting aerial video on Hokkaido near Black Diamond Lodge in 2014

Pledge $1,200 for a three-run, introductory helicopter ski or snowboard day for two guests, including all safety gear, guide service, and shuttle, complimentary Hokkaido Backcountry Club membership, two special edition t-shirts, and digital project download.

Pledge $3,600 for a 7-run heli day for two people at the Black Diamond Lodge PLUS the Tour de' Jalaska for two people, AND a guest appearance in our documentary while you shred pow! 

The bottom line

We're committed to creating the Hokkaido Backcountry Project. Your backing will enable us to realize our ultimate vision for this documentary and ensure the highest production value.

Thanks for helping us realize our goal!

Risks and challenges

We're taking several calculated risks in releasing this documentary:

1. Weather and safety is always a factor. Your backing will help us provide travel expenses and safety gear for the shoot. However, delays can happen.

2. People can get hurt. Skiing and snowboarding is not without risks. Athletes, guides, and others are subject to physical injury that could delay some aspects of the project.

3. Gear can break. Camera gear is especially delicate in outdoor and extreme environments. This Kickstarter project will allow us to have some money in reserve for gear repair.

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Just like the amazing snowfall in Japan, every dollar adds up! We'll say thanks to you on our Kickstarter Credits page and the Black Diamond Lodge Facebook page

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Hokkaido Powder Project digital download, PLUS thanks on our Kickstarter Credits page and Facebook

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Black Diamond Lodge 10th anniversary limited edition t-shirt and Hokkaido Powder Project digital download, PLUS thanks on our Kickstarter Credits page and Facebook

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    16 backers
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    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    Choose a signed, 8x10 canvas print featuring one or more professional athletes who ride with us during the 2014-2015 season, plus the digital project download.

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    Pledge $95 or more About $95

    Can't decide between a t-shirt or autographed canvas print? Get both and save $10! We'll also include the digital download and say thanks on Kickstarter and Facebook.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Choose from a Black Diamond Tours introductory or deep powder snowmobile tour (valued at $200), along with everything included in the $25 pledge

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    4 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $350 or more About $350

    3 nights for two guests at Black Diamond Lodge, Niseko Japan (valued at $450), along with everything included in the $25 pledge, subject to availability/low and shoulder season

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Enjoy a 5-day, 4x4 van rental for 8 passengers on the island of Hokkaido (valued at $790) courtesy Niseko Auto, along with everything included in the $25 pledge

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  9. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $800 or more About $800

    2-day 1-night Tour de' Jalaska for two people (valued at $900), including two days of guided skiing or snowboarding at our exclusive new backcountry cat zone, accommodation at a real hot springs lodge on the ocean, PLUS one day of guided off-piste resort skiing, along with everything included in the $25 pledge

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    Reward no longer available 1 backer
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $800 or more About $800

    2-day 1-night Tour de' Jalaska for one person (valued at $1,100), including two days of guided skiing or snowboarding at our exclusive new backcountry cat zone, accommodation at a real hot springs lodge on the ocean, PLUS one day of guided off-piste resort skiing, along with everything included in the $25 pledge

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $800 or more About $800

    March Black Pack! Four days of guided resort skiing or snowboarding during the month of March 2015, including sidecountry and off-piste options, PLUS four nights at Black Diamond Lodge, including dinner and breakfast for $800 -- valued at $1,100.

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,100 or more About $1,100

    The March Black Cat! Two days of cat-accessed skiing or snowboarding and one night's lodging at our exclusive Karibayama zone on the Sea of Japan, PLUS two days of guided resort skiing and three nights at Black Diamond Lodge for $1,100 -- valued at $1,500. BOOM! -- Valid only during the month of March 2015

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    Pledge $1,200 or more About $1,200

    Get a three-run, helicopter ski or snowboard day for two guests (valued at $1,600), includes complimentary Hokkaido Backcountry Club membership, two special edition t-shirts, and digital project download

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    Reward no longer available 2 backers
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    Pledge $3,600 or more About $3,600

    Backers enjoy a 7-run heli day for two people, PLUS the 2-day 1-night Tour de' Jalaska for two people, AND a guest appearance in our web series while you shred pow! This reward is valued at $4,900.

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Funding period

- (28 days)