With low snow across western North America, Lucas Debari, Tim Eddy and Matt Belzile escape to Hakuba, Japan, for a week of powder boarding and close encounters with a kamoshika.

The kamoshika appeared to be stuck. It had just climbed a near-vertical ridge, traversing right to left across a small, feature-packed slope. The goat-antelope, an anomaly of a cloven-hoofed creature unique to these parts, had come from the direction of the dam up-valley – a marvelous, pillow-topped structure hemming in the steep river gorge toward the lift-serviced peaks of Hakuba. Mr. Kamoshika moved in a plodding, hunched-over manner, like a small bear. Mist rose off the manmade waterfalls in the morning’s waning cold. Occasional breaks in the clouds revealed the alpine, spines climbing from a ruler-straight treeline to the heart of the Japanese Alps…

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