Image Quest Powder Tour, Japan – Education Through Experience

D’Arcy McLeish |

[sponsored by Le Grand Adventure Tours]

Chest deep in the Hokkaido backcountry with Le Grand Adventure Tours.
Photo – Hank Devre

What would you say if there was an opportunity to book a ski trip where you could learn and develop skills as an action sports photographer, journalist or athlete all while shredding some of the deepest snow on earth? We live in a world where our digital interconnectivity allows us more and more opportunities to going beyond the traditional norms of work and career development. Have you dreamed of being a professional freeskier or rider or you want that extra push to start building your portfolio as a professional photographer or action sports journalist? Do you want to make a living as social media influencer in the action sports world?

The folks at Le Grand Adventure Tours, based in Otaru, Japan, wanted the same and now they want to share their passion for snow and creativity in the action sports industry with you. This January, Image Quest Japan is a trip they’re offering to give you the chance to come to Japan for ten days to study with some of the industry’s best photographers, editors and athletes to teach you to build a career in the action sports world. All while skiing and riding the best Japan has to offer.

Wide Open Pow.
Photo – Hank Devre

Otaru and Niseko, Japan, get more than 50 feet of snow every year. Located on the mythical island of Hokkaido, Japan is unique to a lot of winter destinations. The winter there is like a big faucet. One day it’s fall, the next day it starts snowing and for three months it basically doesn’t stop. Come late March, the temps warm and the taps turn off. But for that three-month period, there’s nowhere in the world that offers what Japan can offer in terms of snow.

Yes. It’s this good.
Photo – Hank Devre

Even without the learning aspect of the trip, it sounds fantastic. One of the biggest challenges in going to Japan is making the most out of your time there. Spending too much time on logistics, travel, and figuring out where to ski can burn through your trip fast, but withLe Grand Adventure Tours, they have everything figured out. Their guides have spent a decade searching out all the secret stashes so you don’t have to. You’ll spend 4 nights in Niseko and 5 nights in Otaru. Using a custom 4×4 van to get you where you need to go, this trip is definitely for the more advanced skier and rider. The trip focuses on off piste side/backcountry resort skiing. In other words, tree skiing in well spaced birch forests and the wide open bowls Hokkaido is famous for. But that’s just the beginning, because this trip is about creating lifestyle.

Image Quest Japan runs a 4:1 student to instructor ratio for their camp. There are two streams for prospective students, the Media + Marketing Experience and The Athlete Experience. Both work side by side and offer something unique in the ski world.

Media + Marketing Experience

Are you a budding photographer, journalist or social media influencer in the action sports world? This is the trip for you. According to Le Grand Tour, “Image Quest is a…boot camp that focuses on everything you need to know to take photos, write features and create digital content for magazines, newspapers and the web.” With an in depth look at content creation, brand management and marketing yourself, you’ll be working alongside instructors that have worked at places like Powder Magazine, Freeskier and run some of the biggest events and marketing campaigns in the snowsports world. The focus here is to learn to build your own brand and break into the actions sports industry to create the career and lifestyle path you want. Content creation, marketing images, editorial work, working with ad agencies and event production are all part of the camp. It’s a one stop shop for turning your passion into a living and getting paid to do what you love.

Never gets old.
Photo – Hank Devre

The Athlete Experience

Working alongside the instructors and students from the Media + Marketing Experience, you’ll get a chance to strut your stuff for a week in the Hokkaido backcountry. This is all about learning how to get paid to ski. It’s not just sending it, but understanding what sells; marketing yourself as a brand, what images get published and what images don’t, the ins and outs of working with editors and photographers and creating a unique brand for yourself that can translate into a career as a professional freeskier.  Our onsite coaches, veterans of the freeski world, will help you hone your craft so when you’re under the lens, you’ll get the images you need and look good doing it.

Why You Should Go

Le Grand Tour has a wealth of experience running guided trips in Japan but this trip is special. This year you’ll have professional photographers Tom Winter and Jeff Cricco leading the know-how part of the trip. Both have insane resumes; Tom was the founding editor of the influential Freeze Magazine and has been a senior contributor at Powder and Skiing and Jeff has been published in just about every ski magazine there is. Both offer a wealth of knowledge and connections and are a blast to hang out with.

Image Quest Powder Ski Tour

Dates: January 5-January 14, 2018

Location: Niseko & Otaru, Japan

Tour Length: 10 Days / 9 Nights / 8 Ski Days

Level of Difficulty: High Intermediate and Above

Guide Ratio: 4 to 1 Client to Guide Ratio

Included Meals: Breakfasts, Welcome and Farewell Dinner


This trip is a chance to cultivate all that knowledge and embark on a career path that offers something a little different from the norm. It’s an opportunity to meet some of the most influential people in the snowsports world and pick their brains and develop your skills to start building a professional life in the action sports world. It’s also a way to ski in one of the most amazing places in the world. The best part? Le Grand Tour takes care of all the logistics and details so you don’t have to. All you need is your gear. Just book the trip and spend 8 days skiing, riding and learning from some masters, all in the mountains of Hokkaido, Japan. Could you imagine anything better?

Image Quest Powder Ski Tour, Otaru, Japan

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One thought on “Image Quest Powder Tour, Japan – Education Through Experience

  1. Hmmm. I thought this was primarily focused on ski photography. If you are already established in the ski industry would the session be redundant? I’m looking for a super cool guided japan experience but not interested in rehashing things I already know! 🙂

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