About Us

CERTIFIED JAPOW FANATICS

Whiteroom Tours was founded on the principle of creating tours & ski holidays that are fun, adventurous and allow you to experience each destination from a local’s perspective.

From these humble beginnings and with the help of our growing client base, we have grown into a fully licenced travel agency specialising in guided ski and snowboard tours, ski and snowboard holidays, mountain guiding, instructional tours, group travel, as well as personalised travel packages to Japan.

Whiteroom prides itself on providing the highest quality guiding and tour products. We have achieved this by building a professional team of hand-picked ski and snowboard guides from around the world with exceptional local knowledge.

Our team members originate from a variety of professional ski industry backgrounds but all have one very important thing in common, their love of the mountains and Japanese powder.

At Whiteroom, our number one priority is your safety, which is why all customers guided outside the resort boundaries must personally carry appropriate avalanche safety equipment.

All our guides are certified in avalanche safety management and first aid, plus with mountain guiding accreditations or ski patrol background, you can be assured you are in safe hands.

Whiteroom guides receive ongoing training in first aid, backcountry travel and avalanche safety with their respective country’s mountain safety associations & through our in-house training programs.

Daily guide meetings are held in each area to analyse the days’ weather, snowpack and prevailing conditions. Combined with our seasons’ knowledge bank we make the best decisions to ensure you ski or ride the best lines & maximise your experience.

POWDER, CULTURE, ADVENTURE!

Meet the Team

Paul Ellis

PRESIDENT, FOUNDER & GUIDE

After seasons working in the US, Australia and Japan, as well as expeditions to the mountains of Central Asia, Paul started what was to become Whiteroom Tours in 2007 with an idea to create a website around helping those venturing into the backcountry around the world. Backcountry Logistics was created and soon born Backcountry Snow Tours, which had tours planned for Pakistan, Gulmarg and Furano, Japan. Seeing that the market wasn’t really there for backcountry tours to remote locations yet he moved to offering a resort based Japan tour and sold ESS Boardstore owner Mark Chandler on the idea. In 2007 the first tour was run to Furano. In 2010 he founded Whiteroom Tours with the aim showing more people the areas in Hokkaido he came to love. Today Whiteroom Tours has grown into a Travel Agency, Tour Operator and Guiding Company with more than 50+ tours and guiding throughout Japan. Paul holds his CAA Avalanche Level 1 Professional and Wilderness First Aid certificate.

Ross Mcswiney

JAPAN CEO & GUIDE

Ross has seen more winter than most people see in two lifetimes. Having first guided in Japan with Whiteroom Tours in 2012, he heads up our Whiteroom Japan operations. He is responsible for establishing Whiteroom Guides and ensuring Whiteroom runs to the highest of standards. Ross has over 26 years experience as a Thredbo Ski Patroller, National Ski Patrol Trainer & Examiner, Australian Ski Patrol Advanced Emergency Care Course Trainer & Examiner  plus has skied 19 years in Hokkaido & Northern Honshu, 13 as a professional ski guide.

He holds his NZ Avalanche Stage 1 Professional, Certificate IV Training & Assessment, Remote / Advanced / Advanced Resuscitation / Occupational First Aid and is also an Avalanche Awareness and First Aid Trainer.

RONAN MAGUIRE

JAPAN GENERAL MANAGER, AVALANCHE FORECASTER & GUIDE

An Irish man who happened to land on his feet in the high alpine of NZ. Ronan has since made the mountains his home and Guiding, Ski Patrolling, Avalanche Training & Avalanche Forecasting his profession.  Ronan has been one of the NZMSC’s National Avalanche Forecaster, managed Snow Safety and the Avalanche Program for Mt Hutt NZ, been a member of the NZ Avalanche Education Advisory Committee, trainer of both recreational and professional avalanche courses plus an Avy Search and Rescue Dog handler. For the past 7 years, Ronan has been with Whiteroom becoming our  Japan General Manager which includes overseeing all guide operations, avalanche assessment, and forecasting.

He looks forward to sharing his passion for the mountains with you and enjoying some good turns together.

EMILY CARROLL

JAPAN TRAVEL MANAGER

No one is more passionate about Japan and travel than Emily. She has spent years living and working in Japan as an English teacher and before that on exchange through High School and University.

Her knowledge of Japan and fluency in the language means that you get the best possible advice and a fantastic holiday. 

Guiding team

Mal Haskins

Mal is based in Wanaka New Zealand where his passion for the mountains, climbing, mountaineering and skiing can be quenched. He is an IFMGA / NZMGA Mountain and Ski Guide. During the winter months in New Zealand he lectures on the Tai Poutini Polytechnic Ski Patrol Program, works at Mt Cook Heliski as a lead guide and snow safety officer, Forecasts for the Mt Cook Avalanche Advisory as well as running his own operation based from Wanaka, Mountaineering, Ski-touring, Ski Mountaineering teaching avalanche courses. He is a member of Wanaka SAR and Winter Mt Cook Sar teams. During Summer he spends time down on the Antarctic Peninsula taking people climbing - Mal loves to ski and enjoys sharing his love of being outside and seeking adventure with like minded people.

Paul Black

After cutting his teeth backcountry skiing multiple seasons in Austria & France, Blackie kept his love of winter going with 23 years Ski Patrolling, 14 as Thredbo Ski Patrol Captain & 14 years skiing in Hokkaido, 10 as a Ski Guide. Holds NZMSC Stage 1 Professional & is a Patrol Trainer/Examiner.

Gareth Bevan

Gareth has been skiing Japan since 1999, including over 30 resorts in Hokkaido & Honshu. He holds his NAMSG (US mechanised ski guide) cert L2 and L2 Avalanche cert. He has heli-guided in Valdez AK for 4 years for H2o heli guides & has Ski Patrolled at Thredbo for 10 years. Whilst he’s well skied, he can’t beat Japan’s pow!

Timm Phillips

Timm grew up in Buffalo, New York. He honed an ability to hold a ski edge on icy race courses before moving on to the snowier pastures of the American West. With fifteen years under his belt in the Sierras, Wasatch, Cascades, and San Juans; Timm enjoys teaching and sharing with riders and climbers the subtle joys of backcountry mountain travel, wherever he is. Folks remark on his lighthearted style, and patience. Timm guides on Denali, the Cascades, and the Sierra during the spring and summer months, and is with us in Japan in the winter. He completed the AMGA Ski and Alpine guide courses, is American Avalanche Association Pro 2 certified, holds a Wilderness First Responder, LNT, and AIARE Instructor certifications.

Greg Young

A West Australian that had one taste of fresh pow and never looked back, spending 20+ seasons snowboarding across New Zealand, Canada, Europe, Australia, and guiding tours in Japan with Whiteroom since 2013. He holds his NZMSC Avalanche Pro 1, NZSIA Level 2 & First Aid accreditation. Greg’s positive attitude and love of the snow & backcountry splitboarding is infectious.

Taneli Peussa

Taneli grew up in the icy winters of Finland. A highly qualified ski, snowboard, telemark instructor & guide, Taneli holds his NZMSC PRO Level 1 & Remote First Aid. Having guided with Whiteroom for 5 years, he’s stoked about guiding in Japan and showing guests the best parts of Hokkaido on and off snow. His favourite mountain is Asahidake and taking guests there keeps him thrilled every time! In the summer he runs eBike tours in Finland.

Nathan Hunter

Nathan hails from Edinburgh & found his love of skiing on the local hills of Scotland. With over 12 seasons of instructing, managing Snow Schools and guiding in Scotland, Italy, Japan, Canada and New Zealand. In the summers he can be found cycling the roads of Hokkaido and Honshu. Joining the team in 2019, he holds NZSMC Avalanche Stage 1, BASI Level 2 and BASP First Aid.

Ta-yuan (Owen) Lee

Owen is passionate about skiing and enjoys his free time travelling the world to ski, climb and meet people. A native Taiwanese, he grew up in Aotearoa and the love for the outdoors saw him pursuing a career in New Zealand, Canada and Australia as a mountain guide and an outdoor education instructor for the past ten years. Owen has a science degree in ecology, New Zealand Certificate in Avalanche Risk Management Level 5, and Wilderness First Responder. He is a qualified NZMGA Apprentice Ski Guide and currently working towards becoming an IFMGA mountain guide.

Taylor Rogers

Tay was born on skis and has been sliding downhill ever since. He is an Australian Nationally Accredited Ski Patroller with seasons of experience. When not patrolling he can be found exploring the backcountry. Tay holds CAA Avalanche Ops1, ASPA Accreditation and Wilderness & Remote First Aid. Tay's favourite backcountry snack is dried mango cheeks and if he isn't skiing he can usually be found cooking (with wine), listening to house music and jumping out of planes.

Jordan Raymond

Born and raised in New Zealand, Jordan found his calling at a young age for skiing bottomless snow and ski mountaineering and has been chasing winters ever since. Jordan is a qualified Assistant Ski Guide with the NZMGA, holds his avalanche risk management level 5 and PHEC certificates. He is stoked to be back in the land of bottomless pow to help you experience what skiing in Japan is about.

Sean Riley

Sean is based out of Dillon, Colorado where he patrolled for 7 seasons at Keystone Ski Resort as well as on the South Island of New Zealand patrolling at Coronet Peak. Sean also ski guides for Colorado Adventure Guides in the high mountains of Summit County, Colorado and now spends his summers there as a climbing guide. He holds an Avalanche Pro 2 certification with the American Avalanche Institute and is also an Emergency Medical Technician.

Stephen Parker

Stephen has completed various mountaineering exploration expeditions including first snowboard descents in the Indian Himalaya and New Zealand’s Southern Alps. He’s has worked as a Splitboard guide and Avalanche Educator in Afghanistan, India, New Zealand and Japan, and loves nothing more than riding deep powder through trees, then ending the day sipping green tea while soaking in rustic hot pools. He has a PhD and works as a wilderness guide in the South Island of New Zealand. Qualifications include NZMSC Avalanche Operations Stage 2, Pre-Hospital Emergency Care , Certificate in Ski Patrol, Post Graduate Diploma in Outdoor Education & Avalanche Practitioner Canadian Avalanche Association

Rachel Ryan

Rach is an adventure enthusiast, ski patroller, and cat-ski guide hailing from Wanaka, New Zealand. Originally a geologist she spent years in the Aussie outback funding skiing and climbing adventures in the US, Canada, Europe and Japan. Rach delights in spending time in unique places with family, friends, and clients who share the need to find the next best powder ski run. She holds the NZ Certificate in Avalanche Risk Management (Level 6), Emergency Care and Pre-Hospital Care, and is the Ski Patrol Supervisor at Treble Cone, Wanaka, NZ.

Alistair Martin

Alistair is an Australian born national who now calls New Zealand home. He works as a ski patroller for Mt Hutt where he is the assistant snow safety officer and has also spent time ski patrolling in Colorado. He holds the NZ Avalanche Risk Management Lvl 6 and a Certificate IV in Emergency Medical Response. Loves to share his passion of the mountains.

August Fleer

An avalanche professional and ski patroller from the mountains of Northern Utah. Augi holds his Wilderness first Aid & EMT plus Professional Level 1 through the American Avalanche Association and carefully crafted an appreciation and understanding for all things snow science. He spends his summers as an alpine guide traveling to the top of some of America’s most prominent glaciated peaks. Never short on stoke, he’ll always be keen on getting as many turns in as possible.

Jeremy Wishart

Jesa hails from Tasmania, but has spent many winters ski touring and guiding in BC’s Selkirk Mountains. He has a background in ski patrolling, wilderness whitewater guiding and enjoys playing a bluegrass tune or two. Jesa holds Canadian Avalanche L1 and CSAI certifications and believes great experiences in the mountains involve both great planning and good folks.

Matthew Maar

Matt grew up with skis on his feet in the hills of Northern New York and from an early age was hooked on floating through powder. He was a ski instructor in Montana for 6 seasons before becoming a backcountry ski guide and avalanche educator for the last two. In the summers he leads backpacking trips throughout the mountains and deserts of the Western US. He holds an AAI Professional Avalanche Level 1 and Wilderness First Aid.

Scott Earnshaw

Scott’s love for the backcountry has taken him on some amazing adventures in the Craigieburn ranges in New Zealand, the vast mountains near Banff Canada, as well as the backcountry of Hokkaido. After instructing in both New Zealand and Niseko, Scottie moved to Ski Patrolling at Mt Cheesman. He holds his New Zealand Certificate in Avalanche Risk Management Level 5, NZSIA level 1 as well as his Pre-Hospital Emergency Care certificate.

Todd Joyal

Todd Joyal, is as Canadian as you can get! Todd has worked as a ski patroller and rescue technician in Canada for over 12 years. His love of ski touring has led him to live in snow caves, deep in the Canadian Rockies, for days on end. Todd’s professional career includes the development of a search and rescue program in Northern British Columbia. He holds an Avalanche Canada Operations Level 1 certificate, Wilderness First Aid, IRATA Level 2.

Callum Grant

An enthusiastic Mountain Guide and Ski Patrol Team Leader with many years of experience leading trips and rescues in New Zealand’s demanding mountains. Blending a high level of professionalism with fun and enjoyable trips with excellent customer satisfaction.

Rob Featherstone

Rob is originally from the UK. He grew up walking and climbing throughout Wales, Northern England and Scotland. Since moving to New Zealand he has completed three seasons on a ski patrol team most recently at Mt Hutt. Rob holds his Avalanche Risk Management Level 5 and Pre Hospital Emergency Care qualification. In his free time when he’s not skiing, he loves climbing, mountain biking and whitewater paddling.

Sam Janssen

Sam was born in the north island of New Zealand, snowboarding and skiing at every possible opportunity on Mt Ruapehu. In his Mid-20s after moving to Revelstoke B.C for a winter season he decided to dedicate the rest of his life to being in the mountains. After completing his avalanche risk management Level 5, pre hospital emergency care and Patrol Level 4 he has since had 6 seasons experience in the Ski Patroller role between New Zealand and Canada. When he’s not patrolling or guiding, you’ll usually find him climbing, ski touring or mountain biking somewhere in natures playground.

Drew O'Brien

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Drew spends his summers guiding in glacier and alpine terrain at home and in Alaska. Winters have typically taken him to Ouray, Colorado to explore the San Juan mountains as an ice climbing and splitboard guide. Drew comes ready to share his love and passion for mountainous environments with climbers and skiers at every level. Drew maintains a Leave No Trace trainer certificate, National and State EMT licenses, Community Health Worker License, Canadian Avalanche Safety Training 1, and American Avalanche Association Professional 1 certificate.

Brian Richards

Brian is based out of Bozeman, Montana, where he has focused his life and career on backcountry exploration. Brian spent nearly a decade guiding ski trips out of yurts in the mountains of Yellowstone National Park, has guided backpacking trips throughout the canyons of Utah and mountains of Wyoming and Montana for the past seven years, and has spent time ski patrolling at Big Sky, Montana. When not taking clients through the mountains, you can find him pedalling a bike throughout the Northern Rockies. He has his Professional Avalanche Level 1 certification and is an Emergency Medical Technician.

Jack Stewart

Jack is a keen outdoors man and adventure enthusiast. Originally from Australia he now lives in the South Island of New Zealand. Splitting his time between ski patrolling at Treble Cone in the winters and being a biodiversity ranger on the wild west coast in the summers. He is always up for a yarn and hunting out the best snow. He holds his NZ certificate in Avalanche Risk Management (level 5), Emergency Care and Pre – Hospital Care.

Mark Turner

I began my snow sports career at 16 as a park builder and L1 snowboard instructor, then soon realized I wanted to ski full time, and began pursuing a ski patrol/avalanche technician career. Big Mountain snowmobile skiing led to snowmobile guide, ski guiding and avalanche control/consulting opportunities. Eventually I traded the adrenaline filled high-paced environment for one of more solitude and began ski tour guiding at backcountry huts throughout BC. I discovered something special about being able to hear the fresh snowflakes slowly pile up, and once the opportunity arose to ski 2 seasons in the Italian Dolomites, I rediscovered my passion for resort assisted backcountry skiing. CAA Level 1, Wilderness First Responder, CSIA Level 2.

Jesse Yelverton

Jesse found his passion for skiing in Colorado where he began his career as an avalanche professional. Jesse has worked as a ski patroller and avalanche forecaster in Colorado and New Zealand, as a skiing, rock and ice climbing guide, and as an ambulance emergency medical technician. He holds a degree in Snow, Weather and Avalanche Science from Colorado Mountain College, certified Avalanche Professional L2 by the American Avalanche Association, is a registered wilderness EMT-IV, qualified avalanche and wilderness medical instructor, and a professional member and aspirant guide of the American Mountain Guides Association.

Francis Aylward

After doing a lot of heli skiing and cat skiing all over the world on the guest side I thought it was about time to start doing what I love full time! I have been a ski instructor and a ski guide in Canada with Canadian Ski Guide Association L1, CAA L1 and Canadian Ski Instructor's Alliance (CSIA) Level 2. Outside skiing of skiing I am also a PADI dive instructor. I’m now stoked to experience the JapPow!!!

Craig Shepard

A long-time ski patroller at the Lake Louise Ski Area in Alberta Canada, Craig specialised in avalanche control and held the position as the Avalanche Forecaster for several years prior to moving Down Under. Aside from his day job at “The Lake”, Craig also juggled work as an avalanche educator with the Canadian Avalanche Association and ski guiding in many locations around Alberta and British Columbia. Although ‘Sheppy’ has experience heli-skiing and cat-skiing, his favourite guiding is self-propelled uphill and he’s looking forward to Japowing with you!

Our INSTRUCTORS

Paul Barker

Northern English man Paul has skied all over the world in Europe, Canada, USA and New Zealand. He holds the top NZ Level 3 ski qualification and has accreditations in Telemark, Race, Freestyle and Nordic, all at NZ Level 1, Kids Cert NZ Level 2 and also holds a BASP outdoor first aid certificate. This is Pauls first season with Whiteroom and he can't wait to share his vast knowledge and passion of skiing with everyone.

Anna Vlasakova

Anna grew up skiing in the Czech Republic, Dolomites and Austrian alps. Three years ago she moved to the Canadian Rockies where she fell in love with backcountry skiing, alpine climbing and mountaineering. She loves to share her passion to ski with all ages. Holds CSIA level 2, AST level 1 and wildness first aid. Anna has a bachelor's degree in special education and art. Certified ACMG Via Ferrata guide.

Geon Bang

From South Korea, Geon loves travelling around the world for snowboarding, surfing and performing music. Inspired by freeriding snowboard documentaries, he started his Snowsports career in Whistler (Canada) then Whakapapa & the Remarkables (New Zealand) and now in Japan. Geon has his SBINZ LV2, NZSIA LV1, AST LV1, First Aid & Teaching Children certifications.

Emily Sumner

Born in Manchester, UK, Emily fell in love with Snowsports as kid skiing in the Alps. Emily then set out to New Zealand to become an instructor and went on to share her passion for skiing and snowboarding in Japan, Canada, and Switzerland. Most recently returned home and been working at her local indoor slope helping people get out into the mountains and coaching freestyle. Holds Level 2 Ski and Snowboard as well as being adaptive and park certified.

GUEST SERVICES TEAM

ANDREA SELIG

Born in Japan, Andrea has lived here on and off for most of her life, and has now settled in Furano with her family. She's worked in the ski travel industry for over 15 years and has skied extensively across Japan, North America and Europe. She'll be helping you book your holiday as well as looking after you as part of the Furano Guest Services team in the winter.

Riley Aspinwall

Riley began skiing on the East Coast of the US in Maine and Vermont where she fell in love with the outdoors. Inspired by the mountains, she moved West and began working in the outdoor industry as a mountain bike and hiking guide based in Utah. She has spent her winters living in various ski towns in Utah, Colorado, Queenstown, and now Japan! Riley is an EMT with a bachelors in Biology and has a passion for wilderness medicine. She is happiest when her spare time is filled with adventures in the mountains- tramping, skiing, or biking! Riley is looking forward to helping you enjoy every aspect of your winter holiday, as part of the Guest Services team.

" Julian and Taneli were AWESOME! They went above and beyond to make sure we found fresh powder every day "

Lisa Wilson

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