About Us

Our certified guides have unmatched experience finding the best lines, deepest snow and most unique terrain in Hokkaido, but as much as we love skiing powder, our first priority is safety. Our foundation is a team of qualified guides working within the boundaries of a professional snow safety program.

Our senior guides are certified through the ACMG, JMGA, NZMGA or AMGA which are all member organizations of the IFMGA. As a Japan based business, we`re able to combine these internationally recognized qualifications with local knowledge offering Japan`s highest quality powder adventures.

Please read on to learn more about the unique individuals that form the Rising Sun crew.

Meet Our Team

Andrew Spragg

Owner / Guide

Andrew first visited Hokkaido in 2003 and after a 1 week trip knew that he had to come back. He spent the next dozen years living, working, exploring and guiding guests to the best backcountry powder he could find across the island. Along the way, he met Sapporo local Yui Yamaguchi and together they established Rising Sun Guides.

Rising Sun is a professional backcountry guiding operation that aims to find our guests the best snow, most unique lines, incredible restaurants, onsens etc while maintaining the highest safety standards. We also view avalanche education as an important part of our role within Hokkaido`s  mountain community.

Qualifications:
  • ACMG Ski Guide (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides)
  • CAA Operations Level 2 (Avalanche Forecaster)
  • CAA Avalanche Professional
  • Occupational First Aid Level 3 (80 hour course)

Chris Engelhardt

Guiding Manager

Chris has been working as a ski guide for most of his professional career. The bulk of this time (~15 years) was at Silverton Mountain in Colorado and at their Alaska heli skiing operation. After meeting Andrew in Alaska in the spring of 2014, Chris made his way to Hokkaido and guided here for the `14-15 season. Unfortunately he wasn`t able to return for the next few years and instead took an avalanche forecasting position at the Eastern Sierra Avalanche center in California for the 2017 – 2021 winter seasons. This year though, things have finally lined up for Chris to re-join Rising Sun for another season of Hokkaido powder.

Qualifications:
  • Avalanche Forecaster
  • Wilderness First Responder (80 hour course)

Ali Hogg

Guide

Originally from Scotland, Ali moved to Canada for a ski season 15 years ago and never quite made it back home! He started his career as a ski patroller which led to a position on the avalanche control team. Wanting to spend more time working in the backcountry Ali pursued his ski guiding certification, and has split his time over the last 5 winters working as a backcountry ski guide and avalanche forecaster.

Qualifications:
  • ACMG Ski Guide (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides)
  • CAA Operations Level 2 (Avalanche Forecaster)
  • CAA Avalanche Professional
  • Wilderness First Responder (80 hour course)

Paul Schmidt

Guide
Paul was first introduced to the alpine while spending summers visiting family in Bavaria. He developed a deep love of the mountains, climbing several peaks with his grandfather and uncles.  Shortly after graduating from college he moved to Colorado and has lived, worked, and played in the Rockies for the past 2 decades.  He has previously worked as an Avalanche Technician,  guide and avalanche course instructor.  Along the way, Paul also spent several winters working in New Zealand as a ski patroller and heli ski guide.
Qualifications:
  • AMGA Apprentice Ski Guide (American Mountain Guide Association)
  • AIARE Level 3 (Avalanche Forecaster)
  • CAA Avalanche Professional
  • Emergency Medical Technician

Bronwen Waters

Guide

Bronwen entered the ski industry as a patroller and has spent numerous winters working in New Zealand, Canada and Norway. In the Southern winters Bron works with Aspiring Guides and Harris Mountain heli-ski. She also works as an avalanche educator teaching both recreational and professional level avalanche courses and is an important part of our AST instructor team. Bronwen returns in 2022-23 for her 5th season with Rising Sun.

Qualifications
  • NZMGA Apprentice Ski Guide (New Zealand Mountain Guide Association)
  • NZ Avalanche Risk Management Stage 6 (Avalanche Forecaster)
  • CAA professional member
  • Wilderness First Responder

Vince Genannt

Guide

Vince was a pro rider before turning to coaching and now guiding. Originally from Germany, Vince moved to Whistler, Canada in search of more snow in 2010. Eventually even Canadian pow wasn`t enough so Vince made his first visit to Hokkaido to join Rising Sun in 2016-17. Vince returns in 2022-23 for his 4th season with the Rising Sun crew.

Qualifications
  • CSGA Level 1 (Canadian Ski Guides Association)
  • CAA Operations Level 1
  • CAA Avalanche Practitioner
  • Wilderness First Responder

Toshi Ota

Guide

Originally from Tomakomai, Toshi learned to ride in Hokkaido`s mountains before moving overseas for a 5 year stint between 2013-2017. During that time Toshi worked  as a raft guide in Canada and New Zealand. Toshi returned home in 2017 to re-join the Rising Sun team and has been with us ever since.

Toshi is looking forward to visiting his favorite backyard powder stashes with some lucky Rising Sun guests again this winter.

Qualifications
  • Japan Avalanche Network Operations Level 1 (Industry level course)
  • Wilderness First Responder

Yuya Kodani

Guide

Yuya is originally from Gifu prefecture in Honshu and grew up ski racing but somewhere along the way discovered powder and moved to Hokkaido. Yuya has been guiding in Hokkaido since 2009 and looking forward to another great winter this year. He now splits his time between guiding with Rising Sun in winter and working his family farm in Gifu during the summer months.

Qualifications
  • Japan Avalanche Network Operations Level 1 (Industry Level course)
  • Wilderness First Responder

Willie Sloop

Guide

After a decade of ski patrolling at Hood Meadows resort in Oregon, Willie joined Rising Sun for the 17-18 season. He spent his first winter primarily working at our cat ski operation before moving into more diverse role. Now entering his fourth season with Rising Sun, you`ll still find him lapping up easy pow on the cat but he`ll also be stretching his legs guiding backcountry and lift accessed tours.

Qualifications
  • CAA Operations Level 1
  • Emergency Medical Technician

Sven Gorham

Guide

Originally from Australia, Sven`s enjoyment of the mountains took him to New Zealand and then Japan where he has spent the past decade chasing endless winters while working in the ski industry. From 2012 – 2018 Sven worked in Niseko for Ski Japan initially as an instructor then as an off piste guide. Looking to spend more time in the backcountry, gain more guiding experience and work with professional guides, Sven joined the Rising Sun team for the 2018-19 season. 2022-23 will be Sven`s 3rd season with Rising Sun and 9th in Japan.

Qualifications
  • Avalanche Risk Management Stage 5 (NZ industry course)
  • Pre-hospital Emergency care

Sam Lam

Guide

Sam began his career in the ski industry as a ski patroller at Mt Washington, B.C. Despite loving patrolling, he felt the need to grow as a skier and began to pursue a career in ski guiding. From 2018 to 2022 he worked as a tail guide at Keefer Lake cat skiing. In the summertime Sam is a sea kayak guide and deckhand on the charter boat Columbia iii.

Qualifications
  • CAA Operations Level 2 (Avalanche Forecaster)
  • CSGA Level 1 (Canadian Ski Guides Association )
  • Occupational First Aid Level 3 (80 hour course)

Megan Roth

Guide

From Canada, Meg has been living and working in the Canadian Rockies for the past decade.
She started her career as a ski patroller before continuing on to to pursue more medical training. She
currently works as a registered nurse in Canada and guides for KPow CAT skiing in Alberta, Canada during winter. Her love and pursuit of ski mountaineering has taken her on some incredible trips in the Rockies and in the Yukon. This year Meg is excited to be joining the Rising Sun team.

Qualifications
  • CAA Operations Level 1
  • Registered Nurse

Brannen Maloney

Operations Manager

Originally from the US, Brannen now splits his time between Whistler, BC and Japan. He has been with Rising Sun Guides since its inception and is essential to managing our operations. He also keeps our rental fleet ready for the backcountry, manages our marketing department and fills in wherever needed.

Most importantly though, he skis pow every chance he gets.

Yui Spragg

General Affairs & Admin

Born and raised in Sapporo, Yui knows all about Hokkaido snow. She started snowboarding at a young age and can hold her own with the crew in any terrain… as long as there`s pow! You won`t find Yui riding in any other snow condition because why would you if you grew up here?!

At Rising Sun, Yui works behind the scenes to make sure everything is running smoothly, that our guests are booked into the best hotels, find the best restaurants, onsen`s, cultural sites and other off snow attractions. You might not meet Yui on your trip but she`ll almost certainly have played a role in ensuring you have an unforgettable experience.