Anyone who has skied or boarded on a weekend in Japan knows the story: the well-groomed slopes, blanketed with skiers and boarders making their way up and down as loudspeakers blare pop music and shrill announcements. And then there are the cattle-corral cafeterias, the chaotic souvenir stands, the apres-ski video games.

But far from the crowds, just over the ridge of the summit, is another world, a wild kingdom that belongs to lone wolves. Here, thrill-seeking snowboarders and skiers blaze trails of their own through the forest, soaring off sudden precipices to land on forgiving white cushions and gliding triumphantly in waist-high powder, sending up perfectly arched rooster tails in their wake.

Andy Lunt belongs to this world. He is obsessed with the white stuff. His needs — "just snow, lots of pure, ungroomed powder" — might sound simple, but the lengths he has go to satisfy them can be great. In short, he's a powder junkie.