Oct 232015
 
Autumn beauty riding out from Coyote Yurts

Autumn beauty riding out from Coyote Yurts

Autumn is transition time. It’s a time of long shadows, cold nights and anticipation of the winter to come. It is the time when we at SVT are prepping the 6 backcountry ski huts and prepping our legs and lungs for the ski season ahead. While we cut wood at three huts using trucks, much of the work we are doing at the huts requires access via human power. For us, that typically means riding our bikes. We are blessed with an awesome network of trails in our local mountains that allow us to spin our bikes, often with awkward loads, from hut to hut. The bikes have an added benefit of prepping our bodies for the ski touring season while providing the feeling of “flow” that is so vital to our souls.

SVT owner and guide, Joe St.Onge and partners, are just back from a big day (26 miles and over 7,000′ of riding) yesterday while checking in at Coyote, Tornak and Boulder Yurts. The trails were frozen solid and covered in frost in the morning and melted to “corn dirt” by mid-day. What follows are a collection of pictures from yesterday as well as from the past month of hut projects in the mountains.

Here’s to sucking the marrow from a beautiful autumn in anticipation of an awesome ski season!

Dave, riding up to Coyote Yurts

Dave, riding up to Coyote Yurts

Endless mountains and trails in the Smokey Mountains near the Coyote and Tornak Huts

Endless mountains and trails in the Smokey Mountains near the Coyote and Tornak Huts

What an office we have!

What an office we have!

Brian, dirt carving on the scenic way out of Coyote Yurts

Brian, dirt carving on the scenic way out of Coyote Yurts

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The newly relocated Boulder outhouse: with a view of Boulder Peak

The newly relocated Boulder outhouse: with a view of Boulder Peak

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Boulder yurts looking ready for the first skiers

Boulder yurts looking ready for the first skiers

The Pioneers above the Pio Yurt in all their glory

The Pioneers above the Pio Yurt in all their glory

Friends help insulate the Pioneer yurt for the coming season

Friends help insulate the Pioneer yurt for the coming season

Coyote Yurts, ready for the snow to fly

Coyote Yurts, ready for the snow to fly

SVT guides, Joe and Toby, buck up the sauna wood at Boulder Yurts

SVT guides, Joe and Toby, buck up the sauna wood at Boulder Yurts

SVT guide, Niels, braves a awkward load in style on the way to Fishhook Yurts

SVT guide, Niels, braves a awkward load in style on the way to Fishhook Yurts

Retired SVT guide/intern, Brian, finds some air coming into the Coyote Yurts

Retired SVT guide/intern, Brian, finds some air coming into the Coyote Yurts

The crew, biking through Tornak Huts on the way to Coyote Yurts to button up the huts for the snow to fly

The crew, biking through Tornak Huts on the way to Coyote Yurts to button up the huts for the snow to fly

SVT guides, JP and Toby, proud of the tight stack at Boulder Yurts

SVT guides, JP and Toby, proud of the tight stack at Boulder Yurts

SVT guide/owner, Joe St.Onge, bucking up a big tree at Boulder Yurts

SVT guide/owner, Joe St.Onge, bucking up a big tree at Boulder Yurts

Jul 202015
 
The Newly Weds!

The Newly Weds!

Ah, what a celebration! SVT guide, Jonathan Preuss (JP) married his lovely bride, Michelle, on the Coyote Yurts point at 8700’deep in the Smokey Mountains of Central Idaho. Good friends gathered to embrace the passing hail storms and drink in the beauty and power of the mountains and of LOVE!

if you made it this far...

if you made it this far…

the team

the team

wildflower yurts

wildflower yurts

flower girls

flower girls

building the bower

building the bower

and the ceremony begins...

and the ceremony begins…

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yahoo!

yahoo!

Mr. and Mrs Preuss

Mr. and Mrs Preuss

and the sun came out!!

and the sun came out!!

practice run

practice run

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The Lei, giving her blessing

The Lei, giving her blessing

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what a feast!

what a feast!

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whats a camp fire without a marshmellow

whats a camp fire without a marshmellow

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and the Pios lit up....

and the Pios lit up….

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magnificent light on the point

magnificent light on the point

whats a camp fire without a marshmellow

whats a camp fire without a marshmellow

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morning coffee

morning coffee

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and the ride back to the village...past Fox Peak

and the ride back to the village…past Fox Peak

retired SVT Intern, Mark, carving down Fox Peak

retired SVT Intern, Mark, carving down Fox Peak

cruising

cruising

and through the woods

and through the woods

over the edge

over the edge

around the bend

around the bend

and through the flowers

and through the flowers

across from the Boulders

across from the Boulders

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Toby, flying

Toby, flying

and back to the valley

and back to the valley

May 242015
 
What a beautiful place to hike!

What a beautiful place to hike!

It’s late May in the mountains, ski season is over and the hint of summer is in the air.  This is the time of year when we check in at all the ski huts to store them for the summer season.  It’s a beautiful and quiet time in the mountains, with life springing forth.  It’s a great time for SVT owners/guides, Joe and Francie St.Onge, to get out with their young children for fun adventures while taking care of this unique system of backcountry huts.  Sometimes those “chores” require firing up the wood fired hot tub to check it’s function…

The girls starting out on the 2 mile hike into the Fishhook Yurt

The girls starting out on the 2 mile hike into the Fishhook Yurt

Neve, cruising

Neve, cruising

Neve, boulder break

Neve, boulder break

Riding in style

Riding in style

Creek-side trail break

Creek-side trail break

Trail break

Meadow trail break (strategic and fun stops are key while hiking with young kids!)

Boulder break #2

Boulder break #2

Crossing the Fishhook Creek can be interesting

Crossing the Fishhook Creek can be interesting

The girls, stoked after finding a Sandhill Crane in the meadow

The girls, stoked after finding a Sandhill Crane in the meadow

Neve, testing the waters...

Neve, testing the waters…

mmm.

mmm.

Ahhh, the Fishhook Hot Tub sure is sweet!

Ahhh, the Fishhook Hot Tub sure is sweet!

Nothing like a hot tub on coll and rainy evening!

Nothing like a hot tub on cold and rainy evening!

Dinner time!

Dinner time!

Smores!!

Smores!!

Silly time!

Silly time!

All packed up and ready to head back to the village

The Team

Francie, stepping carefully...

Francie, stepping carefully…

Apr 152015
 

 

Oh Yeah!

It’s been a tradition for over 30 years now, where every April, a few hearty souls embark on an adventure deep in the Sawtooth. Huge loads are packed up to huts that include great food, cold beer, chainsaws and gas.  Over 8 cords of wood are cut (4+ at each Bench and Fishhook huts).  One by one, we drop the abundant beetle killed pine trees and haul in the logs on shoulders and in sleds while on skis.  The piles of logs can be intimidating, but every year we get it all in, bucked up and stacked in preparation for the following season.  When the cut is done, the focus turns to skiing.  We build the huts, cut the wood and haul the loads because we are skiers, inspired by the magic of the mountains that we live and work in.  The Sawtooth smiled upon us this year with perfect conditions for both the cut and the skiing.  Some cool new lines were explored, like the “skilunking” adventure in the “Bat Cave”,  as well as some true classics in perfect conditions.  Enjoy the pics!

Alisa schralping the powder ribs toward the 4th Lake

Alisa schralping the powder ribs toward the 4th Lake

crossing the 4th Bench Lake

crossing the 4th Bench Lake

Heading toward the Bat Cave on Mt Heyburn

Heading toward the Bat Cave on Mt Heyburn

JP, psyched

JP, psyched

Getting ready for some skilunking

Getting ready for some skilunking

JP climbing toward the light to see whats above

JP climbing toward the light to see whats above

Niels finds the passage

Niels finds the passage

JP on the upper couloir, leading toward the Bat Cave

JP on the upper couloir, leading toward the Bat Cave

Steep traverse above the cave

Steep traverse above the cave

Dropping into the cave with a little added security

Dropping into the cave with a little added security

JP exiting the cave onto the 1000' powder slope below

JP exiting the cave onto the 1000′ powder slope below

Toby, ripping through the cave

Toby, ripping through the cave

take a deep breath and let 'em rip!

take a deep breath and let ’em rip!

Alisa inspired to spread her bat wings

Alisa inspired to spread her bat wings

Burning slash after cutting and hauling 5 cords of wood, on skis.

Burning slash after cutting and hauling 5 cords of wood, on skis.

Dinner time at the Fishhook Hut, rustic comfort deep in the Sawtooth

Dinner time at the Fishhook Hut, rustic comfort deep in the Sawtooth

 

Bluebird.  Fresh snow and splitter weather

Bluebird. Fresh snow and splitter weather

Approaching the top of Silver Saddle

Approaching the top of Silver Saddle

Toby with the final turns into the Monolith

Toby with the final turns into the Monolith

Toby, stoked after skiing perfect powder on Silver saddle bowl

Toby, stoked after skiing perfect powder on Silver saddle bowl

James, entering the Monolith Valley

James, entering the Monolith Valley

Sawtooth Beauty: The Monolith stands proud above this hanging valley, where aesthetic ski lines abound

Sawtooth Beauty: The Monolith stands proud above this hanging valley, where aesthetic ski lines abound

making the ascent toward Braxon Peak

making the ascent toward Braxon Peak

The Wily Coyote Col

The Wily Coyote Col

The final steps toward Braxon Peak

The final steps toward Braxon Peak

James

James

The heart of the Sawtooth

The heart of the Sawtooth

Making our way from Braxon Peak toward the Birdcage

Making our way from Braxon Peak toward the Birdcage

Aysha, dropping the sneak route into the Birdcage

Aysha, dropping the sneak route into the Birdcage

Bridcage looking pretty sweet.

Bridcage looking pretty sweet.

Joe drops in

Joe drops in

Neils, stoked

Neils, stoked

Toby, stoked

Toby, stoked

Skiing the final slopes below the Monolith

Skiing the final slopes below the Monolith

Alisa mid powder carve

Alisa mid powder carve

Oh Yeah!

The team working back toward the Silver saddle and the Bench Hut

The team working back toward the Silver saddle and the Bench Hut

and more powder brings us back to the 5th Bench  Lake and closer to the Bench Hut

and more powder brings us back to the 5th Bench Lake and closer to the Bench Hut

ahhh...

ahhh…

quite nice

quite nice

JP, having fun

JP, having fun

Sweet, and its not over!

Sweet, and its not over!

Chris, slashing some more powder on the way back to the hut

Chris, slashing some more powder on the way back to the hut

Niels and the afternoon back light

Niels and the afternoon back light

Why is Toby smiling so much?

Why is Toby smiling so much?

What we were really doing up at the Sawtooth Huts

What we were really doing up at the Sawtooth Huts

Dec 242014
 
SVT Intern, Alisa checking the how the deep the powder skis.

SVT Intern, Alisa checking the how the deep the powder skis.

Tornak Blog 12/21/2104

Tornak hut is alive and well and buried deep in snow! At least it was before we had to shovel it off the afternoon we got there, the next morning, and in the afternoon before we left. After giving the hut some love our first day we summited the Mighty Tornak Peak and relaxed with some Group Therapy skiing. Beacon practice in the early evening and then a nice cozy night in the hut ensued. We awoke to almost a foot and a half of new snow and after breakfast started shoveling off the roof. The problem was that by the time we shoveled one end to the other, there was already new snow accumulated on the side of the roof where we started! To say the least, that days skiing was DEEP! Tornak is looking top notch and ready to be enjoyed, relaxed in, and powder skied out of! 

Enjoy!-The SVT Intern Crew 

Digging deep at Tornak hut to asses stability

Digging deep at Tornak hut to asses stability

Ahh, the mighty Tornak Peak

Ahh, the mighty Tornak Peak

 

 

Dec 082014
 

James, floating by an ancient White Bark Pine

We are just returning from the Sawtooth Huts: Bench and Fishhook where we were conducting the annual intern/apprentice training and orientation as well as opening the huts for the season.  We found excellent early season coverage and snow depths in the Sawtooth, ranging form 50+cm in the valley bottom to over 190cm in the alpine.  The snowpack itself is relatively dense providing a great early season base for both skiing and stability.  Both the Sawtooth Huts are in excellent condition heading into the season and the skiing is great (see pics).  Bench is booked pretty solid starting around the Christmas holiday, but there are still  many free nights available in December and the skiing is on.  So if you want to experience the awesome ski terrain and cozy accommodations at Bench, now is the time to sneak in before it is too late!

190cm at 8800-top of Surprise!

190cm at 88OO’-top of Surprise!

Winter beauty on the way to Fishhook Yurt

Winter beauty on the way to Fishhook Yurt

Fishhook Huts look great and are ready for your enjoyment

Fishhook Huts look great and are ready for your enjoyment

Heyburn looms above the approach to Bench Hut

Heyburn looms above the approach to Bench Hut

Dumping above Bench Hut

Dumping above Bench Hut

Love it when it snows!

Love it when it snows!

The crew above the Gun Barrel

The crew above the Gun Barrel

mmmm.....

mmmm…..

New intern, James, testing the powder above 3rd lake

New intern, James, testing the powder above 3rd lake

Returning apprentice, Alisa, stoked to be back in the Sawtooth

Returning apprentice, Alisa, stoked to be back in the Sawtooth

Coverage into the alpine is good, on the way to Yo Yo Ma

Coverage into the alpine is good, on the way to Yo Yo Ma

A goat in his home

A goat in his home

Returning apprentice, Niels, stoked to be high in the Sawtooth

Returning apprentice, Niels, stoked to be high in the Sawtooth

New intern James, discovering the beauty of his new office.

New intern James, discovering the beauty of his new office.

Alisa squeezing the waning light out of the day.

Alisa squeezing the waning light out of the day.

hard to beat...

hard to beat…

Full moon rising above the Bench Hut

Full moon rising above the Bench Hut

Oct 202014
 
Francie riding up to the Pioneer Yurt

Francie riding up to the Pioneer Yurt

It’s the time of year when we cycle through the 6 huts in 3 different mountain ranges to get each hut ready for winter. We can remember many years when we were doing these annual chores in freezing temps and blizzards, but not this year. We have been blessed with one of the prettiest autumns we can remember here in Idaho. Perfect Indian Summer has persisted for over a month now with amazing foliage, crystal clear sunshine and generally stunning days. Much of the work we do this time of year requires access on bikes or foot. The current conditions have produced perfect melt/freeze conditions on the trails and some of the best biking of the year. Enjoy the pics from the various mountain ranges and huts and start getting stoked for the upcoming season!

Autumn tunnel

Autumn tunnel

Crossing the meadow to the Pio Yurt

Crossing the meadow to the Pio Yurt

Pioneer Yurt enjoying the Indian Summer Sun

Pioneer Yurt enjoying the Indian Summer Sun

ah, the peaks of the Pioneer Range

ah, the peaks of the Pioneer Range

The Bench Hut, waiting for a deep Sawtooth winter

The Bench Hut, waiting for a deep Sawtooth winter

Lakeview on the approach to Bench Hut

Lakeview on the approach to Bench Hut

Toby, giving little love to the hand-hewn table at Fishhook Yurt

Toby, giving little love to the hand-hewn table at Fishhook Yurt

The new Fishhook hut looks beautiful

The new Fishhook hut looks beautiful

ah, the Sawtooth from Fishhook Meadows!

ah, the Sawtooth from Fishhook Meadows!

Getting the wood in at Boulder Yurts

Getting the wood in at Boulder Yurts

Tornak Hut, ready for snow.

Tornak Hut, ready for snow.

Coyote, still an awesome destination for mountain biking

Coyote, still an awesome destination for mountain biking

Buff single track leaving the Coyote Yurts

Buff single track leaving the Coyote Yurts

The final descent back to the valley from Coyote Yurts

The final descent back to the valley from Coyote Yurts

NOW LET IT SNOW!

Sep 172014
 

A beautiful ridge walk toward Old Hyndman

We have just returned from a couple of days in the Pioneers. The goal of the trip was to get the yurt ready for the oncoming winter season and to climb a new route on Old Hyndman. For years, SVT guide Joe St.Onge, has been dreaming on climbing a route along the skyline of Old Hyndman Peak. Old Hyndman rises like the Matterhorn with steep rock walls guarding the summit. There are a couple standard routes to the summit, but we were unaware of anyone having climbed the steep NW ridge. Having spied this part of the mountain on many ski tours over the years, the time seemed right when local ER doc, Terry, called Joe with the goal of climbing Old Hyndman. A great adventure climb was had and success in exploring a new line to the summit of this iconic peak. Terry suggested calling the route “Old Goat” or “OG” to honor the bearded old goat we wandered by on the approach. Enjoy the pics and the mountains!

approaching the Pioneer Yurt

approaching the Pioneer Yurt

Cobb Peak and the upper Hyndman Basin

Cobb Peak and the upper Hyndman Basin

The line on Old Hyndman roughly follows the left skyline

The line on Old Hyndman roughly follows the left skyline

ah, alpine views!

ah, alpine views!

Peering down the big drop toward Wildhorse

Peering down the big drop toward Wildhorse

Beginning the rock section with some 4th class climbing

Beginning the rock section with some 4th class climbing

Approaching the business

Approaching the business

transitioning to 5th class climbing and belays

transitioning to 5th class climbing and belays

snack break mid route on spacious ledges

snack break mid route on spacious ledges

Mid-route looking toward the summit

Mid-route looking toward the summit

solid climbing on somewhat solid rock

solid climbing on somewhat solid rock

Terri and Joe, stoked.

Terri and Joe, stoked.

Wow, the view from the summit of Old Hyndman!

Wow, the view from the summit of Old Hyndman!

Joe on the summit

Joe on the summit

Beginning the descent, the Triple Crown connects the ridgeline with Cobb in the distance

Beginning the descent, the Triple Crown connects the ridgeline with Cobb in the distance

After extensive down climbing, we made 3 rappels to get back to the basin

After extensive down climbing, we made 3 rappels to get back to the basin

Enjoying the view back up toward a beautiful mountain skyline

Enjoying the view back up toward a beautiful mountain skyline

The Pioneer Yurt ready to opened for the approaching winter

The Pioneer Yurt ready to opened for the approaching winter

Rambling back toward the village in autumn beauty

Rambling back toward the village in autumn beauty

Jun 242014
 
Evening light at the fire pit

Evening light at the fire pit

We are just back from celebrating the Summer Solstice on the point at the new Coyote Yurts. After the Beaver Creek wild fire burned the Coyote Yurts last August, its been quite a journey to bring the Coyote Yurts back to life. This past weekend marked the final (planned) stage in this process! Joe, Niels and Aysha went up a couple days early to finish construction of the outdoor areas including benches and stoop on the deck, picnic table, barbeque, new fire pit and dance floor on the point and a bike corral. It all turned out beautifully. Then it was time for friends and family to converge in this special spot to enjoy the longest day of the year. Biking, hiking, dancing, good food and good times!

Finishing the carpentry projects to get the new yurts ready for summer

Finishing the carpentry projects to get the new yurts ready for summer

Sunset on June 20th, readying for the shortest night of the year

Sunset on June 20th, readying for the shortest night of the year

the new "front stoop" makes for a great seat

the new “front stoop” makes for a great seat

Sunset June 20th

Sunset June 20th

hunter...

hunter…

Kids LOVE the yurt experience!

Kids LOVE the yurt experience!

mmm, smores!

mmm, smores!

Neve trying out the new bow

Neve trying out the new bow

Morning coffee on the deck

Morning coffee on the deck

The deck makes for a comfy hang spot any-time of day.

The deck makes for a comfy hang spot any-time of day.

The comfy new benches and a view forever

The comfy new benches and a view forever

Flowers everywhere!

Flowers everywhere!

Cleaning out the trails for the season

Cleaning out the trails for the season

Fox Peak sure is riding nice!

Fox Peak sure is riding nice!

Can't hold back a smile on these trails!

Can’t hold back a smile on these trails!

The newlyweds on the point.

The newlyweds on the point.

Dance party on the point!

Dance party on the point!

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Wow, what a view!

Wow, what a view!

Scoping the riding

Scoping the riding

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up, up...

up, up…

and away!

and away!

The driving approach to the Coyote Yurts

The driving approach to the Coyote Yurts

May 212014
 

good corn

We are just back from skiing another beautiful Idaho mountain, Kent Peak. Viewed frequently from the Valley of the Big Wood, Kent Peak requires a bit of an approach to reach the classic ski lines. As the snow lines march up the mountains with the rising temperatures, the dirt roads are opening up and allowing access deeper into the hills. Even with the open roads, Kent requires a bit of dirt walking to reach snow. But once on snow, a classic 3,000′ ski descent off the 2nd highest peak in the Boulder Mountains awaits. Good corn conditions were found. Enjoy!

It is taking some effort to reach the snow these days

It is taking some effort to reach the snow these days

Summer is beginning to show

Summer is beginning to show

A smile will go a long way when bushwacking with skis!

A smile will go a long way when bushwacking with skis!

Where the snow turns to water...

Where the snow turns to water…

Where skiers become skiers

Where skiers become skiers

ahhh, back in the alpine!

ahhh, back in the alpine!

The summit ridge of Ryan is rather sharp...

The summit ridge of Kent is rather sharp…

Looking north into the Boulder Mountains

Looking north into the Boulder Mountains

Looking south into the Pioneers

Looking south into the Pioneers

The 1st jump turn onto the face of Ryan

The 1st jump turn onto the face of Kent

perfect edging

perfect edging

fun ski

fun ski

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making our way home

making our way home