Dec 302017
 
Dec 152017
 

Morning beacon check on the way out of Coyote en route to Tornak Hut

We are just returning from a hut to hut tour between Coyote Yurts and the Tornak Hut.  While the valley approaches are relatively thin snow, it is quite supportable and allows for quick and easy skinning.  Once above 8500′, the snowpack gets deeper and we were finding good to very good boot-top powder skiing on cold aspects (East-North-Northwest) and even skied a run of corn on the south bowl of Fox Peak.  Yep, corn in December!  The Thanksgiving rains, early December powder and the past 2 weeks of high pressure (with inverted temperatures) have made for some of the most unique early December ski conditions we have seen.  The snowpack and ski conditions resemble spring-just thinner.  It’s not really a bad thing, although we would welcome a 3 foot storm of cold smoke!  Skinning is easy, the pack is supportable and the stability is generally good.  We are seeing snow depths of around 1 meter above 8500′ in this zone (on cold slopes) and around 50-60cm of supportable melt/freeze (corn!?) on warmer aspects.  Both Coyote and Tornak Huts are looking great and awaiting more skiers to enjoy their cozy confines.  The new sauna at Tornak Hut is fantastic!  Laying on the top Sauna bench while gazing out the window and catching the alpinglow  lighting up the Boulder Mountains is quite a way to top off a ski day.  Come on Up!

Shadows in the burn

Spooning them nicely

It’s a powder skiing palyground out here!

Ridge running

arcing through fields of untracked pow

Laying into smooth powder

Backcountry Art

Climbing toward the mighty Tornak Peak

Climbing the “American Direct” on the mighty Tornak Peak

Izzy, stoked after a mixed ascent

The team atop the mighty Tornak Peak

Enjoying a hot lunch at Tornak Hut

Wolverine tracks atop Fox Peak

The Pioneers dominate the view south

Jess, conducting some baseline stability tests

Sampling the East powder on Fox Peak

The Grouse are numerous in this area

Ski track, and the Coyote Yurt visible on the point

ah, the burn creates some striking textures

Evening light on the tour back to Coyote Yurt

Sunrise at Coyote Yurts

Morning light at Coyote

Where to next? Let the signs point the way!

Practice, practice, practice is the only way to become truly proficient with avalanche rescue

Tracks in the Burn

Morning powder off the point of Coyote

Who says Tele is dead? Miles sure doesn’t think so!

Dec 112017
 

One of our guides, Crystal Winn, shares 8 tips for a successful backcountry ski trip:

1. Come Prepared:
Your guides will take care of your daily itinerary, asses the snowpack, and give you a weather report, but it’s not a bad idea to do a little investigating yourself, too. You will feel more involved and better prepared.  There is nothing better than pulling out maps and looking at the weather and avalanche forecast before I go on a trip to get excited.

2. Arrive Feeling Fit:
Try to work some sort of exercise into your schedule every day.  Whether it’s going out for a ski tour, getting in a run and some yoga, working out at the gym, or walking to work, you will be way more psyched once you arrive at 8,000 feet and begin skinning.  This way, you can focus more on enjoying touring and skiing through the beautiful burned monochromatic forest, a truly unique experience.

3. Pack Light:
You will only need the essentials you go out day touring with, plus a couple luxury items to keep you cozy in the yurts. For packing purposes think about having to carry everything you bring, on your back on day one.  We’ll get a snowmobile boost most of the way into the yurt, but the last 2 miles are on our skis.   No need for a new pair of long underwear everyday…

The yurts have everything from ceramic mugs for your coffee and comfortable sleeping mats, to magazines and games to keep you entertained.  Save room for those luxury items- click here for a pro packing list.

4. Be a Good Yurt Mate.
There are dialed methods for yurt living in the wilderness, which your guides will go over once you arrive.  Here are a couple insider tips: Make sure to dry out your ski socks and gloves by the fire, but not too close. Keep your items organized so you can find your belongings, this will enable you to get dressed first thing in the morning.  Collect snow for the snow melting pot.  It’s a good deed your yurt mates will love, but it also brings you outside to view a star filled night sky like you’ve never seen before.

Arriving at the Coyote yurts after a great day of skiing

5. Take First Tracks, But Not All of Them:
On guided backcountry trips, you’ll get plenty of first tracks.  I’ll also share a little secret from a tail guide’s perspective:  Skiing last is the best! You can see where everyone else lays down their track and then you have the rest to yourself. People tend to follow where others have gone, which leaves you with fresh tracks and the feeling of solitude.

6. Listen to Your Guide:
This one seems obvious, but I have been in many situations where a guide will lay out the law and then inevitably someone will break it. You don’t want to be “that gal”. Our guides are highly trained, experienced, and competent individuals who are in it for your best interest.  If they tell you to ski within a certain area, or tell you where not to ski, it is to keep you as safe as possible.  There could be hazards they are trying to keep you away from, or simply, they could be making sure you get another amazing powder run in.

7. Take the Powder Plunge:
The wood fired sauna will be cranking and your muscles will be sore.  Not only does it feel good to hop back in the hot sauna after plunging your bare body into the snow, but it also has really good therapeutic qualities. Wilderness spa anyone?

8. Eat, Drink, Sleep, Ski, Repeat:
The food is fabulous and tastes that much better when you’ve skied hard all day.  Your guides will build a fire and prepare dinner while you sit back, relax and enjoy a glass of wine with appetizers.  Even though we’ve been told a million times, I’ll remind us all again, stay hydrated.  There is nothing worse than a wine hangover holding you back from enjoying that sparkly champagne powder.  Did someone say champagne? Okay, powder usually fixes all problems.

If you would like to join us you can sign up HERE

 

 Posted by at 1:14 PM
Dec 102017
 

Steep Powder in the Bench Lakes Basin

We are just returning from a 4 hut tour on the annual Apprentice Orientation. Every year, we spend the first 2 weeks of December skiing from hut to hut with the goal of opening each hut for the winter season and conducting training with the new apprentice guides. Here’s a report for what we are finding out there:

Sawtooth: We began the orientation in the Sawtooth where we skied from the Fishhook Yurt to the Bench Hut. The approach to both Fishhook and Bench are characterized by relatively thin but very supportive snow pack in the lower elevations allowing for fairly easy skinning. At Bench Hut, we were seeing 95cm snow pack that rapidly deepened to 140cm in the Bench Lakes Basin above. While we were there 30cm of snow fell and we found excellent powder skiing and good stability.

Boulder Yurt: The approach track is in and provides easy skiing through the meadows on the way in. It’s still a bit thin in the bowls above the yurt, but careful route-finding can reward skiers with powder turns.

Pioneer Yurt: As of today, you can drive to the summer trailhead and ski all the way to the yurt. The rain crust from a couple weeks ago as made for an extremely supportive snow pack that resembles a thin spring snow pack more than an early December snow pack. Once at Yurt level (8700′) the coverage is actually pretty good for this time of year (60-100cm depending on location). We generally found widespread wind affect on the surface. Once we get a resurfacing with the next snowfall, we hope to find some excellent conditions on a supportive base.

Coyote and Tornak: We are heading up there next and will report back with conditions later in the week.

We hope you are enjoying the early season and getting out with your friends. All the huts are looking great and we are excited for the awesome season ahead!

Snowboards always seem to get more faceshots!

All smiles after the first powder shot in the Sawtooth

ah, that wonderful feeling of laying down arcs in the dry powder!

Skinning above the Bench Hut on a cold December morning

Cranking turns through the fresh on the Triangle

The Apprentice team at Fishhook Yurt

Arriving at Bench Hut to open her up for the season

4th lake above Bench hut

Climbing to Yo Yo Ma

Welcome to the Sawtooth!

Climbing toward Dave Dog Peak with the Monolith Basin in the background

a solid strike at the Boulder Yurt

Fun and games at the Pioneer Yurt

Apres ski in a cozy Pioneer Yurt

Climbing to the moon

Felt like spring-time up in the Pioneers over the past couple of days

Coverage in the Pios

What a place!

Julie, stoked to discover the Pioneers

Skiing the beautiful meadows on the way to the Boulder Yurt