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

Dec 312016
 
Apr 212016
 
Arriving into the basin with all you need on your back

Arriving into the basin with all you need on your back

When the days are long, the nights are cold and the peaks are covered under a thick blanket of snow it’s time to traverse the big mountains. Every year we choose a destination from the plethora of beautiful mountains that surround our valley. The Sawtooth, White Cloud, Smokey, Pioneer and Boulder Mountains all hold phenomenal potential for wilderness ski traverses and ski camps. This year we decided to take advantage of perfect melt/freeze conditions and good high elevation coverage to explore the southern Boulder Mountains around the ghost town of Boulder City. While a bit sunburnt, we were not disappointed.

This steep south facing ridge-line held many beautiful lines like this one named "Jose Cuervo"

This steep south facing ridge-line held many beautiful lines like this one named “Jose Cuervo”

A room with a view

A room with a view

The Egret arcing the coombacks

The Egret arcing the coombacks

fun turns back to camp

fun turns back to camp

What a place to call home for a few days!

What a place to call home for a few days!

nothing like a fire to warm the soul while winter camping

Nothing like a fire to warm the soul while winter camping

Comfy after the sun set around the fire

Comfy after the sun set around the fire

Artsy Alex shot

Artsy Alex shot

Lunch break at 11'000' while waiting for the corn to soften

Lunch break at 11’000′ while waiting for the corn to soften

many aesthetic ridgelines surround the Boulder Basin with tons of ski lines

many aesthetic ridgelines surround the Boulder Basin with tons of ski lines

Alex in his Idahome

Alex in his Idahome

Alex carving

Alex carving

The Egret laying into the corn

The Egret laying into the corn

Niels dropping

Niels dropping

A happy crew

A happy crew

Whoop!

Whoop!

Spring fun

Spring fun

Climbing couloirs

Climbing couloirs

Even found some powder on high elevation north shots, like this one dropping into the newly created Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness

Even found some powder on high elevation north shots, like this one dropping into the newly created Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness

The exit is getting a little thin in the low country

The exit is getting a little thin in the low country

Apr 112016
 
Getting ready to open it up

Getting ready to open it up

It’s a tradition, a physical ordeal and a right of passage. We call it the “woodcut” but it is much more than just a wood-cut. Every spring, we take advantage of the solid snow pack to fell trees and skid/carry them over the snow to the huts in preparation for the following winter. Like a squirrel, collecting nuts for the winter ahead, we cache the life giving fuel for the Bench and Fishhook Huts, deep in the Sawtooth. While there is a very practical purpose to what we are doing (prepping firewood for ski huts) at heart we are skiers and the woodcut typically occurs when the ski conditions are prime. So we work especially hard felling, bucking, hauling and stacking to finish the job, so we can get to the skiing. This year we accomplished all the objectives, putting up over 6 cord of wood at each hut and skiing many big, steep and authentic lines.

Thanks to the stellar SVT crew: Chris Marshall, Andrew Kieffer, Niels Meyer, Chris Cullaz, Jess Simon, Alex Gemme, Everett Coba, and the veteran of many woodcuts: Joe St.Onge

Over 6 cords, felled, carried, bucked and stacked at the Bench Hut. now its time to go ski!

Over 6 cords, felled, carried, bucked and stacked at the Bench Hut. now its time to go ski!

The Sawtooth in all their spring glory

The Sawtooth in all their spring glory

Kiefer psyched for a day of steep couloir skiing above Bench Hut

Kieffer psyched for a day of steep couloir skiing above Bench Hut

heading into the upper basins

heading into the upper basins

Jess, working his way up the lower slopes of the Hunk

Jess, working his way up the lower slopes of the Hunk

Climbing mid way on the Hunk, a classic spring steep corn descent above Bench hut

Climbing mid way on the Hunk, a classic spring steep corn descent above Bench hut

Cranking warm-up turns before the steeps on the Hunk

Cranking warm-up turns before the steeps on the Hunk

Jess, working his way through the surface sluffs on the Hunk

Jess, working his way through the surface sluffs on the Hunk

The lower rolls of the hunk are pure beauty

The lower rolls of the hunk are pure beauty

Loving the final roll on the Hunk

Loving the final roll on the Hunk

Yahoo!

Yahoo!

Heading toward the Heyburner

Heading toward the Heyburner

Lunch break in the 5th lake basin

Lunch break in the 5th lake basin

Chris, cranking turns on the upper north couloir of Heyburn

Chris, cranking turns on the upper north couloir of Heyburn

Snowboard carving out of the Orbit Couloir

Snowboard carving out of the Orbit Couloir

Everett climbing to the darkside on the Bat Cave

Everett climbing to the darkside on the Bat Cave

Jess working his way toward the light in the Bat Cave

Jess working his way toward the light in the Bat Cave

Chris, climbing out of the cave and into the light

Chris, climbing out of the cave and into the light

Climbing out of the Bat Cave

Climbing out of the Bat Cave

Alex, loving the steep exit of the Bat Cave

Alex, loving the steep exit of the Bat Cave

Alex riding toward the light

Alex riding toward the light

Crouching tiger

Crouching tiger

Dawn Patrol out of the Fishhook yurt

Dawn Patrol out of the Fishhook yurt

Our days objective: the Sickle Couloir. One of the many splitter couloirs in the Sawtooth

Our days objective: the Sickle Couloir. One of the many splitter couloirs in the Sawtooth

Everett and Chris loving the steep climb

Everett and Chris loving the steep climb

nearing the top of the Sickle

nearing the top of the Sickle

Chris, opening his wings while making a jump turn on the 50+ degree couloir

Chris, opening his wings while making a jump turn on the 50+ degree couloir

Using an ice axe for security on the firm entrance

Using an ice axe for security on the firm entrance

Everett laying them down mid couloir

Everett laying them down mid couloir

stoked after a stellar couloir

stoked after a stellar couloir

Mar 242016
 
Practicing a technical sled lower of a patient utilizing a "drag bag"

Practicing a technical sled lower of a patient utilizing a “drag bag”

What a great week we had at Tornak and Coyote huts with a group of doctors from Wilderness Medicine Society. 7 doctors, all graduates of the Diploma in Mountain Medicine program, joined SVT guides (Joe St.Onge and Chris Marshall) for a week of mountain medical and rescue training. The first 2 days saw an “atmospheric river” dump 2′ of snow and create perfect conditions for stability evaluation and deep powder skiing.  It was a real honor to spend a week training, skiing and enjoying the deep mountains with such a motivated and talented crew of docs!

A beautiful run down the South Bowl of Fox peak

A beautiful run down the South Bowl of Fox peak

The team nailed a great response to a surprise avalanche rescue scenerio

The team nailed a great response to a surprise avalanche rescue scenerio

Shadows and powder in the burn

Shadows and powder in the burn

DiMM in the Mountains

DiMM in the Mountains

A Coyote (yurts) in it's natural setting

A Coyote (yurts) in it’s natural setting

#puremountainstoke

#puremountainstoke

SVT guide, Joe St.Onge, testing the ski quality of the new storm snow

SVT guide, Joe St.Onge, testing the ski quality of the new storm snow

The team, on top of the mighty Tornak Peak in the storm

The team, on top of the mighty Tornak Peak in the storm

SVT guide, Chris Marshall, leading the morning briefing

SVT guide, Chris Marshall, leading the morning briefing

Billy, finding the goods off the mighty Tornak Peak

Billy, finding the goods off the mighty Tornak Peak

What a setting!

What a setting!

The team on Grouse Point Blank

The team on Grouse Point Blank

Nick, breaking trail toward the summit

Nick, breaking trail toward the summit

Jamie, track setting toward the sun

Jamie, track setting toward the sun

Dr. Scott breaking free

Dr. Scott breaking free

Climbing through the sun

Climbing through the sun

Getting ready for the morning run off the point in front of the yurts

Getting ready for the morning run off the point in front of the yurts

Stephanie, flying the DiMM flag

Stephanie, flying the DiMM flag

Sled rescue briefing

Sled rescue briefing utilizing a custom-made sled/shelter

Chris demonstrating how to build an improvised rescue shelter...

Chris demonstrating how to build an improvised rescue shelter…

testing the improvised rescue shelter

testing the improvised rescue shelter

Steph leaving the cozy cave

Steph leaving the cozy cave

Practicing a technical sled lower, utilizing a Brooks Range Sled

Practicing a technical sled lower, utilizing a Brooks Range Sled

Steph demonstrates how a munter hitch backed by a prussik (with a ski anchor) can effectively lower a patient down a steep mountain slope

Steph demonstrates how a munter hitch backed by a prussik (with a ski anchor) can effectively lower a patient down a steep mountain slope

Doctors will be doctors: burying Billy for an hour while measuring his decent into hypothermia

Doctors will be doctors: burying Billy for an hour while measuring his decent into hypothermia

the proof: a drop in temperature when buried for an hour

the proof: a drop in temperature when buried for an hour

Billy, rising from the grave

Billy, rising from the grave

Homework, prepping for the next days tour plan

Homework, prepping for the next days tour plan

The view from the point in front of Coyote Yurts

The view from the point in front of Coyote Yurts

Surrounded by beauty throughout

Surrounded by beauty throughout

Course debrief on a summit

Course debrief on a summit

Jim, feeling the stoke!

Jim, feeling the stoke!

Feb 282016
 
Climbing into the alpine above the Pioneer yurt is always inspiring

Climbing into the alpine above the Pioneer yurt is always inspiring

SVT guide, Joe St.Onge and apprentice Chris Cullaz, led a group of local ladies into the Pioneer Yurt this week. Perfect powder conditions, big peaks and the sublime beauty of the Pioneers worked its magic. What a place we call home!

Approaching the Pioneer Yurt on day 1 with beautiful weather

Approaching the Pioneer Yurt on day 1 with beautiful weather

Climbing the Peanut above the yurt with amazing backdrop

Climbing the Peanut above the yurt with amazing backdrop

We call this zone "Little Alaska"

We call this zone “Little Alaska”

Perfect powder above the yurt

Perfect powder above the yurt

Skiers and snowboarders playing happily together

Skiers and snowboarders playing happily together

#puremountainstoke

#puremountainstoke

The final turns back to the yurt with the setting sun

The final turns back to the yurt with the setting sun

good to the last drop

good to the last drop

schussing into cocktails, appetizers and a nice sauna after plentiful powder

schussing into cocktails, appetizers and a nice sauna after plentiful powder

a little light reading after a sauna

a little light reading after a sauna

sometimes things can get a bit...... at the yurt

sometimes things can get a bit…… at the yurt

Hyndman Peak, the tallest of the Pioneers commands the view above the yurt

Hyndman Peak, the tallest of the Pioneers commands the view above the yurt

The gals looking back toward Sun Valley and noticing how small Baldy looks

The gals looking back toward Sun Valley and noticing how small Baldy looks

The final steps toward the col du Hyndman

The final steps toward the col du Hyndman

Carving turns beneath the big peaks

Carving turns beneath the big peaks

Powder, friends and a beautiful setting

Powder, friends and a beautiful setting

It's getting hot...

It’s getting hot…

The final turns end a prefect 2 days in the Pioneers

The final turns end a prefect 2 days in the Pioneers

Feb 122016
 
It's hard not to smile when carving settled powder on the north burns

It’s hard not to smile when carving settled powder on the north burns

SVT Guides, Chris Marshall and Joe St.Onge, are just back from a quick 2 day trip into the Coyote Yurts with a fun group of local skiers.  Sunny skies, warm temps, settled powder and some of the first corn turns of the season were enjoyed by all.  What a place to call home!

What a day to climb a high ridge on the way to Coyote

What a day to climb a high ridge on the way to Coyote

Carving the first corn turns of the season

Carving the first corn turns of the season

Lunch break on the way to the yurts

Lunch break on the way to the yurts

Arriving at the Coyote yurts after a great day of skiing

Arriving at the Coyote yurts after a great day of skiing

Nothing like good friends, good meat and great wine at a yurt high on secluded ridge

Nothing like good friends, good meat and great wine at a yurt high on secluded ridge

Soft evening light at the Coyote yurts

Soft evening light at the Coyote yurts

From hot to cold: the sauna dash

From hot to cold: the sauna dash

From cold to hot, the dash gets faster!

From cold to hot, the dash gets faster!

 

Alpin glow mantra

Alpin glow mantra

IMG_0228

The team!

The team!

Burn beauty

Burn beauty

Dropping into the burn

Dropping into the burn

Climbing above the yurts on the second morning to ski the burn

Climbing above the yurts on the second morning to ski the burn

It can be a world of black and white contrast when skiing the burns

It can be a world of black and white contrast when skiing the burns

and final tow back home...

and final tow back home…

Jan 302016
 
the birthday girl!

the birthday girl!

We had a stellar day this week celebrating a birthday with the Sirens of Snow! For over 10 years now, we have been celebrating the passage of time, the company of good friends and powder skiing with this group of local ladies. What a gift we had had this week with perfect snow conditions, a stunning peak climb and a summit party!

cattails and powder

cattails and powder

heading toward Little Big Mountain

heading toward Little Big Mountain

Climbing Little Big Mountain

Climbing Little Big Mountain

ah, the beauty of the southern mountains!

ah, the beauty of the southern mountains!

the birthday girl

the birthday girl

pocket wind slab triggered from the ridge

pocket wind slab triggered from the ridge

Summit celebration: wine, sushi and cake

Summit celebration: wine, sushi and cake

powder skiing!

powder skiing!

spooning powder

spooning powder

faceted powder makes for perfect ski conditions

faceted powder makes for perfect ski conditions

the last climb

the last climb

the exit ski of Japaho Peak

the exit ski of Japaho Peak

and heading back home

and heading back home

Jan 092016
 

IMG_8903

What a special time to be a backcountry skier in Sun Valley.  The Christmas rush has passed, the snow pack has settled and stabilized and the sun has come out after weeks of consistent snow.  Our guides out out exploring, taking our locals groups to some amazing terrain and enjoying some epic days.  Here are some shots from our tour yesterday with the “Jewels”, a fantastic group of local rippers.  Enjoy!

 

IMG_8959 IMG_8961 IMG_9017IMG_8954

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Nov 082015
 
ULLR!!!

ULLR!!!

At the start of every winter season we celebrate the coming of winter with a BIG fire.  We honor the change of the season and the coming days of arcing down mountains on skis.  We honor the Norse God Ullr, known as a great skier who would leave trails of stars behind his skis and drink to his health with hopes he will smile upon us.  This year we had the annual Ullr fire up at the Boulder Yurts, where we had a giant pile of slash from recent woodcuts.   Friends, family and guides came to celebrate the new snow and the joy of the coming ski season.

And an early season it has become.  On November 1st, we were riding bikes in the spitting snow and by the 4th, we were floating down fields of powder on skis.  The recent storm dropped snow to the valley bottoms but favored the upper elevations in the Smoky and Boulder Mountains with over 20″.  This storm snow has settled significantly this week, hopefully creating a good base for our next storm predicted to drop 5-10″ in the next 48hrs.

Hopefully this portends the start of an epic ski season where we can all celebrate with Ullr!

Friends, families, sleds, fire and FUN

Friends, families, sleds, fire and FUN

November 1st and the start of the storm, perhaps the last mountain ride of the year...

November 1st and the start of the storm, perhaps the last mountain ride of the year…

Not bad for November 4th

3 days later on November 4th

Ahh, back on skis

Ahh, back on skis.  Francie breaks trail with a smile.

Fun in the snow with sleds and snow-skates

Fun in the snow with sleds and snow-skates at the Boulder Yurts

The Ullr Fire burning bright

The Ullr Fire burning bright

Francie, dropping in to a powder field

Francie, dropping in to a powder field, November 4th, 2015

Joe, enjoying some early season powder

Joe, enjoying some early season powder

We LOVE snow!

We LOVE snow!

Joe, stoked to be back on skis

Joe, stoked to be back on skis