Jul 302016
 
Solid quartzite and an awesome backdrop!

Solid quartzite and an awesome backdrop!

When the forecast called for temps to rise into the 90’s in the valley, SVT guides Joe St.Onge and Patrick Graham decided to go high. For years, we have been looking at the north wall on Cobb Peak(11,644′) above the Pioneer Yurt and wondering if the rock was good. The north face of Cobb is a massive rock wall, rising 1000-1800′ from the alpine basin and comprised of ancient quartzite rock. Quartzite is an interesting and beautiful rock type, created when sandstone is metamorphosed under intense pressure and heat. Extremely dense and compact, the quartzite on Cobb does not give continuous crack features for a climber to follow. Instead, there are varied slabs, blocks, corners and aretes that can be linked together with generally good to very good rock. 5 years ago, Patrick and Joe climbed the direct North Face in alpine conditions, climbing neve, rock and water ice to the summit (the Solstice Line) and found good rock and a spectacular setting, creating an desire to venture on a rock route. This 1100′ climb generally followed slabs and corners into a short chimney (5.8) and then onto the skyline ridge. The “Buccaneers Route” (5.8 III) had a couple 5.8 moves but was generally in the mid 5th class range. Fun stuff!

The Pioneer Yurt makes a perfect base-camp for climbing on the peaks above

The Pioneer Yurt makes a perfect base-camp for climbing on the peaks above (Cobb peak on the right)

What a setting!

What a setting!

Pato on the evening ride into the yurt

Pato on the evening ride into the yurt

Hiking above the yurt as the 1st rays of morning sun hit the high peaks

Hiking above the yurt as the 1st rays of morning sun hit the high peaks

With the baby on the way, Pato stayed "in touch"

With the baby on the way, Pato stayed “in touch”

Approaching the scree field at the base of the north wall on Cobb

Approaching the scree field at the base of the north wall on Cobb

A closer inspection revealed some nice looking rock

A closer inspection revealed some nice looking rock

Pato heading up on the lower pitches

Pato heading up on the lower pitches

Starting to get some air under our feet

Starting to get some air under our feet

Finding beautiful features midway up the wall

Finding beautiful features midway up the wall

Joe climbing into the morning light

Joe climbing into the morning light

The view from a belay ledge 400' up

The view from a belay ledge 400′ up

Lots of options to venture out onto steep jugs

Lots of options to venture out onto steep jugs

The final 400' follows a beautiful and airy ridge

The final 400′ follows a beautiful and airy ridge

Making efficient transitions with over 1000' of climbing

Making efficient transitions with over 1000′ of climbing

The upper ridge allows for some fun blocky climbing

The upper ridge allows for some fun blocky climbing

Great exposure high on the upper ridge

Great exposure high on the upper ridge

The Buccaneers Route basically follows the skyline (1st 5 pitches not visible)

The Buccaneers Route basically follows the skyline (1st 5 pitches not visible)

The descent is a walk off on the west ridge

The descent is a walk off on the west ridge

Getting some fun flow on the ripping downhill ride back to the trailhead

Getting some fun flow on the ripping downhill ride back to the trailhead

Back in the meadows after the climb (on the ridge)

Back in the meadows after the climb (on the ridge)

The climb roughly follows the red line (the first 5 pitches) with the upper 4 pitches and 4th class ridge not visible.

The “Buccaneers Route” roughly follows the red line (the first 5 pitches) with the upper 4 pitches on an exposed 4-5th class ridge not visible.

Jun 172016
 
The new firepit provides a cozy gathering place to catch the evening alpinglow

The new firepit provides a cozy gathering place to catch the evening alpinglow

We have just returned from the lofty Pionneer Mountains, high above Sun Valley. SVT guides: Joe St.Onge, Jon Preuss and Everett Coba trekked into the Pioneer Yurt to open the hut for it’s inaugural summer season. The trail in was cleared of downed timber, outdoor benches and a beautiful fire-pit were built and the yurt was set up for summer living.

After the work was completed, the peaks called for a journey into the alpine. We completed a mixed ascent/traverse of Cobb Peak, climbing perfect frozen snow/neve and aesthetic alpine rock. A classic alpine climb!

We hope the word gets out out about the Pioneer Yurt and the world class opportunities for wilderness, beauty and adventure that await visitors. The Yurt is open for reservations to both guided and self guided (DYI) groups throughout the summer and autumn seasons (and winter of course!). This is the ultimate adventure base-camp with cozy accommodations in the midst of pure alpine awesomeness.

Everett finding fun fluid movement on the west ridge

Everett finding fun fluid movement on the west ridge

Choose your line on the plentiful holds high on Cobb

Choose your line on the plentiful holds high on Cobb

The summit of Cobb Peak offers beautiful quartzite for over a 1000'

The summit of Cobb Peak offers beautiful quartzite for over a 1000′

From hand jams to in-cut face holds

From hand jams to in-cut face holds

The quartzite high on Cobb Peak is some of the oldest exposed rock in the state of Idaho

The quartzite high on Cobb Peak is some of the oldest exposed rock in the state of Idaho

Stoked to summit after a fun mixed climb

Stoked to summit after a fun mixed climb

It's not uncommon to find lady bugs, gathered by the 100's at the very summits of these 11-12,000' peaks.

It’s not uncommon to find lady bugs, gathered by the 100’s at the very summits of these 11-12,000′ peaks.

Descending the NE Ridge on the way toward Old Hyndman, a long and very exposed ridge traverse that is part of the "Triple Crown", connecting Hyndman, Old Hyndman and Cobb

Descending the NE Ridge on the way toward Old Hyndman, a long and very exposed ridge traverse that is part of the “Triple Crown”, connecting Hyndman, Old Hyndman and Cobb

The new tables and benches look great in the yurt

The new tables and benches look great in the yurt

This old porcupine has been chewing on the wood exterior of the sauna for years. I caught him in this photo when he was on his way over for his evening chew....

This old porcupine has been chewing on the wood exterior of the sauna for years. I caught him in this photo when he was on his way over for his evening chew….

A yurt in it's place

A yurt in it’s place

Hyndman Peak towers above the yurt: a perfect base-camp for climbing the tallest peaks in the Pioneers

Hyndman Peak towers above the yurt: a perfect base-camp for climbing the tallest peaks in the Pioneers

The deck gathering spot for breakfast and evening coktails

The deck gathering spot for breakfast and evening cocktails

trekking above the yurts past waterfalls and slot canyons allows access to the alpine basins above

trekking above the yurts past waterfalls and slot canyons allows access to the alpine basins above

the snow has been rapidly melting, but there is still significant snow for climbing and glissading

the snow has been rapidly melting, but there is still significant snow for climbing and glissading

Purple cliff dwellers on the ancient quartzite

Purple cliff dwellers on the ancient quartzite

Cramponing toward the north couloir on Cobb

Cramponing toward the north couloir on Cobb

JP, high in the North couloir

JP, high in the North couloir

Everett, finding the flow on neve with one tool and crampons

Everett, finding the flow on neve with spikes on the feet and a ax in hand

What a setting

What a setting

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

Apr 022015
 

Stoked to be getting high

It’s ski mountaineering season here in the high peaks of Idaho!  SVT guide, Joe St.Onge, and a group of intrepid Montanans are just back from 4 days of peak skiing based out of the Pioneer Yurt.  While the snow has been rapidly melting this spring, we are still finding good to excellent ski conditions in the alpine, and the Pioneer Yurt is a great place to visit if you want to go alpine!  The approach to the Pioneer Yurt is largely snow free at this point (don’t even think about snowmobile access!), but we can drive to the summer trailhead.  Once at the Yurt, conditions are a bit bony for another 800′, but there is reliable coverage and good ski conditions in the alpine basins above.  It may not last long, so get it while you can!  Enjoy the pics!

Ah, in the high country!

Ah, in the high country!

Climbing into the Duncan's Bowl

Climbing into the Duncan’s Bowl

Stoked to be at 11,000'

Stoked to be at 11,000′

Ripping corn

Ripping corn in formation

Bob, laying it out

Bob, laying it out

Cranking the peel-away

Cranking the peel-away

Bush Hawk, flying

Bush Hawk, flying

It's a bit bony getting into the high country from the yurt

It’s a bit bony getting into the high country from the yurt

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Apprentice guides, Niels and Aysha

Apprentice guides, Dynamite and Snowflake

Mikey, the man

Mikey, the man

Mark, loving the mountains

Mark, loving the mountains

Climbing Goat Peak

Climbing Goat Peak

The Higher You Get...

The Higher You Get…

Mikey on the summit of Goat

Mikey on the summit of Goat

The Heart of the Pioneers

The Heart of the Pioneers

Perfect corn on the summit snow fields

Perfect corn on the summit snow fields

yehaw

yehaw

soft and carvy

soft and carvy

spring fun in the alpine

spring fun in the alpine

Scotty, stoked

Scotty, stoked

Climbing back to the yurt

Climbing back to the yurt

Bob, checking out the 3000' bowl of Duncans

Bob, checking out the 3000′ bowl of Duncans

Couldn't pass this corn slope up on the way back to the yurt

Couldn’t pass this corn slope up on the way back to the yurt

Climbing toward Hyndamn

Climbing toward Hyndamn

The ascent of Hyndman in firm conditions

The ascent of Hyndman in firm conditions

Approaching the summit of Hyndman

Approaching the summit of Hyndman

The last steps to the summit

The last steps to the summit

Stoked to be on top of the highest Peak in the Pioneers

Stoked to be on top of the highest Peak in the Pioneers

Skiing the summit snowfields of Hyndman

Skiing the summit snowfields of Hyndman

Cranking turns down the face of Hyndman

Cranking turns down the face of Hyndman

Rest break mid-descent

Rest break mid-descent

Aysha coming down the lower crux

Snowflake coming down the lower crux

Arcing down the Hyndman Basin back to the Yurt

Arcing down the Hyndman Basin back to the Yurt

Climbing toward the Dorsal Fin

Climbing toward the Dorsal Fin

The crew, in the Throne Room of the Mountain Guides

The crew, in the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods

Climbing the Dorsal Fin Couloir

Climbing the Dorsal Fin Couloir

Steep

Steep

Stoked to be getting high

The final steps at the top of the Dorsal Fin Couloir

The final steps at the top of the Dorsal Fin Couloir

Mikey

Mikey

Lunch with a view

Lunch with a view

Top of Dorsal Fin

Top of Dorsal Fin

Getting ready for the steeps

Getting ready for the steeps

Oh, yeah

Oh, yeah

sweet!

sweet!

Carvable

Carvable

Mikey cranking

Mikey cranking

Hop turns on the steeps

Hop turns on the steeps

After the couloir, comes the apron

After the couloir, comes the apron

Craving the apron

Carving the apron

Cold beer after a great ski

Cold beer after a great ski

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making the descent on snow-ribbons off the Peanut back toward the trailhead

making the descent on snow-ribbons off the Peanut back toward the trailhead

Yep, it's pretty bony down low.

Yep, it’s pretty bony down low.

The last few steps to the car

The last few steps to the car

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

May 262014
 
Cobb Peak


The ski season continues here in Idaho, where an intrepid crew spent a fun couple of days skiing the peaks, bowls and basins above the Pioneer Yurt. It definitely takes some effort right now to reach the good skiing, but it is there if you work for it. Endeavor and Enjoy!

Climbing through the green valley to find the snow Climbing through the green valley to find the snow

Hitting snow right at Pioneer Yurt

Hitting snow right at Pioneer Yurt

Ahh, back on skis climbing Duncan's Ridge

Ahh, back on skis climbing Duncan’s Ridge

From sea level to 11,000' in 2 days!

From sea level to 11,000′ in 2 days!

Creamy corn

Creamy corn

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stoked!

stoked!

yehaw!

yehaw!

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slashing wet corn

slashing wet corn

pure mountain water

pure mountain water

The creeks are running full

The creeks are running full

north couloir on Cobb is enticing...

north couloir on Cobb is enticing…

our objective: Hyndman Peak

our objective: Hyndman Peak

Climbing

Climbing

up with Old Hyndman as backdrop

up with Old Hyndman as backdrop

carving down Hyndman South Face

carving down Hyndman South Face

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hard to not smile!

hard to not smile!

whoohoo!

whoohoo!

the crew

the crew

the siblings, a long way from NH!

the siblings, a long way from NH!

saying goodbye to winter

saying goodbye to winter

the final steps down into the valley

the final steps down into the valley

May 152014
 
The Devils Bedstead in all its majesty

The Devils Bedstead in all its majesty

May showers bring Powder to the high peaks and we were able to experience some of this magic the other day here in the Pioneer Mountains, Idaho. A surprise visit from our old avalanche forecaster, a pro skier and a local doc coincided with Joe returning from the Hawaiian Islands and the Trail creek road having just opened. Recent cold temps and new snow led to great conditions on one of the most iconic ski peaks in Idaho. Thanks to Dylan Crossman for some of the great shots here, enjoy!

Clearing "the bush"  on the approach

Clearing “the bush” on the approach

Trying to get a view through the white-out

Trying to get a view through the white-out

Great booting conditions

Great booting conditions

Climbing in the white-out

Climbing in the white-out

Feeling the exposure high on the face

Feeling the exposure high on the face

taking it all in

taking it all in

Climbing on the moon on the summit pitch

Climbing on the moon on the summit pitch

Nothing like being perched high on an alpine face

Nothing like being perched high on an alpine face

Terry topping out on the summit

Terry topping out on the summit

loving the Coombacks and the view down the ski line

loving the Coombacks and the view down the ski line

Whoohoo!

Whoohoo!

Powda!

Powda!

Can't beat the conditions

Can’t beat the conditions

Dylan Crossman showing how its done

Dylan Crossman showing how its done

the lower face

the lower face

and back to boots for the walk out, stoked.

and back to boots for the walk out, stoked.

Mar 262014
 
nice view on the descent

nice view on the descent on Hyndman

We are just back from a 3 day mission into the Pioneer Yurt with goal of supplying the yurt with cords of firewood and other supplies for the next season. We transitioned from snowmobiles to chainsaws to skis and alpine axes, cutting lots of wood and climbing and skiing some classics in the process. Conditions are spring like on the big peaks and skied great.

Skier and snowboarder unite, its a happy world

Skier and snowboarder unite, its a happy world

sure, lets go ski that!

sure, lets go ski that!

up, up and...

up, up and…

still smiling

still smiling

Niels discovers that a Pick-omatic works when one forgets the alpine ax

Niels discovers that a Pick-omatic works when one forgets the alpine ax

summit of the Pios

summit of the Pios

Niels working out the jump turn

Niels working out the jump turn

hard to beat this setting

hard to beat this setting

carve

carve

playful skiing/boarding through the basins on the way back to the yurt

playful skiing/boarding through the basins on the way back to the yurt

ahh, relaxing on the fresh rounds cut for next season

ahh, relaxing on the fresh rounds cut for next season

après 1

après 1

après 2

après 2

après/après, burning the slash piles after the woodcut

après/après, burning the slash piles after the woodcut

heading to the Dorsal Fin

heading to the Dorsal Fin

Trudy working the pick-omatic for an ascent/descent of the Dorsal Fin

Trudy working the pick-omatic for an ascent/descent of the Dorsal Fin

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jerky girl

jerky girl

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stoked

stoked

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working the machines in the low country

working the machines in the low country

Jan 202014
 

Joe St.Onge, Patrick Graham and interns: Niels Meyer and Alisa Mcgowan have just returned from 7 days in the Pioneer Mountains on a winter mountaineering training with a production crew from the BBC. An action packed week focused on learning skills related to avalanche safety, forecasting and rescue as well as backcountry skiing and mountaineering skills. the Pioneer Yurt served as base camp and the team also put in a high camp at 10,500 for a alpine ascent of Hyndman Peak. Conditions included a generally low snowpack and wind affected snow with hazards related to widespread wind slabs. The less then optimal ski conditions were balanced by the phenomenal setting and wonderful crew from the BBC. We look forward to seeing the ambitious and sure to be amazing footage to be produced by this intrepid film crew over the next couple of years!

Climbing above the Pioneer Yurt to the Peanut

Climbing above the Pioneer Yurt to the Peanut

Getting ready for a movie night at the Pioneer Yurt

Getting ready for a movie night at the Pioneer Yurt

Entering into the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods

Entering into the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods

Duncan's Basin

Duncan’s Basin

Alpine glow on Cobb

Alpine glow on Cobb

the Team

the Team

Stoked after carving turns on the wind buff

Stoked after carving turns on the wind buff

finding soft-ish snow in the Hyndman basin

finding soft-ish snow in the Hyndman basin

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What a place to learn to ski!

What a place to learn to ski!

and phenomenal light

and phenomenal light

Spindrift and sunset= mountain magic

Spindrift and sunset= mountain magic

ahh, freedom of the hills!

ahh, freedom of the hills!

Climbing toward high camp

Climbing toward high camp

squeezing the last light out of each day with a ski

squeezing the last light out of each day with a ski

The snow kitchen  at high camp

The snow kitchen at high camp

High camp beneath among the giants

High camp beneath among the giants

High camp 2

High camp 2

climbing on Hyndman Peak

climbing on Hyndman Peak

The Team high in the mountains!

The Team high in the mountains!