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

Nov 192017
 
Dec 312016
 
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

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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
 

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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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Jan 022016
 
oh yeah!

oh yeah!

The tradition continues! From near and far, a group of hearty skiers gathered for the 5th annual Yurtika. The destination for this year was the Coyote Yurts, and like the past couple years, deep powder was on the menu. Fun times and awesome skiing – doesn’t get much better!

Cold smoke dropping in front of Coyote Yurts

Cold smoke dropping in front of Coyote Yurts

more from the front door of Coyote Yurts

more from the front door of Coyote Yurts

Hil, carving down the south bowls heading home

Hil, carving down the south bowls heading home

ahh, big arcs in the powder

ahh, big arcs in the powder

The man and the legend, Mike

The man and the legend, Mike

Ben, liking the new Coombacks

Ben, liking the new Coombacks

Geoff, arcing the old Sidestash

Geoff, arcing the old Sidestash

Crispy, splitting the aspens

Crispy, splitting the aspens

Cold morning start from the yurts

Cold morning start from the yurts

Skiing off the Burn Unit

Skiing off the Burn Unit

tree ski

tree ski

Good morning from the Coyote Yurts!

Good morning from the Coyote Yurts!

Climbing back to the yurts after a morning lap

Climbing back to the yurts after a morning lap

Climbing back to summit of Little Round Top

Climbing back to summit of Little Round Top

The view from the yurts

The view from the yurts

pre-dawn view of the Coyote Yurts, coffee is ready and powder is waiting.

pre-dawn view of the Coyote Yurts, coffee is ready and powder is waiting.

Setting moon and sunrise

Setting moon and sunrise

The team, preparing to drop one last line down to the yurts before sunset

The team, preparing to drop one last line down to the yurts before sunset

Arriving at the yurts right before dark after 5000' of pure powder

Arriving at the yurts right before dark after 5000′ of pure powder

A warm yurt, good friends, yummy food and plenty of powder skiing make for a perfect evening in the backcountry

A warm yurt, good friends, yummy food and plenty of powder skiing make for a perfect evening in the backcountry

Hil, setting moon and silky powder skiing out the door from the yurts

Hil, setting moon and silky powder skiing out the door from the yurts

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