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
 
Oct 122017
 
Dec 312016
 
Nov 252016
 
Aug 282016
 
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

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