Dec 312016
 
Nov 252016
 
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 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 192015
 
The clouds part to reveal one of the worlds biggest pieces of stone: El Capitan

The clouds part to reveal one of the worlds biggest pieces of stone: El Capitan

With the snow starting to fall in the mountains, the stoke for the upcoming winter is palatable. At times the feeling of time is transcended throughout our life and our daily routine; as I prepare for winter, I feel that both the last ski season just ended, and its been an eternity since I put away for boards for the summer. Reflecting back on the past 8 months, the latter is probably more accurate. I don’t spend the off months in Sun Valley and work takes me to other amazing places in the West, and a lot of mountain stoke has happened. As a professional guide, and one that is one final exam away from full AMGA/IFMGA international Mountain Guide certification, I need to critically balance my time in the outdoors, and make sure that I am giving due process to work (pays the bills), professional development and training (important for the profession), and lastly, having some personal fun.
This past year, I focused heavily on working and professional development. I was successful in passing my AMGA Ski Guide Exam in April, working a full summer guiding season in the Pacific Northwest, passing my Alpine Aspirant Exam in September, and passing my Rock Exam in October. Whew! That was a lot. While I attribute this success to both personal dedication and professional development, the role that mentorship has played cannot be understated. Once my Rock Exam was over, I wanted to take some personal climbing time to revisit the stoke and passion that climbing has always brought to me, which at times can be overshadowed by work. I also wanted to take the opportunity to visit and spend time with friends throughout climbing areas in the West that have played a pivotal role in who I am today and also wanted to create new milestones in my climbing career. Furthermore, I wanted to take the opportunity to give back and offer mentorship and share my experience with others. Apprentice guide, Niels Meyer was game to come along on the wild ride with me. Please enjoy the photo essay of our adventures below, and I hope to ski with you this season! :SVT Guide Chris Marshall

Our first stop was Red Rock Canyon. The climbing here is super varied, with everything between overhanging sport routes, excellent splitter crack, technical face climbs, and long multi-pitch adventure routes.

Looking down the 4th pitch of Risky Buisness (5.10c R). This climb has a reputation for being run out and spicy. I wanted to see for myself and found five-star technical face climbing on bulletproof rock (and some run outs).

Looking down the 4th pitch of Risky Buisness (5.10c R). This climb has a reputation for being run out and spicy. I wanted to see for myself and found five-star technical face climbing on bulletproof rock (and some run outs).

Levy best: Levitation 29 (5.11c) has been called the best multi-pitch route in Red Rock. Last year it was too hot, and then I lost motivation. Feeling strong and with cool-enough temperatures, Nick Malik and I had the route to ourselves. We found sustained technical face climbing in an outstanding setting on a huge wall. A milestone for sure.

Levy best: Levitation 29 (5.11c) has been called the best multi-pitch route in Red Rock. Last year it was too hot, and then I lost motivation. Feeling strong and with cool-enough temperatures, Nick Malik and I had the route to ourselves. We found sustained technical face climbing in an outstanding setting on a huge wall. A milestone for sure.

Niels gets the redpoint on a classic 5.10 in the Black Corridor.

Niels gets the redpoint on a classic 5.10 in the Black Corridor.

Eventually it was time to leave the desert, Yosemite Valley was calling. The Valley was another monumental place as I developed as a climber, and not having climbed there much in the last few years, the bucket list was starting to grow.

The North Face of the Rostrum feels like an entrance exam into hard Yosemite climbing. At 5.11c with seven of the eight pitches 5.10 or harder, this route requires excellent technique from overhanging fingers to squeeze chimney, to burly overhanging wide hands, to offwidth. I had the pleasure of climbing this with Valley guide Greg Coit. Standing exhausted on top of a climb I had aspired to do for six years was surreal. Another milestone and inspiration for the future.

The North Face of the Rostrum feels like an entrance exam into hard Yosemite climbing. At 5.11c with seven of the eight pitches 5.10 or harder, this route requires excellent technique from overhanging fingers to squeeze chimney, to burly overhanging wide hands, to offwidth. I had the pleasure of climbing this with Valley guide Greg Coit. Standing exhausted on top of a climb I had aspired to do for six years was surreal. Another milestone and inspiration for the future.

Chris jamming up the Rostrum

Chris jamming up the Rostrum

Coming from the desert, a day remembering how to jam splitter granite was in order. Niels follows Salathe Pitch 1 (5.10c) at the base of El Capitan. Climbing under the Big Stone was an inspiration for the days to come.

Coming from the desert, a day remembering how to jam splitter granite was in order. Niels follows Salathe Pitch 1 (5.10c) at the base of El Capitan. Climbing under the Big Stone was an inspiration for the days to come.

Cool temps and the first winter storm had chased away many folks from the Valley and off of El Capitan. As a team of three, Niels, Greg, and I had been planning on climbing the Muir Wall, but with the possibility of another winter storm on the horizon, we set our sights on the classic and steep Zodiac (5.8 A3/C3). We took a few days prepping, teaching Niels the ins and outs of aid climbing, and packing for 4-5 days on the wall. We had hoped to spend 3 nights, but with the cold, the storm, and the short days, we topped out after 5 long and amazing days living and breathing in the vertical. We believe that we were one of two parties on El Cap for the storm, which brought snow down to the valley floor and temperatures in the 20s.

Greg stoked as I lead p2.

Greg stoked as I lead p2.

The upside of snow on top of El Capitan was that Horsetail Falls was pumping. The Zodiac is so steep that water runoff from the top was 10-20’ out from the cliff.

The upside of snow on top of El Capitan was that Horsetail Falls was pumping. The Zodiac is so steep that water runoff from the top was 10-20’ out from the cliff.

3

Niels jugging in the evening golden hour. Plenty of space jugging on this steep route!

Greg making good vertical progress after the storm.

Greg making good vertical progress after the storm.

Looking down to our portaledge camp as I lead the Mark of Zoro pitch. By the time I had lead this pitch, the clouds had swirled around and it was snowing. We ended up spending two nights at this protected bivy woken by ice fall throughout the night.

Looking down to our portaledge camp as I lead the Mark of Zoro pitch. By the time I had lead this pitch, the clouds had swirled around and it was snowing. We ended up spending two nights at this protected bivy woken by ice fall throughout the night.

Portaledge life: even though we were three feet apart, we often didn’t see each other!

Portaledge life: even though we were three feet apart, we often didn’t see each other!

: As the storm clouds clear, Niels space jugs wearing four jackets with El Capitan’s icon Nose in the background. Jugging is hard work; it was cold!

As the storm clouds clear, Niels space jugs wearing four jackets with El Capitan’s icon Nose in the background. Jugging is hard work; it was cold!

A stoked summit team. While human nature was to sit in and revel in the view and accomplishment, the reality of descending down the snow, verglass, and water covered East Ledges descent set in quickly. This ended up being fairly serious, and it wasn’t until we were past this part, the six ensuing rappels, and walking down the trail toward valley bottom under the beam of our headlamps that a sense of fulfillment of a lifelong dream set in.

A stoked summit team. While human nature was to sit in and revel in the view and accomplishment, the reality of descending down the snow, verglass, and water covered East Ledges descent set in quickly. This ended up being fairly serious, and it wasn’t until we were past this part, the six ensuing rappels, and walking down the trail toward valley bottom under the beam of our headlamps that a sense of fulfillment of a lifelong dream set in.

Niels and I are in Indian Creek sampling some of the best desert splitters on earth in a lower stress environment.  We’ll head over to the San Juan Mountains for some early season ice before this adventure ends, back in Sun Valley, where we’ll have time to reflect on this journey, dream of the next adventure, and get stoked for the ski season ahead!