May 242015
 
What a beautiful place to hike!

What a beautiful place to hike!

It’s late May in the mountains, ski season is over and the hint of summer is in the air.  This is the time of year when we check in at all the ski huts to store them for the summer season.  It’s a beautiful and quiet time in the mountains, with life springing forth.  It’s a great time for SVT owners/guides, Joe and Francie St.Onge, to get out with their young children for fun adventures while taking care of this unique system of backcountry huts.  Sometimes those “chores” require firing up the wood fired hot tub to check it’s function…

The girls starting out on the 2 mile hike into the Fishhook Yurt

The girls starting out on the 2 mile hike into the Fishhook Yurt

Neve, cruising

Neve, cruising

Neve, boulder break

Neve, boulder break

Riding in style

Riding in style

Creek-side trail break

Creek-side trail break

Trail break

Meadow trail break (strategic and fun stops are key while hiking with young kids!)

Boulder break #2

Boulder break #2

Crossing the Fishhook Creek can be interesting

Crossing the Fishhook Creek can be interesting

The girls, stoked after finding a Sandhill Crane in the meadow

The girls, stoked after finding a Sandhill Crane in the meadow

Neve, testing the waters...

Neve, testing the waters…

mmm.

mmm.

Ahhh, the Fishhook Hot Tub sure is sweet!

Ahhh, the Fishhook Hot Tub sure is sweet!

Nothing like a hot tub on coll and rainy evening!

Nothing like a hot tub on cold and rainy evening!

Dinner time!

Dinner time!

Smores!!

Smores!!

Silly time!

Silly time!

All packed up and ready to head back to the village

The Team

Francie, stepping carefully...

Francie, stepping carefully…

Apr 152015
 

 

Oh Yeah!

It’s been a tradition for over 30 years now, where every April, a few hearty souls embark on an adventure deep in the Sawtooth. Huge loads are packed up to huts that include great food, cold beer, chainsaws and gas.  Over 8 cords of wood are cut (4+ at each Bench and Fishhook huts).  One by one, we drop the abundant beetle killed pine trees and haul in the logs on shoulders and in sleds while on skis.  The piles of logs can be intimidating, but every year we get it all in, bucked up and stacked in preparation for the following season.  When the cut is done, the focus turns to skiing.  We build the huts, cut the wood and haul the loads because we are skiers, inspired by the magic of the mountains that we live and work in.  The Sawtooth smiled upon us this year with perfect conditions for both the cut and the skiing.  Some cool new lines were explored, like the “skilunking” adventure in the “Bat Cave”,  as well as some true classics in perfect conditions.  Enjoy the pics!

Alisa schralping the powder ribs toward the 4th Lake

Alisa schralping the powder ribs toward the 4th Lake

crossing the 4th Bench Lake

crossing the 4th Bench Lake

Heading toward the Bat Cave on Mt Heyburn

Heading toward the Bat Cave on Mt Heyburn

JP, psyched

JP, psyched

Getting ready for some skilunking

Getting ready for some skilunking

JP climbing toward the light to see whats above

JP climbing toward the light to see whats above

Niels finds the passage

Niels finds the passage

JP on the upper couloir, leading toward the Bat Cave

JP on the upper couloir, leading toward the Bat Cave

Steep traverse above the cave

Steep traverse above the cave

Dropping into the cave with a little added security

Dropping into the cave with a little added security

JP exiting the cave onto the 1000' powder slope below

JP exiting the cave onto the 1000′ powder slope below

Toby, ripping through the cave

Toby, ripping through the cave

take a deep breath and let 'em rip!

take a deep breath and let ’em rip!

Alisa inspired to spread her bat wings

Alisa inspired to spread her bat wings

Burning slash after cutting and hauling 5 cords of wood, on skis.

Burning slash after cutting and hauling 5 cords of wood, on skis.

Dinner time at the Fishhook Hut, rustic comfort deep in the Sawtooth

Dinner time at the Fishhook Hut, rustic comfort deep in the Sawtooth

 

Bluebird.  Fresh snow and splitter weather

Bluebird. Fresh snow and splitter weather

Approaching the top of Silver Saddle

Approaching the top of Silver Saddle

Toby with the final turns into the Monolith

Toby with the final turns into the Monolith

Toby, stoked after skiing perfect powder on Silver saddle bowl

Toby, stoked after skiing perfect powder on Silver saddle bowl

James, entering the Monolith Valley

James, entering the Monolith Valley

Sawtooth Beauty: The Monolith stands proud above this hanging valley, where aesthetic ski lines abound

Sawtooth Beauty: The Monolith stands proud above this hanging valley, where aesthetic ski lines abound

making the ascent toward Braxon Peak

making the ascent toward Braxon Peak

The Wily Coyote Col

The Wily Coyote Col

The final steps toward Braxon Peak

The final steps toward Braxon Peak

James

James

The heart of the Sawtooth

The heart of the Sawtooth

Making our way from Braxon Peak toward the Birdcage

Making our way from Braxon Peak toward the Birdcage

Aysha, dropping the sneak route into the Birdcage

Aysha, dropping the sneak route into the Birdcage

Bridcage looking pretty sweet.

Bridcage looking pretty sweet.

Joe drops in

Joe drops in

Neils, stoked

Neils, stoked

Toby, stoked

Toby, stoked

Skiing the final slopes below the Monolith

Skiing the final slopes below the Monolith

Alisa mid powder carve

Alisa mid powder carve

Oh Yeah!

The team working back toward the Silver saddle and the Bench Hut

The team working back toward the Silver saddle and the Bench Hut

and more powder brings us back to the 5th Bench  Lake and closer to the Bench Hut

and more powder brings us back to the 5th Bench Lake and closer to the Bench Hut

ahhh...

ahhh…

quite nice

quite nice

JP, having fun

JP, having fun

Sweet, and its not over!

Sweet, and its not over!

Chris, slashing some more powder on the way back to the hut

Chris, slashing some more powder on the way back to the hut

Niels and the afternoon back light

Niels and the afternoon back light

Why is Toby smiling so much?

Why is Toby smiling so much?

What we were really doing up at the Sawtooth Huts

What we were really doing up at the Sawtooth Huts

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

Jan 292015
 
Welcome the heart of the Sawtooth

Welcome the heart of the Sawtooth

We have just returned back to the village after a few days exploring deep into the Sawtooth. When local skier/mountaineer (Chris) invited an old childhood friend (Matt) out from New York City to Idaho for a backcountry ski trip, Matt pictured fields of mellow powder and easy hikes. The journey Matt embarked on was something a bit different. Good thing Matt had years of experience in the inner city punk scene…

Beach break at Redfish Lake on the way to Bench Hut

Beach break at Redfish Lake on the way to Bench Hut

Approaching the Bench Hut

Approaching the Bench Hut

Arriving at the Bench Hut

Arriving at the Bench Hut

Early starts mean beautiful sunrises

Early starts mean beautiful sunrises

approaching the land of the Grendel

approaching the land of the Grendel

Climbing above the 5th Bench Lake

Climbing above the 5th Bench Lake

atop the 1st pass of the day (a couple more to go!)

atop the 1st pass of the day (a couple more to go!)

beneath the west summit of Heyburn

beneath the west summit of Heyburn

The first descent of the day into the Monolith Basin

The first descent of the day into the Monolith Basin

ripping turns down into the Monolith Basin

ripping turns down into the Monolith Basin

welcome to the deep Sawtooth

welcome to the deep Sawtooth

Joe, happy to be back

Joe, happy to be back

climbing

climbing

gap tooth grin

gap toothed buddy

granite backdrop

granite backdrop

the sneak onto Braxon Peak

the sneak onto Braxon Peak

now where are we going?

now where are we going?

Chris, at home in the mountains

Chris, at home in the mountains

There is a lot of trust here...

There is a lot of trust here…

rappel into the Bird Cage

rappel into the Bird Cage

Just a couple more steps and then skis on...

Just a couple more steps and then skis on…

and now we are skiers

and now we are skiers

and now the skiing

and now the skiing

Upper Bowl#2

Upper Bowl#2

The upper bowl of the Bird Cage

The upper bowl of the Bird Cage

Stoked to be off a rope and on skis!

Stoked to be off a rope and on skis!

Chris ripping the Bird Cage

Chris ripping the Bird Cage

the lower bowl of the Bird Cage

the lower bowl of the Bird Cage

Matt ripping under the Monolith

Matt ripping under the Monolith

Niels dropping

Niels dropping

Chris keeping strong form

Chris keeping strong form

Matt, skiing out under the Monolith after a descent of the Bird Cage

Matt, skiing out under the Monolith after a descent of the Bird Cage

the final traverse back toward home

the final traverse back toward home

after 10 hours on the go

after 10 hours on the go

Chris in space

Chris in space

beauty

beauty

Stretching the legs as the clouds break

Stretching the legs as the clouds break

Enjoying a sunny beer with a view of our ski tour from Stanley

Enjoying a sunny beer with a view of our ski tour from Stanley

The mighty Sawtooth rising above the clouds

The mighty Sawtooth rising above the clouds

Jan 182015
 
Jack and Elizabeth on the peak

Jack and Elizabeth on the peak

What a week it has been in the backcountry! Its been a couple weeks since our last big storm, but we were able to take advantage of good stability and great weather to ski some big alpine lines with the Jewels Group. When the storms began on Friday, we shifted to the below tree-line terrain to find untracked powder and experience a beautiful frontal passage. Conditions are rapidly changing with the current storm, giving us a welcomed fresh coat of powder, but some serious stability issues. Enjoy the images of the recent adventures in the backcountry!

Storm skiing

Storm skiing

Climbing through the frontal passage

Climbing through the frontal passage

Spires and Powder

Spires and Powder

Dropping in 1

Dropping in 1

Dropping in 2

Dropping in 2

Finishing in the sun

Finishing in the sun

Climbing high in the sun

Climbing high in the sun

Stoked for the 1st big line

Stoked for the 1st big line

perfect powder, weeks after the last storm

perfect powder, weeks after the last storm

nice...

nice…

climbing among the ancient White Barks

climbing among the ancient White Barks

The climb back toward home

The climb back toward home

Smiles in the storm 1

Smiles in the storm 1

Jan 012015
 
Phoebe

Phoebe

It’s become a holiday tradition. Gather the friends from near and far for an annual hut trip deep in the Idaho backcountry. Everyone was obviously good little boys and girls, as Santa delivered the treats with epic powder conditions at the Tornak Hut in the Smoky Mountains.

yahoooo

yahoooo

Mike, feeling the float

Mike, feeling the float

fieds of untracked powder

fieds of untracked powder

smiling happy people

smiling happy people

DSC01372

arriving at the Tornak hut

arriving at the Tornak hut

Stoked for the next line

Stoked for the next line

Tornak at night

Tornak at night

what happens at the hut....?

what happens at the hut….?

the facility

the facility

happy hour

happy hour

spoonin fun

spoonin fun

hard not to smile

hard not to smile

freeride

freeride

yeah, that's how it goes!

yeah, that’s how it goes!

getting ready for the 1st run

getting ready for the 1st run

the team

the team

pretty tracks

pretty tracks

DSC01769

tea-time

tea-time

Mike

Mike

Ben2

Ben2

Ben

Ben

Hilary

Hilary

getting ready for the next drop

getting ready for the next drop

DSC01751

Barebreasted basin

Barebreasted basin

What goes up

What goes up

stoked after a nice warm up run

stoked after a nice warm up run

Ben, dropping

Ben, dropping

The boys, looking for trouble

The boys, looking for trouble

Phoebes and the warm-up run

Phoebes and the warm-up run

the girls on the Mighty Tornak Peak

the girls on the Mighty Tornak Peak

DSC01673

what a crew

what a crew

End of day 2, skiing back to the Tornak hut

End of day 2, skiing back to the Tornak hut

post Ben.

post Ben.

Hilary and fields of pow

Hilary and fields of pow

Joe, dropping in

Joe, dropping in

beats a lunch date in the city!

beats a lunch date in the city!

photo bomb

photo bomb

Chris Powder Trail

Chris Powder Trail

Dec 082014
 

James, floating by an ancient White Bark Pine

We are just returning from the Sawtooth Huts: Bench and Fishhook where we were conducting the annual intern/apprentice training and orientation as well as opening the huts for the season.  We found excellent early season coverage and snow depths in the Sawtooth, ranging form 50+cm in the valley bottom to over 190cm in the alpine.  The snowpack itself is relatively dense providing a great early season base for both skiing and stability.  Both the Sawtooth Huts are in excellent condition heading into the season and the skiing is great (see pics).  Bench is booked pretty solid starting around the Christmas holiday, but there are still  many free nights available in December and the skiing is on.  So if you want to experience the awesome ski terrain and cozy accommodations at Bench, now is the time to sneak in before it is too late!

190cm at 8800-top of Surprise!

190cm at 88OO’-top of Surprise!

Winter beauty on the way to Fishhook Yurt

Winter beauty on the way to Fishhook Yurt

Fishhook Huts look great and are ready for your enjoyment

Fishhook Huts look great and are ready for your enjoyment

Heyburn looms above the approach to Bench Hut

Heyburn looms above the approach to Bench Hut

Dumping above Bench Hut

Dumping above Bench Hut

Love it when it snows!

Love it when it snows!

The crew above the Gun Barrel

The crew above the Gun Barrel

mmmm.....

mmmm…..

New intern, James, testing the powder above 3rd lake

New intern, James, testing the powder above 3rd lake

Returning apprentice, Alisa, stoked to be back in the Sawtooth

Returning apprentice, Alisa, stoked to be back in the Sawtooth

Coverage into the alpine is good, on the way to Yo Yo Ma

Coverage into the alpine is good, on the way to Yo Yo Ma

A goat in his home

A goat in his home

Returning apprentice, Niels, stoked to be high in the Sawtooth

Returning apprentice, Niels, stoked to be high in the Sawtooth

New intern James, discovering the beauty of his new office.

New intern James, discovering the beauty of his new office.

Alisa squeezing the waning light out of the day.

Alisa squeezing the waning light out of the day.

hard to beat...

hard to beat…

Full moon rising above the Bench Hut

Full moon rising above the Bench Hut

Dec 012014
 
not bad for November!

not bad for November!

The change of seasons is a wonderful time. November is often that “odd” month here in the mountains of Central Idaho, where the foliage is gone, its too cold to hike and ride bikes and there is often only spotty snow that does not allow for “real” skiing. November 2014 has proved to be one of those fun Novembers that distinguished itself. Exceptionally cold and snowy weather has left the high country with periodic coats of powder and has provided a number of great ski days in the backcountry and on the Nordic trails. It seems that we are off to good start for the upcoming winter season!

Hansi Twins doing the vadel

Hansi Twins doing the vadel

Avalanche Peak and the evidence of many happy skiers

Avalanche Peak and the evidence of many happy skiers

easy slider

easy slider

The alpine has received some high winds and lots of snow transport over the past few weeks

The alpine has received some high winds and lots of snow transport over the past few weeks

A happy skier!

A happy skier!

Powder!

Powder!

Ahh, that's what we like!

Ahh, that’s what we like!

Keeping an eye on the persistent weak layers

Keeping an eye on the persistent weak layers

November 14, 2014 faceshots

November 14, 2014 faceshots

Jun 082014
 
A unique and beautiful way to start the ride to Bench Hut

A unique and beautiful way to start the ride to Bench Hut

When the snow melts, we start the process of prepping, repairing and improving the huts. This summer season, hutmeisters: Niels and Aysha are riding from hut-hut working on projects. We cut out the downed timber on the Fishhook Trail, so its is clear and smooth now. The following photos are from a recent trip into the Sawtooth with owner/guide/backcountry carpenter: Joe St.Onge. Sure is pretty out there!

The Arrow Leaf in full bloom

The Arrow Leaf in full bloom

Sweet Sawtooth Single Track

Sweet Sawtooth Single Track

One of the rockiest trails around

One of the rockiest trails around

yehaw

yehaw

Taking the corner toward the Fishhook Yurt

Taking the corner toward the Fishhook Yurt

Bike as utility vehicle, Niels riding with the hut repair supply

Bike as utility vehicle, Niels riding with the hut repair supply

Fishhook Creek is raging

Fishhook Creek is raging

ahh, the beautiful Fishhook Hut

ahh, the beautiful Fishhook Hut

IMG_0825

Doesn't get much more buff than this

Doesn’t get much more buff than this

IMG_0831

IMG_0840

Apr 182014
 

IMG_9840

We are just back from the annual Sawtooth Woodcuts: 4 days of cutting wood and skiing couloirs. Hard labor and Fun Stuff.

Heading out for a day of skiing couloirs from Fishhook

Heading out for a day of skiing couloirs from Fishhook

the Sickle above Fishhook Yurt

the Sickle above Fishhook Yurt

The Shovel Couloir

The Shovel Couloir

climbing an unnamed couloir

climbing an unnamed couloir

IMG_9766

Still finding dry snow of steep, sheltered upper elevation norths

Still finding dry snow of steep, sheltered upper elevation norths

Toby looking good

Toby looking good

Niels psyched for the Drop

Niels psyched for the Drop

The team

The team

Always great to be out with Irie

Always great to be out with Irie

IMG_9808

stoked intern

stoked intern

Chris leading the way up the Shovel couloir

Chris leading the way up the Shovel couloir

Alisa in the steeps

Alisa in the steeps

getting ready for the next drop

getting ready for the next drop

Trudy

Trudy

Nothing like the granite hallways of the sawtooth

Nothing like the granite hallways of the sawtooth

IMG_9836

Hope turn

Hope turn

IMG_9856

ah, a cold beer and popcorn after a great day of skiing

ah, a cold beer and popcorn after a great day of skiing

making the approach to Bench hut

making the approach to Bench hut

great effort by a tough team

great effort by a tough team

heading home

heading home