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

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

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

IMG_0612

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 212014
 

good corn

We are just back from skiing another beautiful Idaho mountain, Kent Peak. Viewed frequently from the Valley of the Big Wood, Kent Peak requires a bit of an approach to reach the classic ski lines. As the snow lines march up the mountains with the rising temperatures, the dirt roads are opening up and allowing access deeper into the hills. Even with the open roads, Kent requires a bit of dirt walking to reach snow. But once on snow, a classic 3,000′ ski descent off the 2nd highest peak in the Boulder Mountains awaits. Good corn conditions were found. Enjoy!

It is taking some effort to reach the snow these days

It is taking some effort to reach the snow these days

Summer is beginning to show

Summer is beginning to show

A smile will go a long way when bushwacking with skis!

A smile will go a long way when bushwacking with skis!

Where the snow turns to water...

Where the snow turns to water…

Where skiers become skiers

Where skiers become skiers

ahhh, back in the alpine!

ahhh, back in the alpine!

The summit ridge of Ryan is rather sharp...

The summit ridge of Kent is rather sharp…

Looking north into the Boulder Mountains

Looking north into the Boulder Mountains

Looking south into the Pioneers

Looking south into the Pioneers

The 1st jump turn onto the face of Ryan

The 1st jump turn onto the face of Kent

perfect edging

perfect edging

fun ski

fun ski

IMG_0479

making our way home

making our way home

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.

May 092014
 
 SVT Guide, Joe St.Onge, remembers a May ski day on his child’s 2nd birthday:

 

Patrick Graham approaches the summit of Ryan Peak

Patrick Graham approaches the summit of Ryan Peak

It was May, locals had hung up their skis and our busy ski guiding season was coming to a close.  It was time to ski for ourselves.
 
My wife was pregnant with our second child and do to deliver within the week.  We had a check-up with our doctor and she said that it did not look imminent.  I took that diagnoses as: I could go ski the next day.  My wife is a skier and guide and she gets it.   She encouraged me to get one last ski in before the snow melted and another baby entered our lives.
 
It was a last minute tour plan.  I wanted to ski something “new”.  Ryan Peak is the tallest in the Boulder Mountains of Central Idaho.  It’s been skied, but not regularly as the approach is big.  I had a concept that it could be approached from the “other side” and had found out that the dirt road that crosses a high pass had just been plowed, allowing access to the “other side”.  A quick call to two of our guides and the plan was hatched for the next morning, early.  Conditions were perfect spring corn: firm for the climb and silky for the decent.  The approach was fast and fluid.  We followed wolf tracks up the remote canyon and later heard the howls from a den echo while on the peak.    We spied amazing future lines, one of which we skied later in the week when the doctor said it may be a couple more days before the baby came.  It was awesome.
Apr 302014
 
Celebratory toast

Celebratory toast

For over 12 years, Sun Valley Trekking has run an internship program during the winter season. The goal of the program is to provide training and mentorship to aspiring ski guides. The “job description” is to : Ski from hut to hut throughout the winter, maintain hut supplies, gather snow and stability information, develop personal backcountry ski technique and experience, assist on guided trips as porters and tail guides and seek mentorship and skill development with the SVT Guide Team. Over the years, many interns have returned for a second year to continue this progression and many graduates of the program are working as professional ski and mountain guides today. We often finish the season with an “Intern Final Exam” designed to test the skill and experience developed over the season. There are two styles of exam open to the interns: to guide the guides or to be guided by the guides. Both styles can help push the learning envelope and provide a rewarding experience. This years team: Trudy, Toby, Niels and Alisa chose to guide SVT guides: Joe St.Onge and Chris Marshall on a particularly snowy late April tour in the alpine Smokey Mountains. Powder, white-out navigation, steep skiing and a Chinese Downhill tested the interns’ skill and grit and was followed by the end of the season Guide Games back in town. Good stuff!

April white-out

April white-out

Stoked Toby, taking the lead.

Stoked Toby, taking the lead.

Heading toward Peak

Heading toward Peak

Chris giving feedback on route finding and group management

Chris giving feedback on route finding and group management

The higher you get...

The higher you get…

Into the Alpine

Into the Alpine

Trudy, taking over the lead for the third descent of the day

Trudy, taking over the lead for the third descent of the day

April Pow!

April Pow!

Yehaw!

Yehaw!

IMG_0070

Alisa guiding a particularly challenging (and sweet) ski line

Alisa guiding a particularly challenging (and sweet) ski line

the Team

the Team

IMG_0133

wow!

wow!

Francie opening the "Guide Games"

Francie opening the “Guide Games”

Making the Toast!

Making the Toast!

Fun for all ages!

Fun for all ages!

Brian, showing grit.

Brian, showing grit.

Chris and Pato were an unbeatable pair!

Chris and Pato were an unbeatable pair!

Apr 202014
 
not bad for her first backcountry run!

not bad for her first backcountry run!

A fun weekend skiing with a local family on the peaks of the Boulder Mountains. The backcountry corn factory is in full production!

IMG_9933

steep skiing

steep skiing

pretty good even if its not powder

pretty good even if its not powder

Alpine lounger

Alpine lounger

Father and son on the Peak!

Father and son on the Peak!

Approaching the summit of Senate Peak

Approaching the summit of Senate Peak

Mother and Son 2

Mother and Son 2

perfect corn in the Boulders

perfect corn in the Boulders

IMG_9892

IMG_9895

searching for the powder

searching fro the powder

Mother and Son

Mother and Son

a little corduroy exit with Senate Peak in the background

a little corduroy exit with Senate Peak in the background

carving the apron

carving the apron

Apr 112014
 
finished with the crux and 3000' of wide open skiing ahead

finished with the crux and 3000′ of wide open skiing ahead

Another awesome spring day skiing with the Sirens of Snow on Galena Peak!

Early morning start across Senate Meadows

Early morning start across Senate Meadows

Skinning the sunny ridge

Skinning the sunny ridge

Switching from skis to boots as the terrain gets steeper

Switching from skis to boots as the terrain gets steeper

ascending the summit pyramid

ascending the summit pyramid

IMG_9639

the final summit ridge

the final summit ridge

breather

breather

on top of the world!

on top of the world!

almost there

almost there

stoked on the summit

stoked on the summit

what a day!

what a day!

the summit shots

the summit shots

the Boulder Range in all its glory

the Boulder Range in all its glory

The 1st ski pitch is a beauty

The 1st ski pitch is a beauty

The beginning of the crux, midway down the south bowl

The beginning of the crux, midway down the south bowl

A little rope work makes for smooth skiing

A little rope work makes for smooth skiing

IMG_9669

skiing with the rope

skiing with the rope

Bond girls

Bond girls

woohoo

woohoo

sweet features

sweet features

and on down

and on down

stoked!

stoked!