Oct 232015
 
Autumn beauty riding out from Coyote Yurts

Autumn beauty riding out from Coyote Yurts

Autumn is transition time. It’s a time of long shadows, cold nights and anticipation of the winter to come. It is the time when we at SVT are prepping the 6 backcountry ski huts and prepping our legs and lungs for the ski season ahead. While we cut wood at three huts using trucks, much of the work we are doing at the huts requires access via human power. For us, that typically means riding our bikes. We are blessed with an awesome network of trails in our local mountains that allow us to spin our bikes, often with awkward loads, from hut to hut. The bikes have an added benefit of prepping our bodies for the ski touring season while providing the feeling of “flow” that is so vital to our souls.

SVT owner and guide, Joe St.Onge and partners, are just back from a big day (26 miles and over 7,000′ of riding) yesterday while checking in at Coyote, Tornak and Boulder Yurts. The trails were frozen solid and covered in frost in the morning and melted to “corn dirt” by mid-day. What follows are a collection of pictures from yesterday as well as from the past month of hut projects in the mountains.

Here’s to sucking the marrow from a beautiful autumn in anticipation of an awesome ski season!

Dave, riding up to Coyote Yurts

Dave, riding up to Coyote Yurts

Endless mountains and trails in the Smokey Mountains near the Coyote and Tornak Huts

Endless mountains and trails in the Smokey Mountains near the Coyote and Tornak Huts

What an office we have!

What an office we have!

Brian, dirt carving on the scenic way out of Coyote Yurts

Brian, dirt carving on the scenic way out of Coyote Yurts

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The newly relocated Boulder outhouse: with a view of Boulder Peak

The newly relocated Boulder outhouse: with a view of Boulder Peak

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Boulder yurts looking ready for the first skiers

Boulder yurts looking ready for the first skiers

The Pioneers above the Pio Yurt in all their glory

The Pioneers above the Pio Yurt in all their glory

Friends help insulate the Pioneer yurt for the coming season

Friends help insulate the Pioneer yurt for the coming season

Coyote Yurts, ready for the snow to fly

Coyote Yurts, ready for the snow to fly

SVT guides, Joe and Toby, buck up the sauna wood at Boulder Yurts

SVT guides, Joe and Toby, buck up the sauna wood at Boulder Yurts

SVT guide, Niels, braves a awkward load in style on the way to Fishhook Yurts

SVT guide, Niels, braves a awkward load in style on the way to Fishhook Yurts

Retired SVT guide/intern, Brian, finds some air coming into the Coyote Yurts

Retired SVT guide/intern, Brian, finds some air coming into the Coyote Yurts

The crew, biking through Tornak Huts on the way to Coyote Yurts to button up the huts for the snow to fly

The crew, biking through Tornak Huts on the way to Coyote Yurts to button up the huts for the snow to fly

SVT guides, JP and Toby, proud of the tight stack at Boulder Yurts

SVT guides, JP and Toby, proud of the tight stack at Boulder Yurts

SVT guide/owner, Joe St.Onge, bucking up a big tree at Boulder Yurts

SVT guide/owner, Joe St.Onge, bucking up a big tree at Boulder Yurts

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

Mar 282015
 
Training 'em young

Training ’em young

It’s Spring Break for the local school kids and what better way to celebrate the changing of the seasons than to ski into a backcountry yurt! The Boulder Yurts are a great choice for families with younger kids as the approach is pretty easy, the sledding and skiing is super accessible and FUN and the yurts provide an amazing venue to get away. This week has seen a bunch of local families heading up to the Boulder Yurts with lots of adventures and fun had! Check out these pics of an overnight with SVT owners/guides (the St.Onge family) and friends. Good times!!

Family train

Family train

Break time

Break time

Sister love

Sister love

exploring the shed like a Pine Martin

exploring the shed like a Pine Martin

Donna Julia and family

Donna Julia and family

as one family leaves another arrives, Spring Break at Boulder Yurts

as one family leaves another arrives, Spring Break at Boulder Yurts

girls exploring cozy nooks

girls exploring cozy nooks

Fun Girl

Fun Girl

Beer/milk cave

Beer/milk cave

Spring Break!

Spring Break!

Sledding action #1

Sledding action #1

sledding action #2

sledding action #2

Sledding action #3

Sledding action #3

Sledding action #4

Sledding action #4

Sledding action #5

Sledding action #5

Dinner time!

Dinner time!

the Lei

the Lei

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Smores!

Smores!

mmmm.....

mmmm…..

Morning light

Morning light

Story time

Story time

Yurt art!

Yurt art!

on the way home

on the way home

Mar 212015
 
Brent admiring tracks

Brent admiring tracks

SVT guides, JP Preuss and Toby Citret, are just returning from 5 days in the Sawtooth traversing from Bench to Fishhook Huts. The trip began in far from ideal conditions with warm temps and rain to 10,000′. These weather conditions are almost unprecedented for this time of year! Fortunately, the weather turned colder and new snow fell, allowing the group to explore some of the amazing terrain that make up the heart of this spectacular range.

5th Lake group shot

5th Lake group shot

Bench Lakes from 5th saddle

Bench Lakes from 5th saddle

JP 5th Lake Saddle

JP 5th Lake Saddle

Kye Monolith side valley

Kye Monolith side valley

Silouette 5th lake Saddle

Silouette 5th lake Saddle

Skinning & tracks

Skinning & tracks

Summiting the Hunk

Summiting the Hunk

Tracks on Silver Saddle

Tracks on Silver Saddle

Willy skiing

Willy skiing

Mar 042015
 
Judy, carving powder 3 weeks after the last storm

Judy, carving powder 3 weeks after the last storm

The Men of the North (and one woman) swept down from Montana for another raid into Idaho. The Smokey Mountains and her hidden treasures of faceted powder and corn were looted by this ruthless crew of barbarians. Led by SVT guides: Joe St.Onge, Chris Marshall and Niels Meyer many fun tours and lines (both new and familiar) were explored and skied. Not to worry, there are still some hidden treasures left out there!

The barbarians taking advantage of the corduroy on the approach

Corduroy on the approach

Too many peaks, too little time

Too many peaks, too little time, I think he may be back…

Good stability ice snack

Good stability ice snack

Judy, dropping into the burn

Judy, dropping into the burn

5,000 vertical and still going strong in the burn

5,000 vertical and still going strong in the burn

DoctorsPhysicainsSurgeons

DoctorsPhysicainsSurgeons

Mike carving

Mike carving

up in the sun to the Land of the Lost

up in the sun to the Land of the Lost

Loving the views

Loving the views

Buckley: the man, the myth...

Buckley: the man, the myth…

ahhh

ahhh

Mike laying it out

Mike laying it out

John DPS style

John DPS style

Mike, surveying the country

Mike, surveying the country

Mackay's first backcountry experience (we think he's hooked)

Mackay’s first backcountry experience (we think he’s hooked)

Stan, stoked

Stan, stoked

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Mackay: Easy floater

Mackay: Easy floater

Wolverine stash

Wolverine stash

Climbing into the sun for some more powder

Climbing into the sun for some more powder

The Pioneers beckoning

The Pioneers beckoning

SVT guide, Chris Marshall, leading the way into the next powder stash

SVT guide, Chris Marshall, leading the way into the next powder stash

oh yeah!

oh yeah!

Rus enjoying the pow

Rus enjoying the pow

king-pow

king-pow

Lunch at the ridge-top cafe

Lunch at the ridge-top cafe

mmm

mmm

Stan, sampling some corn

Stan, sampling some corn

SVT Guide, Chris, cranking in the corn

SVT Guide, Chris, cranking in the corn

Pow blast

Pow blast

Young Niels, taking the tail guide shot

Young Niels, taking the tail guide shot

The team on day 4

The team on day 4

SVT Guide, Joe St.Onge, letting it rip.

SVT Guide, Joe St.Onge, letting it rip.

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 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

Nov 142014
 
November 14, 2014 faceshots

November 14, 2014 faceshots

It’s official, we have begun the ski season! The recent storms have brought over a foot of new snow to the high country here in the mountains of Central Idaho. Depending on the geographic area, aspect and elevation, this snow fell on either dry ground or older snow. The upper elevations in the mountains around the headwaters of the Salmon and Wood River Valleys had a preexisting snow pack made up of facets and crusts and there are stability concerns in many of these spots with the new load. Please check the latest Avalanche Report for a more detailed description.

SVT Guides, Joe and Francie St.Onge went out around Galena Summit for a short tour to check conditions and found some fun turns, even with the thin coverage. Careful out there! Some of these pics make it look like mid-winter, but generally the conditions are classic early season. So keep the snow dances going, burn a ski or two and praise ULLR to bring us more turns like these!

Fun powder skiing in thin snow (notice the sagebrush)

Fun powder skiing in thin snow (notice the sagebrush)

 

Happy Girl!

Happy Girl!

 

Thin early season conditions make meadow skipping a good choice

Thin early season conditions make meadow skipping a good choice

65 cm snowpack with 40cm of new snow sitting on a supportable crust.

65 cm snowpack with 40cm of new snow sitting on a supportable crust.

Powder Cloud

Powder Cloud

IMG_0054

Funneling faceshots will make you smile!

Funneling faceshots will make you smile!