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.
Tornak Blog 12/21/2104
Tornak hut is alive and well and buried deep in snow! At least it was before we had to shovel it off the afternoon we got there, the next morning, and in the afternoon before we left. After giving the hut some love our first day we summited the Mighty Tornak Peak and relaxed with some Group Therapy skiing. Beacon practice in the early evening and then a nice cozy night in the hut ensued. We awoke to almost a foot and a half of new snow and after breakfast started shoveling off the roof. The problem was that by the time we shoveled one end to the other, there was already new snow accumulated on the side of the roof where we started! To say the least, that days skiing was DEEP! Tornak is looking top notch and ready to be enjoyed, relaxed in, and powder skied out of!
Enjoy!-The SVT Intern Crew
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!
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!
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!
It’s the time of year when we cycle through the 6 huts in 3 different mountain ranges to get each hut ready for winter. We can remember many years when we were doing these annual chores in freezing temps and blizzards, but not this year. We have been blessed with one of the prettiest autumns we can remember here in Idaho. Perfect Indian Summer has persisted for over a month now with amazing foliage, crystal clear sunshine and generally stunning days. Much of the work we do this time of year requires access on bikes or foot. The current conditions have produced perfect melt/freeze conditions on the trails and some of the best biking of the year. Enjoy the pics from the various mountain ranges and huts and start getting stoked for the upcoming season!
NOW LET IT SNOW!
We have just returned from a couple of days in the Pioneers. The goal of the trip was to get the yurt ready for the oncoming winter season and to climb a new route on Old Hyndman. For years, SVT guide Joe St.Onge, has been dreaming on climbing a route along the skyline of Old Hyndman Peak. Old Hyndman rises like the Matterhorn with steep rock walls guarding the summit. There are a couple standard routes to the summit, but we were unaware of anyone having climbed the steep NW ridge. Having spied this part of the mountain on many ski tours over the years, the time seemed right when local ER doc, Terry, called Joe with the goal of climbing Old Hyndman. A great adventure climb was had and success in exploring a new line to the summit of this iconic peak. Terry suggested calling the route “Old Goat” or “OG” to honor the bearded old goat we wandered by on the approach. Enjoy the pics and the mountains!
We are just back from celebrating the Summer Solstice on the point at the new Coyote Yurts. After the Beaver Creek wild fire burned the Coyote Yurts last August, its been quite a journey to bring the Coyote Yurts back to life. This past weekend marked the final (planned) stage in this process! Joe, Niels and Aysha went up a couple days early to finish construction of the outdoor areas including benches and stoop on the deck, picnic table, barbeque, new fire pit and dance floor on the point and a bike corral. It all turned out beautifully. Then it was time for friends and family to converge in this special spot to enjoy the longest day of the year. Biking, hiking, dancing, good food and good times!
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!