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…
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!
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!
Stoked to be getting high
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…
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!
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!
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!