Apr 182015
 

Spring Skiing in Idaho

The juxtaposition between the comfort of the office environment from which I type this post vs that of the alpine couloir I was in just 30 hours ago is, in simple terms, strange. Yesterday, my body and mind traveled from a precipitous 50 degree ski run to the comfort of my home in a few hours. It makes me think that perhaps the alpinists of old had it better than me and my contemporaries in that both the ascent and descent from civilization took longer, and thus, an easier time for their brains to adjust; they enjoyed more time spent in the mountains. Now, these quick trips into the backcountry feel like the extreme version of a ying-yang circle of existence, polar opposites that somehow placate one-another. Obviously, I’d take more time spent in wilderness, but I won’t complain about time I’ve enjoyed therein.

This past week I had the great fortune to find time to ski with good friends in the mountains of Idaho on two different outings. On both occasions, we were able to enjoy nights spent on the ground and days in the open (to paraphrase Doug Robinson). The weather contradicted itself wonderfully in that we traveled through snow squalls, enjoyed blue bird skies so calm lakes became mirrors, heard Sand Hill Cranes echo their mating calls from marshes into a myriad of canyons, and found silence unlike any other. The snow was good, if not great, and the camaraderie unparallelled.

Here a few images from these adventures….

Spring Skiing in Idaho

Spring Skiing in Idaho

Spring Skiing in Idaho

Spring Skiing in Idaho

Spring Skiing in Idaho

Spring Skiing in Idaho

Spring Skiing in Idaho

Spring Skiing in Idaho

Spring Skiing in Idaho

Spring Skiing in Idaho

Spring Skiing in Idaho

Spring Skiing in Idaho

Spring Skiing in Idaho

Spring Skiing in Idaho

Spring Skiing in Idaho

Jan 262015
 

Ski Tour in Idaho.

Curiosity and intimacy are two words that help explain my love of mountains. I remember back in the mid-90′s when I climbed Hyalite Peak, Montana, and at the summit just loving the quenching feeling for the curiosity I had for the knowledge that told me what was on the other side. As exhausted as I may get on some of these climbs, learning the way the peaks and their canyons, rivers, and ridges all interconnect makes for a deep level of intimacy that I have not yet tired of.

Backcountry skiing is truly a vehicle that stokes this passion. Yesterday, Chris, Russel, and I enjoyed a tour that linked up a long section of ridge and got me back into a section of the Smoky (no e here in Idaho) mountains with views I had not seen before. As always, having seen this new terrain-I’m curious to learn what lays even further back!

Ski Tour in Idaho.

Ski Tour in Idaho.

Ski Tour in Idaho.

Ski Tour in Idaho.

Ski Tour in Idaho.

Ski Tour in Idaho.

Ski Tour in Idaho.

Ski Tour in Idaho.

Ski Tour in Idaho.

May 202014
 

Couloir skiing in Idaho.

Just on the other side of most any high alpine peak or ridge lie the strikingly beautiful shafts of snow which are isolated by rock walls and are better known as couloirs. In french, it means “passage” or “corridor,” and in terms of ski mountaineering, it means a portal into the ephemeral world of steep and exciting turns. There is a little cirque up north that offers a half dozen or so little couloirs that are fun to get into. Matt Sylvester and I went up for some of these tasty turns one stormy day late this Spring.

Couloir skiing in Idaho.

Couloir skiing in Idaho.

Couloir skiing in Idaho.

Couloir skiing in Idaho.

Feb 012014
 

Backcountry skiing with kids in Idaho.

A dream came true the other day–I was able to take my oldest kiddo, Kaia (9 years old), out on her first backcountry ski tour! We went up to Galena Pass and skinned up a few hundred vert to the top of a mellow slope, dug down to the ground (a whoping 1.5′ of snow) for some snow analysis, and then enjoyed our first turns together as backcountry partners!

We had a blast and Kaia, on her own, mentioned how she enjoyed the quiet and the spectacular views. Since this trip, she’s been begging to get out again!

Backcountry skiing with kids in Idaho.

Backcountry skiing with kids in Idaho.

Backcountry skiing with kids in Idaho.

Backcountry skiing with kids in Idaho.

Backcountry skiing with kids in Idaho.

Backcountry skiing with kids in Idaho.

Backcountry skiing with kids in Idaho.

Backcountry skiing with kids in Idaho.

Backcountry skiing with kids in Idaho.

Backcountry skiing with kids in Idaho.

Sep 292013
 

A photo of backcountry skiing in Idaho

South Central Idaho recently received a few early season snow storms that have covered the alpine region of some of the nearby ranges with early snow. Christopher Cook, Russel, and I made plans to take “our skis for a walk” this morning in hopes of making a few turns.

When I woke up at 4:30 today, it wasn’t because my alarm sounded, rather, it was the rain that was pelting our metal roof. Rain is not welcome on ski days and I wondered if I should stay in bed. I rolled out and into the kitchen where I realized that I was up early and had beat the coffee machine’s timed brew. After getting the coffee started, I walked upstairs to grab a rain cover for my camera bag and almost stepped in a puddle of green and sparkley diarrhea left by my dog, no doubt caused by her having eaten a bowl of my kids homemade magic-sand. Not the best start what could be the first day of the ski season, but, minor considering the larger picture.

A photo of backcountry skiing in Idaho

I cleaned up the dog mess, cooked a few eggs while the coffee brewed, and then checked the snowtel sites to see if it was snowing up high. Two of the higher snow sites were recording temps in the high 30′s. Enough said, might as well keep with the plan and head up into the alpine to see if we could link some turns.

Leaving Ketchum the temperature was 42 and by the time the truck was on the trail in 4-low, it wasn’t dropping like we’d hoped-still just 40. Though we were passing patches of snow, we were stuck in the rain. That said, looking up canyon looked revealed vistas that gave us hope and we kept on with each roll of the tire, step of the boots, and finally slide of the skins until the temps fell and the precip morphed into its beloved frozen crystal state. Then, at that magic moment with the skins off our skis, goggles on, and boots buckled tight, we all enjoyed the return of that ever addicting, phenomenally fascinating, feeling of skiing. This time, for the first time, in Idaho in September!

A photo of backcountry skiing in Idaho

A photo of backcountry skiing in Idaho

A photo of backcountry skiing in Idaho

A photo of backcountry skiing in Idaho

A photo of backcountry skiing in Idaho

A photo of backcountry skiing in Idaho

A photo of backcountry skiing in Idaho

A photo of backcountry skiing in Idaho

Apr 092013
 

Idaho backcountry skiing image taken on Mushroom Ridge of Danny Walton.

I’ve been wearing my flip flops around town the last few weeks and I can’t really see any snow from my house other than little patches which are nestled in shady north facing nooks and crannies. With such amazing weather here in the Wood River Valley, I started tuning up my mountain bike by rebuilding the front fork, and lubing up the chain and derailleurs. Yes, my mind began to wander away from the snow covered peaks that lie just 30 miles north. But, thankfully, Danny Walton reached out and helped me pull my head out of my ass! Winter may officially be over, but, Spring skiing is just beginning. He and I headed up to Mushroom ridge today for some turns. Though the wind was nuking, snow swirling, and north faces scoured, we found some nice turns up high and survived the breakable crusts down low.

Idaho backcountry skiing image taken on Mushroom Ridge of Danny Walton.

Idaho backcountry skiing image taken on Mushroom Ridge of Danny Walton.

Idaho backcountry skiing image taken on Mushroom Ridge of Danny Walton.

Idaho backcountry skiing image taken on Mushroom Ridge of Danny Walton.

Idaho backcountry skiing image taken on Mushroom Ridge of Danny Walton.