Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sawtooth Crossman & Couloir Revival

We took a trip up to the Sawtooths outside Stanely, Idaho two weeks ago. The whole idea came at the last minute, spontaneous ski trips should never be passed up. Bret mentioned on Saturday night while at work that Dylan was up in the Sawtooths with some friends. There was two spots open in a Bench Lake Hut trip leaving Monday morning. The hut sits a 1,000 feet above Red fish Lake and on the shoulder of Mt. Heyburn. There was nice skiing right above the hut off of the Triangle a somewhat open tree run down to the lake. I've wanted to ski this range ever since taking a trip to the Elephants perch in the summer time. We go out of work around 11:30 on Sunday night, got the approval from AML, fixed my binding, packed my stuff, and went to grab my brother. Bret and I departed from Salt Lake around 2:00 p.m. coffee in hand. The shit show had begun. Arrived around 8:00 a.m. a little cracked out to meet the rest of our party at the Sawtooth Hotel. Dylan was there with some Vermont friends Brian, Emily, Shaun, Lindsey, Brennan, and Kai. We ate some pancakes(thanks to Kelly) and met our party. Brian and Emily were photographers and experienced adventures. Brian spent most of the tours braking trail and taking pictures. Lindsey and Shaun were from Nantucket, so we got to talking about the island. Kai was an Aussie currently living in Norway. Brendan was living in Montana and skiing lots of park.... Yellowstone park that is. The group had great energy and welcomed us in. As the sun rose above the Sawtooths, we re- energized from the solar rays. Then followed our guide Ed up the six mile, mostly flat sled in to the hut. First time parties are required to have a guide.

Our party heads through the forest towards the hut.

The Crossman squirrel inspects his nest, approval was met when we saw the outdoor sauna and the view.

That evening we got nice run down the Triangle towards that lake, and Ed departed. We headed for home as some light snow began to fall. The next day we headed up the shoulder towards Heyburn.

We found a nice little chute to ski on the way to the approach.

Being somewhat alpine deprived in the Wastach this last month, I immediately wondered what kind of conditions were like up high. After crossing the 5th lake it became boiler plate at the base of Heyburn, upon entering the north couloir it became settled powder. The massive granite walls protected the snow. Shed some green light on it.

Looking up the North of Heyburn.

Brian and Brennan boot up the final section of the north Couloir.

Bret and Dylan at the top, they wanted to be the twins this week.

Brennan dropping in and going all the way.

Brian shredding it.

The snow was so darn nice, and we missed couloir skiing. We decided to Heyburn another one, and ski the South Couloir down to the lake. I had see the couloir in the summer and new it would be a good long shot. What was more surprising was that the powder was better on the top of the south couloir. The rest of our party headed for Iowa peak, will the twins and I headed up the booter.

Dylan in the south, the deep south.

The south was less steep and football field size. Bret likes, and enjoys a gs turn.

We all arrived back at the hut that night. Totally stoked on our day, imbetween steams, stoking the fire, and eating delicious food that Shaun cooked up there was much talk of the next couloir. The next morning we headed up the triangle again to ski a south shot down to the lake. We were heading for the Grand Mogul, to try to ski the Boyscott couloir.

The Grand Mogul, the Boy Scout comes of the right shoulder. There was much debate if the pinch went clean. We heard that it had a rappel in it off a chockstone.

Our party getting reading to skin across Redfish lake towards the mogul. Unfortunately I didn't get to many pictures of that day, I was preoccupied with climbing chockstones and rappels. The snow in the boyscout was some of the best all trip. The pillowy tree's below it were a fun exit at dusk. We ended up skiing the whole thing, the rappel took us a while. We ended up skinning back to the hut at night. Brian hung out in the cave( similar to the Y-not) and watched sloughs cascade over his head.
The next day we packed up from the Bench lake hut and headed towards Fish hook creek Yurt to finish our trip. On the saddle of Iowa peak, Brendan made a fire and cooked hot dogs it was awesome. We enjoyed the sun, then dropped into the Gun Barrel couloir with full packs.
The Yurt had a beautiful view, and a hot tub (horse trough) was very relaxing. With our last day of the trip approaching and the eminent drive back to Salt lake, there was still something on our mind.

The Sickle, on Horstman's peak.

Horstman's Peak, supposedly the hanging bowl was skied by an avalanche forecaster at just the right time. It looked terrifying. Half of the group went over to Thompson peak. The Skier Boyz and Brendan headed for the Sickle. The winds had really hammered that valley, the snow was a bit harder. But once again the walls provided shelter. This couloir was steep (50 +) and tight. The last fifty feet had funky, undulating wind packed snow. We had to deploy a mixture of side slipping and hop turning to get down the top. My whippet was ready, a fall down this one wouldn't be good. Of course Dylan made it wind crust look like bottomless.

Bret looks down the Sickle, we were tempted to drop into the sun on the south side.

Dylan putting on the iron shirt.

To jump turn or not to jump turn.

Brennan enjoying softer snow in at the bottom.

Dylan at the bottom of the Sickle. After skiing back to the yurt, we had to pack up drag the sleds out, watch a spectacular pink sunset, head back to Stanley. Drank a couple beers with our new ski partners to celebrate our excellent week of touring. Then trucked it back to Salt lake to go to work the next morning. Thanks to everybody it was a great trip and my most packed week of skiing this year.

1 comment:

  1. Nice work amigos! What a trip!!!

    Brian Mohr