Sawtooth Photo Gallery & TR

| April 27, 2009

My first backcountry skiing trip to the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho was about ten years ago with Mark Holbrook.  We went in to the top/back end of the range via a trailhead outside of Stanley and my main memory of the trip was that it was really cold, but had excellent skiing.  I vowed to come back, but until last week, never did.

It was good the first time, but this time, heading into the range with locals, a short approach, a nice yurt and warm weather was even better.  We stayed at the Bench Hut which is one of many operated by Sun Valley Trekking and has excellent access to some good ski mountaineering objectives.  When checking out a potential yurt trip, I’m always leery of what I call “The Curse of the Yurt” which is that yurts are often put in places with mellow skiing, either because that is what people want, or the yurt owners don’t want their lodgings associated with carnage and avalanche accidents.  The Bench Hut is not afflicted with The Curse and has plenty of steep skiing potential, as well as some mellow tree skiing.  Utards are fond of the Teton yurts, but for an extra hour or so of driving, the Sawtooths offer way more potential and a nice change of pace – highly recommended.

Help support and cut through the Sawtooths with a G3 Bonesaw from Click on the photo below…


Category: Trip Reports

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (12)

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  1. doubleA says:

    That looked like a very fun trip. How steep does the Heyburn Couloir get?
    Also, you need to speak more softly when wearing the helmet cam. I turn up the volume on my computer to hear what your partners say, and then wham!- you say something and it scares the shit out me!
    The helmet cam is cool.
    When does your trip to Foraker take place?

  2. Ken McKean says:

    I met with Gabe Friday afternoon and he said you put in a mean skin track for an old man.

  3. Adam says:

    Looks like a very fun trip…Are you flying out of Talkeetna for your trip?

  4. Andrew says:

    Hi AA – the top of the Heyburn was probably in the lower 50 degree range. I thought conditions were pretty good for steep skiing as it was old powder, which gave a nice solid turning platform, although the chute itself was starting to get a bit grooved-out in the middle, which made crossing the centerline kind of hard. From what I heard, it was recently skied for a Warren Miller film.

  5. Andrew says:

    Our AK trip is May 23rd through June 14th and we will be going out of Talkeetna (flying with TAT). Are you a local up there? If so, it would be fun to meet up. Any idea how current conditions are?

  6. doubleA says:

    No, I live in Colorado. I toured with a friend last week that knows one of the guys you are going with.
    Have fun, stay safe- can’t wait to here that TR!

  7. doubleA says:

    Oops, replied to the wrong comment- too many concussions…

  8. Andrew says:

    Hi Ken – I wanted to cut a mellow skin track, but Gabe kept yelling out for steeper and steeper. What could I do? :)

  9. Polly says:

    Nice pics.

  10. Bart T says:

    ditto on the nice pics. that’s a great hut, especially now that they put a nice floor in (it used to be made of branches). in 2 trips, i’ve never lucked into good snow conditions there, but always had a great time.

  11. Craig says:

    Nice pics! I did my first Sawtooths to the Williams Peak Yurt. Check out pics at my splog ;)


  12. Christian says:

    Sweet blog!

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