Spring Skiing Idaho

May 3, 2013 at 12:20 | Posted in backcountry skiing Idaho | Leave a comment
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Skiing Central Idaho has been an elusive goal for me over the years. With a couple of great BC days in the Boulders around Sun Valley and Galena Summit and one trip to ski Mount Borah three years ago, I recently chased a good weather report with three friends to the Sawtooths and the Lost River Range.

We spent the first two ski days in the Sawtooth area, first on a long tour to Mount Heyburn, a craggy peak in the southern part of the central massif. An eight mile approach brought us to the the toe of a series of aesthetic couloirs. We skied the unskied western couloir, choked with cold settled powder and enjoyed views of the summit couloir which splits in two with the western line having already been skied likely by the yurt skiers based here. If we had started earlier we could have doubled up and skied the unskied eastern summit couloir, but as it was, time was slipping and we had another two days to ski and nine miles to slog out to the highway. Heyburn will be remembered for its long approach passed 6 or 7 lakes from Little Redfish deep in the valley mostly melted out and forested to the upper Bench Lake nestled below the Heyburn Peak summit. Anyone looking for the classic lake enchainment trip might consider this tour. Remember to bring your bikes for approach before May 1st gate opening.

Day two we opted for a short approach, and after driving to Galena Summit, we bowl bounced along Titus ridge in sunny hot wet slide weather. The tour was uncomplicated and relaxing. Amazing to see how much wet slide debris will gather and scream through treed terrain given the right conditions. Ski cuts always so important. Keep your guard up always. We enjoyed another soak in the hot springs along the Salmon River before motoring on to the Lost River Range where our main objective, Mount Borah was found basking in evening sunset. The western line looked thin but filled in from the highway using binoculars for inspection. We set a departure time of 7 a.m. and climbed steadily to Chicken Ridge where the going got stiffer, steaper, and slower. Another short booting traverse took us to the base of the summit ridge where we sucked limited O2 enroute to the summit alternating postholing and scrambling the positive rocky ridge. At 12,662 Mount Borah is the highest peak in Idaho and one of the higher peaks in the Northern Rockies, only surpassed in height by the likes of Granite Peak in Montana and Mount Robson in the Canadian Rockies among a few others I am sure especially if you include Wyoming’s peaks to be in the Northern Rockies.

This three day trip to Idaho followed a relatively relaxed pace with no alpine starts or headlamps used on approach. We enjoyed the camping, companionship, hot springs and a few beers. On Saturday, while the three others headed for a day soaking at Gold B Hot Springs, I drove the 3.5 hours home so I could work on the spring barrier protection project at the Downing Mountain Lodge.

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