Archive for April, 2009

Ski Mountaineering Course 4/23-26

April 29, 2009
thompson-saddle-skiing

Sawtooth Alpine Ambience

After the success of last years ski mountaineering course and a feature in “Backcountry Magazine” we quickly filled up 2 courses for this spring. Our first Course was full with nine participants from the Sun Valley area and Boise. The diverse group had everything from ex-dead heads, a physical trainer, tech engineers and a coulpe high schoolers who could hold their own. However, they all shared the common passion for skiing/snowboarding and the goal to learn more about steep skiing and mountaineering. This diverse crew of backountry skiers and riders was joined by SMG course leader Kirk Bachman, ski mountain guide Michael Hatch, and SMG’s finest Chute Snowboard Patroller, Clark Corey.

The weather looked grim from the start with warm temps in the forecast. Fortunately the forecast was off and instead we received 5” new on the first night and a combination of cold nights and sunny days made for awesome alpine corn skiing. The group was feeling the ‘Stoke’ of the Sawtooth Alpine terrain which was accessed from the Williams Peak hut.

After a training with the uses of the ice axe which we carried as one of our main tools for safe alpine travel, we explored the reaches of the alpine terrain. Here is a short video of the ‘snow school’ clinic (good form by the way!):

 

So here’s a few fotos from Kirk’s camera along with Clark’s. Send us yours and we’ll post!

-Kirk, Clark & Hatch

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SMG in Labrador

April 10, 2009

I just got back from a exploratory ski/snowboard trip to Labrador, Canada. Drew Pogge from Backcountry Magazine, who wrote the article on last years ski mt. course, invited me to join him to explore the Labrador coast!

Labrador is in North East Canada (up by Baffin Island) and the Northern region is completely unpopulated. Most of the providence is a windswept landscape that is flat and barren, with part of it being above the arctic treeline. This is a beautiful untouched wild area of North America, mostly with no skiing terrain.   However, the geography on the Northern coast is very rugged and mountainous, and thats where we were headed. Fjords from the Atlantic cut deep fingers into glaciated mountains, giving them a dramatic steep appearance, which is obviously why we went! This range is called the Torngat Mountains and is a newly established National Park and Preserve with no roads or park headquarters in the mountains and for hundreds of miles!

We got to spend time at an Inuit rendezvous, ski from 5,000ft mountains to sea level, climb and ski/snowboard couloirs with blue ice bulges down to the frozen ocean, ski beautiful aesthetic ridges above fjords and polar bears, and make turns off the shoulder of the highest peak in the range. The article will be out next winter….keep an eye out.  Special thanks to Drew, Dugald from Cruise North, Angus and Gary from the Parks, the native Inuit (who’s camp we stayed at),  Silla from Kuujjuak, Christof the Vermonter, Torngat Mt. National Park and Pierre from Nunavik Parks.

-Clark

March Madness

April 2, 2009

March was a snowy month in the Sawtooths.  For the month, the mountains picked up 6-8 ft. of snow – almost doubling our snow pack!  This made for some incredible powder skiing in the backcountry and helped fill in the coolies and chutes in the alpine.  All the snow tempered our alpine ambitions, but will make for some great April and May spring skiing and glorious descents.  This is getting us excited for our spring ski mountaineering courses in April. We are on the northwest flow powder train right now and we’ll enjoy the ride as long as it lasts.  The Sawtooth Mountain Guides “Chute Patrol” did manage to ski/board the north face of Decker Peak ( 10,701), which will now be known as the “Black Dog Face”, for reasons my dog Gus, Clark and I would like to soon forget.  Just heed these words of advice – keep your four-legged friends in the deep, not the steep.

Also in March, my brother Brad Hatch and several of his B-town Boyz made a weekly pilgrimage to enjoy the Sawtooth goods.  They managed to luck out – powder, powder, and more pow!  Cheers to the Greenwood’s crew for motivating many early mornings to make the drive and suffer through numerous face shots!

In March, the SMG crew along with Zach Crist, took a nice circumnavigational tour around Mystery Peak.  The snow pack was a little touchy, so we stayed to lower angled terrain, but the views were awesome.  We scoped out numerous lines and hopefully we’ll scratch some off the list in April.  Zach loved the tour and is thinking about giving up steep skiing for gentle tours through the woods.

In the middle of March I had the pleasure to guide Jay Stevenor and his fun group up at the Williams Peak Hut.  We found some nice snow over in Marshall Basin.  Tad Jones, a fellow knee-dropper, put together a nice slideshow and video of their trip.  You can check it out here at :  http://www.jjds.net/outdoor/w_peak/index.html