Obscure Lines in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains

On a recent, short road-trip to Idaho, the regional conditions were becoming a familiar story and sounding like a broken record. From Bozeman to Salt Lake, and even the Sawtooths of central Idaho, the mountains hadn’t seen snow for weeks. Between strong north winds and plentiful sunshine, good soft snow was becoming hard to come by, particularly in the alpine.

At the foot of the Sawtooths (see my feature Issue #9.2), in the small town of Stanley I met up with good friends Chris Lundy (Sawtooth Mountain Guides), and Joe Tobias. We discussed hitting one of the many classic and high-profile lines that the Sawtooth are know for. But we’ve all skied and ridden the Sawtooths extensively, so why ride something in bad snow that you’ve already done in good snow? That seemed logical. Well, good snow or bad snow, exploring the many obscure lines is always a good adventure… or at least that’s what we told ourselves.

Past rugged, rock spires we toured through a high alpine basin towards a set of twin couloirs as a warm-up run. We climbed up the wind etched, styrofoam surface, boots only penitrating several inches at times. After topping out, then riding down the fine Colorado-esque wind buff in the coolers, we booted back up and stared down a different chute off the backside that appeared to cliff out. Having brought an anchor kit, it looked like a fun adventure… after all, adventure was the goal, right? A few soft turns, bulletproof turns, and rappels later, we arced our signatures into the bottom of a wide alpine bowl with pleasantly wind dappled snow; wrapping up another day of adventure in the Sawtooths.

That was last week though, and now the tides are changing as a wet pattern settles in to the western US. And the winter continues…

At least the booting was easy:

Sawtooth Mountains, ID

Sawtooth Mountains, ID

Building character:

Sawtooth Mountains, ID

Rapping up the day:

Sawtooth Mountains, ID


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