Idaho Couloirs

Idaho’s Sawtooth Wilderness has a rich history of ski and snowboard exploration and an established system of yurts from which one can access a plethora of granite-backed couloirs, from mini-golf-esque to big and burly. Josh Dirksen, Mike Basich, Cory Smith, photographer Mark Welsh and a handful of local shreds join guide Clark Corey for three days of line hunting at the Williams Peak Yurt.

“I like it when you become used to doing stuff like this; the scary part wears off, and it’s just fun,” says Josh Dirksen. He is standing beside me, looking down our bootpack at one of the many 50-plus degree couloirs that slice and dice a prominent ridge on Thompson Peak—the highest peak in central Idaho’s Sawtooth Range. Granite walls funnel into a narrow crux, and flat light obscures the contours of the line, giving us pause. But the snow at the top is just right: soft but not too sloughy, deepening to a foot of dry Rocky Mountain powder through the gut. Despite the exposure, Dirksen’s riding is confident and playful and even through flat light we can see he has become comfortable in these mountains; riding lines with enough consequence to make you think twice, but not fall-and-die exposure. And that’s the theme of this trip: a sort of casual snowboard mountaineering experience—for a guy like Dirksen anyways…

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