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Cruxing Out

Skiing couloirs and chugging wine in Idaho’s Sawtooth Range.
By Kevin Luby
posted: 10/28/2013

Crux move. Last April, during my three days climbing and skiing Idaho’s Sawtooth Range with Sawtooth Mountain Guides, the term became the preferred nomenclature for anything hairy, ill advised, but ultimately awesome on the trip. Backflipping a poorly constructed kicker outside the yurt whilst heavily libated? Crux move. A little waist-deep wallowing up one of the Sawtooth’s famous couloirs? Crux move. Mixed climbing over an exposed knife-edge ridge to a platform just big enough to put my skis on? Crux move.

Ostensibly, I’d come to the Sawtooths to check out an arsenal of new backcountry gear from Scott Sports. With their recent acquisition of Garmont boots, the company now makes just about everything for a day out of bounds—skis, boots, outerwear, base layers, helmets, goggles—all of it really solid stuff. But I spent a good part of my childhood driving past the Sawtooth Range enroute to visit family in Sun Valley, the jagged peaks, as much as the shiny new equipment, had me all hot and bothered.

See more photos here.

Aside from its towering spires, veiny couloirs, and vertical rock, the beauty of the Sawtooths is in its geography. Already in remote Central Idaho, most of the peaks require long, day-trip-deterring approaches. Our group broke trail each morning through creamy spring storm snow and wind deposits, and I never saw another skin track. These mountains offer ample room for solitude and debauchery, two key ingredients for any successful hut trip. And from the cozy Williams Peak Yurt, our guides, Sara and Chris Lundy and Marc Hanselman, toured us around the Sawtooth playground, kept us well fed, mixed us strong margaritas, and seemed mostly unfazed by our shenanigans, even after the bagged wine showed up. Crux move.

Get there:

The Williams Peak Yurt is operated by Sawtooth Mountain Guides. Trips to the yurt can be booked as unguided and unsupported, but on guided trips, the folks at SMG will schlep in food, extra gear, and some party supplies, cook for you, and help you ski the best snow and terrain in the Sawtooths.

Sawtoothguides.com

The best access to the Sawtooths is through Sun Valley and Ketchum, Idaho. If you have an extra night, stay at the resort, grab a burger and a schooner at Grumpy’s, and a nightcap at the Casino.

Sunvalley.com

Grumpyssunvalley.com

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