How insane are you when it comes to finding powder skiing?
How much effort would you be willing to go through in order to get 1,600 vertical feet of untracked powder?
The original destination of this two-day adventure was to be Mount Borah in the Lost River Range of Idaho. Borah is the tallest peak in Idaho and the Lost River Range is "out in the middle of nowhere". The plan was to drive from Boise to Borah Peak on April 15th, do some reconnaissance that afternoon and do the summit attempt early AM on the 16th, with the planned ski route being the west gullies from the summit. The weather had been setting up just great with highs in the 40s-50s and lows in the teens, which is great for consolidating the snow-pack.
The day before we were to depart, the weather began to deteriorate and we knew that the Borah objective was at risk. Being eternal optimists, (or just plain stupid), we decided to drive over anyway. When we got to Arco and couldn't even see the base of the range, we knew it was a "no go". After a couple of phone calls to assess the situation, we decided to backtrack all the way back to Fairfield and go for more of a backcountry experience vs. ski mountaineering experience above Soldier Mountain Ski Area. We checked in at the only hotel/motel in Fairfield and were set for an early start.
The trail head to the peaks and terrain that lies above the ski area is on the South Fork of Soldier Creek and is accessed directly from the FS 093 road that goes north from the ski area. Our original target was to be the North Smoky Dome summit, but due to the fact that the upper slopes above 9,000 ft had up to a foot of powder and were wind loaded from the storm, we dialed it back and chose a point at 9,300 ft just below the summit. This is where the 1,600 feet of AWESOME powder skiing began. (It was all low angle, low risk terrain). The video below contains the highlights. If anyone is interested, the gps data of the route is on one this Hi-Adventure page.
OK, so what did we go through to get the 1,600 vertical?
- 400 miles of travel.
- 10 mile round trip backcountry trek.
- 3,300 vertical elevation gain and descent, (1,000 feet on foot prior to hitting the snow level).
- Just a shade under 7 hours on the trek for a few minutes of pure untracked, blissful powder.
Would I do it again? Absolutely!!!