But we had ruled it out for today’s objective earlier this morning in our planning session. Suddenly Dar speaks up and says, “Why aren’t we doing Beaverdam”? We all break into big grins in unison and that is it, the decision is made, the plan is changed and we are headed back up the track to make our way to Beaver Dam.
We have just reached our intended skin track for the day and we intend to head up the drainage towards Sawtooth Peak. Along the way, we will investigate one of our favorite areas called “The Pillows”, a NE facing burned area full of logs, boulders, terrain drops and small cliffs. On powder days this area is a great place to play, but we haven’t had fresh powder in a week. Here is the problem that is unspoken in all of our minds. We have just arrived here by skiing down the cat track from the yurts and on the way we have been salivating at the prospects of skiing the peak to our west, Beaverdam Peak.
Beaverdam is one of the bigger, more prominent peaks in the range and it has a classic route that I’ve been scoping for a couple of years. It involves skinning and bootpacking to get to the top. The ascent and descent will be the same route, in order to scope out obstacles. There is a steep avy gully that leads to a steeper ramp, (45-50 degrees), another short gully and the east face, then a scramble up the south ridge to the summit.
The Lick Creek Yurts, operated by Payette Powder Guides, offer a true backcountry skiing experience for anyone from and intermediate level to the most hardcore thrill-seeker. One of the somewhat unique features is that the yurts themselves can be accessed with snow-cats or snowmobiles, but then the rest is human powered. This allows the group to easily bring in food and drinks to recharge each day with gourmet style meals. And, it doesn’t hurt that they are located right in the middle of one of those strong snow zones, with tons of terrain literally right out the door.
On this trip, we skied mainly north facing chutes and glades that still had great powder for a storm that had dropped about 10 inches 5 days earlier and another inch or two the night before.
Group lead Dan Meeker, along with Chris Cook did a great job of organizing and planning. Brady and Caleb are beasts at setting skin tracks and leading off on bootpacking with relentless persistence. And as long as they set a track, Dar and I were game to follow. All in all, it was a perfect blend of age, youth, experience and skill. And of course, we had fun and came home safe – that is the definition of success in the backcountry!
Video Highlights of the Skiing (Beaverdam Peak ski highlights start at 3:48).
GPS Map (Downloadable)