Regardless of old man winter’s fickle temperament and unpredictable generosity, you can always count on the good folks at Sawtooth Mountain Guides to sniff out the stashes and pave the skin track to the goods. When slopes on Baldy rattle your teeth, soft powder conditions can often be found in the vast backcountry surrounding Sun Valley.
Sawtooth Mountain Guides is comprised of owners Chris and Sara Lundy and Erik Leidecker, as well as a professional staff of trained guides. Founded in 1985, they specialize in year-round mountain guiding for rock, ice, and alpine climbing, hiking and backpacking, backcountry skiing, and ski mountaineering. This winter they kicked the season off in style with their Backcountry Skills Course, an introductory program for those looking to get into the backcountry, or just refresh their Avi education and ride some powder. The added bonus of the 3-day course was the accommodations- staying at the Williams Peak Hut in the heart of the Sawtooths. Less than an hour north of Sun Valley, The Williams Peak Hut is an experience in itself, and books a year in advance for good reason. Nestled at the base of Williams Peak, 2 fully stocked yurts provide access to all levels of terrain- from mellow powder fields to the steepest, burliest couloirs, the Williams Peak basin is a backcountry skier/boarder’s paradise. In the words of SMG owner Chris Lundy, “While we take pride in our cozy yurts, it’s the terrain in the northern Sawtooths that brings people back year after year. Whether enjoying friendly powder under the high peaks or tackling the steeps, I never take a day of skiing up there for granted.”
The BC skills course covered topics ranging from trip planning to uphill skinning techniques, from avi education to gear repair and maintenance.With a focus on skiing/riding, the course struck the perfect balance between learning and playing. In addition to the BC skills course, SMG offers a variety of education courses like the AIARE accredited Level 1, & 2 Avalanche Courses, as well as their weekly “Powder Patrol”- guided day outings for all experience levels that focus purely on seeking out the best snow for skiing /riding. New this year is their “Chute Club” outings- for advanced skiers and riders looking to explore more adventurous terrain . In the spring, SMG offers a popular Ski Mountaineering Camp, which places an emphasis on learning to access and ski/ride technical terrain. Chris summarizes their programs this way, “Maybe you want to learn to make safe decisions on your own, or perhaps you’d rather leave the risk management to professionals so you maximize your skiing. Either way, we can help.”