It was mid-April and the forecast in Sun Valley called for 60 degrees and rain. Damn the weatherman. A couple days later, I was clawing my way up the What’s Up, Doc? couloir. The rain turned to snow and dumped a foot of fresh. We waded to the top of the 45-degree ribbon. On a narrow ledge, we took in the countless couloirs creating lanes through the toothy range. Once I entered at the top, the snow felt firm. I made short turns, keeping it tight until I reached my guide, Chris Lundy, one of the owner’s of Sawtooth Mountain Guides. From there, we opened up our turns as we exited onto the creamy flanks of the couloir. Then we strapped on skins and moved on to the next one.
Located a five-mile skin in from Stanley, Idaho, about an hour north of Sun Valley, the Williams Peak Yurt sits at 8,000 feet on the eastern slope of Williams Peak. The only yurt in the area, it’s rare to see any other skiers. In addition to their remoteness, the Sawtooths receive significantly more snowfall than Sun Valley due to an orographic advantage. Unguided stays in the yurt cost $40 a night, but guides are highly recommended. Conditions are ideal in late spring, and never trust the local weatherman.