Thursday, January 26, 2012

Avalanches do actually occur at Pilot Peak ... take a look at this blog post to see the slide

I'm taking a break from my blog and radio program this week, and in the meantime, please take a look at this excellent post from the Mores Creek Summit Backcountry Ski Blog.

You'll see that several guys were up skiing at Pilot Peak on Tuesday of this week and encountered several slab avalanches on their way up. See video, photos and blog for the full explanation.

Be safe out there!
- SS

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Enjoy the new snow! Finally!!! Watch out for avalanche danger in the backcountry

2 feet of new snow in 2 days at Brundage Mountain. Woo hoo! (Courtesy

The whole NW region is getting hammered with precip. Bring it! (Courtesy NOAA)
Hi all,

Well, that bullet-proof ridge of high pressure that prevented any storms from hitting the Pacific Northwest for 6+ weeks is finally gone, and now we can go play in the snow. Yay!

My message this week is "enjoy the snow" with a few words of caution, and I've got a reminder below about the Jan. 31 deadline for river permits.

Because we've been getting hit with so much snow in such a short amount of time, please be aware that skiing in the backcountry is VERY HAZARDOUS right now. Here's a link to the Payette Avalanche Center with their latest forecast, which indicates that the avalanche danger is currently "high," and expected to get worse. More than 30 inches of snow has fallen in the high country in the last three days, with a ton more coming.

No matter what, be sure to pack an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe if you venture into the backcountry. And know how to use those tools!

I would recommend skiing or riding at an established resort in the next few days for the safest conditions. Bogus Basin has opened the front side of the mountain, and as more snow falls, watch for the backside to open soon. Can't wait to try the new Superior quad! Brundage Mountain has been getting hit with tons of powder, and so has Tamarack. Sun Valley hasn't received quite as much snow as the west-central mountains, but I'm sure the skiing there is fabulous as well.

The Idaho City Park n' Ski Areas also are getting hammered with snow. Snow depths were well over 30 inches as of Thursday morning, Jan. 19. Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation officials recommend trying the Gold Fork and Banner Ridge ski and snowshoe trails this weekend. The groomer has been working around the clock on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week. IDPR recommends that you call the grooming hotline to get the latest conditions. Call 208-514-2423.

Try to stick to the groomed trails or at least the trails that have been groomed most recently for the best conditions at the Park n' Ski areas. Off-trail snowshoeing will be REALLY deep and challenging. Stay off steep slopes to avoid avalanche danger.

IDPR officials recommend that you bring a snow shovel for digging out your vehicle in case you get stuck or the vehicle get smothered with snow while you're out having fun. Also, be sure to drive a 4WD vehicle if you go to one of the Park n' Ski areas. You'll get stuck otherwise, and it won't be pretty.

Enjoy the snow!

Here's a reminder about river permits -- they're due on Jan. 31. If you'd like to apply for a private permit to run Hells Canyon, the Middle Fork of the Salmon, Main Salmon or the Selway River, you need to apply through Get a group of your friends together and apply for similar dates at a time when you can take a vacation on an Idaho river.

It costs $6 to apply. You'll find out in late February whether you were successful. If you are lucky enough to draw a permit, you'll be the most popular person in your circle of friends. Use that leverage for all it's worth! :)

If you'd rather go on a guided raft trip with an outfitter, see the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association web site to look into that possibility. Idaho has many wonderful outfitters and guides who can take you on a trip of a lifetime.

Have fun!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Anthony Lakes is a great place to ski right now + Louder for Powder next Wed. night

Norm Nelson skis a run at Anthony Lakes near Baker, OR

Hi all,

My friend Norm Nelson and I decided to take a little road trip to Anthony Lakes Ski Area in Eastern Oregon last weekend for a change of scenery. As in: Get out of the brown and into the white! We had heard that the skiing was quite good at Anthony, and they were reporting a 32-inch base (all natural snow), so that seemed promising.

We drove over on Saturday afternoon, stayed at the Super 8 in Baker ($67/night for two people) skied all day Sunday and got home by 7 p.m. on Sunday night. It takes about 2.5 hours from Boise to drive directly to the Anthony Lakes parking lot, but it's an easy drive -- 2 hours on I-84 and 30 minutes to the resort on a winding two-lane paved road from North Powder.

The skiing was fabulous, I thought. I ran into Scott Perryman and two of his friends from Boise who skied 3 days at Anthony last weekend, and this is what he had to say:

"It was a pleasant surprise," Perryman says. "It was my first time there, and I thought, damn, this is kind of sweet! We kept exploring and finding little pockets and little hidey-holes, and it was a blast. I would definitely go back."

Anthony has 1,100 acres of skiable terrain; 21 named runs. Lift tickets are $36/day for adults. If you ski on a Thursday, lift tickets are only $17.50! Plan on paying for a $4 snow park permit. The terrain is weighted a bit on the expert side, with 42 percent of the mountain rated advanced/expert, 38 percent intermediate, and 20 percent beginner. It's a fun mountain to ski because it's got a little bit of everything. It also has a terrain park.

I brought my cross-country skate skis, and took a nice loop around the groomed cross-country track with my old friend Russ West from La Grande. Russ participated in a dual race on Sunday, which drew a few Nordic skiers from Boise and the local communities. He said one of the skiers from Boise would have won the race but he took 4 wrong turns and still got third. Always helps to know the course!

The xc track was exquisitely groomed. About 24 kilometers of ski trail are open right now, and a total of 37K's will be available when all of the Nordic trails are open. If you're just a xc skier, I think the trip to Anthony would be well worthwhile. If you like to alpine and xc ski, all the better! It just adds to the diversity of your experience and provides a great workout.

Anthony also has great backcountry skiing for those of you who have your own backcountry gear, and it offers cat skiing trips, servicing the wide open backcountry terrain behind the resort. Those trips cost $199/person. Check the web site on how to sign up.

For the best stay-and-play deals, see Anthony's web site for lodging options. You'll find the best deals at the Best Western Sunridge in Baker ($109 for one person lodging, $10 meal voucher and free lift ticket), and the Grand Geiser Hotel, an historic building with great ambiance and great food ($149 for two people for one night, plus free lift tickets). Both hotels have a variety of deals for families, singles and couples. Inquire for more details.

If you haven't heard, there's a fun party being planned for the Basque Block for Bogus Basin season pass holders next Wednesday night, Jan. 18. They're calling it, "Get Louder for Powder!" Boise's own Curtis Stigers will headline an evening full of live music, food, beer and wine. Participants are encouraged to wear ski clothes and goggles and chant for snow! Party hardy!

There will be $1 beers and $1 Bogus Burgers for pass holders (be sure to bring your season pass). How can you go wrong!

I'm planning on showing up ... it's kind of a morale-booster for Bogus pass holders, and it's a chance to show your support for our favorite local nonprofit ski mountain.

If the weather report now being circulated holds true, it should be either raining or snowing next Wednesday night ... looks like a whole series of storms will be coming through next week. Gawd, I hope that it happens!
- SS

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Travel to the snow & enjoy free cross-country ski day this weekend in the Idaho sunshine...

Head for the snow near Idaho City, McCall or Ketchum/Sun Valley
to enjoy free cross-country ski day this weekend
Hi all,

Well, I put up a Facebook post yesterday, asking people how they're coping with little to no snow, and what they're doing instead, and I got a bunch of funny responses ... One guy said he's going diving in Cozumel, an island off the Caribbean coast of Mexico (jealous!), other folks said they're hiking and mountain biking but getting "impatient" with the wacky weather, others are snow-biking, road biking, doing rehab, cleaning the house -- all kinds of stuff.

It's one of those winters so far where you can do practically anything except ski/ride at our local hill ... hang in there Bogus!

On Saturday, it's supposed to be pretty warm and sunny, so you might as well take advantage of free cross-country ski day at the Idaho City Park 'n Ski Areas, Ponderosa Park in McCall or Galena Lodge north of Ketchum/Sun Valley. On Sunday, all of the Blaine County Recreation District cross-country ski trails are open free of charge, and at Galena Lodge, they're offering free lessons with free equipment in the afternoon. An intro to skate skiing will be offered at 1 p.m., and an intro to traditional kick-and-glide cross-country skiing (known as "classic") will be at 2:30 p.m. Call 208-726-4010 to register. More than 30 kilometers of xc skiing are open in the Wood River Valley ... the area received more than 2 feet of snow last week.

On Saturday, all of the Idaho City Park 'n Ski Area parking lots are open at no charge. Leo Hennessy says there is 18 inches of snow at the xc ski areas, and most of the trails were groomed on Tuesday. "It should be a fun weekend," he said. "People don't think we have snow, but we do have snow."

The objective of the free xc ski day is to get more people to try the sport of cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. To that end, there will be free beginning snowshoe classes at the Whoop-Um-Up parking site at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (email Judy Ditto: to sign up). And there will be an intermediate and advanced snowshoe class from the Beaver Creek Summit trailhead/parking area. Call Leo at 208-866-6471 to sign up for either one of those classes. You will need to bring your own equipment for the classes. Rentals are available at Idaho Mountain Touring and REI.

Hennessy recommends the Gold Fork area as a good place to cross-country ski on Saturday. There is a nice loop to the Whispering Pines yurt, where free hot chocolate will be served. You also could snowshoe to Whispering Pines.

At Ponderosa Park, free lessons and equipment for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing will be available from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Gravity Sports and Hometown Sports are providing ski equipment, and McCall Parks and Recreation officials are teaching the lessons. Snowshoe lessons and tours are being provided by the McCall Outdoor Science School. For more information, call 208-634-2164.

Bear Basin is not participating in free xc ski day, but trail manager Ed Roper reports that they will be grooming the trail system late Saturday afternoon to provide freshly groomed trails for moonlight skiing Saturday night. Show up around 7ish to sample the trails under a super-big moon. Monday is the official full moon.

If you want to go downhill skiing, Brundage Mountain just announced a new discounted lift ticket special for people who have a Bogus Basin Season Pass. Brundage is discounting daily lift fees by $30 for Bogus pass holders Monday - Thursday, so it would be $25 instead of $55 for adults, and $20 discounts on Fridays and weekends ... $35 instead of $55 for adults.

Tamarack Resort and Sun Valley have solid conditions with plenty of man-made snow to augment natural snow. I've heard good things about the skiing at Anthony Lakes near North Powder, Ore., too. (They're open Thursday-Sunday)

Next week, the new 30-day weather forecasts come out, so we'll have a better picture of what's in store for the next month. The National Weather Service was way off target on the existing 30-day forecast, which called for wetter than normal conditions. High pressure continues to dominate and no significant precipitation is in the forecast for the next week to 10 days. How many times have you heard that lately? Geez!
Steve shares his weekly outdoor tips with Ken and Tim on 94.9 FM The River each Friday morning in Boise at approximately 7:10 a.m. If you miss the program, you can hear the segments on River Detailed descriptions and color maps of Steve's hikes, bike rides and paddling trips are available for 99 cents each at, plus the full ebooks and hard-copy guidebooks.