For backcountry skiers, there is no better trip than a yurt trip. Backcounry yurts provide shelter and a heating system in remote and cold mountain settings, allowing skiers to explore relatively inaccessible terrain for days on end. The Pioneer Yurt, which is owned and can be rented through Sun Valley Trekking, is located deep in the remote Pioneer mountains of Central Idaho. The Pioneers are Idaho’s second highest mountain range, and the yurt sits in the basin below Hyndman Peak (12,008 feet), the highest peak in the Pioneers.
Each group has the option to either be towed in by snowmobile by a Sun Valley Trekking guide or to skin in all the way from the trailhead. Hiring a guide is highly recommended, as the skin in from the trailhead is long. Skinning in would severely limit the amount of food that can be brought in and would take up the entire first day. A snowmobile tow takes each member of the group to within a mile of the yurt, and then the guide leads the way on skis to the yurt accomodation. Not only does this allow you to bring in more supplies, it helps you find the actual location of the yurt. The yurt is hidden in a patch of trees in the middle of the basin, and finding it unassisted would be challenging.
The ski terrain around the Pioneers is exceptional; from low-angled glades to exposed mountaineering routes, this basin has it all. Hyndman, Old Hyndman, and Cobb Peak tower over the surrounding area, and each offers interesting tours that range in terrain variety and difficulty. The small hill located to the west of the yurt, called Peanut, is an excellent beginner slope where one can get accustomed to the local snowpack. After a full day of skiing, the wood powered sauna tops off what is an incredible winter day in the outdoors.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.