This adventure was published in collaboration wtih Idaho River Publications.
Sun Valley Trekking is a commercial outfitter offering single and multi-day guided backcountry ski trips in the mountains surrounding Stanley and Sun Valley, Idaho. The company owns and operates two backcountry huts or yurts in the vicinity of Redfish Lake, Bench Lakes Hut and Fishhook Yurt. Of the two, Fishhook Yurt serves double duty to both avid backcountry skiers and ski mountaineers as well as more traditional flat, valley bottom “ski tourers”
The access to the yurt is a mellow and absolutely avalanche proof ski up the Redfish Lake Road (closed in the winter) and then out Fishook Creek Canyon. It is 3.9 miles to the yurt. This safe and relatively easy access makes Fishhook an ideal destination for a group with no steep skiing ambitions that simply wants to enjoy the beautiful views, quiet, and solitude of the Sawtooths in winter. The wood-fired hot tub helps pass the idle winter afternoons.
For backcountry skiers, however, the Fishhook yurt is somewhat less ideally situated at the bottom of the Fishhook Creek Canyon. There is a relative dearth of good skiing in close proximity to the yurt. The north-facing slopes are too thickly timbered and the south-facing runs are quickly baked into a breakable crust by the sun.
This is not to imply that there is no good skiing out of the Fishhook Yurt. On the contrary, anytime you can start the day 4 miles from the road at the mouth of a beautiful Sawtooth Canyon, it is a good start for a backcountry ski. The drawback about the skiing, however, is that the routes tend be to be bigger and more committing than at either the Williams Peak Yurt or Bench Lakes Hut. Some popular tours out of Fishhook include skinning into the Profile Lake basin to sample the couloirs draining the north side of the east ridge of Thompson Peak (though you may encounter skiers from the Williams Peak hut on this tour). The Monolith Valley is an impressive cirque to the southwest. There are numerous faces, flanks, and couloirs to sample in this beautiful north-facing tributary.
The real gem of the Fishhook however, is the Sickle Couloir. This narrow sliver of snow on the north side of Horstman Peak is perhaps the most iconic of Sawtooth ski lines. The challenging access through dense forest and narrow, committing crux (in excess of 50 degrees) prevent most average skiers from attempting the line.
All of these ski tours, however, are committing routes that require difficult navigation and an acute sense of the avalanche hazard and stability. In general, the Fishhook shines when spring ski and mountaineering tours are most accessible in the months of March and April.
Inquire with Sun Valley Trekking for all of the necessary details and information about booking a private rental or guided tour out of the Fishhook Yurt.
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.