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Williams Peak Hut

Sawtooth Wilderness

Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

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Williams Peak Hut

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  • Hauling in food, gear, and drink is no easy task. At least the Fishook Ridge provides some fantastic vistas.- Williams Peak Hut
  • Sunrise over the White Clouds Peak at the Williams Peak Hut in the Sawtooth Mountains.- Williams Peak Hut
  • Inside the Williams Peak Hut in the Sawtooth Mountains.- Williams Peak Hut
  • Inside the Williams Peak Hut in the Sawtooth Mountains.- Williams Peak Hut
  • Cooking at the Williams Peak Hut in the Sawtooth Mountains.- Williams Peak Hut
  • Skinning up and ready to go.- Williams Peak Hut
  • Chopping wood at the Williams Peak Hut in the Sawtooth Mountains.- Williams Peak Hut
  • Backcountry skiers set a skin track into the Thompson Peak basin in the Sawtooth Mountains.- Williams Peak Hut
  • The group breaks a fresh trail into the Marshall Lakes Basin just an hour and a half from the yurts.- Williams Peak Hut
  • A skier finds his just desserts on the shadow line.- Williams Peak Hut
  • Ascending the south face of Williams Peak. The spires and couloirs of the east ridge of Thompson Peak punctuate the sky above a frozen Profile Lake.- Williams Peak Hut
  • Thomposon Peak (left) and Mount Carter (right) in the background.- Williams Peak Hut
  • Skiing the south face of Williams Peak (10,635') in mid-winter corn conditions.- Williams Peak Hut
  • Skiing the south face of Williams Peak (10,635') in mid-winter corn conditions.- Williams Peak Hut
  • Skiing the south face of Williams Peak (10,635') in mid-winter corn conditions.- Williams Peak Hut
  • Skiing the south face of Williams Peak (10,635') in mid-winter corn conditions.- Williams Peak Hut
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great sheltered skiing. Access to couloirs. Guided services available. Spring ski mountaineering.
Cons: 
Booked well in advance. Long approach. Skiing can get tracked.
Alerts: 
Booking requires a group leader who has completed at least the first level of an avalanche training course and has previously visited the yurt.
Region:
Sun Valley + Sawtooth Mountains, ID
Max slope angle: 
15-30 degrees
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Total Distance: 
10.00 mi (16.09 km)
Trailhead Elevation: 
6,400.00 ft (1,950.72 m)
Vertical descent: 
1,400.00 ft (426.72 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

Along with the Fishook Yurt and the Bench Lakes Hut, the Williams Peak Hut is part of a trio of yurt or hut accommodations in the Sawtooths that can be rented for private backcountry ski trips or fully guided adventures. It is located just outside the Sawtooth Wilderness boundary near the summertime Alpine Way and Marshall Lake Trail.  Kirk Bachman, founder of Sawtooth Mountain Guides, originally installed the handcrafted yurts in 1986. The Williams Peak Hut consists are two yurts, one with a 16- foot diameter and one with a 20-foot diameter, and a total of 16 people can be accommodated.

It can be argued that the Williams Peak Hut occupies the most ideal site for backcountry skiing and touring in the Sawtooths. For that reason, it is frequently booked a year in advance, so plan ahead if you want to reserve a trip with Sawtooth Mountain Guides during the winter.

Access

The wintertime access is from the Stanley Ranger Station (Redfish Lake Road is closed in the winter), which provides an alternative access to the Alpine Way Trail above Fishook Creek. The ski into the yurt is a long but not terribly grueling 4.5-mile trek with stunning views into the Fishook drainage. Plan at least a half-day to get to the yurt. Porters can be hired through Sawtooth Mountain Guides to haul extra gear.

Skiing

One of the things that makes the Williams Peak Hut such an ideal ski location is the abundance of relatively safe north and east facing slopes in the immediate vicinity. There is a 300-foot face below the yurt’s front door that is a great place for short powder laps. The 1,400-foot skin to the top of the “Skiers Summit,” a promontory on the east ridge of Williams Peak, is the next logical destination. Skiing options from the Skiers Summit include an abundance of mellow ridges, shaded tree lines, and steeper faces that drop directly to the yurt.

Depending on snow and avalanche conditions, more adventurous routes are easily accessible for experienced backcountry skiers.  Some popular destinations are the couloirs draining the east ridge of Thompson Peak and a spring descent of the south face of Williams Peak. The spring months (March and April) typically mean a safer and more consolidated snowpack that opens up even more options for tours deeper into the Sawtooths.

Resources and Information

Sawtooth Mountain Guides offers winter avalanche courses and spring ski mountaineering courses out of the yurt. The route from Boise to Stanley via Idaho 21 can be closed in the winter. If this is the case, an alternate route through Sun Valley is the next best option.

Wilderness Regulations

Most of the trail lies within the Sawtooth Wilderness.  Please observe the following  regulations:
• Mountain bikes are not allowed past the wilderness boundary.
• Self administered wilderness permits are required and available at the trailhead.
• Dogs must be on a leash between July 1 and Labor Day.
• Camp 100 feet from trails, lakes and streams.
• Pack out all garbage.
• Human waste should be buried and well disguised in a cat hole that is 6 to 8 inches deep.  Pack out all toilet paper.
• Campfires allowed ONLY in a backcountry pan or fire blanket.
• Campfires are NOT allowed at some lakes and in some drainages in the Sawtooths.  Please review the campfire restrictions at individual trailheads.
• Permits required for all stock use in the wilderness. No grazing allowed in the Salmon River watershed (This includes the Alpine Lake drainage).
• No equine stock at Edith Lake. ALL stock prohibited in the Goat Creek and Alpine Creek (Alturas Lake) drainages.

Reference: All content excerpted from Exploring the Sawtooths - A Comprehensive Guide by Idaho River Publications

Backcountry Safety

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.

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Published in collaboration with Idaho River Publications

Our mission is to inspire adventure with beautiful, comprehensive and waterproof map-based guidebooks.  Owner, publisher, and photographer Matt Leidecker, grew up exploring and guiding on the rivers in central Idaho.  His award winning Middle Fork of the Salmon River – A Comprehensive Guide is the standard by which other river guidebooks are measured.  Printed on virtually indestructible YUPO paper, IRP guides are truly unique all-in-one resources for adventure.  Each book is loaded with full-color maps, stunning photographs, and information on the history, geology, and wildflowers.  Visit Idaho River Publications to explore our guidebooks to the Rogue River in Oregon and the mountains of Central Idaho.

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