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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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