Monday, February 15, 2010

Bogus Basin Sidecountry - 2/15/2010

Hello my friends!

It has been few weeks since the last posting. The last weekend of January I was teaching the final session of a NSP Avalanche Level 2 course at Soldier Mountain Resort. I was privileged to have some of the hardest working students any instructor can ever wish for. After a December weekend at Brundage and the Payette forest, another January weekend at Bogus Basin and Mores Creek Summit, and a final weekend at Soldier Mountain resort, with the last day touring around Peak 1, it was time to be done with this NSP course.

Once the NSP AVI L2 course was completed, I switched gears to ski guiding trips for Wallowa Alpine Huts ( The last week trip was my second guided trip for the season, and it was a trip full of POW turns, and a MOST fantastic group of clients. Slopes below 8000 feet rewarded us with safe steep skiing (excess of 40 degrees!).

We were also blessed with some alpenglow views, check Norway Peak - Southern Wallowas, NE-Oregon:

Anyway, time to switch gears to the Idaho Mountains. Today I skied Bogus sidecountry with Fritz, my 16 year old son. We had a great time skiing the North bowl of Bob's Knob as well as its NW glades to the north-east of the Pine Creek Chairlift.

Please refer to posting from April 2008 with "beta" this general area:

The next short video was filmed today during our outing. Not bad skiing considering the the snow was Moist!

Some Pictures of the area we toured and skied:

Nice open slopes (above), and fabulous tree skiing (below).

But not everything was perfect - we had periods of DENSE fog.

Fritz playing with his split-board:

As my son had some lunch I quickly studied the snowpack on a 32 degree slope with a NNW aspect:
  • The snow depth ranged from 1.4 to 1.6 meter, and the hardness transitions gradually from Fist (top 20 cm), to 4F (next 40 cm), to 1F (60 to 1.2 m). The bottom 10 cm of the pack has DH but is showing signs of bonding with a hardness of 4F, not the typical cohesion-less crystals.
  • Compression column stability tests had Q3 quality shears at 30 and 40 cm, with Moderate and Hard compression scores respectively.
  • The most recent 10 cm layer of new snow above SH was reactive to "tilt test" in "easy range, but the "shallow" soft slab conditions make it hard to detect during compression tests (CTEQ2). This layer is of little concern to the terrain we skied today. It is likely that the VERY moist top snowpack and warm temperatures will provide the conditions to destroy the SH below the new snow. But as snow continues to accumulate it will be prudent to track this weak layer.
  • Deep tap tests (where the top 50 cm of the snowpack was removed) did NOT produce any fracture below the 50 cm from the surface to the bottom of the snowpack. This is the first time of this season (for me!) where the bottom layers of the snowpack did NOT react to CT tests.
The snowpack observations for the Bogus Basin sidecountry are encouraging, and I hope they reflect a trend for the region, where the early season deep instability starts to become a lesser concern.

As the we returned to the top of Pine Creek chairlift the mid-afternoon fog started to clear.

Mores Mountain, north of Shafer Butte - Bogus Basin (not Mores Creek Summit).

View from Shafer Butte to the West, into the fog covered Boise Valley.

 I will attempt to go an a "Dawn Patrol" later this week, if we get new snow (maybe Wednesday), and share more obs on ski conditions for our area.



  1. How is the skiing off of Mores Mountain? Seems like you could get some decently long runs? Also has anyone ever tried to ski at Squaw Butte? The top elevation being 5800ft I am skeptical but the coverage looks good from afar. Jeb (

  2. Mores Mountain offers a lot of skiing opportunities. It is easily accessed vis Bogus Basin Ski resort.

    The west and NW aspect of Mores Mountain has relatively short runs (~400) that creates the perception of longer runs due to their lower angle. There are also some very short/steep features next to rock formations where you can have GREAT FUN!

    Mores Mountain east aspect get most the BC skiers visits. The skiing can be exceptionally good, but it is somewhat sensitive to solar radiation and wind effects. With some patience, you can have epic powder skiing, and later in the season incredibly good corn skiing. The runs are longer depending on snow depth, but it is not unusual to have 800 feet vertical in a run.

    Mores Mountain south aspect, what is very visible from the resort, usually has very thin coverage. But do not ignore it - there is great corn skiing EARLY in spring season.

    Mores mountain is not the only sidecountry next to Bogus that offers great skiing. Get a topo map of the area, and explore the Clear Creek drainage (SE of Showcase), the headwaters of Dry Creek (South of Deer Point), and lots of other varied terrain to the North and East of the Pine Creek area.

    Look through some old posting on this blog for beta on these areas. Some postings also have topo maps.

    About Squaw Butte - I know NOTHING! But I suspect that with good timing and a set of rock skis skiing is possible at Squaw Butte.

    During the 90's we had more snow, and there were few opportunities to be able to backcountry ski (with rock skis) the Boise foothills, particularly the Rocky Canyon area. But Mother nature has not been helping lately!


  3. Chago

    First of all I want to say thank you for the awesome blog and great info and beta. I owe you one. I was born in raised in Boise and learned to ski at Bogus. Lived in Seattle for the past 4 years for college and learned (and learned to love) backcountry skiing and touring in the Cascades and the side/backcountry from resorts in that area.

    I have recently moved back to Boise and I was so encouraged to find this blog and to find out that there was real side/back country at Bogus, which I could have never believed!

    I actually was there this morning and skied Bobs knob thanks to your beta and maps. Awesome! Looking at your TOPO map from 4/7/08 of curious why you take the purple skin track you did, and not the "traditional" green track? To exit the north bowl I take it you traversed left to meet up with the "easiest way down" cat track?

    I'm excited to go explore the Clear creek and dry creek drainages! I assume to access the dry creek drainage you use the gate just to the right as you offload from deer point quad? have you ever skied this drainage to the point of skinning out to reach shafer butte road back to bogus basin road and then hitch hiking back to the resort? and for clear creek drainage, is there a gate near showcase chair?

    Again thanks so much for all this great info. One bummer about leaving the cascades is that I have left all my ski partners behind. Are there any touring groups or clubs you know of where I might be able to meet like minded people? I'd love to find more people to ski with.

    Many thanks and best wishes!
    Matt (

  4. We've had lots of surface hoar layers this winter, so it was only a matter of time before one of them reared their ugly head.

    Today I released a moderately large slab avalanche on a relatively low-angle, north-facing slope just north of Point 7408 (just north of Sunset Peak). Coordinates are approx. N 43.91196 W 115.64398. I felt it break beneath me and easily skied out of the way. One of my ski partners was in the safe zone to the left and the other had not entered the slope. We were skiing conservatively, knowing that an avalanche was possible given the collapsing and cracking we noticed while skinning up the slope. We chose not to ski the steeper slope in the area that we'd been hoping to ski, but instead were "testing" nearby slopes in the range of 25-32 degrees.

    Bed surface was surface hoar that formed last week. Slab was a foot deep, composed of snow that fell on the weekend and yesterday. Slope angle at the start zone was measured in 3 places at 28, 30, and 32 degrees. Rather low angle for avalanches for sure, but not atypical of avalanches that run on surface hoar.

    Here's my ski track above the crown:

    View up from about half way down:

    View down from about half way down:

    We continued skiing down the slope with noticing any other instabilities. We decided to cut our tour short and head back to Winter Corner, where we didn't notice any collapsing or cracking during out skin up earlier in the morning. We skied 5 runs there without noticing any instabilities.

    The avalanche occurred in an open meadow where the surface hoar layer was thick. We suspect the layer is sporadically present because no other instabilities were noted the rest of the day, and probably absent entirely under the trees. This layer will be a problem for weeks to come. The best we can hope for is warm temperatures and a big dump of new snow to crush the surface hoar. It's supposed to be quite warm over the next few days, with a modest amount of new snow over the weekend. My recommendation would be to skin up slopes you want to ski, keeping our eyes and ears open for collapses and cracks. Quick hand pits should show whether the layer is present.



The authors of this blog welcome any comments and suggestions that help with the mission of this blog or that positively strengthen the community represented by this blog.

Your message is of great value. Your comments will be posted as soon as possible.

Messages with profanity, poor taste, or lacking constructive value will not be posted.