Take Me to Mount Church - Lost River Range
A multi-day adventure skiing the third tallest peak in Idaho, Mount Church, in the geologically unique Lost River Range on the Vanguard 107 backcountry ski.
Continual progression as a person, skier, and nature advocate is important to me. After several season ending injuries over the past few years, I’ve had lots of time to think. What my soul aches for is the adventure of backcountry skiing, the pure joy of experiencing beauty of a remote rugged landscape, the challenge of navigating while attaining a goal, and sharing that experience with cherished partners. The powder, adrenaline, and cold beer are always welcome, too!
This past April, after further perfecting my spread eagle and acquiring the optimal jorts to ski-boot tan line at Alta Ski Area’s legendary closing day, The Frank, I packed my ski gear into my truck and drove directly into the neon sunset departing Salt Lake City. I was headed for the next version of spring skiing. Arriving in Sun Valley, Idaho five hours later, I met up with Jeremy Lato to continue the adventure into the Pahsimeroi Valley where the Lost River Range emerges vacant of people.
One of the more geologically unique high mountain ranges of the Rocky Mountains located in central Idaho is the Lost River Range. This rugged fault block mountain range began to form 46 million years ago as the “Earth’s crust was stretched apart and the Lost River block began to rise in relation to the valley floors.” Folded Proterozoic and Paleozoic sedimentary rocks make up the range which looks like chocolate layered cake when covered with snow. The range spans approximately 75 miles and contains seven of the nine 12,000-foot elevation peaks in Idaho.
Mount Church is the third tallest peak in the state of Idaho climbing to 12,200 ft just behind Leatherman Peak (12,228 ft) and Borah Peak (12,662 ft). Our goal was to ski Mount Church and Bad Rock. Our destination was accessed from the East side of the Lost River mountain range by driving miles along long rough 4x4 dirt roads into the Pahsimeroi Valley.
Jeremy and I met two of our friends, Bo Torrey and Cody Hughes, out at our base camp. The next morning (full of coffee, bacon and eggs) the four of us hiked several miles and crossed a few streams before putting our ski gear on. After several more miles of skinning uphill, Mount Church came into sight. It’s truly one of the most unique and aesthetic mountains with layers of twisted cliff bands. Soon we were boot packing the stairway to heaven summiting with a massive sundog beaming. The grueling approach was worth the open fast descente with primo snow conditions. Each of us claimed a different ramp to arch turns down. This run became my favorite ski lines to date.
After returning to camp that evening, Cody and Bo headed back to Salt Lake City. Jeremy and I waited out a two day snow storm before hiking back into the heart of the peaks. We ascended half way up the middle chute of Bad Rock, and with blistering winds, we decided the snow conditions didn’t permit us to continue to the top due to new snow paired with high winds. This led us to a pleasant surprise of glorious spring corn turns at lower elevation which overlooked both Bad Rock and Mt Church. I’ll definitely be returning to this place often in the future!
The Ski: During this adventure, I used the Icelantic backcountry touring ski, The Vanguard 107. It is light, fast and durable which provides me with a strong sense of comfort riding a ski I can trust deep in the remote backcountry. This ski is lightweight for the uphill travel with the sustainably-sourced ultra-light “ochroma” wood core. Its 107mm waist combined with a rockered tip and flat tail allows for great floatation in deep snow and solid stability in varied conditions that the backcountry offers. Vanguard 107 was absolutely perfect for the variety of conditions we skied in the Lost Rivers.
See you on the skin track! @AmyJaneDavid