Smoky Dome


A fantastic ski trip at the end of April

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

Lew and I had been talking about a traverse of the Soldiers for some time. With a huge snowpack this winter, we were able to give it a try at the end of April. Sunny skies, deep snow, and t-shirts!

We wanted to see our quarry before we started up, so we left Boise at about 6:30am.

Soldier mountains

We drove straight to the Soldier Mountain ski area, and were on our skis at about 9am. It was cold, and we were able to ski from the parking lot on firm snow, but by the time we reached the top of the area, it was t-shirt weather.

Lew at the top of Soldier Mountain ski area

We had forgotten how slow you are when skiing with a full pack, so it was after 1pm when we reached the top of Second Peak- we had opted for the longer, gradual route which bypassed First Peak.

The views were stunning. Behind us is Third Peak, and then Smoky Dome.

View from the top of Second Peak

When we got down to the saddle between Second Peak and Third Peak, we checked the map- it didn't look like any good camp spots between Third and Smoky Dome, and it was late in the day. So we dropped our big packs, and skied up Third with daypacks. That's Second Peak behind Lew.

View from the top of Third Peak
Then is was time to get some turns. Lew sliced the corn. Our cheeks hurt from smiling so much. Lew making turns on Third Peak

We trudged back up the hill to the ridge and our gear, and set up camp at about 4:30pm. The views from the campsite were incredible. Those are the Sawtooths behind John.

John in camp

And that's Fairfield and the Camas Prairie behind Lew.

Wait a minute... do I smell 12-year old scotch?

Lew in camp

Although it hadn't really frozen during the night, the next morning the snow was still pretty firm. So we chose crampons to go back up Third Peak again, and walked down the other side as well.

Third Peak

This is the ridge we followed to get up Smoky Dome.

By the time we got down to the saddle off of Third Peak, the snow was already softening. So we were on skis the whole way. Not too bad, but there were some serious drops off the right-hand side.

Smoky Dome east ridge
Here's the view back down the ridge from just below Smoky Dome's summit. On the ridge, there were also some good-size cornices. John near top of Smoky Dome
From the top of Smoky Dome, you can see some mountains. John on top of Smoky dome
After a lengthy lunch- we didn't really eat much, just stared- it was time to get some more turns. We dropped a long way down the face, but there was still lots of skiing left below us when the snow started to be too soft. John turning on Smoky dome

As we worked our way back up, there wasn't a breath of wind, and the sun was baking down on us. It was a relief to finally get back up Third Peak (for the Third time!) and get a slight breeze.

Then it was down to the camp (circled in red) and heading back for the car at about 2:30pm.


The day had been too warm, so the descent off of Second Peak (which we had now climbed for the Second time) was a little tricky- the deep, slushy snow had a tendency to grab at your feet, and the big packs didn't help. I did one really solid face plant- and to get up, you had to get your pack off first.

But we made our way down, and by the time we got to the top of the ski area again (Lew is on the right of the picture), there were ominous clouds moving in.

Mount Hood from the plane on the flight home

We got back to Boise at a little after 7pm, unloaded, and went into the house to get Lew a copy of the pictures. Moments later, a huge thunderstorm hit, with torrential downpours and winds over 50mph at the airport.

Whew! We were glad not to be up high on the ridge for that.

More Smoky dome info


Mr. Natural Home | 2006 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski