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Backcountry Winter Touring in Yellowstone

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Backcountry Winter Touring in Yellowstone

Postby climbingaggie03 » Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:27 pm

So I was in yellowstone this summer and I kept thinking about how awesome that place must be in the winter and I told myself that I'd try and get up there for a winter trip. My buddy and I are starting to plan a trip, but I'm not finding tons of information about things up there in the winter, so I thought I'd reach out and see if anyone has been up there in winter, has some good ideas for trails, or can suggest some resources.

my thought is a 3-4 day trip through the backcountry skiing/snowshoeing 6-10 miles a day. I'd love to see some of the lesser seen thermal features (if there are any) or even some that aren't as easily accessible in winter. But mostly I just want to have a nice quiet remote feeling ski tour. My buddy and I are pretty well versed in winter camping, I have a Grand shelters igloo maker that I wouldn't mind putting to use, as well as various other snow shelters are a possibility.

I did find maps of the ski trails on the national parks website, but it seems like most of the trails are more geared towards day trips on groomed trails. Groomed trails are nice and I don't mind using them for some of our route, but I'd rather be in a more wild setting.

We're also open to the idea of a day of snowmobiling, and I'm not opposed to getting a head start from a snow coach.

Thanks for any and all help

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Re: Backcountry Winter Touring in Yellowstone

Postby pills2619 » Fri Jan 18, 2013 10:22 am

The absolute best information I have received from any source other than this website is by calling the ranger stations in National Parks. They always seem to know exactly what I'm looking to do if for some reason I couldn't pick my trip due to lack of information. On top of that most of the rangers know the conditions incredibly well in all parts of the park and after talking to them for a few min they generally have a good feel of your experience and your ambitions and can point you in the right direction to have an incredible time. I think it would be a cool trip to try and see as many high passes in the park and frozen waterfalls as I could especially while ski touring.
They forget that some crisis is necessary to hone skill. "Near misses," those brief encounters with the reality of mortality, are great learning tools if properly approached. -Denali Climbers Guidebook

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Re: Backcountry Winter Touring in Yellowstone

Postby pbakwin » Fri Jan 18, 2013 10:41 am

This won't be very helpful, but please allow me to reminisce. I did a winter trip to Yellowstone maybe 35 years ago. We were brought into the Old Faithful area by snow cat & stayed in the lodge there. The touring was very nice, peaceful, and extensive. There are probably more snow mobiles now, unless they've banned them. Super cool to see the thermal features w/o the huge crowds & in the winter wonderland. Wildlife was also abundant, of course. Very memorable trip!

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Re: Backcountry Winter Touring in Yellowstone

Postby schrund » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:15 am

I read this book: http://www.amazon.com/Death-Yellowstone-Accidents-Foolhardiness-National/dp/1570980217 The entire 1st chapter is about people who died falling into thermal springs at Yellowstone, numerous of which did so in Winter. It made me 2nd guess myself about Wintering there.
We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, and winding streams... as "wild". Only to the white man was nature a "wilderness".
-Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Chief

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Re: Backcountry Winter Touring in Yellowstone

Postby peter303 » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:25 am

pbakwin wrote:This won't be very helpful, but please allow me to reminisce. I did a winter trip to Yellowstone maybe 35 years ago. We were brought into the Old Faithful area by snow cat & stayed in the lodge there. The touring was very nice, peaceful, and extensive. There are probably more snow mobiles now, unless they've banned them. Super cool to see the thermal features w/o the huge crowds & in the winter wonderland. Wildlife was also abundant, of course. Very memorable trip!

Thy still do some of this:
http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/concessnprog.htm

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Re: Backcountry Winter Touring in Yellowstone

Postby Igloo Ed » Thu Jan 24, 2013 6:46 pm

I was in the Smoke Jumpers Hot Springs area in winter and wished I was able to spend more time there.
I think all sizable streams are not frozen over.

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Re: Backcountry Winter Touring in Yellowstone

Postby climbingaggie03 » Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:23 pm

Thanks Ed, I may look into that, in my perfect world, I'm imagining a spot that we could ski into,Build an igloo, have total solitude, and hot springs. I don't know if such a place exists, but I'm hoping! :)

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Re: Backcountry Winter Touring in Yellowstone

Postby Igloo Ed » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:38 am

There is not much backcountry information available anywhere. There is the Yellowstone forum but I didn't find anything there when I did my last trip but it's been a while.
The SJHS area stretches for about a mile and I only saw the very beginning of it. The area was covered in fog from all the hot springs and we could see the sun at times as the fog clouds blew through. Rime ice forms everywhere, on trees, on beards...
The trail to Summit Lake would be a long day with building an igloo.
There is a river crossing on the summer trail early on that had logs enough to cross. The crossing looked a bit daunting with us pulling pulks but it went well.
Finding a hotspring that works for soaking would take some time. The rules are: no soaking in the springs themselves but soaking in a pool/stream fed by them is ok.
There was also a distance to camp away from thermal features. I think it was 100 yds.
The springs are on top of the edge of the ancient caldera and the West Yellowstone Flow. The flow came up in the area with a flow that went NW and then north along the west side of Little Firehole Meadows. There's some cliffs on the SW corner of Little Firehole Meadows that would be sweet to build an igloo on. No hot springs up there that I know of though.

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