• Duration

    Feb 29-March 3, 2024
    4 days, 3 nights

  • Location

    Buck Creek Basecamp
    Eagle Cap Wilderness Area
    Western Wallowa Mountains
    Trailhead in Lostine, Oregon

  • Maximum participants


  • Price

    $ 500 (reservation deposit)
    $ 1650 (second payment)


Join Saveur the Journey and Eagle Cap Mountain Guides for an ADVANCED level ski/splitboard backcountry touring hut trip to the Western Wallowa Mountains of Eastern Oregon. The Wallowas are a hidden gem featuring impressive and rugged terrain, excellent snow, and pristine remoteness. The Buck Creek Basecamp is located just outside the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area and features amazing terrain with above and below treeline options depending on snow stability. From gladed tree runs to steep couloirs and wide-open bowls, the options are plentiful for proficient riders. We start the day with a snowmobile tow up a summer access road, getting us closer to Burger Butte 8,488’ and China Cap 8,656’ where we will spend the day skiing and riding.

Our Basecamp-style trip utilizes a brand new 20′ yurt from Pacific Yurt Inc. and a 20×13′ wall tent for guest sleeping, as well as a sauna for apres-ski relaxing. Hearty and delicious  meals, superb IFMGA certified Ski Guide, poney kegs of local craft beer, and a superb view of the mountains round out the Buck Creek Basecamp experience.


In stock

Pay a deposit of $500.00 per item
Photo credit:Victor McNeil

The rugged and remote Wallowa Mountains rising from the plains of Eastern Oregon are an exceptional place for ski/split touring. These dramatic mountains hold great snow, steep lines, and impressive views. It is not uncommon to ski for days without seeing or hearing anyone else! Following certified IFMGA lead guide and executive director/avalanche forecaster for the Wallowa Avalanche Center, Victor McNeil, we will explore the impressive alpine terrain using the Buck Creek Basecamp as our base. This trip is for strong and fit ski/split tourers who have experience in the backcountry and in powder. The snow in Wallowas in February tends to be light, dry, and copious. Typical days start at 7am with hot coffee, breakfast, packing a lunch and beacon check to start skinning at 9am. Depending on snow stability and visibility we will choose our objectives and will generally ski various lines until around 4pm when we return back to the yurt for a craft beer and appetizers, followed by a delicious dinner. You can expect 3500-4500 feet of vertical in a day. There is also a wood-fired sauna at the yurt for a special treat to relax sore muscles and relive the day’s exploits.

 This trips starts at the trailhead in Lostine, Oregon and the nearest major airport is Boise, Idaho. You can spend the night in La Grande the night before the trip. Day 1 begins with breakfast in La Grande and a briefing of the day and trip. After breakfast we drive to the trailhead and  there is a tow-in on skis behind snowmobiles for 8 miles to the Buck Creek Basecamp. Once at the hut we have people settle in and then do a camp orientation, safety talk, etc followed by a companion rescue drill with everyone to make sure everyone knows how their beacons work. After that we go ski a lap or two close to the hut. Days 2-3 we normally ski 9am-4pm. On day 4 we ski half day and then ski out to trailhead.

Photo credit:Victor McNeil

The trip is decidely focused on ski/split touring in fantastic terrain but as with all Saveur the Journey trips, good food is par for the course. While the Buck Creek Basecamp has a simple kitchen we will still be making delicious and hearty food that will power us for distant peaks and untouched lines. From thick steaks, rich pasta dishes, warming stews, and flavorful sausages to gourmet cheeses, charcuterie, vegetables, chocolate, coffee and craft beer the food will be satisfying and copious.

For effective ski/split touring you must have alpine touring bindings (“pin-tech” recommended but frame bindings are okay) or telemark bindings or splitboard setup with skins. You must know how to use your gear, maintain your skins, and be an efficient tourer with good kick turns, form, and stamina. Avalanche safety gear (beacon, shovel, and probe) are mandatory for everyone and you must know how to use your equipment and preferably have completed an avalanche safety course. For the descents you must be an Advanced/Expert level rider, comfortable making dynamic turns in steep and varied terrain and in low visibility/difficult weather if necessary. You must understand how to keep yourself warm (proper layering), fed, hydrated, and healthy while being out all day.

Photo credit:Victor McNeil
Photo credit: Victor McNeil

The Buck Creek Basecamp is an excellent base for many ski/split objectives in the nearby terrain. The snow is often so deep that the yurt is almost completely covered and a snow tunnel must be dug out for entry! A 20ft yurt from Pacific yurts will serve as our kitchen/hang out area. There is a 20x13ft wall tent with a woodstove for guest sleeping quarters with cots, sleeping pads, and sleeping bags provided. There is no running water and snow must be melted for drinking water. There is a wood fired sauna, outhouse, and two woodstoves. Guides will prepare breakfast and dinner on a propane gas stove and a lunch buffet will be set out at breakfast so that we have ample fuel while out for the day.

This trip is for you if you like earning your turns in remote places with excellent terrain and un-tracked snow. You like delicious, hearty food, a woodstove, and clear stars reflecting off deep snow in the mountains. You are an experienced ski/split tourer who knows the value of an excellent, local ski guide to find the best snow in the best terrain while keeping you safe. You enjoy a rustic yurt, the wilderness, and the solitude of the moutains.

Photo credit: Victor McNeil

Sample Itinerary- subject to change

Day 0 (this day is not part of the trip and is your own responsibility)
Arrive in La Grande, Oregon during the day or evening (closest airports are in Boise or Portland)
Settle into hotel or AIRBNB (not included), rest and relax
Dinner in La Grande (not included)

Day 1

Meet at 7:30am at Cafe in La Grande for Breakfast (not included)
Orientation for trip and plan for day
Pack up, pack lunch, and drive out to Buck Creek Trailhead (Lostine, Oregon)
Snowmobile transport to Buck Creek Basecamp
Settle into Yurt
Yurt Tour/Orientation/Companion rescue
Afternoon Ski tour

Day 2

Breakfast at Yurt
Pack Lunches
Leave by 9am for ski/split touring
More ski touring
Return to yurt, 4pm
Sauna, appetizers, beverages

Day 3

Breakfast at Yurt
Pack Lunches
Leave by 9am for ski/split touring
More ski touring
Return to yurt, 4pm
Sauna, appetizers, beverages

Day 4

Breakfast at Yurt
Pack Lunches
Leave by 9am for ski/split touring
More ski touring
Pack up, clean Yurt
Ski out to Buck Creek Trailhead
Dinner out in La Grande (optional and not included)


  • 3 nights in Buck Creek Basecamp
  • 4 Days of Guided Ski/Split touring in amazing terrain
  • All Meals including dinners, packed lunches, snacks, and hearty breakfasts
  • Sauna after Skiing/Boarding
  • Snowmobile transport to Buck Creek Basecamp
  • Snowmobile transport of overnight gear Buck Creek Basecamp
  • Fully Certified IFMGA guide and tail guide


FAQ Wallowa Backcountry Hut Ski/Split Trip

You must be an ADVANCED/EXPERT skier/snowboarder with significant backcountry touring experience and riding powder. You must be in good physical shape, be able to and have skied in all conditions (including whiteout, wind, very cold). You must be able to ski/ride in control on all types of terrain and should be very comfortable on equivalent black and double black slopes. Ideally you should have some avalanche safety training. Avalanche beacon, shovel and probe are mandatory equipment and you should be familiar with how to use them. For skiers an all mountain ski  in the 95mm-110mm range that is not too heavy will provide ample float and still tour well.

Yes! Avalanche beacon, shovel and probe are required to participate in this trip and you should be familiar with how they function. We do have avalanche safety equipment available for rent. We will do some avalanche safety training and companion rescue. Avalanche airbags may also be a good idea but are not required.

A pack that is about 30-40 liters is perfect. Basically it should be a “day and a half” size to carry all your essentials for a day of skiing plus some extras. A stuff sack or duffel can be used to bring in extra gear and can be strapped to your pack in the event that there is too much snow for snowmobiles to make it to camp.

The Wallowas have more of a continental than maritime snowpack and the weather can be quite cold. You can expect average temps in the 10-25 degrees Fahrenheit range.

Please contact us to let us know about your dietary restrictions to see if you can be accommodated.

If you need to cancel a trip that you have already booked and it is at least 90 days before the start of the trip your deposit is half refundable.  Final payment for the trip is due 60 days before the start of the trip.  Cancellations between 30 and 59 days before the of start of trip that cannot be filled are 50% refundable, if your spot is filled then it is 75% refundable.  Cancellations less than 30 days are non-refundable (100% of booking cost).  For this reason, we recommend you consider purchasing travelers insurance, (try World Nomads) which will cover the cost of your trip in extenuating circumstances.

Gratuities for guides are not included in the price of you trip and are much appreciated. Tipping is at your discretion. Normally average tips for excellent service are around 15%-20% of the trip cost. Tips are pooled together and shared equally among the guides.

You will be transported by snowmobile sled or a side-by-side with tracks with all of your gear to the trailhead. It will take about 45 minutes. On the way out you can ski down the access road all the way to the trailhead.

You should be in good ski touring shape. We recommend at least an hour of aerobic activity 3 times a week during the 3 months leading up to the trip. Leg exercises such as squats and lunges are great and doing stadium or stair stepper exercises can really help on the skin track. You should be able to skin for up to 8 hours and 4000ft of vertical gain.

There is a 20×13′ wall tent for the guest sleeping quarters, complete with zero-degree down sleeping bags, and comfortable sleeping pads.  Our custom-built sauna will help soothe your muscles after a long day of ski touring.

Our team

Aaron Schorsch

Owner- Saveur the Journey

Aaron Schorsch is the owner of Saveur the Journey where he combines his passions of food, travel, outdoor adventures, and culture. He grew up in rural New Hampshire and has lived and traveled extensively in the US and abroad. Aaron learned to snowboard while teaching English in the French Alps but later took up Telemark Skiing. While he still likes to drop a knee on occasion you are more likely to find him with fixed heels shredding the backcountry or resort in a style he likes to call “joyful abandon.” Aaron is a student of food who has worked throughout the food system from growing seed and farming of vegetables, fruits, and livestock to cooking in high end restaurants and managing farmer’s markets. He loves to talk about, think about, dream about and especially, cook and eat food. He is a member of Slow Food international and has been a US delegate at Terra Madre in Turin, Italy.

Victor McNeil

IFMGA Certified Ski Guide

Victor McNeil is a native of the Pacific Northwest and currently lives in Northeast Oregon with his wife and two golden retrievers. You will find Victor working and recreating in the mountains year around, from guiding three week expeditions on Denali to ski guiding in his home mountain range the Wallowas. Victor has a passion for travel and exploration and has skied around the world. In 2016 he became the third certified Splitboard Mountaineering Guide through the American Mountain Guides Association in the country. Victor now “splits” his time between split boarding and skiing. When not ski guiding, he also runs a non-profit avalanche forecasting center in the Wallowas. Victor loves sliding on snow and can’t wait to share some turns with you.

Kelly McNeil

Ski Guide and Professor

Kelly grew up in Eastern Wyoming where she started exploring the mountains at an early age. During this time she learned to ski in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Kelly moved to Montana for her undergraduate program in community health and where she was introduced to backcountry skiing. After many years of school and earning her Ph.D. from Oregon State University in 2012, she began a career as a professor at Eastern Oregon University, where she focuses on studying the connection be community-wide interventions to change behaviors for the health and safety of the public. Currently, Kelly is working to incorporate public health theories and practices within the avalanche industry. Since 2017, Kelly has helped organize and run operations at the Wallowa Avalanche Center. She is an avalanche instructor for both motorized and non-motorized courses. Kelly has completed a Professional Level 2 avalanche certification and is one of the Avalanche Forecasters for the Wallowa avalanche center. She also is an instructor trainer for the America Institute for Avalanche Research and Education as well as a program evaluator. Kelly is a Professional Member of the American Avalanche Association, a guest host on the Avalanche Hour Podcast, and has completed the AMGA ski guide course.

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