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Backcountry digs

Tyler Allen



By Emily Stifler Managing Editor

The bay window of the Woody Creek Cabin looks southwest toward the Fin and Republic Peak, alpine ski objectives towering 2,300 feet above Cooke City.

Set on a 22-acre mining claim and surrounded by National Forest land, this backcountry abode is within skinning distance of Woody Ridge, East Hayden Creek and Pilot and Index peaks, and also accesses miles of ski touring trails – all this, just a 2.5 mile hike from Cooke.

Ben Zavora, of Beartooth Powder Guides, built the 20 by 24-foot cabin by hand this past summer, felling all the timber for the structure on the property. It and his new Mount Zimmer Yurt are both available for rent this winter.

Located near the base of its namesake peak, the Mount Zimmer Yurt is six miles north of town, next to Zimmer Creek and the wilderness boundary, providing access to alpine terrain in the heart of the Beartooth Mountains.

Both sites are decked out with kitchen supplies, wood stoves, bunks and killer views. As well, they both have a mix of low-angle tree skiing for high hazard days, moderate and advanced backcountry terrain, and steep ski mountaineering, Zavora said.

A destination for off-trail snowmobilers, Cooke City has seen the number of backcountry skiers and snowboarders grow in recent years.

“Cooke is blessed with a pretty consistent snowfall, in general – it’s so reliable and so deep,” said Mark Staples, a Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center forecaster. “There’s tons of great low angle skiing, steep skiing, and extreme skiing for the right conditions.”

Zavora, who has been involved with the avalanche center for six years, will guide backcountry skiing and snowboarding, and also offers avalanche classes and a ski mountaineering course in the spring.

“This is as good as it gets for ski touring in the Lower 48,” Zavora said.

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