By Emily Stifler Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor
COOKE CITY – Ben Zavora raised the main ridge beam on the future Woody Creek Cabin over Labor Day, with help from Bozemanites Mark Staples and Brian Blicker.
Zavora spent the summer hand logging and building a cabin in the forest 2.5 miles east of Cooke City, and the structure should be available for rent this winter.
Set at 8,700 feet on a 22-acre mining claim surrounded by wilderness, the cabin is within walking (or skinning) distance of Woody Ridge, East Hayden Creek and Pilot and Index peaks.
“I hope to get the roof up by the end of the month, and have this and the Mount Zimmer Yurt rentable by mid-December,” Zavora said.
Four miles north of Cooke, the Mount Zimmer yurt will located near the base of its namesake peak and provide access to the alpine terrain in the heart of the Beartooth Mountains.
Both sites will be decked out with kitchen supplies, wood stoves, bunks and killer views. As well, they’ll both have a mix of low-angle tree skiing for high hazard days, moderate and advanced backcountry terrain, and extreme ski mountaineering for the right conditions, Zavora said.
Through his new business, Beartooth Powder Guides, Zavora has permits to guide backcountry skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and hiking in the summer on the surrounding Gallatin, Custer and Shoshone National Forests. He will run a storefront out of the High Country Motel, on Main Street in Cooke.
Known for its plentiful snowfall, Cooke is a destination for off-trail snowmobilers from across the country; the number of backcountry skiers and snowboarders has been growing in recent years.
“Cooke is blessed with a pretty consistent snowfall, in general—it’s so reliable and so deep,” said Staples, who is a forecaster with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center.
Zavora, who has been involved with the avalanche center for six years, will also offer 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.
For more information, to follow Zavora’s progress on the Woody Creek Cabin, or to make reservations, visit beartoothpowder.com.