Last week Bob and I rented two Llamas, McShane and O'Reilly, from Wilderness Ridge Trail Llamas from Idaho Falls for a week's high altitude traverss of the Pioneers, an iconic mountain range of high Himalayan-like peaks that dominate the view for thousands of skiers each winter from the top of Sun Valley's Bald Mt.
Very few make this traverse, though hundreds climb each summer to Pioneer Cabin for the stunning views of the high peaks. The cabin was built by former WW II 10th Mt Division European ski instructors as a winter ski off piste destination but it is now visited mostly by summer hikers.
We are comparing the llamas as pack animals to pack goats which we tried for a week in June. Llamas can carry 70 lbs each, goats only 30, so llamas clearly had the edge. But personality is also an important component in backcountry travel. Since we are planning an extended trip next summer, an agreeable companion is a priority.
Compared to pack goats, llamas are no drama. No dragging around the trailhead, no mugging us for food like the goats. We are impressed. Plus OReilly and McShane actually walk along behind us, and unlike the goats, no need for pulling or pushing. Water crossings, no problem, jumping over fallen trees, no problem, crossing snowfields, no problem. Staking out and grazing no problem. They eat everything.
I got a slight nudge a couple of times from McShane, signally..."hey, lady couldn't you go a little faster?"The llamas passed all of the mountaineering challenge by nimbly crossing broken shale, snow, and small boulders without pausing or stumbling or complaining. I wish I could say Bob and I were as graceful or energetic.
We will rent them again and love the fact that they will go anywhere.