Next Week: Powder Highway Dispatch #2 – Nakusp, British Columbia

There is nothing like a good road trip to set the mind free. “Hitting the open road in search of adventure is a part of the American Dream,” said Pat Bauman, an original member of the K2 Performers. In the early 1970s, Bauman teamed up with local Sun Valley skiers—John Clendenin, Charley McWilliams, Jim Stelling—to tour the country in a flashy, red-white-and-blue motor home with the intent of showing people just how much fun it can be to strap a pair of skis to your feet. Inspired by this original band of skiers, a new generation of Eddie Bauer guides and athletes start their own road trip and head north into Canada to search for perfect conditions along the infamous Powder Highway.

Skier in Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley, Idaho; Photograph by Will Wissman

Our journey begins in Sun Valley, Idaho, America’s first destination ski resort (established in 1936).  Inspired by the success of European resorts like St. Anton, Austria, the owners of Union Pacific Railroad thought they could reinvent their business by replacing shipping containers (leftover from the waning gold rush) with passenger cars filled with adventure travelers. The key was to find a location with an ideal climate—beautiful mountains, ample snowfall, and plenty of sunshine. Austrian dignitary Count Felix Schaftgotch was hired to lead the search. After landing in the mountain oasis of Ketchum, Idaho, he sent a telegram back to UPA in New York City claiming he’d found the perfect place.

SUN VALLEY VITALS

Vertical: 3,400 feet
Lifts: 11
Gondola: 1
Skiable Acres: 2,054
Best Apres: Apples Bar and Grill
Skier in Sun Vally; Idaho

Sun Valley, Idaho; Photograph by Will Wissman

Every ski area in the Rockies depends on Mother Nature’s offerings, though Her willingness to bear the fruits of winter can be fickle. When the North Pacific begins to churn, Sun Valley locals turn into armchair meteorologists, predicting snowfall patterns for the oncoming season. Some use indicators like the Farmer’s Almanac, while others follow their gut, but there’s still enough mystery to keep us surprised on any given year. Regardless of any hard science to do with ocean currents or mythical cues like groundhogs and their shadows, the jetstream always oscillates latitudinally along the west coast of North America, bringing moist flow up into the mountains to meet cooler air = SNOW! So, as they say, it’s always snowing somewhere.

Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley, Idaho; Photograph by Will Wissman

Sun Valley virtually guarantees quality skiing every year by Thanksgiving Day with the largest automated snowmaking system in the world. After an overnight application of gunpowder, the playing field is smoothed into velvet-like corduroy. Sun Valley is famous for its perfectly manicured groomers, but when the rope drops above the bowls, the powder frenzy begins. And when the local backcountry is in play, Idaho becomes, by far, the biggest playground in the Lower 48. With 10 million acres of roadless turf in the backyard, Sun Valley is the gateway to mountain paradise. There’s plenty of room for backcountry shredders, sledders, and America’s original heli-ski operation.

Skier in Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley, Idaho; Photograph by Will Wissman

In 33 years of Sun Valley living, this winter has been one of the best! We were blessed with a series of big early-season storms and we’ve been riding boot-top, bouncy pow with good stability on every aspect at every elevation for weeks on end. But a massive high-pressure ridge has settled in on the west coast, driving any moisture north into Canada and Alaska. With temps dipping below zero and no snow in the extended forecast, it’s a good time to load up our Outside Van—a modernized mini motor home—and start driving north along the Powder Highway. With over 60 powder providers and copious amounts of early snow, it looks like a promising adventure ahead.

Next Week: Powder Highway Dispatch #2 – Nakusp, British Columbia

Comments

  1. Cat
    NY
    February 11, 2013, 9:09 am

    those are some beautiful photos.

  2. Sam
    Mississauga
    February 11, 2013, 7:10 pm

    Road trip are awesome especially when you have an old car. I don’t care even if its a junk car as long as it drive. I live in Mississauga which close to Toronto and i have done road trip driving my junk car and i had an amazing time.

    Sam

    cash for cars Toronto

  3. Peter schrumpf
    UTAH
    February 12, 2013, 1:09 pm

    Super cool……would love to see more!!!

  4. Peter Schrumpf
    UTAH
    February 12, 2013, 1:10 pm

    (y) LIKE

  5. Habasco
    February 13, 2013, 5:10 pm

    This looks AWESOME!

  6. Habasco
    Scotland
    February 13, 2013, 5:12 pm

    Alas, the mountains definitely look much more beautiful from the north of Nevada.

    Thanks
    Habasco

  7. Samuel Savard
    http://oxygenlover.com/horseback-riding.html
    February 14, 2013, 1:30 pm

    I live in canada, and I didn’t know there was such amazing skiing down in the US… Idaho? Who knew!!!

  8. [...] Read the full article by Sun Valley local Zach Christ on National Geographic’s Adventure Blog! [...]

  9. sudipta bandopadhys
    Baghbazar,Calcutta,India
    February 17, 2013, 10:17 am

    Excellent.

  10. Hello world! « Best of Sun Valley
    February 17, 2013, 12:05 pm

    [...] Inspired by the original K2 band of skiers, a new generation of Eddie Bauer guides and athletes have started their own road trip and head north into Canada to search for perfect conditions along the infamous Powder Highway. Read more about the K2 crew in Sun Valley and follow their story on the National Geographic Adventure Blog. [...]

  11. [...] Inspired by the original K2 band of skiers, a new generation of Eddie Bauer guides and athletes have started their own road trip and head north into Canada to search for perfect conditions along the infamous Powder Highway. Read more about the K2 crew in Sun Valley and follow their story on the National Geographic Adventure Blog. [...]

  12. [...] Skiing Sun Valley, Idaho – Stop… [...]

  13. Bulevar
    February 18, 2013, 1:50 pm

    Spectacular images, congratulations on the job. Very good phrase Pat Bauman

    Thaks
    Bulevar

  14. sudipta bandopadhys
    Calcutta, India
    February 19, 2013, 10:55 am

    Brilliant photos.

  15. Frank.Guo
    China
    February 22, 2013, 8:22 am

    We can see the same spectacular landscape in Tibet of our country. but there are few skiers here. I don’t know why?
    high plateau(3700meters above sea level) or poverty or…

  16. Jess
    COP, Afghanistan
    February 24, 2013, 1:34 pm

    Grew up skiing here every christmas, best memories I have to this day. Amazing slopes and town.

  17. [...] Skiing Sun Valley, Idaho – Stop… [...]

  18. Sean Matyja
    Park City Utah
    March 10, 2013, 7:11 pm

    Beautiful photos, looks beautiful there. Im down in Park City, so not far away. I will need to get up there someday.

  19. […] Read the full article by Sun Valley local Zach Christ on National Geographic’s Adventure Blog! […]