“As seen from the top of Mt. Baldy or from the porch of the Round House, the sight of this magnificent mountain range with its rugged peaks and glittering snowfields is almost overwhelming.”
When a friend first showed us the Sun Valley Ski Guide, Lucy and I realized that our dreams of skiing these magnificent peaks wasn’t just ours. The guide was written by what we would soon realize was one of our idols— a man named Andy Henning who happened to share many of our same goals and dreams in the mountains.
An enthusiastic ski mountaineer hailing from Salzburg Austria, Henning came to Sun Valley to share his passion of skiing, and knowledge of the sport as a ski instructor. Like us, he was awed by the surrounding mountains. Though Sun Valley was home of the first chairlift in the world, early adopters of modern ski mountaineering techniques like Henning were no strangers to the lure of the grand, unknown peaks that surrounded them.
Flipping through the Sun Valley Ski Guide, we observed the photos of men and women climbing the big, open snow fields that surround Sun Valley in their leather boots and ankle-length wool skirts. These images – both rugged and glamorous – captured a raw passion for exploring in the mountains. We sensed the draw of the mountains felt by these explorers, the same pull that we feel each day while going about our jobs. Lucy, an emergency room nurse and professional skier, and Nicole, a ski patroller and first responder, have both spent countless early mornings watching the sun shed its first light on the peaks directly across from the ski resort. Never has their allure diminished, a quality contributing to the magic of these mountains.
What started as a dream evolved into a plan. This Spring, Lucy and I intended to ski the lines laid out and described in this book, linking up the routes that had captivated our imagination for the past decade.
Over five days and four nights, we skied six of the spectacular ski lines outlined in The Sun Valley Ski Guide, the comma and north couloirs on Cobb peak, the face of Hyndman, the long, open run off Duncan Peak, the unique and angled snowfield of Handwerk and the ever-captivating Salzburger Spitzl. We encountered both mid-winter white out conditions and picturesque sunny days. The skiing was varied and interesting from steep, thrilling couloirs to wide-open powder-filled snow fields.
Along the way, we referenced the history and memoirs that accompanied these peaks. One such description reads, “This is a magnificent ski mountain with wide-open and steep snow fields — an undiluted pleasure for the expert skier…named in memory of Captain Jonathan Duncan wo was an esteemed and popular member of the Sun Valley Staff before the war and who was killed in action with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy.”
On our last peak of the trip, we stood atop the Salzberger Spitzl and looked out into the surrounding mountains, dreaming up our next adventure inspired by those who came before us, and those who will come after. The Sun Valley Ski Guide, in the description of the Salzberger Spitzl ski route, “The view into the wilderness of the surrounding mountains, especially at the forbidding-looking “Devils Bedstead” is of indescribable grandeur.”
For both the early explorers as well as for us, the mountains provide a sense of place, a way of orienting oneself in the vast world at large. They serve as a medium through which to find direction, inspiration, strength and passion. And to be able to connect with generations before us, over a shared love for the grandeur of a familiar range, provided yet a deeper sense of connection than we had experienced on similar pursuits.
Lucy & Nicole’s Descents
Day 1: Comma Couloir, North Couloir
Day 2: Duncan Peak
Day 3: Hyndman Peak, Handwerk Peak
Day 4: Salzburger Spitzl