By Molly Baker
No stranger to ski history, Sun Valley, Idaho is a living, breathing museum of the North American ski timeline, dating back to the 1930s. On the other hand, it is an ageless place. While hosting the birthplace of some of skiing’s favorite young pros (such as Picabo Street, Lynsey Dyer and the Crist Brothers), this little Idaho hide-out still maintains the interest of mainstay figures like Warren Miller and Mike Hattrup and is the main office for companies like Smith Optics.
It all began in 1939, when the first chairlifts were installed at Bald Mountain in Sun Valley. The same year Ernest Hemingway finished For Whom the Bell Tolls while staying in suite 206 of the Sun Valley Lodge that fall. Lucille Ball, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and the Kennedy Family followed. Sun Valley was becoming a Hollywood haven. It wasn’t just for skiers.
Then in 1946 the most classic of all ski bums arrived. Warren Miller made his movies from 1946 to 1949 living out of the River Run parking lot at the base of Bald Mountain. First staging out of his car and eventually in an upgraded trailer, Miller made his mark on Sun Valley as a promised land for the occasional post World War II ski bum.
Naturally the 40th Anniversary Party for Powder magazine took place in Sun Valley. And we wanted to be there in the Outdoor Research tiny house as a tribute to forty years of darn impressive magazine making and a passion about skiing we can only hope to convey with the Sidecountry Sessions tour. None of us had ever been to this iconic place. It was time to hit the ski history books.
We pulled into the River Run parking lot at 4 in the morning. Surely the Powder 40th Anniversary prom was over (although stories from others told us otherwise that morning at a relaxed 11 a.m. breakfast). The sun peaked into the tiny house around 7 a.m. An hour later, as skiers started to arrive, we looked out to see many curious faces peering in or at the tiny house. All ages and all types of boards were interested. The 20-year-old snowboarder and his friends showed up right next to the 70-year-old with groomer skis.
The group missed the Powder party and we never got to show Warren Miller the tiny house, but we were able to kick off the tour with many personalities, contributors, and fanatics of the ski community.
With the south faces nearly bare and an itch for powder turns, we left Sun Valley in search of the season’s storms.
New Sidecountry Sessions episodes will be posted each week.