It was 1998. He awoke to his beard on fire, his mangy head of hair smelling like a dog had been roasting in the oven. Running for the door he was greeted by an oppressive Appalachian mist hanging in the air as he exited into the yard. The ER mirror reflected a soot blackened face. His life had changed, and he would never return to finish his degree at Ohio State.
The saying, "my life is your vacation" gets thrown around a lot in ski towns far & wide. Many of us here in the Sun Valley area take that saying to heart on a daily basis. Whether you're here ski bumming it up or a working professional, the outdoor access right here makes it possible to live the dream. From November through April we're fortunate enough to have a winter wonderland playground right out the backdoor. Take your pick from meandering snowshoe paths, corduroy cross country and downhill trails, topped off with four mountain ranges offering up some epic backcountry riding.
Most great stories start out with “it was a cold day” which is precisely where this one begins. “It was so cold that….” typically comes next, but while it was cold enough to freeze the roots of your molars, it was not cold enough to deter a cadre of 80 plus snowboarders from lining up at the “Dollar Mountain Money Shot”, Sun Valley’s banked slalom race and qualifier for the hallowed Baker Banked Slalom. I sought to justify a balmy -10f as reason to go shoot photos (great light, lots of icy breath, crystals suspended in air) but honestly believed it might keep the riders home snuggled in bed. I was wrong.
The most electric mornings in a ski town are those which are pronounced by the percussive thumps followed with rattling windows of snow control bombs being set off on the mountain above. It's the orchestra of a powder morning conducted by the ski patrol; an early morning ritual which to witness in person is a bit like a coveted backstage pass to one of the most amazing sunrises on earth. In the pitch dark we load into the gondola and make our way to witness first hand what goes into making Baldy safe for the public on a powder day.