I’ve had the opportunity to live and visit multiple ski towns around the world, spending 10 years in Breckenridge, working in Verbier, and visiting resorts like Jackson Hole, Bridger Bowl, Crested Butte and Snowbird. From the ripping ladies of Jackson, to the après-loving skiers and riders of Breckenridge, lady shredders come in all different shapes and sizes – but are always down for adventure. I moved to Sun Valley last fall, with my sights set on finding a new lady crew. Sun Valley is full of badass women, who introduced me to new forms of lady shred adventures, some of which I will highlight below.
The Sunset Picnic
One of my favorite, laid-back, all-female missions is the sunset picnic. As the days grow longer every spring, a group of women assemble to squeeze out every last minute of daylight while climbing Dollar Mountain. This all-inclusive event brings together beginners, experts, snowboarders, skiers, and even dogs, as we retreat to the town’s most scenic viewpoint – and enjoy indulgent treats like wine, cheese, bread, charcuterie, and cupcakes. Many a birthday has been celebrated on Dollar’s peak, under the purple and pink sky, surrounded by magical vistas.
I think what amazes me most about Sun Valley is how skilled the local women are at shredding. A close second, is just how well Sun Valley women can party, tear up the dance floor, and still be first in line for first tracks. A friend of mine calls this the “dust off factor.” Not afraid to close down the Casino, Sun Valley women are up at sunrise, wondering what is taking you so long to get to the skin track. The alpine fondue ski combines both resort skiing and fondue at the Roundhouse, paired best with afternoon Chardonnay. After a morning of bowl and groomers runs, lunch is served at Averell’s. Post fondue, the laps continue. Fully fueled by sunshine, melted cheese, and Chardonnay, my companions ski to last chair.
On a recent backcountry outing, I approached the saddle of a peak to meet up with some of the men in our party. “Where are all the girls,” one grumbled. “Probably taking another snack break,” the other replied. Speed of ascent aside, a trek into the backcountry in the company of women is a markedly different experience. Snack breaks and picture taking are not only encouraged, they are an unspoken requirement. But don’t let this casual attitude fool you, the babes of Sun Valley are up for anything. Usually planned over a schooner at Grumpy’s, backcountry missions may start in the pouring rain, freezing cold, or before sunrise. But like all good things that require a little extra effort, the mission has its rewards: thousands of vertical feet of untracked snow, clever jokes on the skin track, Instagram-worthy imagery, and a great workout.
Sun Valley Trekking offers women’s-only excursions into the backcountry and VAMPS brings women of all ages and abilities together to dial in their Nordic skills. For those willing to get after it, the surrounding five mountain ranges provide miles of adventure.
Grueling Bike Rides
The most adventurous bike ride of last summer was, of course, in the company of women. With a twenty-year age gap between some of us, the adventure was planned well in advance, so we could mentally (or physically prepare), while others could find baby sitters and take time off work. A bit nervous to be in the company of some highly skilled and fine-tuned of athletes, I felt compelled to ride in the back. It soon became obvious that we were all a bit timid, unsure of how we fit in together. But, after a few jokes and pedal turns, we realized the company was unbeatable, and quickly left our trepidations behind. We cranked up the dusty steeps, and upon reaching the top, made exhausted snow angels in winter’s leftover snow banks. After refueling on a shared smorgasbord of PB&Js, cheese and crackers, this posse of women tore up the technical downhill before clinking beers and soaking, underwear-clad, in the river at the bottom.
The Birthday Skin
And finally, there is the timeless classic of celebrating a birthday at the Roundhouse, over evening fondue, while sabering bottles of champagne. With sequins, fanny packs that play music, 80’s throwback finds from the Gold Mine, and faux fur vests, nothing can stop a group of Sun Valley ladies skinning up River Run after the lifts close to enjoy a mountain top celebration. I recommend choosing a clear night, lit by the full moon.
The thirst for adventure in Sun Valley is ubiquitous amongst men and women. But the lady shredders, I have found, are usually the most unassuming, and most inclusive squad of adventure friends a gal could hope for when exploring the Wood River Valley.