Living the dream is a phrase which we hear frequently, but truly experience rarely. Yet the stars aligned and here I am, the summer intern, in mountain paradise. For the next four weeks I am going to be giving you the first person, no holds barred experience of getting to know Sun Valley. Classic mountain biker pose at the top of Bald Mountain w/ Teddy Oram For those of you who haven’t met me, which I would imagine is most of you, my name is Asa Redfield. On June 15th I pulled into Sun Valley riding my golden steed of a car with minimal knowledge of the area or even the state of Idaho. I’m here answer an ad for a summer internship on behalf of an online-marketing role with a local start-up called PlayHard GiveBack whose mission is, you guessed it, to help others keep playing hard while simultaneously giving back. It’s a pretty rad company and you can check more of them out here: Play Hard Give Back. En route to Sun Valley from Seattle! (Taking pictures while driving is not recommended…) So basically it’s been just over two weeks now that I’ve been living here in Sun …
Searching for Sun Valley
Sore legs, epic views, and cold beer. Three thoughts that command my attention as I reflect on a glorious weekend spent acquainting myself with Coyote Yurt in the Smokey Mountains of Sun Valley, Idaho. This magical, remote place perched high above the valley is a dream come true for mountain bikers looking to ride endless single track from a base far away from it all, yet still fully supported. Think glam camping with all the beer you can fit in to a 4×4, comfy beds, and bottomless vistas. The Coyote Yurt should be on your Sun Valley bucket list.
Gelandesprung (v): German for a downhill ski jump in the style of Oympic nordic jumping, yet with fixed heels. Quaff (v): to drink rapidly with much vigor The legend of the Gelande Quaff was born back around the time snow was new. On a dark winter evening as the boys huddled for one last round, tipping back cold beers honoring their mastery of the backscratcher into couloirs in tight neon stretchpants, the bar tender slid frosty mugs down the bar to eager hands. It was a normal night until an order was called, the one who ordered got distracted, and the beer slid past only to leap off the end of the bar. Fortunately, stationed at the end of the bar, there stood one lone, alert skier who snatched the beer out of the air, pounded it back and slamming it on the table proclaimed, “Gelandequaffing!!” and the rest was history. As the story goes, a new form of sport drinking was born. It began to catch on in small mountain towns where long winters and poor odds lead to various devices of distraction. Like most new sports, the development of rules and competition formats would follow as well as the kind of innovation that was tracking in freeskiing and snowboarding. And today, after nearly a decade of progression Gelande Quaffing has evolved into a World Championship-level competition. Getting an invite to the said World Champs stands as one of the more coveted mountain town trappings anywhere.
Idaho is a landlocked state but what few realize is that it’s connected via one of the longest river systems in the US to the Pacific Ocean. For millennia, a certain species of traveler, the steelhead trout, has migrated through this river corridor, the Salmon, from the mountains of central Idaho to the ocean and back again. And a mere hour drive from Sun Valley lies the headwaters of the Salmon River, the origin of the steelhead run. Set amidst the awe-inspiring Sawtooth Mountains, these freestone waters play host to spawning spring steelhead.
It may just be the single most indelible moment in all of Ketchum, Idaho’s sports history,” it was said of Team USA’s improbable silver shovel run at the 2014 Idaho Pond Hockey Classic . “One that sent an entire town into a frenzy.” American Pond Hockey came of age on January 18th 2014 on a pond in Ketchum, Idaho when an unlikely mishmash of hometown heroes and heroines, after a brutal first round loss, ran nearly 10 hours and six rounds straight into night and into the finals – and ultimately into our hearts. Why are we talking about the silver shovel winners and not the gold? Well, that is the spirit of pond hockey.
As snowboarders we live for events like the Baldy Banked Slalom that remind each and every one of us where the soul of snowboarding lives and where it always has. This event is an ode to the roots of snowboarding, reaffirmation of its disregard for the mainstream, but most of all one of the best days of the entire season getting together and shredding an awesome, wild course with our best friends.
Regardless of old man winter’s fickle temperament and unpredictable generosity, you can always count on the good folks at Sawtooth Mountain Guides to sniff out the stashes and pave the skin track to the goods. When slopes on Baldy rattle your teeth, soft powder conditions can often be found in the vast backcountry surrounding Sun Valley.
In keeping with the time honored tradition of mixing up turkeys and stem christies with a side of gratuitous method grabs, Sun Valley dropped the ropes on both Baldy and Dollar once again commencing its 78th season of keeping it real on Thanksgiving Day. Free ran the pent up beast of the ski season let loose throughout the hallowed pines of Sun Valley region. With cold temps and a little cooperation from Mother Nature supplemented by the world's largest automated snow God, all 3,400 vertical feet of frosted white monolith greeted thousands of skiers to the start of winter 2013-14.
It started like most great ideas. After a series of stiff beers from Europe served at a local house of ill repute, some local emissaries lit on the idea of providing an economic impact study on the business that surounds mountain biking, more specifically bike park mountain biking. The arms race for summertime recreation has been heating up over the past few years with bike parks popping up like opportunistic weeds all around the world. With changes in bike technology and the growing momentum of mountain biking we felt there was a case to be made. Only a couple of years after that study was delivered on the doorstep of Sun Valley Company a flurry of planning, applying for permits, and corralling contractors, precipitated. Cutting to the chase, Sun Valley broke ground this late summer on what will be one of the biggest bike parks in the country. Working on a five year build out plan Sun Valley has taken the bull (er rather shovel) by the horns and dived right in to building a facility that will further the area's reputation as a mountain bike mecca. And so we felt it only appropriate to take a day and …
Sun Valley had long been off the radar of the freeski and snowboard movement, the youth and creativity that once defined the original zip code to hang your ski bum shingle had all but evaporated. But then a rumble was felt and slowly the monolith of the past began to awaken. A park was constructed on Dollar Mountain and with that came photographers, athletes, film crews and the few locals who had been living the dream woke up to Christmas. Movements are created out of momentum, one significant event sets the dominos in motion. Which is what is happening in our valley today. We took a moment to sit down with local photographer, Tal Roberts to view this movement through his work as he captures the product of this momentum.