Skiing The Smokys

After a month and a half of intense competition, empty miles on the road, and countless Coronas it was time to, well, ski some more. As the hangover from Crested Butte ebbed, we loaded up the sleds and headed north, home to Idaho to tap into zones in the Sawtooth National Forrest that had been beckoning for years. Although conditions were by no means ideal, we were willing to sacrifice powder for snow stability and the accessibility that the hardpacked conditions granted. Fittingly, and in the spirit of competition, we were once again faced with making the best of the conditions in the time that was allotted.


After several days of scouting we had a zone lined up that would deliver the goods- long, steep, and exposed lines that had a rather simple shuttle up the back side. With a bluebird forecast for the next day we avoided the highly anticipated Sun Valley Suns- Jackson Hole Moose hockey game and prepared to catch the sunrise. We pulled out at 5:30am, stoked and geared up, when we heard the sound that will spoil any day- the “thump, thump, thump, thump” of a flat tire on the trailer. After cursing and undoubtedly waking up several neighbors, we were attacking the situation with ruthless efficiency that would make pit crews jealous. After all, the sunrise doesn’t wait. Staging as fast as we could, we began racing out to the zone as the pink alpenglow was brilliantly lighting up the peaks we were supposed to already be on top of- we were officially blowing it.

We arrived at the zone and quickly went to work organizing shuttles and taking advantage of the light that, although fleeting, was still amazing. Over the next several hours we skied all the lines the zone had to offer and left content, at least for the day. We’d try several other times before we had to leave, getting skunked each time by snow, light, or whatever else could go wrong. Much like competing, conditions were not necessarily ideal and nothing went as planned, however, after years of competing we’d likely be lost if anything did go as we’d imagined.


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