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Rustic Jewels

The Little Sisters of Sun Valley’s Grand Dame

(page 3 of 4)

Pioneer Cabin

Even more rustic than Trail Creek Cabin was Pioneer Cabin, which opened the same year on a 10,000-foot perch looking out onto such peaks as Hyndman, Old Hyndman, Cobb, and Handwerk. The hut—the forerunner of today’s yurts—was billed as a high-mountain hostel for guests who wanted to spend a few days “in a remote and peaceful winter wonderland.”

Harriman believed that such overnight huts were essential if the resort was to compete with European ski resorts. And the idea pacified Austrian ski instructors like Friedl Pfeifer, who found the idea of lift-accessed skiing less appealing than the time-honored method of climbing a mountain slope with sealskins or “canvas creepers” on his skis.

The two-room cabin featured four double-decker bunks with green Pullman car curtains for privacy, plush sleeping bags with sheets sewn into them, and leftover maroon carpet from the Sun Valley Lodge. Ski instructors packed in steaks, bacon and eggs, and cases of dehydrated soup imported from Switzerland. And Sun Valley provided a cook—albeit a temperamental one who threw a fierce temper tantrum every time he burned the French toast on the wood stove.

The area’s wide-open spaces and plentiful sunshine offered unlimited spring skiing along numerous routes fanning out from the cabin. Skiers could take Route 82 to Duncan Peak and into the Hyndman Peak Basin, for instance. Or they could follow Route 81, as outlined in ski instructor Andy Hennig’s trail guide, up the Salzburger Spitzl.

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