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Snow Pioneers

Valley locals make their mark

(page 2 of 7)

Mike Hattrup


Mike Hattrup and the Evolution of Extreme Skiing

Ketchum resident Mike Hattrup is a shy guy, in a mellow town, with an extreme problem.

A pioneer in the sport of extreme skiing in the ’80s, Hattrup, now 48 years old, is happy to watch his two children, Axel and Isabella, excel at Hemingway Elementary School and to play the dutiful spouse to his Munich-born wife of nine years, Claudia.

Hattrup clearly enjoys the Wood River Valley and the freedom to travel the world as the director of K2 Adventure. But this also begs the question: Why is a founder of the global community of hard-core skiing pioneers hanging his hat in Ketchum?

“You need to put it all into perspective. Yeah, I would prefer to have Rendezvous Peak at Jackson Hole right there,” as he points toward Bald Mountain from a table at Java on Fourth. “But when you combine the town and mountain, it’s a very nice mix. The town is not ostentatious, it still feels warm, and the mountain is still remarkable. It’s a nice balance.”

“Let me say this,” Hattrup continues, “I have skied a lot of places. And there are not many places you can go with a pure 3,100-foot vertical fall line. I like to make a lot of turns and I want my legs to quit before the run does. Baldy does that.”

Hattrup’s ride to the extreme skiing scene was a bit of a bumpy one. Born in Seattle, he made the U.S. Moguls Ski Team in the mid-’80s before an ACL injury took him out. But his big break came in ’88, when he co-starred in Greg Stump’s landmark ski flick, “The Blizzard of Aahhhs.” To this day, the film is still considered a cult classic.

“Stump was a DJ by trade,” explains Hattrup. “So while there were other filmmakers before him, like (Warren) Miller and (Dick) Barrymore, his music was really good and his editing was a lot edgier and quicker.”

"What we did 20 years ago, and what they do today in extreme skiing,
makes it a very different sport…Today, they are straight-lining the stuff
we were just barely able to get down.”

After nearly 30 years, extreme skiing continues to push physical and technical limits, as young skiers jump off even larger cliffs and ski even steeper faces. Advances in equipment from ski companies such as K2 have also opened up the winter backcountry to diehards and weekend warriors in equal numbers.

“What we did 20 years ago, and what they do today in extreme skiing, makes it a very different sport,” Hattrup points out. “The difference is in the equipment that allows skiers to push the envelope. But it’s crazy right now, with the speed and the consequences. Today, they are straight-lining the stuff we were just barely able to get down.”

Hattrup recalls the early days in the backcountry scene with a favorite quote from a fellow extreme skier, the late Allan Bard: “‘Bardini,’ as he was called, had just completed this awesome descent down a face on skinny skis, three-pin bindings, and leather boots. When he gets to the bottom, he turns to fellow skier, Tim Carter, and says, ‘I can’t believe we just skied what we just skied—on what we just skied!’”

Hattrup moved to Ketchum full-time in ’97, but he was no stranger to Baldy and the Wood River Valley. He took a year off from college in ’82 and lived in Ketchum. He recalls riding the chairlift that winter with skiers, “like me (now). They were in their late forties, they came for a winter and never left.”

“Back in the ’70s and ’80s, we skied bumps every day and Baldy was one of, if not the, best bump mountains in the world. Bump skiing was the culture in that era,” he adds.

Aside from his role with K2, Hattrup is still a prominent ski mountaineer and certified guide. He works for Marin Volken’s Seattle-based guiding service and spends a portion of each winter in the Alps.

“Being a guide at 48 years old, it’s much different than what I thought at 28 years old. If you can survive all the stupid stuff, then you can develop some pretty good judgment,” says Hattrup. “As the saying goes, good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.”

Over the years, Hattrup has also lived in other mountain towns, but Ketchum still resonates with him.

“I lived in Vail for a year and a half. But after three months in Ketchum, I knew more people here than I knew in Vail. It’s very comfortable,” says Hattrup. “I had friends visiting recently. They kept remarking how quiet and peaceful it is here. I thought that’s pretty crazy, but it’s also very true.”

-Dan Gorham




Sun Valley Magazine encourages its readers to post thoughtful and respectful comments on all of our online stories. Your comments may be edited for length and language.

Old to new | New to old
Dec 20, 2010 03:12 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Great shots!

Dec 29, 2010 12:28 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

i'm sooo glad that sun valley is UPgrading your terain park.
way to go brian. i'll see you guys before the end of the season.
denali mad dog

Sep 29, 2011 08:36 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Callahan. You made my day!

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