The ZEN MASTERS Backcountry Ski Program
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
– John Muir
I first arrived here from Nepal in 1989, a young expedition kayaker and Himalayan adventure guide drawn by the allure of Idaho’s legendary white water. From the cold, clear rivers to the stunning mountains and endless miles of pristine wilderness, I was enthralled. Three decades later, despite a career that usually saw me on the other side of the planet more often than not, this beautiful Wood River Valley is as deep a part of my soul as any river I’ve run in the world.
In my 20s, my learn-to-ski plan was chasing the local Crist clan and Olympians Pete Patterson and Abby Fisher around the mountain. Given the record number of broken ski poles and spectacular crashes I had, it probably wasn’t the smartest plan, but it was exciting and I was determined. I can say I truly paid my dues on Upper College, Flying Squirrel and Warm Springs…over and over, until it finally began to click.
I’ll never forget the moment Pete Patterson said to me “The real reason to learn how to ski is so you can get out in the backcountry.” The first day I put on a pair of skins and experienced Idaho backcountry skiing, I realized truer words were never spoken – and I’ve never looked back. 30 winters later, ski touring adventures have taken me around the world – across Greenland’s ice cap, off a 21,000-foot summit in the Himalayas, down Alaska’s spectacular range, through the Alps, and into the Andes.
Skiing beautifully groomed runs will always be a joy. But there is no feeling like stepping quietly into Mother Nature’s wilderness, skinning through evergreen cathedrals with glistening snow and hearing only birdsong or the breeze blowing. Summiting a ridge and skiing a gorgeous glade of untracked powder to the silence of your own breath is a powerful meditation in gratitude. As they say, there is an uncommon magic in “earning your turns”.
Last year when Zach Crist asked me to join the team at Sun Valley Guides, I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do. The new ZEN MASTERS Backcountry Ski Program is the result. We’ve designed this special program to introduce the skills of backcountry skiing so that you too, can safely and confidently unlock the joy of Mother Nature’s winter wonderland for many years to come. Here, in Sun Valley, we have access to hundreds of acres of incredible backcountry terrain that will give you season after season of world-class ski touring adventures.
ZEN MASTERS is much more than a series of expertly guided days in the field, it’s a program designed to educate and empower you with the knowledge you need to safely plan and play in the backcountry. With the recent advancements in Alpine Touring gear and digital navigation, snow science and weather resources, there has never been a more exciting time to experience the world of backcountry skiing.
Is ZEN MASTERS for you? Backcountry skiing involves an element of effort, risk, the unknown, and excitement. In my experience, these are the very things that define Adventure. And after a lifetime of leading expeditions, I know that Adventure has an amazing way of revealing everything that really matters in life. I hope you join us and let us open a new door for you into Idaho’s magnificent wilderness. This is your opportunity to step with us into the unknown.
Join Sun Valley Guides for a Program presentation + Q&A, or call SVGUIDES @ 208-721-0290 to sign up today!
Tuesday, Nov 12th: 6:00 – 7:00 PM
@ the ZENERGY Yoga Studio