Sun Valley Trekking

the beginning



Sun Valley Trekking carries on the long tradition of ski touring, mountain huts and guiding in the wild mountains of Central Idaho. In 1938, the Austrian and German mountain guides brought over to teach skiing at the newly created Sun Valley Resort looked to the high peaks surrounding the resort. Within a year they built the Pioneer Cabin at 9400’ in the Alp-like mountains of the Pioneers to serve as a base-camp for ski touring and ski mountaineering. The Pioneer Cabin was North Americas first purpose-built ski hut, and marked the beginning of a storied history of backcountry skiing, mountain huts and guiding here.

The war years of the 1940’s saw the the new resort shut it’s doors and most of the ski guides went to the mountains of Europe to fight with the 10th Mountain Division. Many of the original guides did not return from the war and the tradition of ski touring was largely forgotten with the construction of the first chair lifts at the resort. But not everyone wanted to be confined by the access provided by the motorized lifts and intrepid skiers continued to explore the 5 high mountain ranges surrounding Sun Valley. The Pioneer Cabin went largely into a state of disrepair and neglect.

In the early 1970’s, a local outfitter named Joe Leonard began to explore the skiing on the wild peaks and granite spires of his home in the Sawtooth Mountains. Joe focused his efforts on building a number of primitive huts, mostly wall tents, in the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountains. One of Joe’s early guests happened to have returned from Mongolia on a National Geographic assignment and suggested Joe consider building a “yurt”(a traditional round Mongolian structure made of lattice with a conical roof) . Within a year, Joe built what became the first actual “Yurt” used as a ski hut. Like “Kleenex” is to tissues, “Yurts” have become a synonym for a ski hut (whether an actual yurt or not) and it all began here in the Sawtooth.

In 1982, a local named Bob Jonas took over the reigns of Joe Leonard’s operations and named it Sun Valley Trekking. Bob is an unabashed wilderness hobo, a man dedicated to exploring the wild lands of his home. Bob loved skiing. The early 80’s were the beginning of the telemark revolution and using the lightweight skis/bindings and techniques from Norway, Bob began to explore further. Bob took Joe Leonard’s original yurts and moved them higher into the Sawtooth to allow skiers access to the bigger peaks and deeper powder of the high country. And Bob added more huts, building the original structures for the Tornak, Coyote and Boulder Yurts and creating what was to become Sun Valley Mountain Huts.

In 2000, Bob passed the torch to Joe and Francie St.Onge. Trained as mountain guides and possessing a deep passion for ski mountaineering and wild country, Joe and Francie have continued the long tradition of supporting backcountry skiing here in the mountains of Idaho. Over the past 19 years, the community that is Sun Valley Trekking has torn down and rebuilt all of the huts, using grit and creativity to create unique mountain dwellings at each site. Over these years, Joe and Francie have also developed a world class ski guiding program with a team of professional guides that has become Sun Valley Guides, now under the direction of local legend, Zach Crist.

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Who We Are

We are a family operation, under the stewardship of Joe and Francie St.Onge, with a deep passion for wild places. We work as a team with our dedicated guides to provide unparalleled access to some of the finest backcountry skiing, trekking and mountain biking terrain anywhere. We are dedicated to creating cozy mountain dwellings that have everything you need and nothing you don’t. We believe in simplicity and comfort and wildness. Our purpose is to inspire the human spirit through adventure and exploration.

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