Skier on the summit of Cobb Mountain

Victor Gottschalk and Client .

Pioneer Cabin 1948.

Sep Frolich and Andy Hennig

reading “Sun Valley Ski Guide”

Boulder Basin Alpine Skiing

Vistor Gottschalk

Summer Skiing Boulder Basin

Lookout Bowl and the 1952 Avalanche

Digging for bodies, 1952 Avalanche

Fredle Pfeifer

Page 5



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In February of 1939, another Austrian from Salzburg and friend of Hans Hauser joined the “alpine touring” ski school, but unlike his Austrian countrymen, this one had an extraordinary love of climbing and skiing any mountain.  To Andreas Hennig, “a mountain was a gift of nature to mankind, something to be admired and to be awed by.”  Prior to coming to Sun Valley, Andy Hennig had quite a reputation as a ski mountaineer and rock climber in the Alps with an enviable collection of “first ascents” credited to his name.  Upon joining Sun Valley’s ski school, Hennig was the obvious choice to assist Haemmerle with the “alpine touring” center.  By now, the frictions which once separated the two ski schools had turned into friendships, so much so, that both ski school heads, Hauser and Haemmerle, roomed together at the Pines Chalet (Sun Valley’s place of boarding for their instructors).

 In the summer of 1940, construction was completed on the Owl Creek Cabin, which was even more lavish than its Pioneer mountain counterpart, and Harriman’s “alpine touring” duo went to work guiding, teaching, exploring and conquering Sun Valley’s most remote and formidable slopes.  Hennig, and to a lesser extent Haemmerle, pioneered ski routes down arduous peaks in the Pioneer, Smoky, Soldier, White Cloud, Sawtooth, Salmon River, Lost River, Lemhi and Boulder mountains that few dared to even make summer ascents of.  Their trailblazing efforts not only provided Sun Valley with an additional medium of “high-elevation-skiing,” (aside from skiing the lower lift-serviced slopes) but it also extended the ski season well beyond the traditional closing months of late march/early-April as the snows in the precipitous bowls of the towering encircling peaks lingered, incredibly into the summer months.


It wasn’t uncommon for Hennig to still be guiding/teaching into the month of July.   These unprecedented feats of adventure were brought to an abrupt end with the onslaught of World War II and the closing of Sun Valley in the winter of 1942.  Both Haemmerle as well as Hennig joined the army and were commissioned to America’s skiing 10th Mountain Division where their skiing/mountaineering expertise were utilized to train the U.S. troops.  Haemmerle, the 45th man drafted into the U.S. army and one of the oldest, served a non-combatants role with the 10th due to ill health contracted from bad yellow fever shot (the army’s “Y53 episode”) which would plague him the rest of his life.  Receiving his initial military training at Camp Hale, located high in Colorado’s frozen Rocky Mountains, Haemmerle was then sent to Michigan, to test winter equipment for the army, and later shipped to West Virginia, to teach rock-climbing skills to the soldiers who would soon grace the cliff-lined beaches of Normandy.

Haemmerle’s artistic talents were also employed as all the drawings of skiing and mountaineering in the Tenth Mountain Division’s handbook were his.  Hennig, like Haemmerle, also tasted his first morsels of 10th mountain Division life at camp Hale but unlike Haemmerle, his course of service took on a much more combatant demeanor.  Hennig, while fighting for the 10th in the rugged Italian campaign of the war, was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for rescuing a wounded officer under heavy fire in the Apennine Mountains.  Hennig was also reprimanded for skiing behind enemy lines because “the snow was better over there.”  As a result of such experiences Hennig, upon returning to Sun Valley after the war, quietly named several nearby peaks after his fallen 10th mountain comrades-in-arms.

Prior to the war only three mountains visible from Pioneer cabin’s picturesque setting were named:  Cobb, Old Hyndman, and Hyndman Peaks, while only Silver Peak above the Owl Creek Cabin was titled.  Behind Pioneer Cabin Hennig named the summits of Handwerk peak (named for Ted Handwerk who worked as a waiter in Sun Valley’s Ram Bar and was killed in Italy while serving with the 10th mountain division) and Duncan Ridge (Named after Captain Jonathan Duncan, former manager of the Sun Valley Lodge and killed in Italy while serving with the 10th) was named also.  In 1947, Haemmerle would return to the mountains of Sun Valley, in poorer health, and like Hennig, place names upon several Pioneer cabin summits also.  The crests of Salzburger Spitzel (named for Haemmerle’s Austrian friends from Salzburg: Max Hauser, Hans Hauser and Franz Epp, who Florian feuded with during his initial day’s at Sun Valley), Goat Mountain (named for the many Billys seen on its summit) and Florian Nudl (Haemmerle named this summit for himself) were named, and with the aid of Hennig and Victor Gottschalk, an Austrian new addition to Sun Valley’s “alpine touring” school, ski routes etched down their frames.


After the war, Hennig, Haemmerle and Gottschalk continued to guide guests through the vast lift-less Sun Valley surroundings, however the insurgence of immensely improved transportation up the slopes of Bald mountain as well as tremendous improvements in “alpine” skiing techniques marked the beginning of the end for the “alpine touring” school.  Only one minor resurgence of Sun Valley’s short-lived “alpine touring” past occurred in the summers of 1947 and 1948 as Harriman and Hennig teamed up to breathe new life into this rapidly fading sport.  In the summer of 1947, after touring the beautifully striking snow-filled bowls of Boulder basin, (one of Hennig’s many “alpine touring” sights) Harriman directed Pat Rogers (Sun Valley’s general manager at the time) to promote spring and summer skiing in Sun Valley.  As a result of this request, one week later, two jeeps were available to transport skiers up to Boulder Basin and for a few weeks, summer “alpine touring” was popular again.

Slalom races were even held on the 4th of July 1948 which was covered by Seattle movie tone news.  To encourage this reincarnation even more, Hennig, also at the request of Harriman, began work on Sun Valley’s first, and to date, most comprehensive “alpine touring” guide book.  Published in 1948, “Sun Valley Ski Guide,” written by Andy Hennig, detailed extensively Sun Valley’s many regions in which to both “alpine” ski and “alpine tour.”  Publications such as this were very popular as well as common in the Alps, and Harriman hoped that such a manual might rejuvenate interest in Sun Valley “alpine touring” again; however, this would never come to pass.  The winter of 1952 marked the unofficial end to Sun Valley’s “alpine touring” school as avalanches down Baldy’s Lookout Bowl, claiming the life of Victor Gottschalk, and Bromaghin Peak, destroying the Owl Creek cabin, eulogized a dire end to a historic institution.  While Haemmerle, with his “old gentleman’s club” and Hennig, with his “seasoned ambitious clients,” occasionally “alpine toured” after 1952, this was done without the blessing of Sun Valley company.

Soon Haemmerle and Hennig joined the ranks of the “alpine” school on a full-time basis.  Without an established “alpine touring” past, such as those found in Europe’s destination resorts, Sun Valley’s “alpine touring” tradition swiftly diluted into the exceptional pist skiing of Baldy/Dollar mountains and into an “alpine’ ski institute which, under the direction of some of the most prominent ski school directors in history, was known as the world’s best.  Sun Valley’s arrival into this elitist group had its meager beginning during the Hauser years as director (1936 thru 1939);   however, its brisk migration into global greatness occurred under the direction of one of the most influential figures in World skiing history, Friedle Pfeifer.  Pfeifer was born in 1911 at St. Anton, Arlberg, Austria and due to the snow-bound isolated nature of his boyhood surroundings, had no choice but to learn to ski.  At the age of 14, Pfeifer joined Hannes Schneider’s ski school and when he wasn’t racing, taught others to ski Schneider’s “Arlberg Technique.”

During his 10 years as an instructor at St. Anton, Pfeifer became one of Schneider’s top instructors as well as one of the best racers in Europe.  Three times in the late 1930s Pfeifer won the Grand Prix de Paris and Gross Glockner Championships and twice took honors in international races at Sestriere, Italy.  In 1936, he won the combined downhill/slalom title in the Arlberg-Kandahar.  However, like his mentor Hannes Schneider, Pfeifer fled Austria in 1938, one week after the Anschluss (German annexation of Austria), to avoid being inducted into the German army and arrived in Sun Valley that same year, via Australia.  Upon his arrival, Pfeifer coached the U.S. woman’s Olympic ski team and represented the new resort as a racer.  In the fall of 1939, upon the request of Harriman, Pfeifer assumed control of Sun Valley’s “alpine” ski school.






Page 4

By Basil Service



Owl Creel Cabin

Boulder Basin Alpine Skiing