Feature December 19, 2018
Those Who Live to Ski: Dylan Peterson
Skiing with Dylan Peterson– a family affair on Hug Mountain

For Dylan Peterson, 25-year-old Wood River Valley resident and every-day skier, skiing has always been a family affair. Her parents, Larsen and Chris Peterson, first introduced her to skiing at a mere 13 months when Larsen duct-taped Dylan’s snow boots to miniature skis and towed her around the slopes of Dollar Mountain.

While Dylan was working out her technique on Dollar, siblings Axel and McKenna were swooshing those same slopes en route to becoming extreme skiing competitors and, in McKenna’s case, a Warren Miller athlete on the silver screen.

Though Peterson was born in Kirkland, Wash., her family relocated to Ketchum when she was only 2 months old. “My parents were diehard ski bums who made a brief effort at real jobs in the city,” Peterson recalled. “But it just didn’t work out.”

Ultimately, that was fortuitous for Peterson, as it allowed her to grow up at the foot of America’s first destination ski resort and pursue her passion for skiing, a passion that has been central to her life for the past quarter century.

Reflecting on that pursuit, Peterson said, “Being in the mountains when it’s snowing makes me feel like I’m at home. It’s difficult to describe the feeling, but it’s a feeling I’m always chasing. I love the feeling skiing in the cold air gives me. Winter is by far my favorite season, because of skiing. You get to explore such amazing places, and I like being in the backcountry skiing new lines.”

Peterson was captivated by the backcountry at an early age, in large part thanks to her parents, but also due to a National Outdoor Leadership School course she took in 2015. Learning about backcountry touring, terrain navigation, snowpack evaluation and living in snow caves for two weeks cemented her passion for backcountry skiing and exploration. “I could have been out there for months,” Peterson said with a smile.

Following this path, Peterson signed up for the SheJumps Alpine Finishing School for women hosted by Canadian certified backcountry guide, Kate Devine. Course study included glacier navigation, rope skills, and mountaineering techniques, in addition to a healthy dose of skiing that profoundly inspired her.

Devine continues to serve as a mentor for Peterson. “She [Devine] is young, super accomplished and good at what she does,” Peterson said with genuine admiration. “She is a true professional.”

Though Peterson herself serves as an inspiration for other dedicated skiers, her non-skiing professional endeavors are every bit as impressive. For the past 10 years, Peterson, along with her sister and brother, have pursued their father’s calling as a commercial fisherman in the frigid and tumultuous waters of Alaska. During the winter months, Peterson serves as the reservations manager for Sun Valley Heli Ski, which is located in Ketchum. Someday she hopes to earn her certification as a ski guide so as to share her passion for skiing with others.

Dylan’s mother, a former Skiing magazine cover model, and her father, Chris, have been  guiding lights for her. Sadly, in December 2016, Chris was killed in an avalanche in Montana while backcountry skiing, an event that shocked and devastated the Sun Valley ski community.

“He was the most flawless ski partner I’ve ever skied with,” Peterson recounted. “He made skiing look so easy. He made skiing the center of his life. He originally learned to commercial fish to support his passion for skiing.”

As first mate on the family fishing boat, F/V Atlantis, listed with a home port of Ketchum, Idaho, Peterson only has the ocean, Mother Nature and her sister, skipper McKenna, to answer to. And just like her passion for skiing, Peterson’s professional passions revolve around family. “It’s always been a family thing,” she added.

At home, during winters on Bald Mountain, friends and family are never far away. “One of my friends who was visiting from out of town refers to Baldy as ‘Hug Mountain’ because she says it is impossible to ski from the top of Baldy to the base without us greeting friends with big hugs,” Peterson said. “Everyone is just happy to be here.”

Looking forward to the upcoming winter and the forecast for our local snowpack, Peterson’s prediction is indicative of her passion and dedication to her favorite sport and lifestyle: “As long as there’s snow to be skied, I’ll be happy.”