Steve Romeo skis on the ridge of Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park in southwestern Idaho
After seeing the thread on Telemark Tips about sand skiing in the Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park in southwestern Idaho, I just had to check it out. Bruneau is tallest single-structured sand dune in North America (whatever that means), and if you don’t think you can actually ski on sand, please check out the video in the previous post…you will be very surprised.
Somehow I convinced Julia to join me on this adventure, so we packed up the van and left Jackson Friday night, arriving in one of the campgrounds close to midnight. I tried to travel light on this trip, but the necessities…like lattes are a must when car camping and I brought this handy espresso maker to make my morning juice. This thing killed it in the coffee department and is almost worth hauling up to the Lower Saddle to try and make a few bucks. Hmmm…does anyone know Renny’s number. 😉
Anyway, after the about 1000mg of caffeine, we were finally ready to give this sand skiing a try. I had heard that Pledge helps in getting better glide, so we slathered up our skis with a generous coat. I brought two pairs of skis for this adventure, but I mounted a pair of old 200cm straight skis which seemed to do just fine. I brought some duct tape to try and protect the Dynafits from the sand, which got everywhere, and I wore my beater pair of boots. Wandering into the grassy, bushy dunes carrying my skis felt super strange. Julia commented that it felt similar to booting in snow. After poking around in the tall grass for about 5 minutes, which made me feel like a mouse in a maze, we got to the bottom of the slope. I tapped my boots together before clicking in…just like winter…I started to get amped.
You had to keep the angle low to get enough purchase…without climbing skins of course, and in some of the steep spots it even felt a little sketchy as the sand sloughed down over your skis. We went across one at a time. There were a ton of people there hiking the dunes, which made me feel weird with the skis and all, but I was confident we would rise about the crowd as we smoked them to the top with our skis. It felt super cool to be on the ridge of the dunes. The Snake River fed green fields popped in contrast to the dry prairie. The terrain of the dunes was convoluted and we snooped around for the steepest section to giver’ a go. The Pledge seemed to have worn off by the time we got to the top, so maybe next time I would bring some with me…if I didn’t care that it ended up in the watershed. We chose a pitch off the back side, away from the people. I pointed it for a bit to gain speed and leaned into the turn.
I was afraid that I would have to resort to jumps turns to move down the slope, but the skis actually got some glide on the sand in the steeps. I was amazed, even these straight skis seemed to grab the sand and carve down the dune. I felt like I was truly skiing, but it did seem that being in the back seat helps a little bit. Some times that’s the case in real snow too though, when you’re linking slasher/surfer turns. It was awesome…and we did six laps on what Mister Suunto said was about 200′ of vert…just like early season on Avalanche Bowl on Teton Pass. I could have stayed there all day.
Don’t worry AT’ers…we’ve had the talk about The Dark Side
On our lap back to the rig, we had to pole on the lower angled slope to get to the base of the dune. At the bottom, I used my pole to flip into tour mode…it felt completely natural. The areas of the trail that were covered by dead grass had great glide too! What a blast…feels like the beginning of a yearly ritual!