Soldier Mountain

Bitten Fingers: Big Dreams and Harsh Realities at Idaho’s Soldier Mountain

“Careful,” Diane McFerran warns. “She’ll bite your finger off.” 

Inside Diane and her husband Matt’s house in Fairfield, ID, Matt Wainhouse is beckoning to the couple’s curious orange cat. “I’m playing nice,” Matt says with a laugh, hand outstretched. “That doesn’t mean she will,” Diane responds plainly.

Outside the McFerrans’ home, heavy snow is falling. Light, dry flakes stack on the windowsills and we know it’s doing the same at Soldier Mountain just a few miles down the road. The McFerrans have lived within walking distance of its lifts since they took over the resort in 2015. Over dinner they tell Wainhouse, Justin Norman and I about the area. Like this January’s growing snowpack in the south end of the Sawtooth National Forest, Soldier’s history here in central Idaho runs deep. But unlike the powder we’ll board come morning, we learn that operations at the mountain haven’t always been a smooth ride…

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