pioneer range

The western front of the Pioneer Range from a ridge on Johnstone Peak
Hyndman Peak viewed from Hyndman Basin near Pioneer Cabin.


While the moniker "Pioneer Cabin" conjures up images of sodbusters, covered wagons, and a hardscrabble way of life, the cabin was actually situated to provide the lap of luxury in the backcountry and named for the range which it prominently displays: the Pioneer Range of central Idaho. One of Idaho's best kept secrets, the Pioneer Range extends from the Wood River Valley on the west, the Boulder Range to the north and west, gives way to the Pahsimeroi and Lost River Ranges to the east, and falls away to the Craters of the Moon and Snake River Plain to the south.

Hyndman Peak is the highest point in the range and peeks out above the dominant Duncan Ridge across the North Fork of Hyndman Creek Canyon directly below the cabin. The western edge of the Pioneers dominates the view from Pioneer Cabin, but is also easily seen from the Magic Valley, over 80 miles to the south. The peaks are clearly identifiable and dominated by "the Pioneer Trifecta: the familiar triumvirate of Hyndman Peak (12,009'), Cobb Peak (11,650'), and Old Hyndman (11,775'). Almost uniformly misidentified as the Sawtooths when viewed from the south, the Pioneer Range provides the perfect setting for a ski-mountaineering hut within a reasonable distance from the Sun Valley Resort complex.

Below Duncan Ridge a small brook winds down through Hyndman Basin.


In Tom Lopez' excellent reference Idaho: A Climbing Guide, the author describes the Pioneers thusly:

Geologically, the range has a granitic foundation that was intruded into schists and quartzite ... and is exposed on the eastrern side of the crest. The western slopes are covered with sedimentary and metamorphic overburden that is quite broken in places. ... The Pioneers' Plesitocene glaciers cut many spectacular U-shaped valleys and cirques and left behind dozens of jagged peaks.

This explains the remarkable and singular view from Pioneer Cabin as one gazes far across the North Fork canyon and up into the far reaches of alpine basins between Salzburger Spitzl, Handwerk, Goat and Duncan Ridge.

College of Southern Idaho Distinguished Professor of Geology and author Shawn Willsey has created some instructional videos that visually describe the geology and results of glaciation, one of which was captured very near Pioneer Cabin. Another was created in one of the alpine basins nearby.

Goat Peak, Handwerk Peak, Florian's Nudl, Duncan Ridge, and Hyndman Peak provide the cabin backdrop.

the cabin view

The skyline from the front steps of the cabin is a view that is literally a sight to behold. In full display are the peaks largely named by Florian Haemmerle and other Sun Valley Company employees, some in honor of World War II veterans and beleaguered citizens that the guides had left behind in Europe. A tall horn on the ridge running between Goat Peak and Duncan Ridge is Florian's Nudl, named for Haemmerle himself.

I've put together this labeled panorama for your information. You may also enjoy this collection of panoramas shot from the saddle just to the west of the cabin.

more Pioneer range resources

Over the years I've taken thousands of photographs and logged innumerable trail miles, summits, and various excursions in the Pioneer Range. In the interest of sharing with the public, I'm making the following resources and references available.

Google Earth project

Google Earth is an amazing technology and provides outstanding tools for charting, logging, presenting, and describing terrain. I have created a Google Earth Project that you can load yourself into Google Earth. I won't get into it in much detail here, but it provides a lot of placemarks and routes that may be of some interest to you. There are some tips below that will be helpful, especially if you've not used Projects. I've also used Google Earth Studio to create an aerial "orbit" of Pioneer Range you can download here.

Pioneer Trails Google Earth Project tips

Photojournals and videos

As a semi-avid photographer, I attempt to document my excursions visually and with an accompanying narrative. I will make these available from time to time here. You can also find many of them throughout this site. You may also be interested in my photography and adventure website: Please note that I maintain the copyrights of all photos on this and other photo sites. You may not download, print, or reproduce them without permission, but please do ask! I'm happy to  share my photos for personal use including high resolution digital images.