Initiation of the Caleb Baukol Memorial Safety Fund 

We are honored, excited and grateful to announce the initiation of the Caleb Baukol Memorial Safety Fund. In memoriam of the widely adored, local-legend Caleb Baukol, the fund aims to deliver the highest quality safety materials, training and systems to SVSEF for the protection of our athletes. 

The idea to create a safety fund began to take shape with the implementation of a top-tier radio communications system on Baldy. Through the vision of Sean Tajkowski—the architect of this initiative—and generosity of Caleb’s life partner, Bex Wilkinson, SVSEF was able to install a radio repeater at the top of the Greyhawk chair and supply several top-of-the-line radios to coaching staff.  

Repeater at the top of Grewhawk. Photo: Sean Tajkowski

The system currently installed—through Wilkinson’s support and Tajkowski’s vision—is among the leading radio communications systems in the countryakin to those used by the Olympics, Formula One racing, and the America’s CupA system of this caliber not only allows SVSEF to overcome any and all communication gaps, but sets the program ahead of any other youth program in regards to quality of communications and subsequent influence over athlete safety.  

While the effort to install the radio system began in 2018, it was not until this season that the funds were acquired to complete the purchase of sufficient radios for all SVSEF operations. With the final pieces in place on the communications endthe project’s visionaries—Bex Wilkinson and Sean Tajkowskisaw the opportunity to makthe installation of proactive safety measures a permanent fixture of ski team operationsby creating a fund dedicated exclusively to risk mitigationIn the immediate future, resources from the fund will be going forward to Stop the Bleed kits and comprehensive training in immediate injury response for SVSEF coachesTajkowskiworking in dialogue with local first-responders, identifies these as the next crucial steps in assuring the highest availability of emergency care to our athletes. 

State-of-the-art radios. Photo: Sean Tajkowski

While Wilkinson has no present connection to SVSEF—her children have since grown out of the program—she decided to underwrite this initiative in recognition of SVSEF’s importance to the Wood River Valley community. “The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation is the backbone of our community as a whole. After realizing the safety needs of this wonderful organization, I felt that it was not only needed, but was paramount that these safety measures be implemented for the welfare of our children, our staff and our peace of mind as a community. Wilkinson plains. 

SVSEF Executive Director, Scott McGrew, reiterates the importance of creating this fund as it relates to bringing athlete safety before the public eye: “athlete safety is our top priority, but often does not have quite as much visibility with the greater community as compared to the achievements of the program. The community needs to see how important this internal gearing of the system is, especially in regards to athlete safety.” McGrew explains. “This is our proactive approach to athlete safety.” 

The fund is to be designated in memory of Caleb Baukol, who was no stranger to bolstering community through the sport of skiing. Caleb—a master of playing in the mountains—was born in Colorado, raised in Montana, skied and fished in Alaska, and spent over two decades in the Wood River Valley. While living in the Wood River Valley, Caleb co-owned and operated 5B Garage, a private ski-tuning club in Ketchum, which also housed Big Wood Ski, Baukol’s custom hardwood ski manufacturing shop. While heralded as a hot spot for skiing aficionados, 5B Garage and Big Wood Ski served a far higher purpose than equipment infatuation; they were intended to create a space for gathering, for community. Caleb understood the essential role of skiing in tightly-knit social fabric of the Wood River Valley. 

“His life was all about skiing.” Wilkinson adds. “[the shop] was a place where people could hang out and enjoy the ski life, and I know his presence is missed. He taught me how to ski, and he was all about putting smiles on your face. He just wanted you to get on the mountain and enjoy it. It is in the interest of protecting this communitythat Caleb so lovedthat the fund is named in his honor.  

SVSEF would like to reiterate our gratitude to Sean Tajkowski and Bex Wilkinson. To donate to the Caleb Baukol Memorial fund, please contact Mimi Crocker