LIFTLINE: Skiing and Boarding in Groups

How to stay sane when skiing with everyone’s aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, friends and grandparents.

By Katie Matteson

Meeting friends on Bald Mountain

This is the time of the year when everyone’s favorite mountain, Baldy, gets packed! Lines are long, slopes are filled, it is hard to find a seat on the deck at Warm Springs Lodge and, suddenly, your friends’ red and blue jackets start looking just like everyone else’s red and blue jackets.

So just how are you supposed to find your friends in a sea of skiers, snowboarders, revelers, families, ski lessons and groups of ski-teamers? Not everyone has bright colored jackets like me (I swear, my favorite pink and green jacket can be spotted on Baldy miles away!), no one really uses walkie-talkies anyone (though if you did, we think it’s awesome!), and sometimes it is just too cold to take your gloves off and dig through your pockets for your cell phone.

So we have complied a few tips on just how to stay together on the mountain, the best places to meet on the mountain, and a few safety tips for skiing or boarding in groups.

1. Plan ahead. Knowing when and where you are going to meet your group is the first step towards success. Be specific in your planning. Instead of saying, "Meet you at the top around eleven," try something more specific (and less mainstream) like: "Meet you at the top of Seattle Ridge at 11:15."

Meeting Friends on Baldy

Plan ahead with a specific time and location to make sure everybody meets up on top and in the right place

2. Watch the clock.  There are several clocks strategically placed in every lift line. Watch for the big blue signs with maps on them, the clocks are on there too. There are also clocks at the top of the mountain and the top of Seattle Ridge. Being on time will help your group meet up easier!

3. Stand BELOW the slow sign. If you and your fam gets split up on a run, or if you decide to meet halfway down, the best place to wait for the slower part of the crew is right BELOW one of the big, orange slow signs. Most skiers and riders work to avoid those signs anyway, so you will be out of their way and it also provides you a little protection, just in case.

4. Move away from the lift! If you are meeting friends at the top of the mountain, whatever you do, DO NOT stand right where you got off. Many other skiers and riders will be getting off the lift before your friends get there, and if you are standing right in the way, it is a recipe for a disaster (or at least one or two pile-ups).

5. The best place to meet: Warm Springs Side: The Warm Springs Bridge (located right at the end of the Challenger lift line, just past Warm Springs Lodge). An old stand-by for groups of skiers and riders to meet up, the Warm Springs Bridge is almost a tradition of its own. Locals and tourists alike can be heard on a Friday night at Grumpy’s saying"Meet you on the Bridge at nine tomorrow." Just be sure not to confuse it with the River Run Bridge!

River Run Base Lodge

Looking towards the firepit at River Run Base Lodge

6. The best place to meet: River Run Side: The fire pit. River Run Lodge is huge and there are plenty of places to meet your group from the bear statue to the fireplace inside to the first ski rack, but our favorite place to meet, and warm up some chilly fingers, is the fire pit. Located right near the bottom of the gondola, you are sure not to miss this one and you can warm up and meet new friends while you wait.

7. If Meeting up enroute, stand BELOW the slow sign. If you and your fam (or larger group) gets split up on a run, or if you decide to meet halfway down, the best place to wait for the slower part of the crew is right BELOW one of the big orange slow signs. Most skiers and riders work to avoid those signs anyway, so you will be out of their way and it also provides you a little protection, just in case.

8. Move to the side of the slope! There are some long runs and some long cat tracks on Baldy, so if you and your crew get split up on Lower College or at the end of Hershey Highway and you are going to wait for them to catch up, be sure to move to the side of the run. Standing in the middle of any run can be dangerous for you and other skiers!

9. The best place to meet: Seattle Ridge.  If your 13 year-old cousin doesn’t want to watch the Broncos game with you inside the Seattle Ridge Lodge while you wait for the rest of the family, the best place to meet on Seattle Ridge is outside the Lodge on the Lower Level. This not only keeps you out of the way of the lift and other skiers, but it provides easy access to the bathrooms and water, without going up or down any stairs!

10. The best place to meet: Top of the mountain. Lots of groups get together at the top and with the Lookout Lodge, three lifts and one cat track all converging in one area, it can get pretty hectic. Tell your friends to meet you by the big blue sign (the one with a map and a clock), or even a little lower, down by the Ski Patrol Shack. But try to stay out of the way of the snowboarder’s Strap-Up area.

11. Carry a map! Baldy can seem big and confusing, especially to a first-time visitor. So be sure to carry a mountain map with you at all times, that way if your group gets separated, at least you can figure out where you are and where you want to be! Also, the Sun Valley guest service folks (the friendly skiers and boarders in bright yellow jackets) are incredibly helpful; so don’t be afraid to ask. There are also some pretty sweet Smartphone apps with resort maps that can come in pretty handy!

Skiing and boarding is all about fun. Enjoying bluebird skis and hopefully some fresh powder with your family and friends.  So be patient and kind to your fellow Baldy-lovers! A little karma goes a long way!

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