Lift Line: The Boulder Mountain Tour

The Nordic Festival’s main event.

The Boulder Mountain Tour will be crowning new champs this weekend.

by Alec Barfield

Originally an alpine destination, Ketchum has developed a nordic reputation. With an extensive network of trails running through unmatched scenery and more than enough sunshine to merit the name, Sun Valley and its surrounidng area has become the ideal haven for both the casual and competitive cross-country skier. Yet our moniker of "Nordic Town USA" stems from more than just sunshine and backdrops not uncommon in the West. We’ve merited the title because of passionate individuals, like Boulder Mountain Tour founder Rob Kiesel, who are responsible for the races and programs that ignited this community’s love of the sport.

This year’s Boulder Mountain Tour (BMT) is dedicated to Kiesel, who passed away in October. As the founder of both the BMT and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation cross-country program, Kiesel was a major force for nordic skiing in this valley and he will be missed by many. Fortunately, his legacy shall continue strongly: over 800 people are registered for the 37th edition of a race on Saturday, February 4th. Launched in 1973, it is one of the country’s longest running nordic events, well-respected for its longevity, speed and extremely high level of competition.

Beginning at Senate Meadows, just east of Galena Lodge, and finishing at the Sawtooth National Recreation Headquarters, the Tour is a 32-kilometer long (19.8-miles) "jaunt" along the base of the Smoky and Boulder mountain ranges. The course crosses six different creeks, while following the larger Big Wood River down the valley. And with the recent snowfall, the setting and the course couldn’t be more breathtaking.

 For the non-elite, there are a couple of ways to enjoy Saturday. Obviously, spectating is welcome and expected. For those hoping to watch the Tour, buses will be traveling from Hemingway Elementary in Ketchum to both the start (from 7-9 am) and the finish (from 9-11 am), as there will be no public parking anywhere near Galena Lodge. In addition, registration is still open for the Half Boulder, which is an informal 15k (9.3 mile) race starting at Baker Creek that coincides with the BMT course and begins shortly after the pros cross the finish line. As of now, there are already 110 skiers signed up for the latter. Although limited parking will be available at Baker Creek, more buses will be running from Hemingway between 9 and 11 am.

So if you missed the excitement of Sun Valley Nordic Festival, be sure to check out its culminating event this Saturday, the Boulder Mountain Tour, as well as the Boulder Mountain demo day at the Sun Valley Nordic Center on Sunday. Because as much as I love skiing Baldy, this week belongs to "Nordic Town USA," a celebration of cross-country skiing and the people who brought it to Ketchum.

Official Schedule

Friday: Boulder Mountain Tour Expo (10 am – 8 pm) at the Ketchum YMCA for registration, souvenirs and sponsor booths.

Saturday: Boulder Mountain Tour (10 am) and Half Boulder (11:30 am) races and awards ceremony (6 pm) at a location TBD.

Sunday: Boulder Mountain Tour Demo (10 am), featuring equipment testing from sponsors.

NordicTown USA is in its glory with this weekend's Boulder Mountain Tour.



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