Lift Line: Going Out in Style

Photo courtesy of Nils Ribi.

A new local marvels at his first end of the season party at Sun Valley

By Alec Barfield

I notice the costumes first. (Man, people in this town love to dress up.) Some are better than others, but everyone tries … it is the last day on Baldy after all.  At one end of the spectrum are the Halloween get ups. A batch of the good ones: a human parrot and a mystery bird, Pooh Bear and Eyeore, a woman attached to an inflatable horse and some businessmen. Then there are the one-pieces, those throwback neon wonders that we all should own–if not strictly to use on the ski season’s last hurrah. Finally, a quirky mess of accessories paints the rest of the crowd. Put on a wig and sunglasses and you’ve got a party. Put on some denim jorts (jean shorts), which just skied past me, and you’ve got an even bigger party. Today, all functionality is unquestionably displaced by the best on-mountain party of the year.

Skiing is still the priority, but not necessarily the ability to do it well. In terms of attire, the louder the better. In terms of skiing, don’t crash too hard.

The SunFest party (Sun Valley’s official tagging of Sunday’s ultimately unaccountable nonsense) is the skier’s warble of skiing and drinking, which every so often gets put on repeat. Today that winning combination won’t stop until the lifts shut down. To be clear, drinking and skiing has its risks. But that’s another conversation and for this day, it seems to be another day’s worry. It’s the last day of the year, the weather is sunny and warm, the snow is nice enough to handle tiny ski blades and decades-old snowboards; no one seems to be thinking twice about the beer. Or the mimosas.

Baldy’s last day witnesses the entire cross section of pass-holders. Regardless of whether you lumber up the mountain less than five days a year or crunch out more than 100, the season’s final opportunity is always a ski.

This was a town-wide celebration. One that was fatefully sunny, just warm enough to ski in almost anything. There were beers and birds, and some bad skiing. It happens once a year and it’s viscerally awesome. It is a day to celebrate the season. And celebrate we did. As my grandpa would say, “You done good, Sun Valley!”


[To check out more of Nils Ribi's great photos from the final day or to read the full story please click here.]