A free gathering in front of the Inn with complimentary refreshments, Sun Valley Carolers directed by Derek Furch, tree lighting and Santa arrives in his sleigh. Photos with Santa and ice carving demonstrations.
A free gathering in front of the Inn with complimentary refreshments, Sun Valley Carolers directed by Derek Furch, tree lighting and Santa arrives in his sleigh. Photos with Santa and ice carving demonstrations.
They are perhaps the two best words in the vernacular of a ski town – it’s snowing! And it is. A lot. The Halloween pumpkins and fall’s golden aspen leaves are covered with a layer of white and I know I was not the only mother in town scrambling to dig out woolen hats and gloves still in summer storage this morning. The excitement wrought by the season’s first snowfall was palpable on the drive to school. When Lower River Run came into view, the slope was suddenly clearly delineated. Turning the corner, we stared at Upper College, now readily identifiable between the evergreens. As dawn broke, the snow guns were working hard, Mother Nature was cooperating and skiers rejoiced!
Things are in full swing on both Bald Mountain and Dollar in preparation for the rapidly approaching season. According to Marshall McInnis, an expert on all things Sun Valley, there is a lot to look forward to when the lifts start running on Thanksgiving Day. In addition to the beginning of snowmaking in earnest, other improvements are well underway to make this the best ski season ever in Sun Valley. Work undertaken by the Forest Service to ensure the health of the forests on Baldy provided an added bonus of creating a new tree run between Upper College and Limelight. “When you ski down I-80 this year, the sun will shine through the trees and there will be new opportunity for skiing above it,” said McInnis. He also said that two new Adventure Trails, one off the top of Seattle Ridge and one on the Cold Springs side of the mountain, will also provide new terrain opportunities. “There are more places to play this year,” he laughed.
With only 30 days remaining until Baldy and Dollar officially open, this early snowfall has everyone scurrying to prepare. In addition to digging out the winter clothes, it’s time to get your ski pass, tune your skis or board and get in some pre-season conditioning. Really, it’s time. Look out the window.
There is snow forecast for the next four days, adding up to perhaps a few inches on the Valley floor and hopefully quite a bit more up on the mountain. Around town, everyone is smiling and laughing that Jack Frost is making his first appearance of the year. It looks like it will be a year of trick-or-treating in puffy jackets and snow boots with warm hats pulled down over costume wigs. But that is a small price to pay for a great early season on the slopes.
Check out the latest conditions in Sun Valley by clicking here.
Let it snow!
Opening night of the 2012 Sun Valley Jazz Jamboree was a high-energy cacophony of color, smiles and the sweet sounds of jazz. From the Inn to the Lodge to the Indoor Ice Rink, converted into a vast performance hall for the weekend, the Resort was crowded with folks poised for a great time. Every chair was occupied in the cozy Duchin Lounge during a show featuring Jerry and Gary, battling banjo players. The rink was filled to capacity while 12 world-class performers, under the banner of Little Big Band N’Awlins Style, bebop’d and blew, improvised and grooved. Though early in the evening, many began to venture to the floating dance floor, one of the most appreciated and talked about features of this Jamboree.
“People love the floating dance floor,” explained Scott Irvine who manages the Sun Valley Ice Rinks and is responsible for converting the indoor rink into a nightclub for the Jamboree. “The floor is sprung, almost like a tumbling floor in gymnastics, and people can dance for four hours and feel like it’s been one hour. It’s really fun – try it!” We bounced a bit among the dancers. It is fun.
Back in the Lodge, the warmly lit lobby was full of festival-goers, on their way to or from of the dozens of evening events around the Resort. A helpful volunteer from Wood River High School, a musician herself, answered questions with a smile. The famous men’s singing group from Yale University, the Whiffenpoofs, congregated in the lobby, taking in the scene following their performance. Many grabbed a bite at the bar in the Duchin Room (myself included – I highly recommend the vegetable quesadilla) surrounded by hep cats of all varieties, including some of the weekend’s talented and smartly dressed musicians.
This was my first foray into the Jazz Jamboree and I plan to go back for more this weekend. It was terrific to see the Resort so crowded during shoulder season and it was terrific to see all the participants having such a tremendous time. People travel from all over (some I spoke with were from Kansas, Oregon, British Columbia) to be entertained, spend time with old friends and make new ones.
Things are in full swing in Sun Valley. Break out the boas, lace up those dancing shoes and get in on the fun. In addition to music and dancing, there is great food to eat and room specials if you want to relax through the last acts (that run until 1 a.m.) and then just roll into a comfortable bed, ready to start again the next morning.
The Jazz Jamboree runs through Sunday, October 21. Click here for a full schedule and get your jazz on!
Christmas Eve Celebration “Nutcracker On Ice”
Our annual Christmas Eve Celebration on the Sun Valley Lodge Terrace starts at 5pm on Monday, December 24.
Get into the Christmas spirit with the Sun Valley Carolers, a free performance of “Nutcracker on Ice” featuring talented local ice-skaters, the Torchlight Parade & Fireworks, Santa Claus, free hot chocolate & cookies. Free ice skating after the performance!
The Folklife Fair, a big part of this weekend’s highly-anticipated Trailing of the Sheep Festival, proved a feast for the senses. Dozens of lamb dishes, cooked on site in a park in Hailey, tantalized. The smell of lamb burgers, lamb pockets, delicacies of every persuasion, wafted throughout the fairgrounds, subtly reminding visitors that it was lunchtime. And by all accounts, the food tasted just as good as it smelled.
Strains of bagpipes resonated across grassy fields throughout the day, drawing the crowds temporarily away from the food stands and craft tents to cheer on performers. Basque dance groups also proved to have a Pied-Piper effect on visitors, attracting a wide circle of onlookers.
Children and adults alike were invited to touch shorn wool that lay in huge matted bundles throughout the park. It was much, much softer than it appeared. Color exploded from every corner. From the perfect bluebird sky of the Idaho Indian Summer day, to yarn bundles in every hue, to the capes and bright skirts worn by the dancers, the Folklife Fair was a feast for the eyes as well.
Judging from the hundreds of out-of-town license plates lining every street for blocks and blocks around Roberta McKercher Park, people came from near and far to enjoy the Trailing of the Sheep. For every familiar face enjoying what might have been the nicest day of the year, there were three or four unfamiliar ones, all soaking up this glimpse into Idaho’s rich sheep-herding history, all coming together to remember to appreciate life’s simpler joys.
While the parade that wends down Ketchum’s Main Street may be the weekend’s signature event, the fair also deserves a few hours of your time. Before this year, while I always attended the parade – and I do love it; it is colorful, and musical and downright funny – I had never made it to the Fair. From now on, the opportunity to walk through the dozens of craft booths, admiring people’s skill and handiwork with textiles, stopping to let my children watch old-fashioned spindles at work, and yes, to enjoy the wonderful locally-sourced food prepared by local chefs, is permanently on my calendar. If it’s on your calendar next year, too, be sure to check out the great room specials Sun Valley Resort offers for the Trailing of the Sheep weekend.
If you plan to attend the screening of the documentary film “G-Dog” this Saturday night (October 13) at the Sun Valley Opera House, prepare to laugh, cry and be moved. The film profiles Father Greg Boyle (G-Dog) who created Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles; a man who has helped turn around countless lives for at-risk youth. You will meet two of Father Boyle’s success stories, as well as Academy Award-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock. Lastly, you will make an impact locally, as 100 percent of the evening’s proceeds will support the work of the Hunger Coalition. Not bad for a Saturday night in slack and a $10 entry fee.
Father Boyle’s program rehabilitates, trains and employs 12,000 former gang members a year. Two program graduates, who now work with Boyle, will join Mock to answer questions after the screening. Hector Verdugo is Associate Director of Homeboy Industries and Shirley Torres is Director of Reentry Services. Both met Father Boyle when they were young and in trouble, and with his help, turned their lives around. Verdugo, who is Father Boyle’s right-hand man, also stars in the film. The two will be guests in Sun Valley and plan to get out and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Documentary filmmaker Mock likes to delve into tough subjects, to stir the proverbial pot, to inspire and provoke thought. This part-time Sun Valley resident is thrilled to bring Father Boyle’s story to a local audience. “It is a very hopeful film,” Mock said in a phone interview. “It is a wonderful combination of funny and deep, light and deadly serious.” But G-Dog’s joy and optimism pervade the story. Mock said it is appropriate for older children and leaves audiences on their feet. She said the film will be shown here on a top quality audio-visual equipment, providing a great movie-going experience.
The Hunger Coalition is thrilled to be the beneficiary of this screening. “October is Hunger Awareness Month and each year we try to do an event that gets people out on the town having fun but talking about hunger in the Valley,” said Naomi Spence, program director for the organization. Every dollar from ticket sales goes directly to benefit the Hunger Coalition whose mission is not unlike Homeboy Industries. “We are focused on empowering people,” Spence explained, “in supporting them through their journey to get back on their feet. By the time people come to us, they have surrendered to the crisis. Like Father Boyle’s organization, we strive to help people return a place where they are once again sustainable.” Gathering on a lovely fall night in Sun Valley is a terrific opportunity to raise awareness and get the community together.
The screening begins at 7 p.m. Tickets to a VIP pre-party at the Boiler Room, including dinner, cocktails and a chance to mingle with Mock and the cast, are available for $50. General admission is $10. The Resort is also running slack dinner specials at Resort restaurants – an affordable way to grab a great meal before the show.
Tickets are available at Chapter One Bookstore in Ketchum, Wood River Motors in Hailey and at the door, based on availability.
The Sun Valley Lodge boasts one of the most beautiful, unusual and iconic backyards in the nation. The year-round outdoor ice rink is the largest in the world and sets the stage for Sun Valley’s famous Saturday night ice shows, the crowd-pleasing Christmas Eve Nutcracker on Ice and competitions for skaters from all over the nation. As the old adage goes, everyone who is anyone in figure skating has performed in Sun Valley. Every Olympic medalist in recent history, world champions and the sport’s rising stars all love skating in Sun Valley’s intimate venue under the stars.
Last week, this huge slab of ice was also the platform to launch a lifelong love of skating for about 35 children participating in the first “Skate With Us” class of the year. This program, sponsored by the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club, invites youngsters to learn skating basics in a supportive group setting, taught by some of Sun Valley’s outstanding coaches.
Giggles, chatter and smiles prevailed as the mostly four to seven-year-olds wiggled while parents and caregivers wrestled with fidgety feet, lacing them into skate boots. When asked if they were excited, the answer was a resounding “yes!” and “skating is fun!” Josie Sarchett was one of the first on the ice, gliding confidently out to the middle, a seasoned pro in her second year of “Skate With Us.” Sporting the signature Sun Valley fall uniform of summer shorts with a puffy coat, a misplaced toe pick landed her on the ice. “Maybe I should have worn pants,” she laughed.
Skating is an integral part of most local kids’ childhoods. Many join the Figure Skating Club to learn to glide, spin and jump their way through either a competitive track or just for enjoyment. Countless others pick up a hockey stick and puck and play on the Resort’s indoor rink as a part of Sun Valley Youth Hockey. Skating birthday parties and get-togethers are wildly popular. And, why not? Where else can you skate, every day of the year, with the picturesque Lodge on one side, and views of Dollar and Baldy on the other?
The smiles on the little “Skate With Us” participants shone as bright as the Sun Valley sun as they extended gloved hands to a coach, anxious to get going. Who knows? Among this group may be a future national champion, a show skater or someone who simply will enjoy skating for decades to come.
As the mother of two competitive figure skaters and one aspiring hockey player, the Sun Valley ice rinks are my home-away-from-home. During the winter months, it is a certainty that we will be skating, collectively, at least four to five days a week. If you are looking for me, the rink is a good place to start! It has been wonderful to see the confidence, dedication and character my own kids have built through their time on the ice. Nothing like a few hard falls to inspire you to get up and get it right. I highly recommend a spin or two around the rink to any guest, local, or aspiring skater. The Sun Valley experience is not complete without it.
Last weekend, I found myself without children – a rare state for me. My daughters were whitewater rafting and my son was at a sleepover. With this sudden profusion of grown-up time, my immediate instinct was to avoid my own kitchen and let a professional do the work. I wanted elegance, charm, great food, a cocktail. So I headed to the Ram Restaurant in Sun Valley Village. From the toile draperies to the hideaway wooden banquettes with their needlepoint backs and leather seats, there is nothing I don’t like about the Ram. On the occasion that I have an evening to spend with an adult I really want to talk to (read: a date), the Ram is my restaurant of choice. On Saturday night, I slipped into a booth by the window, admiring the pressed white linens, sparkling crystal, and spotless silver, and allowed the soothing notes of the piano to adjust my attitude. I went from harried mommy-mode to night-on-the-town-mode in record time.
There is something truly relaxing and romantic about the Ram. From the moment you walk into the room — styled with more than a hint of Sun Valley’s Austrian roots in mind – the pressure is off. Unlike some other area restaurants fueled by the see-and-be-seen scene, at the Ram, you can bring a big group and make a scene or simply nod and smile at your fellow diners as you enter (because you will inevitably know someone there), but take comfort in the fact that your privacy will be respected. Many of us locals (you know who you are) seek refuge, while seeking a good meal, at the Ram.
None of this would matter, of course, without delicious food. For a few years, the Ram’s menu was bit heavy for me, focusing on wild game, red meat and rich sides. Not my thing. Today’s selections are much more eclectic. Sure, you can still get a great steak, but I swapped the red meat for gravlax, the heavy red wine for a perfectly chilled Cosmo, added a fresh beet salad and a hot, creamy cup of New England clam chowder and, voila! I created my perfect meal (plus a few bites from the communal Bananas Foster, of course). My only complaint? Rice pudding is no longer served. I used to go to the Ram just for that. (Hint).
The beet salad is one of the most popular dishes on the menu. The Ram’s chef, Steve Ludwig, was kind enough to share this healthy, delicious fall recipe.
Ram Beet Salad:
what you will need:
candied walnuts, crumbled/crushed
ricotta salata cheese, crumbled
picked fresh herbs: chervil, parsley, dill, etc. (whatever you like)
for the beets:
Find medium to large beets at the store. I use chiogga and golden varieties for this dish since the red beets stain everything. Set your oven to 350 F and depending what type of beets you bought, cut the greens off. Find roasting pans or pots with lids large enough to hold the beets. Roast different color beets separate from each other by placing them in their own pan, adding a ½ inch of water, covering tightly with lid or aluminum foil and roasting in oven until a small pairing knife can be inserted easily into the beets. Depending on how uniform the beets were, some will be done before others; remove beets from pans as they fininsh cooking and continue to roast the remaining beets until all will easily take the pairing knife. Let cool for a few minutes and take clean dry kitchen towel and rub the outside of the cooked beets with this towel to remove the skins. Trim off the root end if necessary and any blemishes. Trim the top and bottom to create flat surfaces. Using a 2 1/2 inch round cutter and going from top to bottom, press down and cut out a cylinder of beet. Slice these beet cylinders into about ½ inch discs. Let cool down. This can be done up to two days in advance.
Next, make the honey lavender vinaigrette.
1 T and 2tsp lavender
1 T honey
3.5oz chevre goat cheese
1 small shallot, rough chopped
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
2 T water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
1 cup olive oil
- put first eight ingredients in blender and process until smooth
- with blender still running, slowly add oil to emulsify
1) toss beets with a touch of salt and some of the honey-lavender vinaigrette
2) position on plate and top with crumbled candied walnuts, ricotta salata cheese and then chive rounds
3) lightly dress the arugula and herbs in some more of the vinaigrette and place on top
Sun Valley is currently running fall slack dining specials at the Ram and at all Resort restaurants — a terrific, affordable opportunity to enjoy some great food at a great price! Be sure to check them out!
At 7:40 this morning, on the way to drop off my children at school, there was frost on the ground and the outside temperature read a brisk 18 degrees. That can only mean one thing — snowmaking! In response to the first really cold night of the year, the snow guns that dot Dollar Mountain fired up and began to lay down a blanket of white. As the sun rose behind the Lodge and the Pioneer Mountains, John Matteson, Brian Callahan and their team were starting to put down a foundation for the amazing season to come at the Terrain Park and on the trails.
By the time I saw it “snowing” on the hill (thrilling, truly), a crew had been hard at work behind-the-scenes for hours, arriving as early as 3 a.m. “This early-season temperature drop gives us the chance to crank up the guns, trouble shoot and solve any issues early,” Matteson explained. The man behind Dollar’s vast snowmaking apparatus, Matteson is thrilled at today’s taste of winter. “This is the earliest we have been able to start the process,” he said. “We look for consistent temperatures generally below 23 or 24 degrees, so last night was perfect. Getting going in early October means that all the literal and figurative kinks will be worked out early and snowmaking will be right on schedule.”
On schedule for the 2012-2013 season means that plans to have Terrain Park features operational by Thanksgiving Day are a “go.” If the weather continues to cooperate and nights stay cold, Matteson said they will undertake the alchemy that turns water into snow every night from now on.
To help make this process as seamless as possible, Matteson has new “toys” in his arsenal. This year, he installed a few individually automated snow guns that will communicate with the Resort’s sophisticated computerized system. Most of the guns on Dollar are still managed manually. Snowmaking is a true science, based on temperature, humidity and all kinds of other variables and the automated guns will help everything run smoothly. Matteson is sure the entire system on Dollar this year will be up to the task of making skiing and riding even more eye-popping and fun.
Callahan, who is in charge of the Terrain Park, said he, too, has new toys this season and cannot wait to unveil them (more on that in a later blog)!
It is always an exciting day when the snow guns kick on and preview the season to come. I cannot wait to watch the team on Dollar build that mammoth playground and then cover it with snow. Game on!
September and October are hands-down my favorite months in the Wood River Valley. I love the shoulder-season feel in town when you can again wave at the driver of nearly every car you pass. I love the mineral smell of the Big Wood River when it’s low and unhurried. Most of all, I love the coin-shaped leaves of the aspens as they turn bright gold and light up the hills. I love the warm Indian summer days and the cool bite of autumn nights. Conventional wisdom holds that people come to Sun Valley for the winter and return because of our amazing summers. If they knew about the fall, they would never leave.
Hiking is the perfect way to capitalize on everything that is so amazing about the season. On a sunshiny September Sunday, I decided to walk up to Lookout on Bald Mountain. This hike is one of my in-town, don’t-have-much-time, but crave-pretty-scenery picks. It is short (1.7 miles each way), and not too steep. The route begins at the base of River Run and wends up the Bald Mountain Trail until it reaches the wooden platform built over the edge of the mountain that is the Lookout.
My hiking buddies were my friend, Chris, and my dog, Annabel. Since Chris is male, I did not expect much of the continuous banter and exchanged confidences that typify any hike I take with my girlfriends. But sometimes that is nice. Hiking in silence provides a great workout – you go faster when you’re not yapping. For me, hiking, like skiing, is a meditation of sorts. The slightly jarring rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other, heel-toe, heel-toe, and the varying pattern of my breath help clear my mind. Altitude is the ultimate mind clearer, too. The famous saying painted onto the roof of Pioneer Cabin (a fabulous hike if you’re looking for one) – The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get – is a self-evident truth. Standing at the edge of the Lookout, with Ketchum spread below and the sublime Pioneer mountain range in the distance, you can’t help but find some peace.
Given the time, from Lookout, I like to keep going up, up, up. The trail leads to Roundhouse (during summer, I usually “reward” myself for the hike with lunch on the deck, and more often that not, a glass of wine) or to the top of the hill. Riding the lift down, it is great fun to see my favorite ski runs bursting with colorful wildflowers and thigh-high vegetation. It makes me appreciate the volume of snowfall it takes to cover all that. And even in the middle of July, it makes me yearn just a bit for ski season. But there is still another good month of hiking left. For now, I will enjoy the ascent and look forward to the descent.