We are Open!

Dateline: River Run, November 28, 2013, 8:50 a.m. The excitement at the base of River Run was palpable as a large, happy group gathered on the plaza under bright blue skies and a warm sun. Friends reunited, families convened, the sound of buckles and bindings snapping into place competed with the whir of the chair lift’s motor.

Yes, at exactly 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, the first lucky foursome hopped onto the River Run #1 lift, hooting and hollering on their inaugural ride up Bald Mountain for the 2013-2014 season. Behind them, every other chair filled quickly, transporting the hundreds of expectant skiers and snowboarders to their first magical turns of the year. Sun Valley’s 78th season was off to a great start.

At 8:50 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, skiers and riders were ready to get their first turns

At 8:50 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, skiers and riders were ready to get their first turns

The first holiday gift of the season from Sun Valley Company opened 11 runs, a Progressive Park, two magic carpets and four-high speed quads on Baldy and Dollar to the anxious snow sports masses. Some early season natural snow, combined with Sun Valley’s world-class, standard-setting snowmaking provided a great corduroy surface for enthusiasts. The smiles and thumbs up from the first skiers and boarders down River Run told the story, as they quickly queued back up for another run. Top-to-bottom vertical lured people to Baldy this year, with Upper College, Lower College, Sunset Strip, 42nd Street, Roundhouse Lane, Roundhouse Slope, Lower Canyon, Mid River Run and Lower River Run available for skiing and riding.

Great snow greeted early morning riders and skiers

Great snow greeted riders and skiers

In the morning, River Run Lodge provided a calm place to coax feet into boots still stiff from the off-season; to enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry. At lunchtime, River Run and Lookout atop Baldy were open to provide nourishment and refreshment on Baldy.

Dollar was quieter, but still welcoming skiers to the gentle slopes of Quarter Dollar. Snow guns were fired up all over the mountain, readying additional runs and Dollar’s amazing terrain park for operation during the coming holiday season. Dollar will continue daily operation through December 1 and then close until re-opening for the season December 14, so be sure to get over there this weekend to play in early season snow. Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge is open to enjoy a snack or meal and Kindercare is available.

Opening day saw action at Dollar Mountain, too

Opening day saw action at Dollar Mountain, too

Sun Valley is getting the après ski party started with the band Tracorum at River Run on November 28 and 29. Jeff Crosby & The Refugees play on November 30.

Check back to sunvalley.com or call 800-635-4150 for the most current reports on conditions and terrain.

We are all thankful this weekend for our beautiful ski mountains, family, friends, clean air and sunshine. Opening day was an exciting kick-off to what is sure to be the best season ever in Sun Valley! See you on the slopes.

–RES

There's only one word for opening day -- Yahoo!

There's only one word for opening day -- Yahoo!

It’s Over!

The season that was

The season that was

At four p.m. on Sunday, the Challenger chairlift glided to a halt and the 2012-2013 ski season officially ended. But since this is Sun Valley, there was nothing quiet about the last weekend of skiing and riding on Baldy!

As quotidian skier and custom ski maker Caleb Baukol reported, “there were fireworks on top (real ones) and at the base, there was mayhem of the best kind.  At 3:57, as a crowd jockeyed to get on the last chairs to the top, poles were broken, friendships were tested, but that crucial last run was worth it!”

The last run of the season may just be the best

The last run of the season may just be the best

The Warm Springs Lodge patio was turned into a huge outdoor party, blending their passionate and uninhibited style with the local, high energy vibe. Costumes with a focus on “gaper-chic” were de rigueur and crowds were thick, from the base of the lift, to the street party outside of Apple’s Bar and Grill, to Lookout atop Baldy (home of the biggest hit of the season — the taco bar) and all the way back down.

The party was on on the Warm Springs patio Sunday

At Warm Springs on Sunday, the party was on!

The mood all weekend was light, despite relatively cold temperatures and a good shower of snow first thing Saturday morning. Sun Valley Ski Patrol held their last morning meeting of the year al fresco, showcasing the best view, hands down, of any office in the Valley. Late season skiers also did good, bringing non-perishable items for the Hunger Coalition in return for a free second ski ticket with the purchase of one.

It was a great season by all accounts. Early season powder was some of the best in years. SnowSports ran fabulous lessons and programs appropriate for novices to experts, guests to locals. Pros of the highest caliber took to our slopes in eye popping contests from the Rev Tour to the Orage Masters and filmmakers flocked to Sun Valley to capture what the mountain lifestyle looks like from some pretty dramatic angles.

A great time was had by all. Thanks Sun Valley for an epic season!

A great time was had by all. Thanks Sun Valley for an epic season!

Thanks to the Sun Valley Resort for the amazing grooming, exciting new runs, terrific on-mountain food, the best Guest Services staff in the country, fabulous lift ops, the best playground around on Dollar, and for everything else they do. Thanks to Sun Valley Ski Patrol for keeping mountain users safe and for keeping it fun.

The perfect closing day combo: Guest Services in costume!

The perfect closing day combo: Guest Services in costume!

If you had as great a season as we did, be sure to log onto here to vote for Sun Valley as your favorite ski resort.

Thanks to the early spring, the ambivalence and blues that are endemic to many skiers and boarders when the lifts stop running, may not last long. Thoughts are already turning to biking, golfing, tennis and fishing. Still, there will be many among us who will continue to stare longingly at Baldy’s greening slopes as we pass for weeks to come.

See you back on the hill in just a few short months for amazing mountain biking, hiking, lunch at Roundhouse and sightseeing! Summer in Sun Valley is definitely something to look forward to.

–RES

Top 10 Reasons to Make a Snowboard Bench

By Mike McKenna

Ever wonder what to do with that old snowboard? How about making it into a bench?

Turning a used snowboard into a bench is surprisingly easy and cheap to do and it’s a lot better for the environment than dumping it in the garbage.

To help get you motivated, here are the Top 10 reasons to turn and old snowboard into a bench:

10) It gives you a great excuse to use power tools.

9) It’s a great way to honor something you loved and shared many great memories with.

8) It’s gives you good place to sit, indoors or out.

7) It’s a fun and practical way to recycle.

6) It’s pretty cheap to do, wooden benches cost less than $25 to make.

A wide variety of snowboard bench kits are available from places like the Snow Source.

5) It doesn’t take very long to make one.

4) It’s a more productive way to spend an afternoon than drinking beer and watching ski movie re-runs.

3) It gives you a great reason to enjoy a beer after you’re done–and new place to sit down to enjoy it.

2) Even most "Two Plankers" (aka skiers) think they’re cool!

1) It gives you the perfect excuse to buy a new ride for next season!

To find out the basic directions for building a bench out of wood or links to some different examples of snowboard bench designs, please check out , "Building A Snowboard Bench."

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.]

Swinging the Sticks in Sun Valley

The golf season is about to get underway

By Mike McKenna

Now that the slopes have closed for the season it’s time to turn our attention towards the links. This season Sun Valley will be offering 45 holes of world class golfing at three course: the longtime favorite of Trail Creek, the breathtaking track at the White Clouds and now entering it’s second season under Sun Valley’s management, the Trent Jones designed course at Elkhorn.

Trail Creek will be fully open this weekend (April 28th), with Elkhorn opening to walking only on the front night on Monday (April 30th) and White Clouds expected to start teeing off around May 4th.

To get you fired up for another great season of swinging the stick in Sun Valley, here’s my write up on the White Clouds’ signature hole from Idaho Golf Magazine.

 

The spectacualr 8th hole at the White Clouds.

White Clouds Golf Course

Signature Hole: #8

Yardage: 523

Par: 4

Offering some of the most stunning views found on any course on the planet, the White Clouds Golf Course in Sun Valley is known for its striking topography. The ridge-lined course overlooks the picturesque Wood River Valley, the White Cloud Mountains and the Ernest Hemingway Memorial.

Opened in 2008, the long, links-style course was designed by Don Knott and is considered challenging by any standard, with several long Par 5s and undulating fairways that yield few, if any, flat stances.

The signature hole at White Clouds is the 8th. Standing on the tee-box nearly 300 feet above the fairway below, take note of the wind before teeing off. It’s important to hit a solid drive on this long, downhill par 4. Anything hit too far left makes it a near impossible up-and-down.

Advice: Jeff Peterson is White Clouds’ Director of Golf: "The ball will stay in the air forever, but will need to favor the right side of the fairway due to a severely sloped fairway and bunkers on the left. The long second shot plays downhill and should also favor the right side of this large undulating green.  Misses need to be short and right."

For more information, check out www.sunvalley.com/golf/whiteclouds/ or call 208.622.2251.   

 [To read about other Signature Holes in the Gem State, check out the entire article.]


 

Lift Line: Another Ski Season Closes with a Bang

Skiers and riders salute another epic season at Sun Valley.

By Mike McKenna

Closing weekend for Sun Valley was a huge success. From the two day lodges to the top of Baldy, another terrific ski season in the heart of Idaho culminated with live music, plenty of folks in funny costumes and dayglo ski gear and lots of fun-filled festivities.

The first-ever end of the season party at River Run was a big hit. DJ McClain spinning tunes and a bouncy house for the kids highlighted the celebration. Warm Springs was rocking to a live band and the final lifts of the year closed down amid fireworks shot off from Lookout at the peak of the mountain.

Now it’s time to tune up the mountain bikes, dust off of the hiking shoes, shine up the golf clubs and start counting the days until the next glorious ski season at Sun Valley kicks off next fall.

Funny costumes and ski outfits were the dress code for the weekend.

 

Time to trade in the skis for the clubs, the bike and the hiking shoes.

Bob L. salutes the close of another season.

 

 

 

A “Stay-cation” Sun Valley-style

A local family enjoys a few days in America’s original ski resort

Vacations in Sun Valley are fun for the whole family.

By Nicky Elsbree

In recognition of one’s dedication to Sun Valley Company, they offer "R & R" packages to employees who have reached certain milestones in their careers. At the end of my 5th season of teaching skiing, I was awarded a three-night stay, all food and activities included, at a Sinclair Company (Sun Valley’s parent company) run resort.

The vision of scooting down to Utah and experiencing Snow Basin’s light and fluffy powder seemed attainable. The reality of our energy levels, however, caused my husband and me to reconsider. In other words, we were tired and the thought of loading up and traveling five hours south with two young kids didn’t sound as glamorous or easy as it once did.

So, instead of letting the certificate collect dust for a couple more years, we took action. With one of their nicest resorts right next door, Spring Break Sun Valley-style here we come!

The view from the Sun Valley Lodge.

At 5 o’clock on Sunday afternoon we loaded Clayton (7) and Hadley (3) into the car with DVD player and drinks available (their bags stashed secretly) for our long road trip. "Hot Springs?  Camping?  Boise? C’mon! Where are we going?"

As we took a left onto Saddle Road and crossed Highway 75, they were really befuddled. Without saying much, we pulled into Sun Valley’s parking lot and walked to the big doors of the Lodge where we were treated like royalty,  as everyone is.

It was not until I presented a key to Clayton and told Hadley to hit the elevator button to the third floor that they started to engage in the possibility of…drum roll please…being able to spend the night at a hotel here in their hometown.

Yes, room #325, staring out at Baldy and over the hot pool, beckoned us. The kids were delighted as they chose their beds and took a few spins around the room, trying on bright white robes and too big spa slippers and even discovered a tiny box wrapped in gold ribbon hiding some fancy chocolates. For a moment, I think they forgot where they were… the transformation from locals to visitors was complete.

At Bald Mountain Pizza the atmosphere was relaxed, but we still reminded our kids of their manners. Our waiter Jonathan was cool and engaging without, you know, over doing it.

When he drifted back to the kitchen, we discussed the idea of "being from somewhere else," in effort to make ourselves more, well, touristy. Clayton promptly decided he wanted to be from San Jose. I guess the fact that he’s a hockey fanatic and a huge Sharks fan came into play. So as we gobbled up pizza, we had fun trying on our new identity and then weaved our way back to the Lodge.

The birthday boy gets hugs from Clayton and Hadley.

Clayton even got nervy enough to tell another elevating family when asked, that we were from San Jose. The mom, who mentioned they were from Idaho Falls exclaimed, "Wow, we’ve never met anyone from there before and isn’t that exciting?" Clayton’s everlasting grin grew even bigger.

The next day the rain came crushing and I actually felt bad for the "real" visitors.  Skiing in the rain can be good, but this was a soaker and back-up plans, which included raincoats, came into play. For us it was breakfast at Gretchen’s followed by feeding the ducks and out to the hot pool.  The temperature dropped just enough for the rain to transition to large wispy whiteness floating down. My daughter, Hadley, thought the flakes looked like the swan feathers she had found outside by the pond. They did and it was magical.

It felt like camp when we received a message in our room about an impromptu matinee showing "The Big Miracle," with Drew Barrymore.  As all good movies do, it provided an escape out of our own little world into someone else’s.

Ah let’s see, what next, a little bowling. We saw local friends and a plethora of visiting families as kids wore their cool kicks and hurled bedazzling balls down the lanes.  Parents tried to remember how to score as a few "oh yeahs" and "oh shucks" echoed throughout.

It's easy to keep the kids happy when you're hanging out in Sun Valley.

Dinner in the Lobby Inn and ambling about the Sun Valley grounds brought us up to 9 o’clock.  After reading the kids "Little Clyde, Horsing Around in Sun Valley," falling asleep to an NHL game on TV was an easy end to an enjoyable day.

The next morning was filled with a series of "Happy Birthdays" shrieked to my husband, Mark. Good thing we were on the end room as to not disturb many people with our off-tone singing. We marched to the Konditeri for a casual breakfast and out to the hot pool for a finale soak prior to checking out.

Two nights and a couple days of crossing over into Sun Valley’s fancy laid-backness gave us a refreshing perspective on the town next door. No, we didn’t ski and it was too wet to skate, but we did what young kids inherently like to do. Sleep in a hotel bed, ride the elevator and get tired out at the pool. It was fun to play the "we are from San Jose" game and easy to understand why people travel great distances to experience this special resort. With the pop of our tourist bubble, we hopped back in the car for our 12 minute drive home out Warm Springs Road.

And then the birthday boy grabbed his skis and headed for Baldy, the reigning king of Sun Valley, while the kids and I unpacked from our stay-cation.

 

 

Lift Line: The 15th Annual Janss Pro Am was another Classic

Dressing up is half the fun at the Janss Pro Am.

By Laurie Sammis

I arrive at the bottom of the mountain last weekend in a hot pink one piece, ski boots and leather chaps … only to find that I am a tad underdressed. It is the 15th Annual Janss Pro-Am Classic on Baldy and the costumes and props are over the top.

The first person I see is Langely McNeal  dressed as a Twister board game and moving in a sea of red, yellow, green and blue dots. Langely is standing next to her teammate, who is decked out in striped thigh-highs beneath a colorful minidress (bare-legged on a ski hill, as far as I can tell) and a blue wig with a lollipop hat, in what I can only imagine as the Candyland game.

Their team theme is "Vintage Games"–to match the "Vintage" theme for this years 2012 Stifel Nicolaus Weisel Janss Pro-Am. Langely is joined by the rest of her teammates, which include Monopoly, Barrel of Monkeys, Mr. Potatohead and Operation. Brilliant. They end up sweeping the costume contest award at the end of the weekend, followed in close second by the 10th Mountain Division, and the Gender Benders, with Honeymooners and Tinseltown as Honorable Mentions (be sure to check out the photo galleries below).

The Janss Pro-Am is probably one of the most spirited and lively annual fundraisers in the Valley. It features three nights of hosted parties and revelry sandwiched between two days of dual Giant Slalom racing on lower Warm Springs–in costume and with an announcer to heckle you (if you take yourself too seriously)–all to benefit the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) and its training programs for youth skiers, boarders and Nordic athletes.

(Click here to read the full recap or to check out more photos from this year’s Janss Pro Am.)

 

 

Lift Line: Dollar Dayz Pond Skim

A Wet, Wild and Wacky End-of-Season Ritual in Sun Valley

By Laurie Sammis

More than 125 of the bravest, and perhaps craziest, skiers and riders in Sun Valley put their skills to the test last Sunday as they attempted to cross the pond in front of Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge during the 3rd Annual Dollar Dayz Pond Skim event. Competitors were judged on skim, costume, splash and crowd cheer as they careened across, or into, the nearly 60-foot ice cold pond.

The rest of us were there as unapologetic gawkers.

We filled the air with "oohs" and "ahhs"…we gasped and cheered as competitors skied, boarded, slid, skidded and (sometimes) cartwheeled across the pond. The in-water crashes were spectacular and onlookers were not guaranteed to stay dry either–as many a pond-skim-gone-sideways ended up dousing the crowd in a water ski-worthy spray of water.

 

Luckily the sun was out, the beer was flowing and the BBQ grill was fired up with tasty treats as the crowd gathered to watch what has become one of Dollar’s most anticipated events. It is also happens to be a great excuse for cross dressing!

This year’s event was no exception as there was everything from geishas and aliens to Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny barreling down the hill at full speed in an attempt to make it across the nearly 250,000 gallons of water with an average temperature of 34 degrees. A chicken was spotted amidst the ubiquitous sea of tutus, coconut shell bikinis and super hero capes. And the gorilla suit nearly cleared the crowd.

Best guess on your odds to make it across: 50 / 50. So whether you choose to skim or spectate, make sure not to miss this wacky event next year. And bring a towel!

Sorry you missed it? Live vicariously–that’s what the rest of us did. Check out more Pond Skimming videos online, including the Making of the Pond from start to finish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lift Line: Spring Restaurant Deals in Sun Valley

Sun Valley is ending the ski season in style, by offering lots of great deals at their restaurants.

Here’s a rundown of local restaurant specials and check here for  links to menus.

Gretchen’s Restaurant
Ladies Day Lunch Special
    Half price entres & wine (glass and bottle)
    Tuesdays & Thursdays from 11:30am till 3pm
    Offered 04/24 through 06/07

Bald Mountain Pizza
Free starter or dessert with purchase of any large pizza
    Offered 04/04 through 04/21

Sun Valley Club Restaurant
Happy Hour Specials from 3pm to close
    Domestic draft beer$2, import draft beer $3, glass of wine $6
Prime Rib Sundays
    A full entre special for only $18
    Offered 04/15 through 06/10

Trail Creek Cabin
Two Entre for $20
    Entres may be chosen from our Special menu
    Offered 04/04 through 04/14

The RAM Restaurant
Buy one entre and take 50% off your second entre (of equal or lesser value)
    All wine 15% off (glass and bottle)
    Offered 04/04 through 04/14