White Sunday

Blue skies and great conditions defined opening day

Blue skies and great conditions defined Baldy's opening day

Helmet: check. Goggles: check. Ski pants that still fit (phew): check. Socks without holes: check. Skis, poles, boots: check. Gloves, two left ones: whoops. Wish I had caught that while I was still at home. But, hey, it’s my first day of the season. Something had to give!

Thus outfitted, geared-up and downright excited, on Sunday morning I turned into the lower parking area at River Run, hungrily eyeing the hill. The first day of ski season is a homecoming for me. I gave a big wave to Bill, my favorite parking shuttle driver. He smiled, giving me thumbs up. At the base of the hill, I caught up with the boys in the tune shop and rental desk, people I haven’t seen since closing day last April. Dan at the Brass Ranch not only recommended the right gadget allowing me answer my phone without fumbling around (don’t worry, I don’t chat on the phone on the lift), he installed it, too. Smiles all around.

Come on up, the skiing is fine

Come on up, the skiing is fine!

More smiles as the ticket taker at the base of the River Run chair, a new face this year, scanned my pass. Day one was officially underway! A warm-up run led me down Upper College to Mid River and back to the lift. My thoughts on these groomers alternated between “Whee!” and “Ow, my knees!” and “Yikes! I’m not sure I remember how to do this,” but I made it all the same. The next run, down Upper Warm Springs to I-80 was smoother and more relaxing and by the time I made it to the soft bumps (yes, bumps, in November!) on Ridge, I was getting my groove back.

Early season skiing is gratifying. I always appreciate, with my sore knees and tired muscles (I knew I should have signed up for one of those pre-season boot camps), that every run on our huge, challenging mountain isn’t available on Day One. At first, just enough slopes are open to remember the joy of skiing, the basics of making pretty turns and to provide a real-life boot camp. Nothing trains your legs for skiing like skiing. With each snowfall and Sun Valley’s amazing snow making, runs seem to open in direct correlation to what my legs can handle.

Bumps on Ridge

Bumps on Ridge

Scanning that sweeping 360-degree vista atop Bald Mountain, there is a lot to look forward to. Seattle Ridge is already drenched in white and striped with corduroy. Also looking ahead-of-the-usual-curve-snow-wise are Baldy’s storied bowls. From the perspective of the lift, coverage looked great.

By all accounts, the opening days on Baldy were excellent. Visitors I chatted with couldn’t have been happier. Locals came out in force with their families. And from here, it only gets better and better. Today looks like a great day to ski – time to run!


The litte skier's smile says it all

Five-year-old Scarlett Carruth, part of the Crist skiing dynasty, sums up the mood on the hill