Room from the Resort: The Symphony Cottage

The Symphony Cottage is nestled just down the hill from the Sun Valley Pavilion

As regular readers of this blog will know, I hail from the old country, where if you told someone they were going to be staying in a cottage they would expect a quaint, cozy abode complete with a chimney, gabled windows, and maybe a picturesque thatched roof. If they were planning on staying in Sun Valley Resort’s Symphony Cottage however, they might need to change those expectations.

For our fourth installment in the Rooms from the Resort series (where I take a peek inside the accommodations on offer at Sun Valley Resort, providing you with a traveller’s-eye-view of your Sun Valley vacation), we are pushing the word “room” to its limit.

A 7 bedroom mansion, the Symphony Cottage is pretty awesome. From a hot tub to a sauna, marble bathrooms to a wet bar, English country cottages would quake in their foundations at the sight of this palace.

At least one part of its name is apt however, the “cottage” sits right next to the Sun Valley Pavilion, making it the perfect accommodation for (a large group of) symphony-goers or any party looking to enjoy the summer’s many performances in the state-of-the-art facility, just steps from their front door.

Here are some pictures I snapped from inside the grandest accommodation on offer at Sun Valley Resort:

The "cottage" door is a beautiful piece of art work.

The interior of the door features a stunning sun motif, which is carried on throughout the cottage.

An elaborate stone fireplace (one of three in the house) dominates the living area.

The large split-level living room is decorated in traditional Lodge style.

One of the seven bedrooms in the cottage.

This tub could fit the entire Sun Family!

The spacious deck/patio area offers a great space for entertaining while listening to the sounds emanating from the nearby Pavilion.

Despite being located in the middle of the resort, there's a real feeling of rural living in the "cottage," with lovely views of Dollar Mountain over Sun Valley Lake.

If you are planning on staying here, drop me a line, I’d love to come hang out!

Happy trails!

Mrs. Sun

Details: Priced from $1,000 – $2,200 a night (price varies based on season and weekend versus weeknights), the cottage is newly renovated and offers seven bedrooms, lake view and hot tub, and a sunken living room complete with a wet bar. The 7 bedrooms include 3 King, 2 Queen, 2 Doubles and 1 couch bed. For more details click here or call 1.800.786.8259.

Rev Tour – Bald Mountain – Dollar Mountain

Rev Tour – Bald Mountain & Dollar Mountain

March 17 – 22

An international tour stop for skier-x, half-pipe and slope style events

In its 9th season, the U.S. Revolution Tour is a three stop tour consisting of halfpipe, slopestyle, and cross, for both Freeskiing and Snowboarding. The tour is designed to serve as a stepping stone for athletes making the transition from competing at the grassroots level to the elite level. The series pre-qualifies a portion of its field and then opens registration to any athlete, but is focused towards riders 13-19 years old (Cross 15-19) and will award the top juniors an invite to be part of the U.S. Grand Prix, Junior Worlds, the U.S. Open, USASA Nationals, and participate in Project Gold camps. Competition formats may vary slightly at each stop, but athletes will always compete as an open class.

Event Schedules:
*Schedules subject to change
**Click on the event location for detailed schedule

             2012-2013 Tour Info

 Date                  Location                         Discipline
Mar. 17-22, 2013     Sun Valley, ID           Slopestyle, Halfpipe, Cross

USCSA – Bald Mountain & Dollar Mountain

USCSA – Bald Mountain & Dollar Mountain

March 4 – 9, 2013

Collegiate Nationals for alpine, nordic and snowboard racing.  A multi-venue event taking place at Hemingway, Cozy, Dollar and Nordic Center

USASA Intermountain Series – Dollar Mountain

USASA Intermountain Series – Dollar Mountain

January 31 – February 3

SVSEF Snowboard Event


USSA Freestyle Spectacular – Bald Mountain & Dollar Mountain

USSA Freestyle Spectacular – Bald Mountain & Dollar Mountain

January 17 – 20, 2013

SVSEF races

Mogul competition on Race Arena, and slope style and half-pipe competitions on Dollar

1/17 Slopestyle at Dollar
1/18 Pipe at Dollar
1/19 Moguls at Race Arena
1/20 Dual Moguls at Race Arena

For more information, contact 208-726-4129

Opening Day for Bald Mountain & Dollar Mountain

Opening Day for Bald Mountain & Dollar Mountain

Alice of Wonderland


Alice Schernthanner, July 24, 1938 - July 23, 2012. “Alice does ski here forevermore in our hearts.”

Sun Valley can lay claim to many icons. From movie stars to literary giants, world-class athletes to world-wide leaders, hundreds of inspirational people have graced the hallways of Sun Valley Lodge since its birth.

But beneath the glamor and behind the facade of fame lies another legacy – an unforeseen outcome of Averell Harriman’s million dollar palace in the snow – that of the birth of a community in the heart of Idaho’s mountains; one with icons of its very own.

This past Sunday that community came together to celebrate one of those icons. Not an olympic skier or a nobel-prize wining author, but a woman whose life had a much greater impact on those who live in the Wood River Valley.

“The name Alice Schernthanner will remain on the lips of this community for a very long time,” Amy Federko said in her eulogy to Alice, reading from a letter written by Amy’s son, Josh.

A singular woman, Alice was both “famous and infamous, a legend in her own right,” Amy told the packed crowd at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge, and there was not a murmur of dissent.

Alice’s legacy in the Wood River Valley community could be measured in the number of pancakes she’s flipped for the Papoose Club, which she formed in 1954 as a baby sitting co-op for skiers and went on to transform into a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting local organizations that serve children. Or it could be measured in the number of times she proudly led her Warm Springs Riding Club along the Wagon Days Parade route. It could equally be celebrated for the foresight she had in starting Blaine County’s recycling program from the back of a semi-truck, or for being a vocal and active advocate for affordable community housing – to the extent her and her husband, Andy, built some on their own Warm Springs property.

But it will be measured in the hearts and minds of the thousands of children she taught to ski both on Dollar Mountain as the children’s program supervisor for close to 30 years, and through her tireless promotion of the Blaine County School Ski Program.

Hundreds of those children, now grown up with children of their own, gathered at Dollar Mountain Lodge on Sunday to celebrate the life of this remarkable woman, who blazed a trail for modern homesteaders: building her own home from the ground up, skiing for a living and raising six children, all while living life on her own terms in the Wild West. The lodge she helped create was full to bursting on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the peals of children’s laughter emanating from the grassy knoll at the base of Dollar making a fitting tribute to the woman who helped create their perfect playground.

The lodge’s namesake, Carol Holding, wife of Sun Valley Resort owner Earl Holding, offered her thoughts on her friend and colleague Alice to the assembled community. “Listening today I was happy to hear she really had a happy life away from this cabin,” she said with a smile. “I’d been under the illusion all these years that she lived in this little cabin.”

Mrs. Holding went on to say how it was Alice’s persistence that brought this 26,000-square-foot state-of-the-art children’s skiing facility into being “When Earl built River Run, Alice and I were so upset with him. We tried everything we could think of to get him to build a children’s school there, but he wouldn’t. But she said to me, it’s ok – give it time, it’ll work. It took 15 years, but we got it. And this lodge here is Alice’s lodge as much as it is mine. It wouldn’t be here without Alice and through it all she suffered many hardships to get it here and changed so many children’s pants… .”

Local folklore has it that the lodge was almost named after Alice, but she wouldn’t have it. “I told them, if I don’t own it then I don’t want it named after me.”

Mrs. Holding’s touching and laughter-filled remembrances were followed by a free-for-all as friends, family and former students of Alice shared their memories. What emerged was a portrait of a strong-minded, high-spirited woman with fantastic earrings, who took life in her stride and always told the truth, whether you wanted to hear it or not.

Two of the many stories shared at the celebration of Alice’s life paint a technicolor picture of what was important to Alice: skiing, children and family.

“I would come here from Florida in the winter to ski with Alice,” said her friend Sherry. “One year she was pregnant, just starting to show, and she had the first daughter in a backpack on her back. As we came down the mountain we could hear people at the bottom whispering, aghast, saying ‘That’s child abuse!’ Alice looked at me, clearly baffled, and said ‘I don’t understand. They know I’m only skiing the groomers don’t they? I’m not skiing the bumps.”

Alice’s daughter Heidi shared a favorite story she had heard in the days following her mother’s death on July 24 (the day before her 74th birthday and 50th wedding anniversary).

“Alice was looking after a sick girl at the lodge, she had just come out of the bathroom with her when a grand woman in a mink coat swept in demanding service. Alice said to her ‘Let me just help this little girl lie down, she’s not feeling well.’ The lady replied, ‘Well, she doesn’t look sick.’ Then the girl projectile vomited all over her.”

Alice at home in Dollar Mountain Lodge ski school. Photo by Cody Doucette, courtesy Sun Valley Magazine

Rest in Peace Mrs. Schernthanner. In the words of the condolence book laid out for the hundreds of mourners to sign: “Alice does ski here forevermore in our hearts.”

Mrs. Sun

Share your memories of Alice and read other’s here. Read her obituary here.

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: Sun Valley’s Sol Fest 2012

By Alec Barfield

I’ve come to the realization that this town has a knack for names that stick. Off the top of my head, here’s a few good ones:

"Marley in Mountains”— pure Rasta brilliance.

"Irving’s Red Hots" — Chicago meets Idaho.

"Whiskey Jacques" — the one and only.

"The Pio"— short and sweet.

"Sun Valley Summer Symphony"— sophistication with a ring.

And that’s just a small sampling of the catchiness. Maybe there’s something in the water. Maybe we’re all sun-drunk. Whatever it is, when it comes to names, locals like quirky and unique. We’re about firsts around here…

Which is why this weekend’s extravaganza is already off to a great start. Say it with me: "Sol Fest." Even my Japanese grandma could tell you that "sol" means "sun" in Spanish. And considering that "sol" is also a homophone of "soul," I’d say that "Sol Fest" is a genius name for what’s happening over the next three days.

Parties. Live music. Skiing down Main Street. More Parties. Lots more music. Plus oodles of Family Fun at Dollar Mountain. What I’ve also realized is that Sun Valley doesn’t mix a great names with mediocrity. When I said "parties," I meant four showdowns at three of Ketchum’s finest establishments: Grumpy’s and Whiskey’s on Friday, Apple’s on Saturday afternoon and Whiskey’s again that evening. And when I said "live music," I meant that there will be seasoned artists, musicians who didn’t just get famous on YouTube, playing at each shindig besides Apple’s (because they’ll be hosting the 4th annual Baldy Poker Run).

Blitzen Trapper

As cool as the Bermuda Cowboys (Friday@Grumpy’s) and Fox Street All Stars (Friday@Whiskey’s) should be, the main event is definitely the Blitzen Trapper show on Saturday. To be clear Saturday, the whole day, is actually the main event. If you’re trying to make a day of it (and I hope you do), then the Saturday’s festivities will begin at Apple’s around nine for the Poker Run. From there, it’s onto the Main Street Party, where Blitzen Trapper will headline a FREE multi-act concerto in Ketchum. Things just keep getting better: afterward there’s going to be a talented crew of long-shirted jibbers sliding across rails at the 511 building. Local favorite, Old Death Whisper, will round out the evening with a 10 o’clock show at Whiskey’s. Not a bad Saturday, eh?

For folks looking for Family-oriented Fun, there will be a Slide, Glide, Ride Relay at Dollar Mountain on Sunday. But don’t worry, the Main Street Party and subsequent Rail Jam will definitely be a good time for little ones. I should mention, however, that Sol Fest is going to be a young crowd. In the company’s own words "Sun Valley Resort is rolling out the red carpet for college students." Yup, everyone’s favorite demographic is getting some love from the nation’s oldest ski resort. Specifically, college students with a valid student I.D. will get 50% off lift tickets and "aggressive" lodging specials. Sounds gnarly.

So if you like wintry festivals with tons of good music and possibly gelande quaffing, don’t get stuck inside this weekend.

It’s time for Sol Fest, everybody. Come join the pun, err, fun!

Schedule of Events:

Friday March 23

      5:00 pm SolFest kick-off party at Grumpy’s Bar and Grill with musical request specialists Bermuda Cowboys

      10:00 pm Southern rockers, Fox Street All Stars, play Whiskey Jacques

Saturday March 24

      9:00 am – 2:00 pm Baldy Poker Run, register at Apple’s Bar and Grill

      5:00 pm Main Street Party. Blitzen Trapper headlines multi-act, free concert

      8:00 pm 511 Rail Jam at 511 Building, downtown Ketchum

      10:00 pm Local troubadours, Old Death Whisper, play Whiskey Jacques

Sunday March 25

      11:00 am Slide, Glide, Ride Relay at Dollar Mountain, a fun event for families and friends of all ages and sizes.


Lift Line: Surviving Sun Valley on College Break

By Steve Reighley

 Are you on college break enjoying Baldy’s steep runs but struggling with Ketchum and Sun Valley’s steep prices?  There are plenty of ways save your wallet this winter ‘s break and still have a great time.  Whether it’s with skiing, dining, or simply getting around town, keep an eye out for new deals and ways to save.


For skiers, don’t forget to inquire about the College Six Pack, which allows you to ski any six days throughout the winter for the price of just $259.  Saving $43 a day, or the College Triple Play pass for just $139. Now these are tough to beat no matter where you are.

Getting Around

Save some gas money and utilize Mountain Rides.  Sun Valley’s free public transportation system is a great option for getting around town and to and from the ski areas (Baldy and the terrain park on Dollar) without having to spend a dime.  No matter where you’re staying there should be an easily accessible bus stop for one of the many free bus routes.  Hop on board and save time, money and the environment.

Eating Out

If you find yourself dumbfounded by the food and drink prices in ski towns these days, at least one wallet saving option awaits right across the street from Warm Springs Lodge.  No, it’s not a Ramen Noodle outlet store, it’s  Irving’s Red Hots. You can grab a tasty, affordable hot dog and be back on the slopes in no time.  Saving a little extra money for some aprs beers on the sun drenched deck at Warm Springs or for some of Sun Valley’s wonderful nightlife. If you’re looking for a cold beer and some grub after a long day of skiing, check out the happy hour specials at some of Sun Valley’s best restaurants (This article highlighting the Valley’s best Aprs Skiing options).

So if you’re on college break and trying to save a buck, be mindful of options like these and don’t let the high prices keep you from having a good time.