LIFTLINE: Mountain Access 101

The Wheels on the Bus….
(a rundown on the basics for getting to the mountain)

By Alec Barfield

Buses picking up skiers at the village, Winter of 1946.

Sun Valley Resort consists of three bases:

(1) River Run Plaza,
(2) Warm Springs at Baldy and
(3) Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge.

Each has its advantages, depending on personal preference (and mountain usage), and folks are split over where they like to begin and end the day. Proximity to one or the other, afternoon cravings for a hot dog at Irving’s (Warm Springs only) and one’s need for heavy-duty wagons to haul gear (River Run only) are just a few of the deciding factors to consider. But whichever base wins your profound yet seasonal loyalty, you must first make another choice: how to get there.

‘Tis the season of trains, planes and automobiles … and buses. Of course cars are welcome; there are well-marked and amply-spaced parking lots at both bases. Yet don’t deny Wood River’s public transit system, the ubiquitous Mountain Rides program, the opportunity to change your mind and routine. In terms of mountain access, there’s no better way to make your morning pilgrimage to the mountain than via one of Ketchum’s many buses.

Why Mountain Rides

Funding mass transportation is a no-brainer from the city’s perspective. Buses drive commerce by shuttling tourists and locals. Buses reduce traffic and congestion and, ultimately, buses help control local pollution levels. Financially and logistically it makes sense that the communities of the Wood River Valley committed significant resources to creating a free and easy-to-use transit system. The considerable environmental benefits of mass transit have only added value.

According to Treehugger.com, forty five million barrels of oil are saved each year from people taking public transportation, which amounts to one quarter of the energy needed to power American homes annually. Moreover if just 1 in 5 Americans used public transportation daily, this nation would see a 20% savings in carbon monoxide emissions. I could go on, but the environmental rewards of riding the bus are well-documented and the point is clear: The system merely requires the engagement of thoughtful citizens to keep the car in the garage.

Fortunately this argument doesn’t need to made often in Sun Valley, where open minds and a love of nature have always made public transit, once K.A.R.T. now Mountain Rides, a highly popular venture. Still what all types of riders quickly learn is that getting driven around and dropped off has obvious practical advantages. Some of my top favorites:

  1. Don’t waste time circling the parking lot. Hop on the bus and ski sooner.
  2. Don’t carry five pairs of sticks and poles from the car to the lodge. Hop on the bus and stop the whining.
  3. Don’t drive home when you’re legs can’t move. Hop on the bus and stretch out.

When all is said and done, why not take the bus?!

Know Your Bus Driver (and the Rules & Etiquette)

Follow the rules of bus etiquette...or you may end up riding outside, like J.P. Morgan in this test of the first chairlift

Like the post office, the Mountain Rides buses are social. Riders share stops and routes, and bus drivers intentionally keep to the same schedules week after week.

In other words, making friends is common. My usual drivers are To and Rod (Rod being what I’d call my “regular”). Just like a lot of us: Rod wants to ski everyday–and so he works accordingly. He’s been driving the bus for years because it makes doing what he loves simpler.

I live in Warm Springs and need to get downtown. My options are the Blue and Bronze Routes. For no good reason I always take Blue, which departs from the base lodge (the Irving’s stop) on the hour and half past the hour. I show up on the hour, grab a hot dog from Irving’s Red Hots and hop aboard. Classical music is playing and my seat is warm. Four stops and ten minutes later, I finish my meal and say good bye. Free and easy.

In the course of my ride, I learn more about life than buses. And I realize that not many cities have drivers like ours … Friends driving friends sounds too good to be true–yet, in my experience, the Mountain Rides drivers have never been anything but friendly, funny and informative.

 

To help keep it that way, I’ve included a few basic rules of bus etiquette that every small-town rider should follow:

  1. Bus drivers need to stay focused on the road (especially during busy holiday weeks and weekends), so before asking your driver for directions, consult the Mountain Rides pamphlets for color-coordinated, big font basics on getting around Ketchum.
  2. Large maps are also located at the most popular stops (Warm Springs, River Run, Baldy Circle).
  3. Don’t stand up before the bus comes to a complete stop. It’s dangerous.
  4. Remember that others are riding with you and put the cell phone down or pause the iPod. (“Guys yelling into their cell phones is the worst” says Rod).  Instead of jabbering on obliviously, hang up the phone and talk to the driver. Or talk to your friends (old or new-found)–buses here are communal and it’s fun to compare adventures after a day of skiing.

Getting to the Mountain (Schedules & Times)

Although Mountain Rides buses operate year-round, certain routes are seasonal, or "winter only." With the onslaught of winter tourism, it’s only natural that the system expand to accommodate increased traffic. Below is an overview of every route, year-round and seasonal (mountain access points are in bold). Visit the website for more time tables and maps.

  • Blue Route (all year) – Connecting the Warm Springs base, the YMCA, downtown Ketchum, Sun Valley, Dollar Mountain and Elkhorn. Times: 7:00 AM to 9:30 PM, year round (until 12:50 at night, winter only).
  • Red Route (all year) – Connecting Elkhorn neighborhoods, the River Run base, Christophe and downtown Ketchum (including Kentwood Lodge and Lift Tower Lodge). Times: 8:30 AM to 4:55 PM.
  • Green Route (all year) – Connecting downtown Ketchum, the River Run base, St. Luke’s and the Meadows. Times: 7:10 AM to 5:45 PM.
  • Bronze Route (winter only) – Connecting the Warm Springs base and  Sun Valley Village. (The Bronze Route runs from December 17th – April 1st.) Times: 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM.
  •  Silver Route (winter only) – Connecting Sun Valley Village with Ketchum, the River Run base and Dollar Mountain. (The Silver Route runs from Thanksgiving through the end of the season.) Times: 8:00 AM to 5:56 PM.
  • Gold Route (winter only) – Connecting Sun Valley Club, Sun Valley, Dollar Mountain and Elkhorn Springs. (The Gold Route runs from December 17th – April 1st.) Times: 9:05 AM to 3:05 PM.

NOTE: Be sure to follow the link to check current schedule updates and times, as well as to view maps and transit alerts–including up-to-date information on service adjustments due to traffic, special events or route changes.

Apple’s 100 Day Pig Roast This Saturday 8/21

Okay, believe it or not, we’re just about down to 100 days until Baldy opens for the 75th winter season… And Apples Bar and Grill at the base of  the Warm Springs ski lifts is presenting the 7th annual Pig Roast and Reggae celebration of the 100 day pre-anniversary. It all happens at the Apple’s restaurant there with a frisbee golf course set up through the Greyhawk parking lot and around the lift bases, finishing up on the street where the Ethan Tucker Band will be supplying the music for the evening. Dinner served Apples-style, and plenty of beer will be flowing. Should be a great time for all. Pack the dogs and kennel the kids, and come on out to join the fun!

Noon- Frisbee Golf
Music starts at 4pm and dinner served at 5pm.
Sun Valley Season Pass raffle- $5 per tickets or 5 for $20

See you there

The Damphools play the Sun Valley Boiler Room March 13


Local favorite band, the Damphools will play the Boiler Room Saturday, March 13. Doors open at 9pm after the comedy series. Cover is $7, but the first 10 people at the door get in Free.

The Damphools are a country music combo hailing from the Wood River Valley in Idaho. The Damphools live shows are the band’s shining pride. Ranging from manic honky tonk originals, twang boogie, and subtle renditions of classic country and bluegrass songs, The Damphools keep the shows interesting and diverse. Playing over 120 shows a year, just in Idaho, the band looks forward to traveling the country with their honky tonk revue. So as the tale unfolds; The Damphools will be keeping biscuits in their bellies, their wheels in between the lines and their amps on 11. "God willin’ and if the creeks don’t rise"- The Damphools will see ya down the road.

WinterSol Fest and the Wailers heat up Ketchum this Friday and Saturday!

With the community already dancing under a nine-inch blanket of fresh white snow, be prepared to keep your dancing shoes on  the first-ever WinterSol Festival comes to Ketchum.  The Sol Fest will bring concerts, parties, and a little action to downtown Ketchum starting Friday night. The lineup includes reggae legends The Wailers with Steve Fulton Music, as well as Vancouver’s Swollen Members, Passafire and Beats Antique. There will be street parties both Friday and Saturday nights as well, which will include a beer garden, spinning by local djs DJ Lenny and DJ Gerry, fire pits, a Red Bull drink station, and food concessions. The street parties will light up downtown on First Street between Main and Leadville, both nights from 8 pm- 12 am.

The musical lineup begins on Friday, March 5th,  with The Wailers at 7 pm in the nexStage Theater on Main Street in Ketchum. (Tickets are only $27 and doors open at 6:30). Later than night Swollen Members will rock the nexStage beginning at 10 pm (all ages, $25) and  Passafire will be performing beginning at 10pm at the Roosevelt (Tickets are $10, 21 and over only). The SolFest continues Saturday night with Swollen Members performing the nexStage again at 10 pm on Saturday, March 6th and Beats Antique at the Roosevelt (10pm, $10). With a plethora of musical choices these weekend, there is sure to be some grooving and powder-celebrating around town!

Marley in the Mountains Coming Soon!

In 2009 Mountain Niceness Productions brought a grass roots music festival to Idaho to celebrate Bob Marley’s birthday. Marley in the Mountains was born as celebrations were a tremendous success and thousands of people enjoyed a live reggae performance by Don Carlos and lectures by historian, Roger Steffens. Marley in the Mountains returns to Sun Valley February 26-27 this year. In the true spirit of Bob Marley, everyone is positively welcome.

This festival’s lineup is sure to keep bodies moving, the atmosphere positive and the mountains moving. The 2010 lineup includes historian Roger Steffens, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Carlos Jones and the PLUS Band, Grammy-winner Michael Rose, Dancehall with Jamacian Vetern Ken Serious, Lions Den Sounds Unlimited, DJ Vision, African Abstract Sound System and tons of surprises.

For more information about the concerts and events including schedules, lineups, costs and more check out www.marleyinthemountains.com.

Make sure to get some raffle rickets while you are at it! Proceeds of raffle ticket sales is going to the Sawtooth National Forest Avalanche Center (which promotes safety and educates backcountry enthusiasts throughout the region, go to (www.sawtoothavalanche.com). The prizes include a season pass from Sun Valley Resort, plane tickets from Horizon Air, a Heli-Ski Trip, Mammut Gear, K2 skis and tons more.

For raffle tickets, a complete list of prizes and information about the special “Friends of Reggae” Package go to www.marleyinthemountains.com or head to one of these local vendors to purchase your tickets:

-Wiseguy’s Pizza

-The Subshack

-Lefty’s

-Sturtevant’s (Main Street and Greyhawk locations)

-Paul Kenny’s

-Rickshaw

-Ketchum/Sun Valley Chamber and Visitor Center

-Zenergy

-The Brickhouse

-Mahoney’s

Sol’Jibe to play the Boiler Room Friday & Saturday, Feb. 5 & 6

Sol’Jibe, the number 1 band from the Reno-Tahoe area for the past 3 years, to play the Sun Valley Resort Boiler Room Friday & Saturday, February 5 & 6. Doors open at 9pm. First 10 people at the door Free. $10 Cover.

Blending American roots, world beat, and Latin rhythms into an inspired sound that has been dubbed “World Pop," Sol’Jibe creates a high-energy performance that gives its audiences an irresistible desire to dance. Their eclectic sound draws from extensive travels to Spain, Cuba, and Central America where they studied folkloric rhythms and culture.
Sol’Jibe has been honored to provide musical support for such acts as Michael Franti, Robert Randolph, and Steel Pulse, while independently staging upwards of 200 festivals and shows yearly across the United States, Mexico, Canada and Cuba.

Fresh snow, big sun and plenty to do around town!

Under blue skies and with three feet of new snow in the last two weeks, January is coming to a close in Sun Valley. With the 2009/2010 season only halfway done, don’t even bother thinking about spring yet! Head up on the mountain and shred, enjoy a beer on the decks of Roundhouse or Warm Springs and work on your goggle tan, get your heart rate pumping and head uphill on your Nordic skis, and make sure to enjoy any of the happenings around town.

The first annual Sun Valley Nordic Festival kicks off tomorrow with a week full of events, workshops, clinics, and parties all leading up to the main event, the Boulder Mountain Tour next Saturday. (www.svnordicfestival.com)

Tomorrow, Saturday, January 30th, is also the first ever January Rail Jam at the 511 Building. The event will take place at the 511 Building parking lot on Leadville Avenue between 5th and 6th streets. Boarders and skiers will ride the rails, including the steep stairway down to the parking lot while DJ Spicetrain spins the soundtrack, with a $500 prize going to the rider with the best tricks. There will be food, drinks, and music, with all proceeds benefiting the SVSEF and Mountain Town Events. Check it out from 7-10pm tomorrow night and don’t miss the afterparty at the Roosevelt following the competition. Organized by Sun Valley Snowboard Team coach, Andy Gilbert and the city of Ketchum, the January Rail Jam is the first of its kind around town and promises to be a good time.

With two local athletes heading to the Olympics next month, as well as a third SVSEF athlete being named to the Olympic team yesterday, our community definitely has something to celebrate. Simi Hamilton, an SVSEF Olympic Development athlete and Nordic skier from Aspen, CO, was named yesterday to the 2010 Olympic Team. After a standout season that has included a US National Championships and a trip to the World Championships, he will now join Graham Wantanabe and Morgan Arritola in representing Sun Valley and the US at the Vancouver Olympics. Come celebrate and show support for our local athletes as the SVSEF and Sun Valley Company throw them a send-off party Sunday, January 31st at the Sun Valley Nordic Clubhouse from 4pm-6pm. A part of the Sun Valley Nordic Festival, the Olympic Send-Off Party will honor our newest Olympic heroes as well as local Para-Olympians Elitsa Storey, Andy Soule, and Mark Bathum.

Now head out and enjoy that epic Sun Valley sun and we’ll see you around town.

The Start of World Cup Wednesdays!

The Sun Valley Town Series kicked off its 19th year of ‘Wednesday World Cup" races yesterday with a light dusting of snow on Greyhawk’s Cozy, plenty of friendly competition, and a little bit of not-so-friendly competition for the coveted fifth place spot. The annual eight-week event features a weekly GS race, with racers each getting an option of taking one or two runs, and then a Wednesday night party that rotates between local bars. This week’s party took place at the Roosevelt, where racers and teams sat around, watched themselves on the race video and enjoyed beer, chili, quesadillas, waiting to hear if they were the fifth-place man or woman and the winner of a fifth of tequila.

Thirty-two teams and around 110 racers clicked into their sharp-edged GS skis, snowboards, tele-skis, and even a few twin-tip fat skis this week. Setting the course, timing the racers, putting together the results, and handing out the weekly prizes, the Sun Valley Race Department put on quite a race yesterday. The fastest man and woman for Wednesday January 27th were Robin Sarchett (from team Dead Last) and Erika Hogan (from the SVSEF Team) finishing at a speedy 25.95" and 27.06" respectively. JP McNeal from the Puttin’ In Is For Winners Team finished as the rabbit, at 56th place. For the coveted fifth place guy and girl and the winner of a fifth of tequila, this week it was SVSEF’s Nate Schwing and Scott USA’s Toby Arnett. The second most coveted spot, 55th and a winner of a baby fifth of tequila, was Hores to Culture’s Kevin Moss.

Each week the start order and format changes, with the most important element for racers and teams being consistency, so check back next week for all of next week’s results and photos of the Town Series ruckus.

Welcome to Nordic Town, USA!

This Saturday marks the kickoff of the first annual Sun Valley Nordic Festival. Lasting from January 30th to February 7th, the festival which is promoting Nordic Skiing from one of the country’s premiere Nordic skiing areas, will include demonstrations, parties, celebrations, races, seminars, and more. The week’s events will culminate in the 35th annual Boulder Mountain Tour.

Starting Saturday, January 30th, with the Blaine County Recreation District Ski the Rails/ Downtown Hailey Celebration and continuing throughout the week with events like Boulder Mountain Tour Preps and Clinics, Alturas Lake Skis, an aprs-ski party at historic Smiley Creek Lodge, an evening with ski-writer Dick Dorworth, Avalanche Awareness Programs with the Sawtooth National Avalanche Center, guided snowshoe adventures, the first Sun Valley 5K Snowshoe Challenge, and Sun Valley Nordic Sprint Races. There will also be a Downtown Ketchum Nordic night on Thursday, February 4th, with friendly competition, music from Reno-based World Pop group Sol’Jibe, and a bonfire. The party will take place at the future site of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, across from the Ketchum Post Office. Check out the Sun Valley Nordic Festival’s website for a complete list of the week’s activities (www.svnordicfestival.com).

The highlight event of the week will be the Boulder Mountain Tour. The 32-km world famous race starts at Senate Meadows and snakes along the immaculately groomed trails along the beautiful Big Wood River. Don’t miss your chance to race alongside some of the country’s best Nordic skiers and enjoy some spectacular views. New to the tour this year, the Half Boulder Mountain Tour. Beginning at the Tour’s halfway point, Baker Creek, the 15K course is an excellent opportunity for young and novice skiers to check out what the Boulder Mountain Tour is all about. For more information or to sign up for the race, go to www.bouldermountaintour.com.

A special thanks goes out to the Nordic Festival’s organizers including the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber and Visitor’s Bureau, the Blaine County Recreation District (BCRD), the Boulder Mountain Tour, the Hailey Chamber of Commerce, the Sun Valley Nordic Center (nordic.sunvalley.com), the Elephant’s Perch, the Sawtooth National Avalanche Center and many more who made this awesome week of Nordic skiing happen. Welcome to Nordic Town, USA!

Local Athletes Set their Sights on the Olympics!

In disciplines that range from moguls to Cross Country skiing to Halfpipe to SkiCross, Sun Valley natives and Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) athletes are busy this winter. With the Olympics less that a month away, several local skiers and snowboarders are currently competing around the world on the World Cup circuit and anticipating the announcement of the Olympic rosters.

Graham Wantanabe, already an Olympic athlete, stands a chance of again competing in BoarderCross. Langely McNeal and Biche Rudigoz are currently vying for spots on the newest Olympic sport’s team, SkiCross. Also competing around the world, Bellevue native, SVSEF athlete, and US Snowboard team member, Kaitlyn Farrington.

The Olympic fate of Cross Country powerhouse, US Ski Team Member (A Team), and longtime SVSEF athlete Morgan Arritola will be announced on Tuesday, January 19th. Also on the Cross Country front, two other SVSEF athletes, Simi Hamilton and Adele Espy were recently named to the World Junior Cross Country team.

And as we speak, mogul-virtuoso and son of storied mogul-expert Joey Cordeau, Shane Cordeau is competing in one of his first World Cups in Deer Valley, with qualifications runs set to take place Saturday night at 5:30. Shane has had an incredibly successful 2009/2010 season thus far, after winning two Nor-Am Mogul Championships in the 2008/2009 season, as a new member to the SVSEF’s Olympic Development Team (ODT), and as a recent addition to the US Freestyle Team, this season Shane is competing in his first World Cup events and has a shot at one of three remaining spots for the Olympics.

Watch out for these skiers and boarders who ski, train, and live on Sun Valley snow as the Olympics draw nearer and check back here for results and announcements. Also look at www.svsef.org, www.ussnowboarding.com, and www.usskiteam.com for more information. Good luck to all of them!