At our house, “pass day” is an annual rite of passage. We make the pilgrimage to the River Run Lodge, ready to embrace the change of season that securing our ski passes signifies. In the 15 minutes or so it takes to process all of us (paperwork, photos, handover of finished pass on its Sun Valley lanyard), we officially put summer behind us and stare longingly through the huge floor-to-ceiling windows at what will soon become a busy pastiche of skiers and boarders at the base of the mountain.
Getting our passes means it’s time for other annual rituals, too. We clean out the garage, put the bikes in the corner and put ski equipment front and center. Ski edges and bases are checked; helmets are fished out of storage; clothing, mittens and socks checked to see who has outgrown (or lost) what.
As the weather finally shakes off any vestiges of Indian Summer and commits to cold, snow-making nights and fat clouds ready to drop some winter magic, there is much to look forward to. Thanksgiving is right around the bend and Sun Valley is a lovely place to spend it. The Resort is offering great room rates, a lavish buffet and both Bald Mountain and Dollar will open on Thanksgiving Day. I enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at the Lodge Dining Room two years ago. It was the most elegant and delicious I have experienced in a long time. And the best part? No clean up! Early season prices and packages continue through December 20 so get those ski passes ready.
The mountain will open for a pre-season race camp even earlier than Thanksgiving. Kicking off the Resort’s 77th ski season, young alpine and freestyle skiers from all over the west will convene on the hill from November 17-21, taking advantage of Baldy’s perfect pitch and great training conditions.
Preparations for a new Winter Wonderland at Sun Valley Village are well underway – a festival of sights, sounds and tastes that will combine to create a memorable, magical holiday. Think of the most iconic, beautiful holiday story you can, imagine it coming to life, and you get the idea. Come and stay and remember what the season is really about.
And don’t forget your ski pass. Whether it is for one day or a full season, when it is scanned for the first time this winter, I bet you will be as excited as I will. When I was a part-time Sun Valley resident for 20 years, I kept my ski tags on my coat for months after my trip ended – a proud badge of honor and a daily reminder of the amazing ski vacation that was.
My children’s ski passes from years past have become a nostalgic display of sorts – five years of memories hanging on hooks in my home. They were all so young during that first season in 2007-2008. That was a good year. They have all been good ones, actually, as the children grew in size, confidence and ability and I carved out (no pun intended) time almost every day to take advantage of at least a few runs on our mammoth backyard playground.