Photograph by Tal Roberts Photography
How to stay sane when skiing with everyone’s aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, friends and grandparents.
This is the time of the year when everyone’s favorite mountain, Baldy, gets packed! Lines are long, slopes are filled, it is hard to find a seat on the deck at Warm Springs Lodge and, suddenly, your friends’ red and blue jackets start looking just like everyone else’s red and blue jackets.
So just how are you supposed to find your friends in a sea of skiers, snowboarders, revelers, families, ski lessons and groups of ski-teamers? Not everyone has bright colored jackets like me (I swear, my favorite pink and green jacket can be spotted on Baldy miles away!), no one really uses walkie-talkies anyone (though if you did, we think it’s awesome!), and sometimes it is just too cold to take your gloves off and dig through your pockets for your cell phone.
So we have complied a few tips on just how to stay together on the mountain, the best places to meet on the mountain, and a few safety tips for skiing or boarding in groups.
1. Plan ahead. Knowing when and where you are going to meet your group is the first step towards success. Be specific in your planning. Instead of saying, "Meet you at the top around eleven," try something more specific (and less mainstream) like: "Meet you at the top of Seattle Ridge at 11:15."
2. Watch the clock. There are several clocks strategically placed in every lift line. Watch for the big blue signs with maps on them, the clocks are on there too. There are also clocks at the top of the mountain and the top of Seattle Ridge. Being on time will help your group meet up easier!
3. Stand BELOW the slow sign. If you and your fam gets split up on a run, or if you decide to meet halfway down, the best place to wait for the slower part of the crew is right BELOW one of the big, orange slow signs. Most skiers and riders work to avoid those signs anyway, so you will be out of their way and it also provides you a little protection, just in case.
4. Move away from the lift! If you are meeting friends at the top of the mountain, whatever you do, DO NOT stand right where you got off. Many other skiers and riders will be getting off the lift before your friends get there, and if you are standing right in the way, it is a recipe for a disaster (or at least one or two pile-ups).
5. The best place to meet: Warm Springs Side: The Warm Springs Bridge (located right at the end of the Challenger lift line, just past Warm Springs Lodge). An old stand-by for groups of skiers and riders to meet up, the Warm Springs Bridge is almost a tradition of its own. Locals and tourists alike can be heard on a Friday night at Grumpy’s saying"Meet you on the Bridge at nine tomorrow." Just be sure not to confuse it with the River Run Bridge!
6. The best place to meet: River Run Side: The fire pit. River Run Lodge is huge and there are plenty of places to meet your group from the bear statue to the fireplace inside to the first ski rack, but our favorite place to meet, and warm up some chilly fingers, is the fire pit. Located right near the bottom of the gondola, you are sure not to miss this one and you can warm up and meet new friends while you wait.
7. If Meeting up enroute, stand BELOW the slow sign. If you and your fam (or larger group) gets split up on a run, or if you decide to meet halfway down, the best place to wait for the slower part of the crew is right BELOW one of the big orange slow signs. Most skiers and riders work to avoid those signs anyway, so you will be out of their way and it also provides you a little protection, just in case.
8. Move to the side of the slope! There are some long runs and some long cat tracks on Baldy, so if you and your crew get split up on Lower College or at the end of Hershey Highway and you are going to wait for them to catch up, be sure to move to the side of the run. Standing in the middle of any run can be dangerous for you and other skiers!
9. The best place to meet: Seattle Ridge. If your 13 year-old cousin doesn’t want to watch the Broncos game with you inside the Seattle Ridge Lodge while you wait for the rest of the family, the best place to meet on Seattle Ridge is outside the Lodge on the Lower Level. This not only keeps you out of the way of the lift and other skiers, but it provides easy access to the bathrooms and water, without going up or down any stairs!
10. The best place to meet: Top of the mountain. Lots of groups get together at the top and with the Lookout Lodge, three lifts and one cat track all converging in one area, it can get pretty hectic. Tell your friends to meet you by the big blue sign (the one with a map and a clock), or even a little lower, down by the Ski Patrol Shack. But try to stay out of the way of the snowboarder’s Strap-Up area.
11. Carry a map! Baldy can seem big and confusing, especially to a first-time visitor. So be sure to carry a mountain map with you at all times, that way if your group gets separated, at least you can figure out where you are and where you want to be! Also, the Sun Valley guest service folks (the friendly skiers and boarders in bright yellow jackets) are incredibly helpful; so don’t be afraid to ask. There are also some pretty sweet Smartphone apps with resort maps that can come in pretty handy!
Skiing and boarding is all about fun. Enjoying bluebird skis and hopefully some fresh powder with your family and friends. So be patient and kind to your fellow Baldy-lovers! A little karma goes a long way!
Photograph by Tal Roberts Photography
Guest blogger Alec Barfield.
Why leave the mountain after skiing? Sun Valley has all kinds of aprs options, from the Warm Springs base to Lookout at the top of Baldy. Take an inside peek into these local drinking holes.
LOOKOUT LODGE (9 am – 3:30 pm):
With its low beams, leather booths and etched glass, Lookout Restaurant is truly a throwback. Unlike the more Tyrolean Roundhouse or the stately River Run base lodge, Lookout has a neighborly vibe, establishing it as the "other" classic spot for regulars to lunch or aprs on the mountain. Need a quiet corner to nurse a tall boy and rest those legs? Or maybe the powder is fresh and speed the priority? Either way Lookout has you covered: food and beer are served quickly and there are rarely crowds. Located at the top of Baldy, it is Sun Valley’s peaceful aprs-ski perch.
Crowd: Anyone looking to avoid the rush of other lodges. Regulars include ski patrol, lifties and locals in the know. Lovers of elegant washrooms: Lookout will meet your marble standards.
Specials: Beer pairing is simple: order anything to pair with the unbeatable fish tacos. The purest aprs meal, however, is the Kobe beef slider (think sake-infused beef).
Noteworthy: Come mid-March, Lookout sets up an outdoor grill, complete with sunshine and beer coolers. Remember that peaceful December pilsner in the corner? Last year’s crowds grew into the hundreds…. Let’s aprs, bro!
Ahhhh, it’s the last ski run of the day–you are schusshing down Baldy with the beautiful River Run Lodge in sight. You can almost hear the wine corks popping and beer bottles clanking. River Run Lodge has a happening aprs vibe with live music offered on most weekends and holidays and a fabulous outdoor fire pit sitting area to meet new friends or catch up with old chums.
Crowd: Happy people of all ages, from locals to visitors, who just went skiing or boarding at America’s original destination resort!
Specials: Sipping tall boys of Pabst Blue Ribbon at the base of Baldy is one of life’s finer moments for some SVM staffers and fans.
Specials: The aprs scene is a classic mix of local and visitors (season lockers are upstairs) and many a special event has been staged at the River Run Lodge. Don’t miss the the afternoon spring scene or fire pit outside beside the gondola.
Noteworthy: Home to the original chairlift on Baldy and, as old-timers will tell you, to a single chairlift until the 1960s, River Run is now serviced by an 1,800-passengers-per-hour gondola which was the largest Doppelmayr project in North America when built in 2009.
A quintessential mountain retreat, the Seattle Ridge lodge is massive, impeccably detailed and downright warm. What’s incredible about Seattle Ridge is that it has no secrets: sunshine and gourmet meals play on repeat. The fireplaces are always roaring, heating nearby boots and gloves, and the views only change with the seasons. Enjoy early aprs with friends (the lodge closes at 2:30) while gazing out on Hailey, Bellevue, the Pioneer Mountains and the surrounding lower valleys.
Crowd: Skiers, boarders and occasionally that guy who mono-skis. Literally the whole family. According to many, Seattle Ridge is "the place to be seen." If there’s a celebrity on the mountain, he or she will likely stop by this Sun Valley landmark for lunch at some point.
Specials: Do yourself a huge favor and try the mouth-watering prime rib. Don’t forget the pitcher of beer!
Noteworthy: Behind the beautiful log construction of Seattle Ridge were teams of helicopters that flew up and down the mountain delivering giant timber.
AVERELL’S BAR – ROUNDHOUSE (11 am – 4 pm, last call 4:30 pm):
Quite possibly the quintessential spot for aprs skiing in Sun Valley, Averell’s Bar is located halfway up Bald Mountain on the lower level of the historic Roundhouse Lodge. The octagonal building is filled with loving reminders of Sun Valley’s glory days and Averell’s (named after Sun Valley’s founder, Averell Harriman) hosts the Valley’s most majestic views of the Wood River Valley and Pioneer Mountains. Originally opened in 1940 along with Baldy’s first chairlift, Averell’s reopened in 2010 and not many people even knew the room existed after it had spent nearly a decade as a storage locker wasting those breathtaking views.
Crowd: Frequented by movie stars, housewives, Olympians, regular Joes, tourists and the un-or underemployed, Averell’s will surely leave an imprint as it offers a stroll down memory lane.
Specials: The cheese fondue for two (or more) is tough to top and they offer a solid beer and wine selection. SVM staff is known for making major editorial decisions while enjoying beer and fondue at Averell’s.
Noteworthy: Averell’s announces last call to ski down by ringing the bell at 4:30 pm. The last gondola back down departs at 4:45 pm. Dinner at 7,700 feet is a special event (open Thursday-Sunday from 6 – 9 pm), reservations required, call 208.622.2800.
The bar is small, but the view is huge. The drinks are cute ("Hot Apple Pie"), but they pack a punch. The lodge at Warm Springs does big and little things, and it does them all well. The lodge itself is magnificent, the perfect place to end a long day on the mountain. The famous cookie bell, almost unseen, nonetheless rings loudly enough to produce an even noisier scuttling of tiny boots to the kitchen. Find a seat facing the vaulted windows, grab a pint of the Stone IPA, and wait for the youngsters to return with Sun Valley’s greatest aprs snack.
Crowd: Residents of the Edelweiss and groups of all sizes parked at Warm Springs. Weary parents. A few years ago I also spotted Tim Allen on the patio.
Specials: The creative and very seasonal "Warm Ups" menu features drinks such as the "B-52" (coffee liqueur, Irish cream and orange cognac) and the "Nutty Irishman" (hazelnut liqueur, Irish cream and vanilla flavored vodka). Small cups of bar pretzels are on the house.
Noteworthy: The aprs crowd at Warm Springs follows the sun, meaning the scene heats up, literally and figuratively, after the holidays. By President’s Weekend, Warm Springs definitely secures the end-of-day "scene." Weather permitting, bands will play regularly outside. Nothing goes better with chocolate chip cookies than live music.
>> Check the Sun Valley website all season for more information on events/specials at Lookout, Seattle Ridge, Warm Springs and the mountain’s other lodges!
Quarter Dollar Lift will be running again on Dollar Mountain Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Terrain Park Manager Brian Callahan and his crew are installing five new rails, three jumps and three rollers in the Poverty Flats Terrain Park for all the jibbers. Should be a great time for everybody! Come on out and see us!
Bill Janss Pro-Am is a benefit race for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Athletes. This is a dual giant slalom team event. Racing begins at 10:30am on the Warm Springs side of Bald Mountain. For more information, contact the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation at (208) 726-4129 or www.svsef.org.
Sun Valley Ski Club Championship Giant Slalom Race on Cozy begins at 10am. For more information, comntact the Sun Valley Ski Club at (208) 622-3003 or www.sunvalleyski.com.
Bring your kids to a fun race for all ages on Dollar Mountain! This is an annual family event that allows kids of all ages to take part in a race, regardless of ability, and earn a prize. Racing starts at 10am. For more information, please contact the Papoose Club at (208) 726-6642.
USSA J-3 Junior Olymic Qualifying Giant Slalom Racing is on Hemingway and Greyhawk, and the Slalom Racing is on Cozy starting at 9:30am. For more information, contact the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation at (208) 726-4129 or www.svsef.org.
USSA J-4, J-5 and J-6 slalom race sponsored by the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation. For more information, contact the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation at (208) 726-4129 or visit their website at www.svsef.org.