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For the week of April 25 through May 1, 2001

Late snows aid skier count

Express Staff Writer

In the last throes of the ski season, Mother Nature added some fluffy finishing touches to what was otherwise a marginal snow year on Sun Valley Co.ís Bald Mountain.

And Sun Valley reported an impressively high season-total skier count considering the dry winter.

Ski patroller Gary Davis, East Fork resident Connor Davis and Hailey resident George Hubert nab the last lift ride of the season at the base of Warm Springs on Sunday. Express Photo by David N. Selig

For 2000/2001, Sun Valley reported that 398,076 skiers, snowboarders and pinheads took to Baldyís and Dollar Mountainís slopes. Thatís a 7 percent increase over 1999/2000, a season that nabbed 375,000 mountain visits. The 1998/1999 winter season hosted 418,010 Bald and Dollar mountain visits.

When asked why there would be an increase in skier visits in such a low snow year, Sun Valley spokeswoman Kris Nardecchia said, "A lot of it is definitely attributed to the incredible snowmaking and the mountain department. We didnít get one complaint this season about the skiing or mountain quality, and I think the late season snow helped a little bit, too."

Over a foot of new snow fell on the upper reaches of Baldy in the last two weeks of the season, a season that was surprisingly extended a week because of the fantastic conditions.

The season total snowfall was still low, however.

The Sun Valley ski patrolís snow safety supervisor, Rich Bingham, said that between Thanksgiving and the mountainís closure, 122 inches of snow fell on Baldy. The ski area closed with a 64-inch base at the summit.

Last year, 137 inches of snow fell on Baldy throughout the winter, and in 1998/1999, 191 inches fell. The average winter garners 165 inches of snow.

Bingham said storms during the last two week were sort of representative of the entire winter.

"Thatís been the story for the winter," he said, "a lot of small storms."

Nardecchia said Sun Valleyís lodging occupancies were also up over last year.

"It was a really good winter, given the decrease in the natural snowfall from last year," she said.


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