Skiers flock to
for early turns
contemplates early opening
Express Staff Writer
prompt arrival of winter last week spurred hoards of skiers and
snowboarders to dust off their equipment and spend the weekend hiking up
Bald Mountain, the location of Sun Valley Company’s ski resort.
the lifts aren’t scheduled to open until Nov. 28, with a slight chance
of opening earlier, Lower Warm Springs was crowded with skiers and
snowboarders Saturday and Sunday.
was an awesome day, and there was a ton of snow," exclaimed
Jeremy Rosser, 16, of Ketchum, after airing it out for a tail grab on
Lower Warm Springs Saturday morning. Express photo by Willy Cook
to a weather station atop Baldy, the 24 inches of natural snow recorded
there Monday morning had condensed to about 20 inches by late Tuesday.
Snowmaking crews are also continuing to work whenever possible, said
Jack Sibbach, Sun Valley marketing and public relations director.
more, the National Weather Service was calling for snow throughout the
remainder of this week but was not specific about the intensity of the
snows have spurred rumors about an early opening for Sun Valley this
season, something that has only occurred "I think twice,"
Sibbach said Sun Valley is still planning for a Thanksgiving Day
opening, but qualified the comment.
have been discussions, and there will be continuing discussions, of
changing that date to an earlier one," he said. "There are a
lot of things to consider. To open the mountain, it’s like opening a
new business every year, with new employees."
said hiring crews and adequately preparing the mountain are
time-consuming and difficult tasks.
of today, the official date is still Thursday, the 28th of November.
Hopefully it’s sooner than that, and we are in those discussions all
to National Weather Service Lead Forecaster Jeff Hedges, last week’s
snowfall is not uncommonly early for Idaho.
isn’t terribly unusual, a little early for a snowfall of this
magnitude, but it’s not unusual to see a first significant snowfall in
November," he said.
to data logged at the Sawtooth National Forest’s Ketchum Ranger
District, precipitation totals so far this fall are above average, but
not by a long shot.
So far in
November, 1 inch of water has fallen at the ranger station on Sun Valley
Road in Ketchum. The average November garners about 1.7 inches of water,
putting this year ahead of the curve.
time more than an inch of water fell in November was in 1998, when 2.81
inches dropped in the form of nearly 3 feet of snow, and Sun Valley’s
Thanksgiving Day opening greeted skiers and snowboarders with uncut
powder and tree skiing.
area, in general, 1 inch of water corresponds to approximately 10 inches
fall, October was also above average, with 1.56 inches of water falling
at the ranger station in the form of rain and snow. The average October
garners 1.1 inches.
Hedges said this wetter-than-average weather pattern is forecast to end.
is just an opening good shot," he said. "Right now, we’re in
an ordinary pattern for this time of year, but we’re getting into a
weak El Niño pattern, which brings storms across central and southern
California, Arizona and Colorado."
weather gurus’ long-range forecasts aren’t dampening the spirits of
local ski area managers.
River Valley’s world-famous Nordic skiing facilities are scheduled to
open Saturday, Nov. 23. Blaine County Recreation District Trails
Director Shelly Preston said crews have been working to prepare the
trails for the season, and have groomed a number of The North Valley
Trails. But she said the trails would not be groomed regularly until the
official Nov. 23 opening.
really do have a lot of work," she said. "We’re just jamming
trying to get everything done."
Soldier Mountain Ski Area near Fairfield is also preparing for a
Thanksgiving week opening, and managers are excited to boast about the
area’s new, 15-acre terrain park, which has grown from last winter’s
hoping to open the day after Thanksgiving," said Prue Hemmings,
Soldier Mountain marketing manager, who said the ski area has about 2
feet of snow near the mountain’s summit.
Soldier Mountain does not use snowmaking, Hemmings said the ski area’s
managers are hoping for one more big storm to really get things off to a