the people’s ski hill
Features affordable and
night skiing for kids
By DICK DORWORTH
Express Staff Writer
The best lift-serviced skiing in
the southern Wood River Valley is found at Rotarun, a few miles west of
Hailey out Croy Canyon. Among other things, it is the Wood River
Valley’s answer to the exorbitant cost of modern skiing in America.
Ketchum-Sun Valley was recently
described as being known "to have residents’ net worth statements
boasting more zeros than there are bubbles in champagne," but that
certainly does not describe the majority of Wood River Valley residents.
Sun Valley, just a few miles north of Rotarun, is one of America’s
premier ski resorts, but it is simply too expensive for the pocketbooks
of many local working families.
Ski lift prices at Rotarun,
however, run from $5 for 6 to 14-year-olds, $10 for anyone over 15
years, and a range of season passes from $50 for 6 to 14-year-olds to
$200 for a family of 6 or more.
Rotarun has a Doppelmyr surface
lift, a rope tow, a warming hut and restaurant and 475 vertical feet of
skiing. It has lights for night skiing and offers the only night skiing
within a three-hour drive.
It was first used as a ski hill in
the late 1940s when Anne Jeannette Winn taught kids to ski by hiking up.
A little later, after a rustic rope tow was installed, Jim Savaria
offered lessons for $1 a week. The hill received a community boost in
1957 when Hailey dentist Dr. Art Richards worked with the Hailey Rotary
Club to replace the old rope tow with a newer one, thus the name Rotarun.
Also that year, the Arkoosh family of Gooding gave the Rotarun a 99-year
lease on the land for $1 a year, thus the annual "Arkoosh Cup" ski race.
In 1993 the property was deeded to Blaine County, with the original
lease and mineral rights owned by Rotarun.
A great many local kids have
learned to ski and refined their technique on the Rotarun slopes over
the past 60 years. Among the best known are Olympic champion Picabo
Street and Paralympic medallist Muffy Davis.
In 1964 the original J-bar to the
top of the mountain and lights for night skiing were installed. The
following year the first warming hut was built. Much of these and
subsequent improvements were in the form of donated labor and materials.
In 2001 a new Doppelmyr surface lift was installed at a cost of
$180,000. Among the hundreds of people who have contributed to the
continuation of this unique cooperative recreational facility are Jim
Hurst, Sam Winn, Sid Worry, Jay Deering, Charles and Pilar Harris, Bob
and Betty Logan, Dale and Leona Peterson, Floyd Patterson, Bob Riggen,
Tom and Dorthy Ficka, George Rathke, Leo Starvos, John Holmes, Jim
Savaria, Glenn Stelma, Ralph Cisco, David Lee, Joe Malea, Lee Schlander,
Jim Koonce, Dick Anderson, Don and Linda Board, Sam Myers, Pete
Vandermullen, Chuck Curtis, Vint and Linda Hughes, Anne Williams, Dean
Dazell, Neil Patterson, Dick Fosbury, Robb Thomas, Bob and Tom Logan, Ed
Cameron, Larry Flynn, Joe Cannon and Red Bloedel.
Bloedel, a retired aerospace
executive, is heading up the current drive to keep Rotarun alive and
flourishing, an interest he embraced because his grandson, Forrest
Fleming, learned to ski there.
Rotarun is a community effort that
was started, built and is maintained by the work of many volunteers,
donations from many people and a few foundations, and a few fund raiser
events. Saturday night’s Rotarun Bash at the Hailey Armory, featuring
long-time Sun Valley resident and entertainer Joe Cannon, is the biggest
of the year. It begins at 6:30 p.m.
In addition to Joe Cannon’s fine
entertainment, there will be a light buffet, wine, beer and soda and
both a live and a silent auction. Donations are accepted and "A Piece of
the Mountain" certificates are for sale in amounts of $100, $500 and
$1,000. Tickets are $30 each for the event and are available beforehand
at Chapter One in Ketchum and at Sturtevants in Hailey.