Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Opening day for Baldy on thin ice?

Despite warm weather, Thanksgiving opening planned


By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer

Despite a lack of natural snow and unseasonably warm weather in recent weeks, Sun Valley Co. is still planning to open the 2004-2005 ski season on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 25.

"We're making snow as much as possible," said Jack Sibbach, Sun Valley director of marketing and public relations. "It's going to be tight, but our crew is still thinking they can get the mountain open."

Throughout the fall, Sun Valley has targeted Thanksgiving Day as the opening day for Bald Mountain, the resort's primary skiing and snowboarding venue. Dollar Mountain—which has a much more limited snowmaking system than Bald Mountain—is scheduled open on Dec. 15.

Sibbach said both opening days are largely dependent on the weather, which in recent weeks has been uncharacteristically warm, with daytime temperatures in Ketchum often hovering well above freezing. Nighttime temperatures, however, have been increasingly conducive to snowmaking, Sibbach noted.

"It's day by day, depending on what the snowmaking crew thinks," Sibbach said. "They think they can do it, and we think we can do it. But if it turns warm again, the plans could easily change."

On Monday, Sun Valley Co. reported that Bald Mountain had a 21-inch snowpack on the top and 14 inches of snow at mid mountain. The lower elevations of the mountain have a light covering of man-made snow.

Although the summit of Bald Mountain has reportedly received 43 inches of natural snow this fall—mostly in October—some has melted and some has been consolidated by rain.

Dollar Mountain is bare, except in select areas where snowmaking has occurred.

Sibbach said Sun Valley next week hopes to offer skiing on Bald Mountain from the Lookout summit down to both the River Run and Warm Springs base areas.

Ski runs that are currently considered a top priority for snowmaking include Upper College, Flying Squirrel, the lower portion of Picabo's Street, Lower Warm Springs, Mid River Run, Lower River Run and Roundhouse Lane.

Once favorable conditions are established in those areas, snowmaking crews will focus their efforts on Ridge, Cutoff, Canyon and the higher elevations of Warm Springs, Sibbach said.

Resort officials hope to open the Seattle Ridge area of Bald Mountain by Christmas.

The 10-day weather forecast for Ketchum calls primarily for partly cloudy days with temperatures ranging from the teens at night to the low 40s during the day. Snow showers are forecast for Friday, Nov. 19.




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