Sun Valley Resort's schedule for opening lifts and terrain on Bald Mountain is strictly dependent upon the weather in the coming days. For an up-to-date report on skiing access and conditions, call 800-635-4150 or visit sunvalley.com on the Internet.
The sunny skies that gave Sun Valley its name are proving to be as much of a bane as a boon.
Citing a lack of snow, Sun Valley Resort this week announced it will open the 2004-2005 ski season as scheduled on Thanksgiving Day, but will restrict lift service to the Lower River Run area of Bald Mountain.
"That's if things stay just the way they are," said Jack Sibbach, Sun Valley director of marketing and public relations. "If we don't get any help from Mother Nature."
Sibbach said the resort's mountain crews will open the River Run lift at 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 25. River Run Lodge will be open to provide food and services to skiers and their companions.
If a storm predicted to hit Central Idaho today delivers ample snow, more of Bald Mountain might be officially opened to skiers and snowboarders, Sibbach said.
Barring a substantial dose of fresh snow, or a spell of unusually warm temperatures, Sun Valley plans to commence lift service to the Lookout summit of Baldy this weekend.
"If we get some help from Mother Nature it could be sooner," Sibbach said.
Weather permitting, on Saturday, Nov. 27, Sun Valley plans to start running the Lookout Express and Challenger chairlifts, which combined with the River Run lift will provide top-to-bottom skiing on both the River Run and Warm Springs sides of the mountain.
The Lookout Express and Challenger lifts will operate daily from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Currently, the resort does not plan to close the mountain on any days after opening day.
Starting Saturday, Sun Valley hopes to offer open access to numerous groomed ski runs, including Upper College, Roundhouse Lane, Mid River Run, Lower River Run, Flying Squirrel, Lower Picabo and Lower Warm Springs.
Warm Springs Lodge is scheduled to open Saturday, while the Lookout Restaurant will likely open with limited services.
A one-day, early-season lift ticket for Bald Mountain costs $48 for adults and $27 for children. Dollar Mountain is not scheduled to open until mid-December.
Amid reports from skiers who hiked up Bald Mountain that the snow at upper elevations is quite good, Sibbach said the decision to delay top-to-bottom skiing was made in part to ensure ski conditions do not deteriorate in the coming weeks.
"If you have marginal conditions, you have to be careful, because skiers can bring up the rocks, and then the rocks are floating around all season."
Weather conditions in November have consistently challenged Sun Valley's efforts to provide top-to-bottom skiing by Thanksgiving Day.
After a few promising snowstorms in October, dry and warm conditions persisted during early November. Only in the last week have temperatures dropped sufficiently for mountain crews to make substantial amounts of machine-made snow at lower elevations.
Despite the lack of snow, reservations at Sun Valley Resort are "looking very good" over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Sibbach said.
Resort officials Monday were notifying incoming guests about the changes scheduled for opening day.
"We will get a few cancellations, but not many," Sibbach said. "There are a lot of other things to do in Sun Valley."