Wednesday, January 12, 2005

When snow falls ...

Prayers were answered.

The mother of all storms descended on the Wood River Valley last weekend. According to Sun Valley Ski Patrol assistant director Rich Bingham, approximately 38 inches of snow fell on Bald Mountain during the storm that began Friday, Jan. 7.

What all of us current or semi-reformed ski bums take for granted is that once that snow finally comes down in gobs, someone has to do something with it to keep the town and resort running.

And hats off to them—the staff members of the City Street Departments, State Highway Department and Friedman Memorial Airport—many of whom pulled all-nighters, lift operators who shoveled out lifts, and ski patrolmen who threw bombs and tentatively stepped out onto loaded-up ski slopes at risk of avalanche. Groomers also brought enormous efforts to the area's burgeoning cross-country ski trails.

The numbers are staggering. According to Ketchum street superintendent Brian Christiansen more than 700 loads of snow—at 15 plus cubic yards per load—were plowed and carried away each night of the storm. That's more than 21,000 cubic yards of snow cleared from 40 miles of Ketchum streets, plus sections of the bike path. Seventeen trucks and two giant, truck-size snowblowers whirred around each night.

On Baldy, lift mechanics and operators got buried lifts moving in the dark. The ski patrol threw more than 550 pounds of dynamite onto the slopes.

The end result: Visitors arrived safely, people got to work, went shopping, and went skiing—at least 7,000 people on Baldy enjoyed the snowfall over the weekend.

As one happy skier put it: "We really do live in a ski town, after all."

Yes we do, thanks to Mother Nature and the hard work of a lot of people.

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