Friday, December 2, 2005

New ski terrain opens as snow pelts valley

Season snowfall on Baldy exceeds 80 inches; more to come

Express Staff Writer

Shrouded in clouds and falling snow, Bald Mountain was barely visible Thursday morning as it loomed over western Ketchum and the River Run parking area. Photo by David N. Seelig

As an early-season snowstorm pelted the Wood River Valley Thursday morning, ski trail crews on Sun Valley's Bald Mountain were busy preparing to open vast areas of new terrain.

A winter storm that moved into Central Idaho late Wednesday night dropped 4 inches of fresh powder on Baldy by 9 a.m. Thursday. As heavy snowfall continued into Thursday afternoon, several more inches covered the ski area and surrounding mountains.

The new snow allowed Sun Valley mountain crews to accelerate a plan to open more terrain on Baldy this weekend. New terrain opened Thursday morning included Christmas Bowl, Exhibition, Lower College, Upper Can Can and Upper French Dip, said Jack Sibbach, Sun Valley director marketing and public relations.

As of Thursday, 28 trails were open on Baldy, served by the River Run, Lookout Express and Challenger chairlifts. Those lifts offered top-to-bottom skiing on the River Run and Warm Springs sides of the mountain.

"I imagine that even more will be opened Friday and Saturday," Sibbach said.

The standing goal for Sun Valley managers is to open all of Bald Mountain before a wave of visitors comes to the Wood River Valley for the Christmas holidays—in about two weeks.

That goal might be realized early if Mother Nature continues to cooperate. As of Thursday morning, 80 inches of natural snow had fallen this season on the top of Baldy. With cold weather prevailing in recent weeks, parts of the mountain have benefited from additional manmade snow. The weather forecast Thursday called for snow accumulations of 3 to 5 inches Thursday night and snow showers continuing through next Tuesday.

Sun Valley has temporarily closed Dollar Mountain. That ski area is scheduled to reopen Friday, Dec. 16.

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