Friday, November 21, 2008

Is it winter yet?

Thanksgiving opening of Baldy remains up in the air


By JON DUVAL
Express Staff Writer

There has been more smoke than snow over Bald Mountain during the past two weeks, as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management conducted prescribed burns of slash piles at River Run and Warm Springs. Sun Valley Co. still hopes to open some ski runs on Thanksgiving, but recent warm weather and lack of snowfall could alter that plan. Photo by Willy Cook

With daytime temperatures forecast to remain well above freezing for the next week, it could prove difficult for Sun Valley Co. to meet its traditional Thanksgiving Day opening of Bald Mountain.

While some snow showers are possible during that period, according to www.weather.com, it doesn't appear that the type of large storm needed to create a significant base on the ski runs will be moving over Baldy before Nov. 27.

However, Sun Valley Co. spokesman Jack Sibbach said the resort still hopes to make enough snow to open at least part of the mountain by Thursday, and the company's Web site showed nine inches of snow at the top on Thursday.

"We've had an inversion, where the temperature at the top of the mountain is actually warmer than at the base, so there hasn't been much snowmaking," Sibbach said Wednesday. "But we have our fingers crossed and are depending on Mother Nature."

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The mountain has recently seen plenty of non-ski-related action recently, as the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service spent the past two weeks burning slash piles on the River Run and Warm Springs portions of Baldy.

The prescribed burning, which sent plumes of smoke above the barren runs, was undertaken to clear out dead underbrush and limbs cut during the summer.

In the case that the mountain is not opened by the holiday, Sibbach said other amenities would be available for guests, including virtual golf at the new Sun Valley Club, as well as earlier hours of operation for the bowling alley at the Sun Valley Lodge.

Sibbach said the resort would make a decision about the opening date today and will pass along the information to the community and guests as soon as possible.

Since 1994, the resort has opened the lifts on Baldy seven times on Thanksgiving Day, four times before the holiday, and three times after, with a record late start date of Dec. 9 during that period.




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