Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ski mountains to open on schedule

Lifts on Baldy, Dollar set to start up Thanksgiving Day


By TREVON MILLIARD
Express Staff Writer

Ketchum resident Ike Buxton and his sister, Daisy Buxton, right, sled down the Warm Springs side of Bald Mountain on Saturday. Snow is plentiful on many parts of the ski mountain.

After a white weekend, Sun Valley Co. is "confident" the slopes of Bald and Dollar mountains will be open on Thanksgiving Day, spokesman Jack Sibbach said.

The holiday is the traditional opening day for snowboarders and skiers to hit Baldy's slopes, but that wasn't the case early last winter when warm weather and low snowfall pushed opening day back to Dec. 10.

Sibbach said the number of slopes that will have enough snow to be opened remains uncertain.

Baldy received a blanketing of 5 inches on Saturday, Nov. 14, bringing the summit snow depth to 32 inches, mid-mountain depth to 28 inches and base depth to 24 inches. The season total to date is 44 inches. The colder temperatures have also allowed the mountain's 522 snow guns to lay down some manmade powder. Each shoots out 24 gallons of water mist per minute.

Dollar Mountain's snow guns are also running and are starting to make snow for the tubing park at the base.

"The last three days our production has been terrific," Sibbach said Monday. "Especially on Warm Springs. A few days ago we had just one strip of snow."

Last week was a struggle for snow production, as warm temperatures melted snow made earlier. Sibbach also said a temperature inversion prevented snow from being made at all last week. An inversion occurs when temperature increases with elevation rather than decreases, as is the norm.

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Conditions are finally in Sun Valley's favor, and all guns are firing. Sibbach said enough snow has accumulated for snowcats to push it and spread it around.

That's good news all around, especially for the superpipe on the skier's left side of Lower Warm Springs, below Race Arena. The U-shaped terrain feature will be about 425 feet in length with walls about 18 feet high, and will meet competition superpipe standards.

With a superpipe of that size, the resort needs a jump on snow production as soon as possible. Two new fan guns will each be spewing out 180 gallons of water mistper minute for the superpipe, but the weather has to stay cold enough for the snow to stick.

Forecasts for the rest of the week predict slight chances of snow most of the days with temperatures hovering around freezing.

Trevon Milliard: tmilliard@mtexpress.com




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