Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Itís snowtime

Sun Valley opens 75th winter season with solid turnout


By TREVON MILLIARD
Express Staff Writer

From left, Elko Miles, Robbie Burns, Kyle Foster, Andy Buchanan, Michael Muir, Dana Black and Cody Swenke celebrate catching the first gondola up Bald Mountain on Thanksgiving Day. Photo by David N. Seelig

Sun Valley Resort was able to hit its Thanksgiving Day mark, opening the winter season for both Dollar and Bald mountains on the holiday. But it was a close call.

With Thanksgiving just a week away, the resort had little to be thankful for. The slopes had received only a couple of snow spurts, and the skies remained too sunny and warm much of the time to make much headway on snowmaking. However, the sky turned white mere days before show time, showering the mountains with more than a foot of snow. That allowed Baldy to provide one run top to bottom on the River Run side by using the Roundhouse gondola and Christmas chairlift. In addition, five new rail features have been added at the bottom of Lower River Run.

On Saturday, the resort opened one run from top to bottom on the Warm Springs side of Baldy.

Resort spokesman Jack Sibbach said it was a successful season opener. However, Sun Valley is not providing skier numbers for the weekend. The resort changed its policy mid-season last winter to not report skier numbers during the season.

In 2009, Sibbach reported 2,471 people hitting the slopes for Thanksgiving, an improvement over opening days of the past three years. He said the turnout in 2005 was about the same. The 2008 opener occurred two weeks after Thanksgiving because of low snowpack.

Last year at this time, Baldy had a 33-inch summit depth, 30 inches at mid mountain and 26 inches at the base. The mountain currently has 24 inches at its summit, 20 inches mid mountain and 18 inches at the base.

Sibbach said more runs would open as weather permits, as has been done since Thanksgiving.

As of Tuesday afternoon, runs open on Baldy's River Run side are Upper College, Lower College, 42nd Street, Lower River Run, Kinderspielplatz, Roundhouse Slope and Mid River Run. Three lifts are running.

On the Warm Springs side, runs open are Flying Squirrel, Lower Picabo's Street and Lower Warm Springs. Only the Challenger chairlift is running.

Dollar Mountain will be closed Monday through Thursday for snowmaking but is scheduled to reopen on the weekend.

See the resort's website, sunvalley.com, for up-to-date mountain, weather and snow conditions. Go to the "Mountain" tab.

Trevon Milliard: tmilliard@mtexpress.com




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