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For the week of March 28 through April 3, 2001

Ski days wane

Golf course soon to open

Express Staff Writer

From the looks of Dollar Mountainís dirt-mottled slopes, itís apparent that spring has arrived in Sun Valley.

This Saturday will be the last day of operation for Dollar this season, and only the Quarter Dollar and Half Dollar lifts will operate until then.

Skiers on Dollar Mountain Tuesday had to avoid the slopeís fringes, which were mottled with spring dirt. Dollar is scheduled to close when skiers leave Saturday. Above, lift operator Milagros Ortega from Peru loads snowboarders on the Quarter Dollar lift. Express photo by Greg Stahl

This Sunday will be the last day of the season for Seattle Ridge and the bowls. Beginning April 9, "if possible," says Sun Valley, the Challenger and Christmas lifts will service Bald Mountain through the projected end of the Sun Valley ski season, April 15.

"The quality of the snow is deteriorating faster than we would like," Sun Valley spokesman Jack Sibbach said. "Therefore, the above operational plan is subject to change due to the conditions."

Last year, Sibbach said, Bald Mountain closed on April 23, a week longer than this season is anticipated to last. This seasonís projected closure is pretty remarkable, Sibbach said, considering the amount of natural snow the resortís gotten this winter.

This yearís season total snow accumulation on Baldy was 116 inches, according to the resortís ski report. Last year, the resort garnered 137 inches, and the 1998/1999 season landed 191 inches. The typical Sun Valley season garners 165 inches of natural snow.

Sun Valley is reporting a 50-inch base at the top of Baldy.

"If we had this amount of snow without the snowmaking, it would really affect the businesses in the valley quite negatively," Sibbach said.

He compared this winter to the 1976/1977 winter during which locals sported bumper stickers proclaiming "I Skied Squirrel and Survived" in response to the thin snow on Baldy. The difference this year, he said, was the snowmaking.

"People are coming now, even with the lack of natural snow."

The past week has witnessed a fairly significant drop in skier visits, probably due to the spring-like weather and deteriorating snow, he added.

"The numbers are starting to fall about 1,000 skiers a day [from what they were a month ago]," Sibbach said.

On April 2, Sun Valley will institute spring skiing lift rates. Additionally, weekend discount card holders are able to use their discount privileges every day of the week, from now through the end of the season.

And with the lack of natural snow around the valley, Sun Valley has announced that it will open the resortís 18-hole gold course on April 7, the earliest that itís ever opened in the resortís history.

The driving range is scheduled to open on April 4.

"Spring has come to Sun Valley," Sibbach said. "This is not going to be a terrific year for Sun Valley, but itís going to be a fair year overall."


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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.