Friday, December 12, 2008

Resort aims to open more terrain

Opening day deemed a success; holiday season looms large


By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer

After kicking off the 2008-2009 season on Wednesday, Sun Valley Resort managers are assessing when they can open more trails on Bald and Dollar mountains.

Mountain crews are working diligently to make snow on a variety of popular ski slopes that were not on the list of limited trails open for the season debut, said Sun Valley spokesman Jack Sibbach. Presently, snowmaking priorities on Baldy include Canyon, Roundhouse Lane (below Mid River Run), Lower College and Mid Warm Springs, Sibbach said.

On Dollar, resort officials hope to open Sepp's Bowl in the near future. Snowmaking on Dollar has been very effective in recent days because of a temperature inversion that has brought colder temperatures to lower elevations in the Wood River Valley, Sibbach said.

"There is a lot of work to do," he said. "We're doing lots of snowmaking. Hopefully, with some help from Mother Nature, we'll get some more terrain open soon."

As is the case every year, the resort's ultimate goal is to have all terrain on the two ski mountains open for the Christmas season. In any circumstance, opening the Seattle Ridge area of Baldy before Christmas is one of the top priorities, Sibbach said.

On opening day Wednesday, skiing on Baldy was limited to Upper College, Flying Squirrel, Lower Picabo Street, Lower Warm Springs, Roundhouse Lane (from Upper College to Mid River Run), Mid River Run and Lower River Run. Under mostly sunny skies, 1,014 skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes on Baldy, a tally that Sibbach said was slightly more than expected.

"It was very good for a Wednesday," he said.

A handful of skiers interviewed by the Express on the Warm Springs side of Baldy Wednesday agreed on one thing: The snow coverage was surprisingly good. The average snow base on Baldy is approximately 10 inches.

At Dollar, 31 skiers turned out Wednesday to ski limited terrain served by the Quarter Dollar and "magic carpet" lifts.

Sibbach said resort officials expect skier numbers to increase substantially this weekend.

"We've sold a lot of ski packages. We have more than 200 rooms rented for Friday and Saturday."

Looming large for the resort and other businesses in Ketchum and Sun Valley is the outcome of the Christmas and New Year's holiday period, which typically brings in large numbers of visitors and sets the tone for the rest of the ski season. Sibbach said holiday reservations are "down some" but he remains hopeful that the weather might come to the rescue.

"We need some snow to get the phones ringing," he said.

The weather might just cooperate. The National Weather Service forecast for this weekend calls for the likelihood of snow, starting today and lasting through Saturday and Sunday.




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