20-12-02 River Run baldy Ski 9 Roland.jpg

A steady stream of skiers and snowboarders took to River Run over the weekend to welcome the 2020-21 ski season.

With the sun shining and an Idaho nip in the air, skiers and snowboarders last weekend let go of some of the travails of 2020 and enjoyed a fresh start—to a new ski season, that is.

Sun Valley Resort kicked off its 85th winter season on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, with a solid stream of skiers and boarders making their way down the slopes of Bald Mountain. Sun Valley offered top-to-bottom skiing and snowboarding on a variety of slopes on the River Run side of the ski mountain, aided by some early-season snowfall and favorable conditions for snowmaking.

Access to Bald Mountain for the resort’s opening weekend—Thursday through Sunday—was reserved for pass holders only. Day tickets were not sold but are now available.

The 2019-20 ski season at Sun Valley was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. This season, the resort is implementing a variety of new safety measures at its two ski areas, ranging from mandatory mask wearing and social distancing to changes in food service and lift protocols. Bridget Higgins, the resort’s director of public relations and marketing, said the new protocols for safety and service were a success over the opening weekend.

“We are thankful that people adhered to our safety protocols and guidance from our … staff and resort employees,” Higgins said.

Beginning Thursday, several top-to-bottom runs were open on Bald Mountain, all on the River Run side of the mountain and in the Frenchman’s area. The runs were served by the Roundhouse Express gondola; the River Run, Lookout Express and Christmas chairlifts; and the Kinderspielplatz tow lift for children. Sun Valley reported a 30-inch snow base at the summit of Baldy and a 25-inch snowpack at the base of the mountain.

Lift lines were unusually long for Thanksgiving Day, a situation caused partly by COVID-19 restrictions that didn’t allow full loading of every chair.

Higgins said the resort plans to open terrain on the Warm Springs side of Baldy, as well as the Warm Springs Lodge and base area, on Friday, Dec. 4. Dollar Mountain is scheduled to follow on Saturday, Dec. 12.

“The season is just beginning, and we look forward to the opening of more terrain and Dollar Mountain over the next couple weeks, as conditions allow,” Higgins said. “… Please be sure to reference our app and mountain report to stay informed with terrain opening and grooming reports.”

Higgins encouraged all guests who choose to bring personal items to the base areas to use the resort’s bag-check service and said skiers and boarders planning to rent gear at the mountain should reserve the equipment at least 24 hours in advance.

For details on new safety protocols at Sun Valley, visit the resort website, sunvalley.com, or the Idaho Mountain Express website, mtexpress.com. The resort’s mountain report on trails, grooming and snow conditions is also on the resort’s website.

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