“Let me open that door for you, Sir”. “Madam, I’ll carry your bags for you”. “Would you like your bed turned down, and some tasty chocolates?” “Margaritas in the hot pools, Sir?”
Yep, even we can feel like a celebrity at the Sun Valley Lodge. I doubt our photos will ever adorn the walls of the Lodge with the likes of Ginger Rodgers, the Guvernator, Jane Fonda, Hemmingway, et al, but hey, it’s nice to be fawned over for 3 days. Especially when the accommodation is basically free (or the skiing is free, depending on your perspective) – oh the joys of spring skiing deals.
Even better, the cover on Bald Mountain was pretty darn good. Anything south facing was simply brown sagebrush, but there’s little south facing terrain at Sun Valley anyway. Friday was, for early April anyway, surprisingly cold, meaning a mostly groomer day until a few lower off-piste runs softened in the afternoon warmth. When the groomers are 1000m vertical, have a consistent steepness and fall line, and are deserted, this though is hardly a hardship.
By Saturday afternoon, more off-piste terrain was becoming approachable. Sun Valley has extensive, long bump trails, and as these softened, they turned into challenging bump skiing practise runs which drained energy from our legs. With over 11K vertical metres by 3pm, cocktails in the Lodge pool were an undeniable attraction.
On Sunday, mid-morning was the magic time when the bullet-proof transformed into gelato. The sun-affected ungroomed runs down into Lookout and Easter Bowl creamed up, creating soft, rideable crud that was perfect for high speed, arcing turns. It was a new experience for me heading down steep, ever narrowing fingers of snow sat between brown, sagebrush covered slopes (see pics here). Wisps of snow in the harsh desert. But it was huge fun.
I love visiting Sun Valley. Bald Mountain has big vertical, fast lifts, lots of terrain to explore, great bump runs and grooming second to none. It’s invariably deserted, the French Onion soup for lunch is a killer in the decadent day lodges, and there’s Sun Valley village and the western town of Ketchum to entertain in the evenings. It’s a compelling package indeed, especially with early or late season deals that make luxury affordable even for cheapskates like us! And I can’t finish without mentioning the Idaho Ruby Trout in the Roosevelt Grille. Truly magnificent fish!
3 days: 10,800m 11,300m, 8600m vert
Season Totals: 46 days, 366,800 vertical metres, 12 powder days