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Sun Valley, Idaho, 3/2 & 3/3/2017 -- "the resort with posh bathrooms"

abc

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Day 1: 3/2, Sunshine and no new snow.

Sun Valley wasn't my favorite mountain. I had zero motivation to go there before. It was advertised as having the best groomer. Well, for us east coasters, we don't go west to ski groomers!

It wasn't until it was part of MCP that i decided I'll give it a try. So I did it last Christmas for the 1st time. It was a good early season year according to the locals. There's plenty of snow alright, just not soft fluffy kind of snow.

So I hate to say it, I didn't like it much when I skied it last year, also just 2 "bonus" days of my MCP. And it wasn't until after my 2nd day that I heard a rumor it has a free mountain tour at 11. Well, too late for me to join. On my own, I didn't find much love for SV. I went on the morning of my 3rd day, intending to join the mountain tour to get a sense of what the mountain was about. But it turns out the tour was at 10:30 not 11. So I went xc skiing instead on my last day there.

Based on that so-so experience of last year, I wouldn't have bothered with it had it not been on my way, I'm literally passing nearby on my way from Jackson to Whistler. Plus, it's also included in the MCP and is therefore free to me.

I thought I'd give it another go. After all, a foot of snow had fallen just 2 days ago!


Unfortunately, I still don't quite like it much on the 1st day of my 2nd year. Whatever happened to the foot and a plus snow from Monday and Tuesday? The groomers were slick, the bowls were crusty.

But tomorrow, I'll try to make their free mountain tour at 10:30 (odd hour) and see if I can find some rimes and reason for this mountain.


Day 2: 3/3, More sunshine and whatever left of the snow from 3 days ago.

So I made the free mountain tour in the nick of time.

Compare to other "destination resort" that make you park miles away, take a shuttle, and then having to walk another mile through the commercial "village" in ski boots, Sun Valley is a little more "old school". The parking is only 100 yard away. And there's no "village" to walk through.

The "director of skiing" led the tour. What a difference it made!

It appeared there were only 2 of us joining the tour. But just as we marched towards the gondola, a couple joined us too. When asked if they're "intermediate" or above, their reply "advanced"! I would soon find out, all 4 of us were advanced level skiers, and the director was free to take us into "unofficial" runs.

First thing first, some history talk. Sun Valley was an old ski resort.

It also sits on a mountain of its own, rather than being a part of a range. What that means is from the top, there's unobstructed view in ALL directions!

IMG_0798.jpg

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Then our guide reminded us there had been many Olympian medal winners hailed from Sun Valley! Well, all those groomers must be good for SOMETHING!

First run was off College, a green run.

If you've been to Sun Valley, you know what I mean. But if you haven't, Sun Valley is a poster child of the saying "trail classification is ONLY relative within the resort". Sun Valley's green would have been double blue in many other resorts!

So we blasted down that empty wide open green run with perfectly groomed surface. Even for a non-groomer lover like me, I had to say I enjoyed it.

Having seen all 4 of us blasting down the pretty steep green in perfect form, our guide didn't waste much time before leading us into some glades!!!

Actually, it's a small patch of woods next to the "official" groomer run. So 2 of us went into the woods. It was not bad. There's pockets of untouched powder, soft and smooth. Now THAT is why I go west!

That was followed by a long traverse, followed by a long blue which we blasted down again. That put us at the bottom of Warm Springs.

One long chair ride back up to the top, it's time to sample the bowls. Again, there's a groomer cut in the middle of the bowl. And our guide led us down the ungroomed part of the bowl! This time, even with a bit of instruction (he used to be the director of the ski school) on how to ski slightly crusty "crud". Though what he considered "crud" is a very unfavorable terminology for what we would considered perfectly good (albeit a bit bumpy) packed powder! "ski them like there're egg shells under the snow. Stay light so you don't break the egg shells!"

Last, we hit Seattle Ridge, a mostly beginner/intermediate area. Strangely enough, there're a lot of soft snow on the side of the trail, with small bumps too. Unlike most Colorado resorts that grooms half of their blue trails and leaving half to bump up, Sun Valley choose to groom the middle half, and leaving two narrow strip of ungroomed on each side. The difference being, the two side strips of bumps are only 2-3 bumps wide. So you can't just traverse across. You have to SKI IT, DOWN the fall line.

For the most part, most of Sun Valley's bumps don't get that slick trough. Part of the reason also because there're very few boarders in Sun Valley. So the bumps are in better shape as a result.

At the end of the tour, I stayed at Seattle Ridge to take full advantage of the soft snow on the ungroomed side strips. Lunch was at the lodge on top of Seattle Ridge, with panorama view.

Sun Valley has a very different vibe. The clientele are mostly older. And in general more relaxed. In the lodge during lunch, one doesn't see people wolfing down pizza quickly. Instead, one sees tables with people sitting back with their drinks in hand, in full vacation mode.

I got infected by that vacation mode atmosphere. i too, had my lunch slowly, lean back and close my eye for 10 mins, soaking up on the SUN! Oh, did I mention it's in the mid-30's?

Ok, so that's why the powder didn't last very long! They got baked by the sun and turned crusty!

Anyway, I figured out the glades, which had better snow. So I ventured into a few of those and had a much better time than the 3 days I did before.

In conclusion, Sun Valley takes some getting used to. I still wouldn't put it on the top of my list. But if I found myself passing by, I now know I would enjoy skiing there for a day or two. Who knows, perhaps with free snow, it'll ski even better!
 

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mikestaple

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Sun Valley! My aunt taught me how to drive in her dune buggy when I was 10. In those lots right next to River Run. So I I am biased. I think that place is great.

Going at the end of March! Can't wait. Anytime spent in the bowls? Endless vert laps on Warm Springs? 3:30 club from the Roundhouse? No celebs? The Governator has a house around the corner and was holding court in a lodge the last time I was there.

Seattle Ridge "cafeteria". Gotta go for the build your own potato (it is Idaho) and I recall the potatoes are as big as your head. Or maybe the prime rib sandwich. Almost makes it impossible to enter any lodge on the east coast.

And yes the locals are older. Nothing like watching a 65 year old consistently leave you in the dust. They are excellent skiers. These r a few years old. Doesn't reflect the big snow year they are having this year.

ImageUploadedByAlpineZone1488630139.189069.jpg. Seattle Ridge. These are the easy greens. Great steeps

ImageUploadedByAlpineZone1488630301.192977.jpg
Looking up at the bowls


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abc

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Anytime spent in the bowls?
The bowls are a little crusty. Just 2 days after fresh snow.

I can see the potential after a dump. Right after a fresh dump, that is. Snow just don't last too well. Too much sun.
 

Whitey

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I lived in SV and ski bummed for 2 years back in early '90s. I hear what you are saying about the mtn but you also may have just missed hitting it at the right time. SV has never been known for massive snowfall or extreme terrain. But in many years of skiing there I never got bored. Not sure why it doesn't get played up more is that SV is a bump skiers and spring conditions skiing kind of mountain. Some of the best bump runs I have ever skied are those bowls, Exhibition, Limelight, Inhibition, etc with a couple of inches of corn snow on them. Those bowls, with their bumps and exposure to the sun, are a thing of beauty on a sunny 50-60 degree day. I spent a lot of time in those bowls with just a tee shirt, no gloves, and a pair of jeans.

When the corn snow bumps aren't in play, then the mtn does become all about well groomed runs with a minimum of icy conditions. But that's not really what most on this forum are looking for.
 

abc

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Endless vert laps on Warm Springs?
Like I said, we east coasters don't go west to ski groomers. We have quite a lot of those right here near home.

I enjoyed them when there's nothing else going on. Or if my luck is down and I arrive during a snow draught

No celebs?
Thank god our guide didn't go in that angle. For someone who lives in NYC, celeb is what we see down the street or in our neighborhood. Not particularly interested in meeting any more when I'm "escaping" my usual environment.

3:30 club from the Roundhouse?
I guess I missed that one.
 

abc

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you also may have just missed hitting it at the right time.
It's pretty clear I did NOT hit it at the right time. But I also was not counting on the "right time" window being so narrow that 2 days after a dump of about a foot is already a "miss"!

Not sure why it doesn't get played up more is that SV is a bump skiers and spring conditions skiing kind of mountain.
Bumps and spring condition are just not high on the marketing of just about any mountain! Shame, really. I myself am a big spring skiing fan.

Mary Jane of course is well known for bumps in the latter part of the season in the more hard core bump lovers circle. Sun Valley I totally agree has nice bumps (due to lack of boarders and low skier traffic in general). I'm just not sure the mountain cares to emphasize that.

Spring skiing is a hard sell. I can see why they don't bother.

SV has never been known for massive snowfall or extreme terrain. But in many years of skiing there I never got bored.
I don't go for extreme terrain. But I do prefer soft snow over firm snow. So a well-groomed mountain isn't my personal favorite. Lacking fresh snow, Sun Valley is definitely on the "firm" side by the standard of western mountains.

Now that I figured out some of the hidden gems of Sun Valley, I wouldn't get bored quite so easily.
 
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4aprice

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So Sun Valley has always been on the bucket list and remains there. I have been to Snowbasin , which is a Sun Valley property, so I get the whole bathroom thing. I felt bad walking in there in ski boots, like it should have been taboo.

Alex

Lake Hopatcong, NJ
 

Whitey

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Sun Valley! My aunt taught me how to drive in her dune buggy when I was 10. In those lots right next to River Run. So I I am biased. I think that place is great.

MikeStaple - Around when was that? I spent a couple of winters in SV in the late '80s/early '90s. Just wondering if we were there around the same time. Of course I was in my 20's and you said you were 10 - so we probably weren't hanging out in the same places anyway (I was usually at Whiskey Jacques, Slavey's, or Grumpy's. . . or skiing).

Plus - who the hell has a dune buggy in Sun Valley?
 

mikestaple

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Ha. Old school. That was late 70s. Ketchum wasn't as built up

She's still out there. Went in the late 50s when they were actively recruiting "girls" to be med techs at the hospital. Which was part of the resort. Was out there when Miller and Hemingway were still stomping around.

I remember running around the late great River Street Retreat basement w the siblings while mom and dad had drinks at the proper bar upstairs.




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