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How Come I Never Hear About Sun Valley?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
It's one of America's classics. Warren Miller started his career there. A lot of glitterati in the area. How's the skiing?

And yes I do know about the search function, but it's summer fer cryin' out loud and I'm more focused on the Yankees game (go Blue Jays!).

Sorry about the spelling gaffe in the title. I can't figure out how to edit that.
post #2 of 28
Quote:
Sorry about the spelling gaffe in the title.
fixed it
post #3 of 28
Hmm. Interesting question. It's all about the groomed and the bumps there as far as I can tell (when it comes to skiing). I've skied there a couple times and it is indeed a fantastic mountain, but in relation to the growing segments of the industry, it just doesn't have that kind of image.

Maybe it's got such a rich and great history they rely more on that to draw the rich, famous and other folks who can afford property there. Their marketing may be different from resorts that are battling it out for market share of skier days, given that there isn't really anything else close to it like the Colo & Utah resorts. I have thought about this a few times. I do see adds, but certainly don't "hear" about it. Sun Valley (last I checked) hadn't shown much interest at all in the Park scene.

What I remember from the first time I went, was that I kept expecting to come around the corner and see the bottom, but I just kept going around corners and seeing another long unending section of very wide, perfectly groomed 'roy to rip. That and I didn't have a good guage of how fast I was going until it was time to stop. Good Sun Valley skiers do tend to ski pretty fast (in general).

I've never made a Pow day there, but I bet it would be better than good.
post #4 of 28
120" annual snowfall = sunshine, groomers, ice and bumps. It's sort of like the ultimate east coast ski area.

The sawtooths are nice though.
post #5 of 28
IMO, this is a great post.

bjohansson.....You beat me to it. Honest to God, I was going to ask the same question. Never hear much about it.

Here is what I know (very little), but interesting in a way because what I know has already been addressed in the first 2 replies.......

My boss who is 50 years old and likes things, well, upper level, went to Sun Valley about 3 years or 4 years ago. He loved it and said he would go back. Nice restaurants, lodging, lodges and expensive was his comments. He also said the grooming was perfect and FAST!!! He highlighted.....FAST!!!! Just what ROTO said in his post.

Then Harry Morgan says "sort of like the ultimate east coast ski area." Exactly!!! I have always imagined that Sun Valley would ski much like Sugarloaf. Sugarloaf gets groomed to perfection and the vertical is 2,800 feet. Not quite as much as Sun Valley, but close.

Also I would add this.....Mind you, I have not skied Sun Valley, but, when I skied Solitude last year the weather was bright sunshine, warm and the mountain was groomed to perfection and skiing FAST!!! All day long I was saying to myself in a dreamy sort of way......"This must be what Sun Valley is like." All day I was thinking that, then reality sat in......"nope, this is Solitude!!."

Very interesting couple of posts.

Harry, tell us about the Sawtooths??........Tell us about Sun Valley........
post #6 of 28
I live in the the Sun Valley area (Hailey) and average 60 days a year on Baldy. Here is my summary of Sun Valley Skiing:
Cons:
Does not have the snow quality or quantity of most Utah or Colorado areas. About 220" average per year + extensive snowmaking. Not really for the powder hounds.

A bit on the expensive side (expecially for season passes) but not as bad overall as Aspen or Vail, IMHO.

A little hard to get to.

Good average, uniform steepness, but doesn't have a lot of real steep stuff like Jackson or Snowbird.

Baldy not very good for beginners (many greens would be blues most other places).There is a separate learning mountain (Dollar) but it is sort of small. Has been slow lifts but they are putting in HSQ's for this season.

Pros:

Uncrowded top to bottom fast lifts combined with fast groomer skiing previously mentioned results in more vertical per day than any other place I have been (many PNW and Rockies areas.)

Good bump runs also.

Nice weather except for low snowfall.

Ketchum is a pretty neat sort of laid-back town. The Sun Valley Resort itself (on other side of Kecthum from Baldy) is the high dollar area.

For a change of pace, it is a fairly easy half day drive to Jackson or SLC.
post #7 of 28
Not much I can add to what everyone else has said. One of my most memorable ski vacations. I would definitely go back.
post #8 of 28
I've been there twice.

First time over Christmas break: 14" of natural snow to date, mountain bare except for 1 run open due to snowmaking.

Second time - whole mountain open - 14" of fresh each day for 3 days straight.

The views from the top are alone worth the trip. With fresh snow, the mountain is a true gem to ski. Bumps on the green runs were a surprise. So was the tree skiing.

Sun Valley is also the only mountain where I've experienced true "bottomless" powder. Warning - it's effectively quicksand for all but the most skilled skiers.
post #9 of 28
Years ago when I used to patrol in Montana the local hotrods would always have an annual trip to Sun Valley so they could ski really, really fast. That was back in the day when everyone still had a pair of 210s or 215s in the closet. The combination of grooming and banked turn cruising runs always resulted in most of them getting their tickets pulled before the trip was over. To me Sun Valley will always be the Autobaun of ski areas.
post #10 of 28
As one who grooms on Baldy I'll add my two cents. SV markets more to the older set with plenty of money so you won't be seeing it in any snowboard or trendier ski mags. Has a nice superpipe now and is starting to sprout a small rail park but management is not very interested in the younger demographic. Apart from last years Honda Ski Tour there haven't been any major events there in a long time. If you are a celeb and want to be seen you go to Aspen, if you want to hide or blend in you go to SV.
Skiing wise it is all about long fall line groomers and bumps, generally steeper than what a green or a blue would be on another hill and tough on a beginner. Not enough pow days but when they happen the skiing is very good, jello legs by noon which is fine cause unless your a local you won't find any more untracked. Huge snowmaking system keeps the snow fresh and you won't find much ice normally.
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Miles View Post
Does not have the snow quality or quantity of most Utah or Colorado areas. About 220" average per year + extensive snowmaking. Not really for the powder hounds.
I lived in Idaho for several years and every once in while I'd have a friend that just had to ski at SV, so I'd end up going over there. Once I skied at soldier mountain and it snowed all day and by the end of the day there was something like 20" of new snow. The next day we went to sun valley and it was nothing but groomed ice, they didn't get any of the powder that was falling so good just 70 or so miles away. I'll never understand why they put the resort there, it seems to be in a dry spot. I guess it's name is fitting.

Quote:
Good average, uniform steepness, but doesn't have a lot of real steep stuff like Jackson or Snowbird.
Seems about right.
post #12 of 28
I think Bill Miles and canuclkehead nailed it. I love the place and have gone there often. The only downer for me has been the lack of snow from time to time.
post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by UtahPowderPig View Post
I'll never understand why they put the resort there, it seems to be in a dry spot. I guess it's name is fitting.


They put it there because that's where the railroad went. Sun Valley was started by the railroad company as a destination attraction designed to increase passenger business.

Looking at the tops of the Sawtooths from the top of Baldy on a sunny day is kind of like looking out an airplane window at the tops of clouds. The view goes on forever. It's a very pretty place to ski if the snow is good, but you can't spend too much time looking at scenery or you'll nosedive over bumps. I've been fortunate to ski there when there was fresh snow.
post #14 of 28
I guess it depends on who you talk to. In certain circles, you never hear about any ski area other than Sun Valley!

Other than that, the observations above all sound about right to me.

It's as groomed as a TV anchorman, but that's because there's often so little snow it has to be.

Because it's so groomed, people (of all abilities) fly down the main runs.

Very nice lodges.

I don't know about the notion that the area is laid-back with the exception of the Sun Valley resort itself. I got dragged around by a client once to some parties that featured a set that was anything but laid back: more like enough social competitiveness to make a Manhattanite uneasy.
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post
Years ago when I used to patrol in Montana the local hotrods would always have an annual trip to Sun Valley so they could ski really, really fast. That was back in the day when everyone still had a pair of 210s or 215s in the closet. The combination of grooming and banked turn cruising runs always resulted in most of them getting their tickets pulled before the trip was over. To me Sun Valley will always be the Autobaun of ski areas.
I think my one (and only day) skiing SV must have been before you. I was working at Jackson that year, and went to SV the day after we closed; took my 208 cm Volkls and did nice fast GS turns (you had to be going fast to get them to turn) top to bottom. In those days ('88) it was still OK to go fast, and the times I saw patrol, they just smiled and ripped turns of their own.
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post
They put it there because that's where the railroad went. Sun Valley was started by the railroad company as a destination attraction designed to increase passenger business.

Well, all they had to do would be extend the railroad north about 10 miles. Galena summit gets quite a bit more snow than SV. But it makes sense that they didn't put the ski area there because of snow conditions.
post #17 of 28
There probably wasn't much in the way of snow accumulation data available in the 1930s either. The tracks were where they were and the land was granted to the railroad, if I recall correctly, for nothing.
post #18 of 28
Just to second and third what others have said. I've been there several times over the years, always at someone else instigation. For me, the place just doesn't get the stoke-o-meter up of the peg. To be fair there really is some nice skiing. On the Warm Springs side Limelight is a 3000' fall line thigh burner. Christmas bowl all the way down to the Cold Springs lift is another very good 2500' fall line run, and the famous Sun Valley bowls are a hoot when the snow is good. Also the place almost always has good visibility. Even on snowy days you never get that socked in white-out stuff like we get in the PNW. Free shuttle system. great on mountain lodges, excellent lift system,and a great place for single people to hook up. Even though I grumble when someone says "lets do SV again" I always have a good time.
post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 
On my list of places I have to ski, at least in North America, only Sun Valley, Jackson Hole, Sugarloaf, Le Massif, and Whistler/Blackcomb don't have a check mark beside them.

Probably not going to get to any of them this year.:::
post #20 of 28
Well I must be getting soft - some pics of SV
Ketchun and The town of Sun Valley from Baldy


The Sawtooths

the bowls from Seattle Ridge

the Seattle Ridge Warming Hut
post #21 of 28
Damn! Looks good. And a 5-hour drive from Salt Lake?
Maybe not this coming season because the trip is only for eight days of skiing, but if I can plan a two-weeker it might include say two days at SV.
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by quickfoot View Post
Well I must be getting soft - some pics of SV
Ketchun and The town of Sun Valley from Baldy
Those pictures are pretty telling about SV. The trees have no snow on them, and now fresh powder on any of the mountains. IMHO, it looks like it hasn't snowed in a while in these pictures. Who know's, maybe they were taken in March and it's 50 degrees making the ice bareable to ski on.

I guess it might look good to somebody who doesn't ski very often, but if Snowbird was looking like that, it would probably be a day that I'd bring my daughter up and give her lessons on the chickadee lift.
post #23 of 28
Sun Valley is a great mountain that just doesn't get quite enough snow. But when it's good, it's really good.

When the Union Pacific Railroad developed the resort, all of the skiing was on Dollar!
Averil Harriman and Count Schaffgotsch didn't want tons of snow. They wanted to ski in the sun, hence Sun Valley.
They were just very lucky that nearby Baldy was such a great mountain.
post #24 of 28
Quote:
They were just very lucky that nearby Baldy was such a great mountain.
I don't know that I completely agree. IMHO, they were lucky that they could market it as a place for the rich and famous. Mountain-wise Baldy is not that special. But if it's a place where movie stars go, then *everybody* just has to go there ( and pay their inflated prices ). LOL, seems kind of silly to me.
post #25 of 28

This is very old, but I am bringing it back to life!!  As someone who owns a condo there (my family has owned it for about 6 years now) I am kind of forced to go there.  I am not complaining.  I have been going since I was about 12 and I have always had a blast.  I have pretty much figured out what the crowds like to ski, so i can ski those runs in the morning and then ski my favs in the afternoon.  The weather is always great and just like everyone has said, you always go fast.  Now they have terrain parks and jumps and pipes over on dollar mountain so I love that.  I do ski that kind of stuff, maybe once a day just for a laugh, but its good to get a quickly growing group of people out of the way.  

 

The one question I have is for any locals or anyone who skis there a lot.  When the bowls are not in good condition (i.e. THE SPRING) the only place that I have been able to find powder is off the back side of warm springs.  Like when you are at the top and heading over to International, just keep going straight, up and over the the back side and its a nice long pow tree run all the way down to the bottom.  You end up on board loop lane and then have to take warm springs road back to the base.  This is a little bit difficult, so are there any other secrets of the mountain?

post #26 of 28

batman.bmp

post #27 of 28

Indeed. But since this has been revived, I'd like to ask the SV people about skiing off the mountain. What's the touring like in the area? And isn't there a heli op there? How does that work if there's not a lot of snow?

post #28 of 28

YO !

 

 

Nail ?  CVJ ?

 

Where are you when we need you ?

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