Life on the Mountain
Tips for Surviving the Holiday Onslaught
The holidays in Sun Valley can be a totally insane, hectic, pull-your-hair-out, stand-in-line-for-fifteen-minutes-just-to-get-a-carton-of-milk-at-the-grocery-store time. But they are also a time of beauty and family, powder days and packed chairlifts. So here are a few tips on how to survive (and make the best out of) the busiest days of skiing in Sun Valley.
1. As you’re standing in the lift line behind a red Bogner one-piece, a couple park rats from Colorado, and three instructors with their private lessons, remember this is the ONLY TIME of year that you will ever stand in line on Bald Mountain. One of the absolute pleasures of our mountain is the lack of crowds and lift lines, so don’t whine about the lines during the holiday week, your secret powder stashes will still be there in January, I promise.
2. A hot dog at Irving’s Red Hots is the cheapest, fastest lunch on the mountain. If you are looking for a quick bite, head straight to Irving’s at the base of Warm Springs, the classic hot dog stand serves up red dogs and chilidogs that never disappoint.
3. The classic mid-mountain lodge, Roundhouse, has undergone a revitalization. Last season, the opening of Averell’s Bar was a hit and this season, Sun Valley Company is offering weekend dinners accessed via the gondola. The moonlit dinners at Roundhouse are said to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience (more information and reservations at www.sunvalley.com) and the cheese fondue at Averell’s is a great midday, on-mountain snack. Speaking of Averell’s Bar, Roundhouse Slope, the short, perfectly-pitched run below the lodge is always well-groomed, empty and has perfect corduroy for a few big, fast GS turns. Head there early and often. It may be short, but Roundhouse Slope is one of the most fun, least skied, little runs on the mountain.
Left: Typically you won't wait in line at Baldy—except for Christmas week. Right: Incredible views are all around you on May Day Chair, don't forget to stop and enjoy the scenery.
4. The first place to go on a powder morning is sometimes no further than Christmas Bowl or College South Slopes. Due to their lower elevation, the snow tends to stay softer longer, and due to the flow of folks straight to the bowls, Christmas and College South Slopes might just be the best place to hit on a powder day.
5. On that note, when you do head to the bowls, don’t gripe about good ole’ May Day Chair, it’s slow speed is saving your quads and your powder!
6. Chat with the ticket checkers and the lifties or at the very least say hi. They are what makes the mountain go ‘round.
Apres skiing at Apple's Bar and Grill at the base of Warm Springs St. Patty's Day 2010.
7. Avoid Upper College in the late afternoon. It gets skied out and overcrowded really fast. It can be dangerous and if you can’t avoid it, ski with caution.
8. Après at Apple’s. They almost always have ski racing on TV and you’ll find the beer, the mellow vibe and the company at Apple’s at the base of Warm Springs, the perfect spot for après-ski.
9. The ringing bell at Warm Springs Lodge may bring kids out of the nooks and crannies of the entire lodge, but it does not mean recess. It means cookies. Listen for that bell; it rings when the homemade chocolate cookies are ready and out of the oven.
10. The fences that read, “SLOW” at the bottom of Flying Squirrel mean exactly that and are there for a reason. Go slow!
11. My dad met a women on the chairlift who came to Sun Valley from Bozeman, Montana because he had heard so much about this place, its history, the skiing, the company, the beauty, and the epic views. She was having a nice time, enjoying her stay at the lodge and the great service. But she just couldn’t understand why everyone raved about the scenery. Where were these views? They were riding up Lookout Express and coming up over Ridge. My ever polite, accommodating Dad patiently waited until they came up out of the trees and told her to turn around. She looked around her and gasped. There they were—mountain range after mountain range, peak after peak of stunning view. The moral of the story is (and the most important tip to surviving the holidays in Sun Valley) never forget to stop and look around you, the view is amazing.