Brought to you by Sun Valley Resort
While most resorts have put expansion projects on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, Idaho’s Sun Valley Resort recently debuted a major terrain expansion and lift upgrade for the 2020/21 season. Called the Sunrise expansion, this upgrade adds 380 skiable acres of advanced, ungroomed terrain to Bald Mountain, the centerpiece of the resort’s skiing and riding experience.
The Sunrise expansion includes Sunrise Bowl, the Glades, Chutes, and Numbers. Sunrise Bowl, so named because it is the first place on the mountain where the sun shines on the winter solstice, offers double black diamond, open-bowl skiing. (Yes, please!) For those looking for a more technical challenge, the Glades offer perfectly-spaced trees and a consistent pitch all the way down to the lift. And for those really looking to push themselves, Numbers offers more tightly-spaced trees, a steeper pitch, and even some pucker-worthy chutes.
The Sunrise expansion is the first significant expansion on Bald Mountain in over 20 years. In addition to opening new terrain, the development also includes an upgrade to Sun Valley’s oldest chairlift, the vintage two-person Cold Springs lift. The Cold Springs lift has been replaced by a modern high-speed quad dubbed Broadway, which doubles the old lift’s uphill skier capacity and rises 1582 feet in just over a mile.
Previous improvements to Bald Mountain include the Roundhouse Express Gondola, which replaced the Exhibition chairlift. This upgrade did not add any new terrain to Sun Valley, but the new gondola installation significantly increased lift capacity. The Exhibition chairlift was a fixed-grip triple, while the Roundhouse Express Gondola can carry up to eight passengers in each cabin.
The first chairlift in the world was installed in Sun Valley in 1936, and although that lift has long since been retired, it still stands in its original location, on a hill northeast of the current ski resort. Additionally, another of Sun Valley’s original chairlifts from the early days of the resort now resides at Mount Eyak Ski Area in Alaska, where it is still in use to this day and holds the record for the oldest operating chairlift in the world.
SKI Magazine rated Sun Valley as the #1 resort in the West for the 2020/21 season, and it’s easy to see why Sun Valley scored the hotly-contested top spot. The aptly-named resort basks in sunshine 80% of the season, features some of the best and most meticulous grooming in the country, and rarely sees lift lines. Sun Valley has an uphill lift capacity of 29,717 skiers per hour, which equates to nearly 500 skiers per minute and creates delightfully short lift lines (and a socially distanced ski experience).
Sun Valley has implemented other measures for the 2020/21 season to promote social distancing and guest safety, including new grab-and-go meal options for guests, increased outdoor seating at base lodges, a new bag check system, modified chairlift loading protocols, and the installation of numerous yurts around the mountain for ski patrol, ski school, and other on-mountain operations.