Sun Valley Opens with a New Gondola

Thousands gather to kickoff ski season in Idaho and play with their new toys, including a new gondola and brand new park features.
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Sun Valley Gondola

“What the hell is a ‘Gondola ‘Ganza,’” I thought to myself as I headed into the overflowing parking lot at the base of Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain. I figured the name was just an attempt to dress up the ribbon cutting ceremony of Sun Valley’s latest edition to its lift infrastructure. Needless to say, I was a bit surprised to see the thousands who had gathered to kickoff the Idaho ski season and take a free spin on the new toy. The atmosphere was nothing short of electric, with the gondola line stretching several hundred yards beyond the end of the corral. In addition to the main feature of the gondola, Snow Park Technologies had set up mini-park at the base—a preview of revamped parks that will be features on Bald and Dollar Mountains this season.

For Sun Valley locals, however, this is more than just a lift-christening party. The event marked the beginning of an entirely new, more progressive attitude at Sun Valley. After the management overhaul that took place this spring, Sun Valley has emerged as a resort eager to redefine itself. It’s clear that the winds of change are blowing in Sun Valley, and the first destination resort in America is set to regain its status as a landmark in American skiing.

Here's a video of opening day.

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Sun Valley

Sun Valley’s terrain—ranging from high-speed rippers to wide-open bowls—never gets old.

Bald Mountain’s shady north face is named after the hot springs-fed creek that runs through the base area. The signature run, Warm Springs, is one of the classic groomer descents in the country. If you can’t have fun on Warm Springs, you need a fresh tune and a ski lesson. This is not the place to slide a turn or suck at skiing. Few things compare to over 3,000 vertical feet of high-speed GS turns down this alley. Your legs will tremble and your lips will quiver with a strange mix of terror, excitement, and exhaustion. Warm Springs will make you remember that like powder, carving is pretty damn exhilarating. Plus, if you luck out with a fat storm with southwest flow, The Burn, the sidecountry zone created by the 2007 Castle Rock wildfire just off Warm Spring’s western boundary, is some of the best powder skiing in the country.

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It’s a simple existence in Sun Valley, Idaho. Ski, party, repeat. But combine a demanding mountain with celebrity sightings and seemingly bottomless schooners of beer, and spending time at America’s most storied ski resort is anything but easy. Here’s a guide to doing it right.