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Northern Rockies/Alberta Sun Valley questions...

Bill Miles

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Sun Valley just rocks, and always has. Consider at least 4 generations of ski bums have built the place. It has kind of an organic vibe and some of the best infrastructure to be found at any ski area.
You probably won't get bottomless fresh snow, but you can. It won't be the cheapest trip you have taken, but it will be one of the most memorable.
There is absolutely no telling what will happen In the next hour. Won't even start on the adventures I have had there because you won't believe them aanyway. Been there 5 times over almost 60 years, and there has always been one.
Take a pair of narrower all mountain skis, and expect to get blown away by a whole lot of highspeed gray hairs.
Just go, have fun, and pay the credit card bills later.

.
I used to be one of those high speed gray hairs, but am slowing down some.
 

Larry

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How's the skiing late March? Snow ok and crowds thinning out?
 

musicmatters

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I’m going for the 1st time also this year in Feb.
Can you throw out some more dining options?

something more higher end/steak option? Also somehting more casual but still solid options?
 

tch

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OK, a little detour here: There seems to be a lot of love for SV on this thread so maybe this is the place to investigate. I visited several years ago for two days of skiing and found the mountain not much to my liking. It seemed to me that a lot of the runs were subtly (or not so subtly) concave, so that the overall effect was a bit like skiing all the time in a half-pipe. It appeared to me that most of the cut runs ran in gulley's rather than on ridges or faces. Personally, I really don't like that kind of skiing; I'd much rather ski on a flat or even convex surface which (to me) allows for a greater variety of turn shape and size.

Am I wrong? Or is there skiing I didn't find (although I felt like I explored pretty fully)? Does more snow fill in the terrain more fully? It is admittedly, a personal preference, but after I visited, I felt no real need to return. Thoughts/comments?

BTW, I would second the commentary that SV has some of the steepest green runs I've found anywhere. Seattle Ridge did not feel like "beginner" terrain.
 

teejaywhy

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Can anyone recommend where to park for best tailgate lunch access? The Upper lot at the Warm Springs base looks promising.
 
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kitchener

kitchener

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Sun Valley just rocks, and always has. Consider at least 4 generations of ski bums have built the place. ...Just go, have fun, and pay the credit card bills later.

Perfect advice. And after Telluride a few years back, anything else will almost be the "discount rack," lol. (mind you, that trip was epic). Love your point about 4 generations of ski bums -- as a history nut, and knowing its pre-war Union Pacific/Averill Harriman vintage, I've always assumed Sun Valley must be refined to perfection by now. Maybe I'll wear my Norwegian Fisherman's sweater over top of my jacket for a real old-timey look, ha ha ha (though I tend to trip on air pockets in the lift line so wool and snow....).
 
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kitchener

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Sun Valley = steep groomers and sustained vertical. Nice mountain but I prefer its sister resort Snowbasin because of its more diverse terrain and better odds for powder. Ketchum, however, is awesome. Best ski town in America hands down. Not to nerd out but the library is a treasure — a beautiful monument to Hemingway and a great place to spend some downtime if you need some escape from snow and cold beer.

I forgot Sun Valley and Snowbasin were related. I love Snowbasin -- the place we stayed on that trip (in Eden 20 minutes away) had an actual dedicated home theater room (the type that's sloped with theater seating, et al) -- prior to arrival the four of us had a big plan that each night, one of us would pick a movie. But, we go to ski bell-to-bell on these trips, so there wasn't one night where any of us made it past 10 pm before falling asleep in said theater seating. Catch with Snowbasin (ran into this last year on our trip to Mount Bachelor) is you can't stay there or near there, and with one non-skiing spouse and her just-ski-the-mornings green skier, splitting the rental car is tricky (hence the original shuttle question).

Love the library suggestion, knowing Hemingway's relationship to the area (among others). The non-skiing spouse will love that suggestion, too.
 

Tom K.

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Great feedback, all. Just what we were looking for. Suffering sticker shock at 4 bedroom condos at Big Sky, and based on your advice, doesn't seem like we have to "settle" for Sun Valley at all (we're late 50's/early 60's like @Matt Merritt -- well, I'm 39 and holding, but my grip is weakening).

For not cheap but not crazy accomodations, check out Pennay's near the River Run base. They'll transport you over and/or back on a snowmobile.


About the steepest green runs I have seen.

Yup. Clearly "marketing green" to keep families looking at trail maps in July while planning this year's trip from crossing SV off the list. Anywhere else, these are blue runs.

How's the skiing late March? Snow ok and crowds thinning out?

Oh boy, if you hit things right, late March can provide some of the best corn skiing anywhere on the planet. Groomers, bowls, bumps.....

Can anyone recommend where to park for best tailgate lunch access? The Upper lot at the Warm Springs base looks promising.

Warms Springs lot, though that does make for a chilly start first thing in the morning.

As for snow, you might get lucky like we did a few years ago (see photo) but as a local friend of mine likes to remind people, it's called Sun Valley, not Snow Valley.

SV Rover.JPG
 

LiquidFeet

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Sun Valley just rocks, and always has. Consider at least 4 generations of ski bums have built the place. It has kind of an organic vibe and some of the best infrastructure to be found at any ski area.
You probably won't get bottomless fresh snow, but you can. It won't be the cheapest trip you have taken, but it will be one of the most memorable.
There is absolutely no telling what will happen In the next hour. Won't even start on the adventures I have had there because you won't believe them aanyway. Been there 5 times over almost 60 years, and there has always been one.
Take a pair of narrower all mountain skis, and expect to get blown away by a whole lot of highspeed gray hairs.
Just go, have fun, and pay the credit card bills later.

.
...and enjoy the sterling silver water dispensers in the main lodge.
 
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kitchener

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If you do that, you should go really old-school.... @kitchener and friend skiing at Sun Valley?

View attachment 214497

Nailed it! Wayne and I.

We always do these Dads-only/No Wives/No kids weeks as a group of four, but the other two tend to vary. This year the never-ever college buddy who went last season to Bachelor (no doubt picturing Soddom and Gamorrah based on the theme) surprised me this season in saying he wanted to come again (and that's who's poisoning the water hole with a spouse ha ha ha). He found at Bachelor we really do go to ski, but he was just fine skiing in the morning, schlepping to Bend in the afternoon, back to pick us up with the lifts closed, and then working through two bottles of high-end bourbon in the evenings.

We're still working on who's taking the traditional 4th spot (another college buddy is waiting for his.... GOUT! to clear up, to decide).

IMG_2060.jpeg
 
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kitchener

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Yikes, lift pass rude awakening -- thought we were going to do the Ikon 4-day pass plus one daily day at the resort (skiing 5 days), but learned Sun Valley doesn't participate in the 4-day pass. Was looking at late February and their $1,159 (5 of 7 day) pass is $230 a day. Gads!! Beaver Creek isn't even that much (which is on Epic regardless).

I ASSUME there's no other angle for Sun Valley lift passes, has to be full-pop resort price or Ikon's full season pass (which I'll be able use no where else...)...?

Also, if we back up our week out there, the price drops from $1,159 (5 of 7 day) to $878 -- but that's straddling President's Day weekend. That can be pretty bad in our local Poconos ski area -- how bad is it at Sun Valley? Standing in long lift lines at a destination ski resort is enough to make me search elsewhere.
 
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bpratt

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Yikes, lift pass rude awakening -- thought we were going to do the Ikon 4-day pass plus one daily day at the resort (skiing 5 days), but learned Sun Valley doesn't participate in the 4-day pass. Was looking at late February and their $1,159 (5 of 7 day) pass is $230 a day. Gads!! Beaver Creek isn't even that much (who are on Epic regardless).

I ASSUME there's no other angle for Sun Valley lift passes, has to be full-pop resort price or Ikon's full season pass (which I'll be able use no where else...)...?

Also, if we back up our week out there, the price drops from $1,159 (5 of 7 day) to $878 -- but that's straddling President's Day weekend. That can be pretty bad in our local Poconos ski area -- how bad is it at Sun Valley? Standing in long lift lines at a destination ski resort is enough to make me search elsewhere.

For passes your least expensive (not cheap) option is the Ikon Base Plus pass, currently running $1200 I think. Of course, that covers a lot more than a week at Sun Valley. Or you can get the Mountain Collective pass, although I don't know how the math would work on that one if you don't buy it early and choose the 3rd "free" day as Sun Valley.

I wouldn't worry about lift lines. On holiday weekends they'll typically top out at 10-15 minutes, and that's for the most crowded lifts at the most crowded times (Seattle Ridge right before lunch). The busiest days are typically 6,000-7,000 people, and that's for a mountain with an uphill capacity of close to 30,000 people per hour. A more normal day is 2,000-3,000 skiers. For perspective, the attached picture was taken on the Saturday of President's Day weekend this year, Feb 18, at 1pm. pictured is the view up the hill of middle Greyhawk, a blue run on the Warm Springs side of the mountain. On the far left side of the image you can see an empty chairlift, although that high speed quad was replaced this summer with a six-pack. IMG_3715.jpg
 
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Bill Miles

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Yikes, lift pass rude awakening -- thought we were going to do the Ikon 4-day pass plus one daily day at the resort (skiing 5 days), but learned Sun Valley doesn't participate in the 4-day pass. Was looking at late February and their $1,159 (5 of 7 day) pass is $230 a day. Gads!! Beaver Creek isn't even that much (who are on Epic regardless).

I ASSUME there's no other angle for Sun Valley lift passes, has to be full-pop resort price or Ikon's full season pass (which I'll be able use no where else...)...?

Also, if we back up our week out there, the price drops from $1,159 (5 of 7 day) to $878 -- but that's straddling President's Day weekend. That can be pretty bad in our local Poconos ski area -- how bad is it at Sun Valley? Standing in long lift lines at a destination ski resort is enough to make me search elsewhere.
Presidents weekend is a bit busier than usual, but not bad.
 

Matt Merritt

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Presidents weekend is a bit busier than usual, but not bad.
...and would likely be less crowded that most any top-tier alternatives that week, too. I skied Steamboat for the first time last season and the lines (and the resort's liftline management) were awful and that wasn't even a holiday weekend.
 

Bill Miles

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Can anyone recommend where to park for best tailgate lunch access? The Upper lot at the Warm Springs base looks promising.
That is the best although it helps to get there early to get a good spot. If you are coming from the South, it is another 20 minutes or so compared to River Run.

If you get there early, you can get a good spot adjacent to the nearest run, where there is short hike up to the run and you can ski back to your car.
 

Bill Miles

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Me too! My first time ever so I'm super-curious. Meeting friends there so will take a shuttle to/from the airport to their rental place. Provided that puddle-jumper lands, of course…
They usually make it, but if not it is usually a bus from Twin Falls, about 70 miles South.
 

Bill Miles

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I’m going for the 1st time also this year in Feb.
Can you throw out some more dining options?

something more higher end/steak option? Also somehting more casual but still solid options?
I like the Pioneer for steak, don't know if I would call it higher end, though. It is pretty casual. Biggest problem is that they don't do reservations and wait can get pretty long.
 

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