Sun Valley Ski Resort – Terrain

A skier cuts across a groomer at Sun Valley Ski Resort in Ketchum, Idaho.
Courtesy Denver Post

Don’t let the glitz and glam lull you into an impression that Sun Valley is anything less than a serious, world class ski mountain. Up on Bald Mountain there is plenty of hard core terrain for advanced and expert skiers alike. The mountain is quite expanse with various exposures allowing you to chase the sun from Seattle Ridge in the morning to Warm Springs in the early afternoon.

Bald Mountain is really for very strong intermediate skiers and up. The green runs you see on the map just mean easiest route, NOT beginner terrain. Even the blue runs can become quite steep and do require some skill and athletic ability to navigate. If you’re unsure, start out at Dollar Mountain for a few days, and perhaps grab a guide on your first day at Bald Mountain to ensure you don’t get in over your head. There are some easier routes, and roads to get you around.

Many hard core advanced skiers select places like Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Palisades, Revelstoke, etc and overlook Sun Valley, which by the way is great for short / non existent lift lines. The resort offers diverse aspects from glades off of Midway, tree cut groomers off most all lifts, bumps, and the occasional double diamond steep shot. By the way, this is one of the only places you find true bumps anymore, as Sun Valley is skier dominant over snowboarders. So if you miss those round, well cut moguls… Sun Valley is worth a visit.

Bald Mountain

Intermediates – Sun Valley is a perfect resort for strong intermediate skiers. Whether you want to challenge yourself with steeper, accessible blue runs or just stay in your comfort zone – Sun Valley delivers. You can really ski the entire mountain from Seattle Ridge, Christmas, Frenchmans, and Warm Springs. There is a ton of variety of pitches and aspects to keep you wanting to come back year after year. If you’re a new intermediate skier, try some of the open runs at Dollar Mountain to get your legs going.

Seattle Ridge offers great views and wide open groomers for intermediate skiers of all levels

Advance Skiers – Wayne Wong made Bald Mountain a legend in his appearances on Warren Miller’s feature films; Ripping up Exhibition, bouncing from mogul to mogul, somehow keeping his feet under him on the soft and forgiving snow. Other local legends include Olympic Gold Medalist Picabo Street who now has a super fun black diamond run named after her starting off of the top of Lookout.

The great thing about Sun Valley is that the mountain offers the type of ski conditions, snow quality, sunshine, and groomed run that 90% of all advanced skiers seek out and enjoy. Yes, you can head out into the trees on a powder day, or bash the bumps until your knee surgeon tells you to stop. But let’s face it – we really enjoy those long, steep(ish) groomers that offer us that roller-coaster feel cruising from turn to turn with perfectly carved turns. You will have a grin for 3,000 vertical feet when you cruise from the top of Lookout down to Warm Springs.

Skiing powder at Sun Valley
Long Steep Runs – Start up on Midway

Expert Skiers

Expert skiers will also love Sun Valley, especially when the snow is new and soft. There are amazing steep bowls, glades, and tight trees to rip up. You can venture out into backcountry type terrain off of Seattle Ridge – best to know where you’re going and you need a friend or guide for sure. Or, head out on the steep open glades starting up on Midway and then shoot under Broadway Lift. There’s lot’s to explore from each chair at Sun Valley and you’ll keep amused on most any day. I didn’t get the chance to ski powder here, but I’m sure it’s overt the top good when it hits.

Dollar Mountain

Sun Valley Resort opens more terrain on Dollar
Dollar Mountain – Great Place to Learn to Ski

Beginners and learn to ski – new skiers and boarders will love that the learning area is completely separated from the main Bald Mountain resort. This offers learners an unhurried and sequestered experience. You can get all of your rentals, lessons, lunch and more all at Dollar Mountain. This is great for kids of all ages, families, and everyone looking to try skiing for the first time. Since Sun Valley has more sunny days than most resorts, you’re likely to catch a bluebird day to get things started on the right foot.