Favorite blue runs on baldy

Sun Valley Ski Resort dawns its patterned apron of ski trails draped over Bald Mountain, snugged right up to the town of Ketchum.

“Baldy”, as it is affectionately referred to by locals, boasts some of the very best intermediate “Blue” runs of any ski hill in the country, and it’s no surprise, considering the resort’s state-of-the-art grooming fleet and the remarkably sustained pitch of the mountain itself.  A true cruiser’s resort, Sun Valley’s myriad of blues will keep the burn in your legs from first chair to last, regardless of the current conditions. Visiting skiers and snowboarders should be advised, however, that while these blues are spacious, well trimmed, and rarely crowded, they are on the steep side of the spectrum.  

Eat your Wheaties, tighten your boots, and get ready for some wind in your hair.

Start Your Engines

If you’re starting your day on the River Run side of the mountain, as most folks do, hop on the gondola, speed up to the Roundhouse, and jump aboard Christmas Chair.  This chair will provide you with a bird’s-eye scouting view of some blues that will offer the best sun exposure and light in the morning.  Slide down “Ridge” to get your legs warmed up, and then drop into any number of coaster blues, including Blue Grouse and Cut-Off.  Grab the first cat track you see, and swing right back to the base of the Christmas Chair and take another lap up.  

This time, dip off to the south and get some serious sun on your face…and some snow. Christmas Ridge, Christmas Bowl, and Wolverton are all adjacent blues that offer a diversity of ripping corduroy and playful edge terrain.  

As the sun reaches a little higher, your belly whining for calories, cruise right by the Christmas Chair and dip down Canyon, towards the bottom half of the mountain.  This is an exceptionally steep blue, so be prepared for a bit of leg-burn.  The long, narrow braid of corduroy well earns its name, as you feel like you’re in something of a glorified ditch.  If you’re feeling saucy, cruise off the edges a little bit and gain the sensation of riding a half-pipe.

Afternoon Burners

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After some nutrition at River Run Lodge, make your way back to the top of Baldy and tear into the Warm Springs side of the mountain.  By afternoon, the sun is glowing the groomers over here, and you’re loose and ready to rip.  

Upper Warm Springs is a playful blue with some varied pitches, all of which are on the steep side.  Ride it all the way to the bottom if you’re looking to stack some vert statistics.  Or, get on the  I-80 cat track, which is arguably the funnest cat track on Earth, and traverse the side of the mountain to access Flying Squirrel, a local’s favorite blue.

If you’ve still got the energy, and you really want to open it up, get on the Greyhawk chair at the base of Warm Springs and sample three of the most famous blue runs in the country—Cozy, Hemingway, and Greyhawk.  These blues are wide open and groomed to perfection on an intermediate pitch.  Emulate the famed GS racers of Sun Valley and put it in fifth gear with some big, arching turns with all the space in the world.

Sun Valley’s Blues are the backbone of the ski hill, and their diversity will keep you busy honing your skills and muscles all day. Each is markedly different than the last—Boredom never breaths on Baldy.

Once you’ve exhausted yourself on the mountain, head down to enjoy apres-ski in Ketchum. Then hit the sack and do it all over again tomorrow.

About Brett Wilson