Community September 27, 2019

Bald Mountain Expansion Update

Sun Valley Resort to put in new lift, snowmaking guns, and expanded terrain

Anyone who has skied Bald Mountain in Sun Valley, Idaho, will soon see a dream come true; even more terrain added to this world-class ski resort. A ski area within a ski area, work on the Bald Mountain Expansion has been underway since summer 2017 to add over 380 acres of skiable terrain to the mountain. The project is expected to be finished in the fall of 2020 for the 2020-2021 ski season and will feature a new lift, increased snowmaking, and access to new and extended runs.

The current Cold Springs ski area is serviced by the Cold Springs (#4 lift), the oldest lift still operating at the resort. The Bald Mountain Expansion serves the dual purpose of replacing this lift while also adding new terrain to the mountain.

“The lift was due for an upgrade and in looking at replacing that, we looked at how the ski area could be enhanced and how the guest experience could be improved,” said Peter Stearns, Sun Valley Resort’s director of Mountain Operations. “It’s something that’s been considered for a long time.”

The terrain that will be accessed is in both U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management areas as well as within the current Sun Valley Ski Area Special Use Permit. Finally accessing this terrain will increase offerings from the beginner and intermediate range to advanced.

“It’s an opportunity to embrace some additional terrain within our existing special use permit,” said Stearns.

The #4 Cold Springs chairlift will remain in place for the 2019-2020 season and be replaced during summer of 2020 with a new, high-speed detachable lift that will provide transport to The Roundhouse restaurant, the Roundhouse Express Gondola, and the Christmas (#3) chairlift. It will have a vertical rise of 1,582 feet and will be 5,535 feet long. The new lift has not yet been ordered as Sun Valley Company goes through the process of corresponding with several manufacturers who will need to survey the terrain before submitting bids.

In terms of new terrain, the Lower Broadway ski run will be extended another 4,200 feet with similar width and gradient as the existing ski run. The run will be lined with at least 25 highly efficient snowmaking guns. Access will be from the top of Seattle Ridge where skiers and riders can descend into “Turkey Bowl” and proceed north for access to extensive tree skiing. The new acreage will feature a combination of steep chutes, tree skiing, and open bowls. Skiable acreage within the Sun Valley Resort boundary will increase from 2,054 acres to 2,434 acres—an addition of 380 acres—when the project is done.

“We’re really excited about the extension of Lower Broadway because we’re starved for that kind of terrain,” Stearns said. “It’ll be good for lower and intermediates that normally would ski Broadway, and the snow sports schools can use it for instruction. The majority of the 380 acres out there is undeveloped, and we’re considering it advanced and expert skiing.”

The project began in summer 2017 with fieldwork and an environmental assessment. The following summer saw the re-routing and re-construction of the Cold Springs mountain bike trail (completed July 2018), grading and site preparation of the Cold Springs Canyon area and timber work done on the Lower Broadway area. Over summer 2019, additional snowmaking guns were placed along Lower Broadway and tree thinning and glading took place in the Cold Springs area.

This article appears in the Fall 2019 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.