IN THIS SECTION
#SVGram [pg. 2]
Cranking It Up! [pg. 3]
Go with the Flow [pg. 4]
Enjoying the Whitewater State [pg. 5]
The Higher You Get [pg. 6]
Places, Faces and Parties of Sun Valley
BY KATE ELGEE
We scoured Instagram to find some of the best sunsets, mountaintops, costume parties, concerts, selfies and familiar faces of Sun Valley, taken by our local snapshotting “photographers.” Here’s a collection of some of the best “SVGrams” of 2013. Follow us on Instagram at @sunvalleymagazine and be sure to caption your photos #SVGram and #sunvalleymag. You may end up in our next magazine!
Left: @maximilianbilliontrillion #mountaincolors / Right: @foxenvogue #aprésbabes
Left: @svsun_villain #PahsimeroiValley #linesfordays / Right: @maximilianbilliontrillion #CongratsKaitlynFarrington!
Left: @nataliaaferris #grandmasbasement / Right: @chathambaker #nicedayforadip
Left: @abalicious #wigginout / Right: @charski27 #golfSV #HunterStorey
Cranking It Up!
Billy Olson Helps Build a Mountain Bike Community
BY ALEC BARFIELD
When asked about the bicycling community in Sun Valley, Billy Olson wants to talk about Dutch cycling infrastructure. The owner of Hailey’s Power House Pub and Bike Fit Studio, squinted at a flat-screen TV mounted inside of “mission control,” his cottage-like bike shop that sits behind the pub. Olson’s excitement was palpable as he played a YouTube clip about the creation of Holland’s pedal-friendly communities. A biker of all types, a bike fitter for all types, a bar owner and a race organizer, Olson’s passion for bicycles and the culture they breed is as strong as Power House’s numerous Belgian Tripels.
Without a doubt, Billy Olson is a humdinger whose contributions to Sun Valley’s biking community have been numerous and unmistakable. His choice to plant roots in Hailey can be found in his first trip here. “I visited for a weekend in 1991,” explained Olson, who had been cycling competitively in Europe and living in the Netherlands. “I went on a ride and was blown away by the quality of the trails and the experience.”
Besides finding heroic backcountry singletrack, Olson also visited the merry deck of Grumpy’s, where he found even more reasons to stay. “They were young people having fun. People that I liked,” he said. “It had nothing to do with skiing or biking. As far as those guys go, it was more about just having fun.” Understandably, it was a combination of the two that turned a weekend visit into a lifetime stay.
When Olson landed in Idaho, Sun Valley was already home to a respectable share of fat tire converts. “It was cool, super cool,” he recalled. The technology, however, was minimal. “I look at those bikes now and can’t believe that we were so brave. The trails were radical.”
Yet, charging on fully-rigid “pigs,” as he called those original mountain bikes, they braved everything from the Galena Grinder to Dollar Mountain time trials. As he explained with a laugh, “If you came out alive, it was like, ‘Hell yeah, let’s do it again!’” The clincher, Olson added, is that “when we started, there was nobody.”
Fast-forward 20 years, mountain biking is now mainstream, global and growing. Sun Valley has evolved, too, hosting bigger races, such as USA Cycling’s National Championships (2012 and 2013), and being designated as a Silver-level Ride Center by the International Mountain Bike Association. Yet some things also never change—riding in the Wood River Valley remains primarily a private affair, a lonely wilderness experience of the highest quality.
“It’s the isolation, dude. It’s total isolation,” Olson affirmed. “The best thing is that even though we’re isolated, it’s still advanced. Based on where we’re at, I think it’s pretty rare to get this kind of experience.” Olson likes to strike out towards Croy Canyon, just west of Hailey. “Thirty minutes from my house and I’m in the middle of nowhere,” he said. “Odds are I’m not going to see anybody, even on a Saturday, and that’s unique.”
“Unique” is an apt descriptor for both Olson and his chosen environment. The isolation of Sun Valley supports more than wonderfully empty trails. Isolation has helped curb overdevelopment and population growth. What one finds at Power House—and at Sun Valley’s trailheads—is a bike community that has grown organically, without the pressure of too many interests. Olson and his many compatriots had the opportunity to help grow a culture in a bubble here; a Shangri-la of sorts for those in search of good people, good rides and minimal commercial hogwash.
At a recent municipal focus group, Olson supported measures for traffic reduction and safer bike lanes in Hailey. For him, mountain biking in Sun Valley will take care of itself. The future, in his mind, boils down to constructing a truly bike-friendly community.
Like the Netherlands, where bike commuting is routine, Sun Valley has shown an ability to adapt naturally to a changing world. Passionate locals, devoted to their lonely rides, help supervise the course. “This is our place,” Olson affirmed with a smile. “We can do it.”
Go with the Flow
New Gravity Trails and a World of Fun at the Bald Mountain Recreation Area
BY SVM STAFF
Gravity. Speed. Dips, turns and loops. Nearly 450 miles of continuous singletrack highlights the incredible mountain bike terrain offered in the Sun Valley area—and Bald Mountain has now joined the party. And in typical Sun Valley Resort fashion, they have joined in a big way, offering all the thrill, excitement and perfection of expertly maintained singletrack combined with the ease of lift-accessed service. Welcome to the party!
“Our goal is to create a ‘ski season for the summertime’ by offering a premier lift-accessed trail network to our summer guests,” said Julian Tyo, mountain projects manager. “Another goal of the new trails is to fill a void in the already amazing Wood River Valley trail network. We have nearly 450 miles of bike-accessible singletrack trails in the Valley, and adding to this network completes the picture of a complete mountain bike destination!”
With 32 miles of trail currently open on Bald Mountain and another 12 miles proposed, the joy of perfect trails within an interconnecting system designed to serve all ability levels has become a reality. Designed in cooperation with IMBA Trail Solutions and in partnership with the BLM and U.S. Forest Services, the new trails have been designed following the Green, Blue and Black marking system—from easiest to most difficult—common on ski trails. This allows riders of all abilities to head out together, comfortably ride the trails of their choice and then gather together for lunch at the historic Roundhouse, and then head back out again to continue the looping.
One ticket purchase covers the entire day of lift-accessed service—from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (longer if you want to pedal up by your own power). And bikers can loop as many times as they like, riding a trail multiple times or heading back up to try a different trail each time around. Trails include the 10-mile singletrack Broadway trail to the Warm Springs perimeter trail, or the nine-mile Broadway trail to the Cold Springs singletrack. Both are moderate/intermediate level and offer a 3,100-foot elevation gain/loss. The 3.5-mile hiking and biking Bald Mountain trail is, however, a one-way uphill-only trail for mountain bikers.
But really, why would you ride uphill when you can get whisked up to the top in less than 12 minutes on the Roundhouse Express gondola? From the Roundhouse, riders (or hikers) can take the short and scenic Christmas Chair to the top. At 9,150 feet, it’s an exhilarating 3,400-foot drop on perfectly maintained trails to the base.
If you want to ease into your descent, bikers can enjoy the brand new four-mile Saddle-Up trail—an amazing one-way, bike-only flow trail designed and implemented in cooperation with IMBA Trail Solutions and Alpine Bike Parks. The trail, which encompasses a 1,300-foot elevation gain for riders of moderate to intermediate ability, features the banked turns and rolling terrain of a classic flow trail. And the 8-9 minute Christmas Lift #3 allows riders to loop the trail over and over if they choose—kind of like a free pass on the Millennium Force roller coaster, but a lot more fun!
To add to the experience, the historic Roundhouse, which will be themed as an Idaho alpine grillhouse, will be serving grilled items, fresh seasonal salads, hearty sandwiches and entrées, as well as beer and wine daily. The stunning panoramic outdoor deck offers the best dining in town. For those not looking for a full gourmet lunch experience, Lookout will serve as a snack shack with hot dogs, trail mix, energy bars, other snacks and ice cream. Contact 208.622.2800 for reservations at the Roundhouse (recommended but not required) and visit www.sunvalley.com for more information on hiking and biking trails or to download trail maps.
Enjoying the Whitewater State
Local Rafting and Kayaking Options
BY KATHLEEN KRISTENSON
Idaho has over 3,000 whitewater river miles, more than any other state in the lower 48! Luckily for those of us in Sun Valley, we don’t have to go very far to find some of the best whitewater rafting and kayaking on the planet. The Main Salmon River, the Payette River and the infamous multi-day, Middle Fork “River of No Return” are all relatively short drives from the splendors of Sun Valley.
On the north side of Galena summit, Highway 75 runs parallel to the Main Salmon River. This stretch offers easy access to half-day, full-day or multi-day trips. “The Main Salmon is a great introduction to multi-day trips, offering warm water, sandy beaches and riverside campsites,” said Guy Robins, a guide for Mackay Wilderness Trips. “It’s a great family trip, as it is safe for children ages five and up.” Mackay Wilderness River Trips, as well as White Otter Outdoor Adventures and Idaho River Journeys, offer trips on the Main Salmon.
West of Stanley, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River winds its way 100 miles north through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Trips average in length from five to eight days and they rank among the Top 10 river trips in the world! Remote as it is, the experience need not be rustic. Outfitters like Mackay Wilderness River Trips and Idaho River Journeys provide comfortable accommodations and delicious dining experiences. Far and Away Adventures even offers massages, flannel linens and carpeted tents!
Coveted private permits are also given out using a lottery system to minimize the impact on the environment. The crystal-clear water, stunning scenery, ample wildlife, hot springs and great fly fishing make everyone who gets to float the Middle Fork feel like a lottery winner.
The Payette River, near Boise, is a playground for rafters and kayakers of all ability levels. It attracts boaters from around the world including Ketchum resident Gerry Moffatt, a world-class kayaker originally from Scotland who was drawn to Idaho by the North Fork of the Payette. The North Fork has the most challenging Class V rapids in the lower 48 and because it’s dam-controlled, it runs all summer long. The Payette River Company and Cascade Raft Company offer trips on the Payette.
Rivers are nature’s highways. Some are scenic tours and some are wild rides. Still others are a combination of both. Rafting and kayaking are great ways to get out and enjoy all that Idaho’s waterways have to offer.
Pick your river and then pick your outfitter, or head out on your own. It’s all possible in the “Whitewater State.”
The Higher You Get
Hiking and Climbing Spots throughout the Valley
BY KATHLEEN KRISTENSON
Sun Valley is defined as much by the mountains that surround it as by the space between them. Nestled at the intersection of three scenic mountain ranges (the Pioneer, Smoky and Boulder mountains) with even more nearby (the Sawtooth and White Cloud mountains), the area provides endless opportunities for climbing and hiking, the caliber of which is some of the best in the world. Whether you are looking for a technical adventure or an afternoon stroll through the sagebrush, there is something for everyone.
Located near the border of Utah in southern Idaho, the City of Rocks is known for its unique granite spires. Climbers from around the world are drawn by its easy access to almost 1,000 routes varying in length from one to five pitches. There is an abundance of car camping in the area and the climate makes it desirable as an off-season day trip or overnight adventure for local climbers.C
When summer turns up the heat, it’s time to head into the Sawtooths for some more great climbing. The slabs above Redfish Lake have incredible views and challenging climbs, some requiring a full day commitment. If that’s not enough, “the Pioneers are Idaho’s hidden gem,” explained Marc Hanselman, a guide for Sawtooth Mountain Guides, “and offer several remote alpine climbs of easy difficulty and fantastic exposure, which are seldom ever traveled.”
The Wood River Valley is full of hiking trails, good for lunch breaks or all-day excursions. Carbonate Mountain, on the west edge of Hailey, has a trail up the ridge, as well as switchbacks, and can be completed in a short amount of time. Two other quick hikes, Proctor Ridge and Corral Creek, are east of Sun Valley on Trail Creek Road, as is the longer hike to the historic Pioneer Cabin. On the north side of Ketchum is a network of trails called Adams Gulch and, of course, Bald Mountain has its own options. Hike to the overlook, or Roundhouse for lunch, or all the way to the top. There are three choices for getting back down Baldy: hike, take the gondola or fly in a tandem paraglider with Fly Sun Valley.
The right gear can make or break any experience. You can rent or buy basic climbing gear at The Elephant’s Perch in Ketchum and can find camping and hiking gear at Backwoods or Sturtevants in Ketchum or Sturtos in Hailey. If you prefer to have someone else handle the details of your trip, Sun Valley Trekking or Sawtooth Mountain Guides can make your outing safe and memorable.
The views of the mountains are spectacular, but the views from the mountains are even better. Get out and take a look for yourself!