Thursday, December 1, 2016

Where to play in the snow? Sun Valley is ready to roll, plus more ideas for the weekend

Carve the groomers at Sun Valley! Available now! 
Hi all,

We're starting to get just enough snow to go play in the mountains, but it's still not enough for most of the ski areas to open quite yet. Sun Valley is the exception with its world-class computerized snowmaking system. They opened top-to-bottom skiing yesterday -- that's 3,400 vertical feet of downhill skiing on man-made groomers to get your legs in shape. How about it?

If this sounds interesting, check out Sun Valley's lodging and specials page. I saw that they're offering a 25 percent discount on lodging and lift tickets between now and Dec. 15. I also saw that you can save 20 percent on lift tickets if you purchase them 7 days in advance ... that's $71 instead off an early-season rack rate of $89/day. Over the Christmas season, lift fees will be $133 without discount. Wow! Get there early and enjoy the discounts! Stay at the Sun Valley Lodge and soak up the history.

Before I go into more recommendations for the weekend, I wanted to recommend stopping by Idaho Mountain Touring in downtown Boise this evening (Thursday, Dec. 1) for their 32nd annual anniversary party, featuring the crew of Wide Eye Productions and Tim Woodward who will sign copies of "Idaho the Movie 2;" Kevin Everett, who will be signing copies of a new running guide; and I'll be there selling Boise Trail Guides at a Christmas-season discount price of $15.95, 20% off the normal price. The event runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m. with free beer and snacks. Conservation groups will be there this evening as well.

Boise Trail Guide: 90 Hiking & Running Routes Close to Home, features tons of trails close to Boise, the Owyhee Canyonlands, and Boise National Forest. It'll keep you busy for several years of hiking, with a huge selection of easy, moderate, strenuous and epic hiking/running adventures. See you there.

Back to alpine skiing, Bogus Basin (9 inches at the base) and Brundage Mountain (20 inches at the summit; 12 inches at the base) are hoping for more storms before they can open. Hopefully we get hit hard this weekend. Bogus is making snow to accelerate the opening. Tamarack Resort (18 inches at the top) reported that they're opening their bunny hill this weekend, operating Saturday and Sunday. They also have snow-making machines.

While we wait for more snow, you might want to go find your own adventure in the mountains:

  • Toss your snow boots, snowshoes or xc skis in the car, go up to the snow in the Boise, Payette or Sawtooth National Forest (above 5,000 feet) and go boot-hiking, snowshoeing or xc skiing, depending on depth of snow.  
  • I saw a lot of people goofing around on 6 inches of snow on the way to Bogus in the last week ... some were sledding, others snowboarding and skiing. 
    Fat biking on Deer Pt. Service Road 
  • Go fat biking in the snow. I'd recommend the Deer Point Service Road on the way to Bogus, the Boise Ridge Road, Middle Fork Payette River Road, forest roads around Idaho City, and areas outside the fire-closure area between Idaho City and Lowman. Even the Eastside Trail might work between Bogus and the trailhead on a fat bike. Other areas around Tamarack or Brundage would work, too. Jug Mountain Ranch has the best fat biking trails in Valley County but I'm not sure if they have enough snow yet. 
  • Go hiking/biking/running on Boise Foothills trails. There was almost a traffic jam in Military Reserve today. Everyone seemed to have the same idea to get out for a lunchtime run, bike ride or hike on the dirt. The low- and mid-level trails in the foothills are clear of snow. Dress in layers for cold weather. 
    Check out the deep pow at Targhee! Pic taken today. (courtesy Grand Targhee)
  • Make your reservations to ski/ride Grand Targhee. They opened today with a 55 inch base at the summit. Look at how much powder they had today! Oh baby! 
  • Bruneau Dunes State Park would be a great place to hike around on a weekend like this when it's cool. 
  • I saw a nice outdoor feature story on staying at rental cabins at Three Island State Park in the Twin Falls Times-News. Check it out! 
  • I also saw a great summary of Soldier Mountain's new offerings in the winter of 2016-17 under new ownership. They're having a season pass party tomorrow night. Check it out!
I also wanted to mention a first-time event happening in mid-December at Brundage Mountain ... it's a world-class mountaineering event called the “Northwest Passage Ski Mountaineering Race,” co-sponsored by the McCall Winter Sports Club and the United States Ski Mountaineering Association on Dec. 16-17. 

On Friday, Dec. 16, racers will compete in a 520-meter "vertical race," starting at 4:00 pm at the base of Brundage's 45th Parallel ski run and finishes at the top of Engen. This event is open to local skiers and elite racers.  

On Saturday, Dec. 17, elite racers will tackle a 12.9-mile uphill/downhill course that includes six climbs covering a total of 6400 vertical feet. Recreational racers will compete in a 7.3-mile route with four climbs and 3860 feet of elevation gain. Both courses begin at the base of Brundage Mountain with an uphill climb to the Lakeview Bowl area, which will be the site of the first transition to downhill skiing. From there, competitors will climb back out of the Lakeview area, and leave the ski area boundary en route to the summit of Sargents Mountain. There, racers will complete additional climbs and descents in the Sargents bowl before finishing at the base of Hidden Valley.
If you'd like to sign up for the Northwest Passage Ski Mountaineering Race, go to the Brundage web site.  Volunteers are needed to help with the race as well. Contact Jim Pace if you'd like to volunteer at
Have fun!
- SS

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