Cornucopia of Awesomeness- March Madness in Sun Valley
By: Kitt Doucette
March in Sun Valley is the best. The short, cold days of winter slowly fade away as the sun climbs higher in the sky. The daily routine slows down dramatically with the timing of snow conditions. So take it from me, first off, there is no rush. Start the day out right and drop by your local coffee house in town for an expertly made cappuccino before hitting the slopes. After that caffeine hits your veins, the day will start to blossom. It’s the time of year when the snow begins to soften around midday and you take comfort in knowing that it’s possible after a day of riding to slide your feet into the luxurious embrace of flip flops while having an après-ski beer on the outdoor patio at Lefty’s, Apples, or Warm Springs Lodge, sharing in the camaraderie of good friends. At times it’s a challenge to just live in the moment. So I advise relishing every second of every day.
After properly prepping on java, I get on Baldy, usually sometime after 10am and before 11am. It’s all about following the sun as it slides around the mountain, roasting the snow like a perfectly cooked marshmallow. There’s a certain knack to being in the right place at the right time when it comes to finding the best snow on Baldy during the springtime. Too soon and you’ll be chattering away on a sheet of rock hard ice, too late and your skis will be sticking like glue in the slushy soup. But in between those two bad decisions lie the golden hours of snow that’s every bit powder’s equal. The warm sun melts the top layer of snow into a silky smooth layer affectionately known as corn and your skis float over the top of it, slicing smoothly into it like hot knives. This is the state of snow commonly referred to as “going off”.
All the thoughts of windy, foggy, cold powder days that felt so good during winter melt away and long sunny afternoons of slashing corn fill up the stoke tank. Frequently, a spontaneous moment of inspiration will cause me or one of my friends to just bust out an outfit. While Sun Valley is not always known for getting huge powder dumps, it always serves up some of the best corn skiing in the world, perfect for a dose of individuality. From those first few peeling turns down Christmas Ridge to exploda-bumps in the bowls and slash turns on Mid-River and finally the ultra-luxury of skiing 3,000 vertical feet of corn snow down Warm Springs to end the day, it just doesn’t get any better. Especially when there’s a band playing and they’re serving $5 dollar pitchers of beer on the outdoor patio.
After a couple of beers at Warm Springs Lodge’s outdoor patio, I suggest a cruise over to Apples for one more, then head straight to the Zenergy pool and hot tub to soak in the last rays of sun. Perfectly positioned to capitalize on every last bit of sunshine, the Zenergy hot tub is the best place in the valley to watch the sunset. If the posh sports club scene isn’t your thing, make the venture out Warm Springs and hit the hot springs lurking by the side of the road. Warm water does the quads many favors and keeps the buzz alive from a great day.
Since there’s no reason to get up early for the first chair when chasing corn snow in Sun Valley, I tend to keep the good vibes rolling straight into a dinner at the Pioneer Saloon or Ketchum Grill before checking out whatever music might be playing at Whiskey’s. Then sleep in, get a coffee and do it all over again. God I love springtime in Sun Valley.