Powder Days in the East

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Winter has finally kicked into gear in New England with several small snow storms and even some big ones to turn conditions around as skiers and riders rejoice for the much-needed snow. Fresh tracks and packed powder can be a rare treat these days so start packing your ski bags now for the best snow of the season.

Sunday River has had almost three feet of snow in the last 2 weeks or so, which has opened up some glades across the mountain and reinforced the base. “Even with the challenging weather prior to this snow cycle, we’ve been able to provide our guests with the most open terrain in New England for more than half the season,” said Luc Burns, director of marketing.

Thanks to the natural snow all around, several resorts expect to be almost fully open by the weekend, especially with additional storms in the forecast. Killington reported 24 inches in the last week and New Hampshire’s Gunstock got 18 inches of snow since Monday with more in the forecast. “The new snow allowed us to open a lot more of the mountain, including the popular and challenging Hot Shot trail from the Summit,” said Bonnie Macpherson, Gunstock’s marketing director.

A triple-cycle of storms has dumped over 2 feet of snow at King Pine in New Hampshire in the last week or so, which has more than made up for the lesser snowfall earlier this season. 

Many resorts in the Northeast have picked up a foot or more of snow in the last week resulting in the best conditions so far this season. Snowmaking continues as temperatures mainly stay cold for a while so that areas can build up base depth. The natural snow also allows more expert terrain, glades and terrain park expansions to open.

Even prior to the recent windfall, snowmaking teams did their magic to recover from the early January thaw resulting in decent conditions on primarily manmade snow. Skiers and riders have been taking advantage of the coverage all month long and checking out other winter experiences, too. “Activities like ice skating, tubing, snowmobiling and guided hikes are doing incredibly well,” said Craig Panarisi, Stratton’s VP/mountain operations, who added that guests still came to ski despite lower-than-expected snowfall and to enjoy all the winter has to offer. 

Whether it’s the fresh snow or a winter wonderland experience, skiing in the East is the place to be right now.—Iseult Devlin

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SnoCast: Ski Season Going Strong with More Snow Ahead

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What a ski season it has been! With recent big improvements across the Northeast and a winter to remember out West, we'll glide through late January with new snow in the forecast and plenty of good options to hit the slopes. 

In this week's SnoCast, It's all about a trough digging in across the U.S. which will bring both new snow and a surge of biting cold air by next week for many. Make sure you have the layers ready to roll out.  Here's the breakdown for January 26 through February 1, 2023.

East

We've made incredible improvements across the Northeast this week as a series of three storms added much needed snow to the trails. Natural snow cover across the Northeast has grown from just 48% to nearly 100% coverage since January 1.

In the forecast, lingering scattered snow showers (lake effect and upslope) remain across the Northeast and Great Lakes Thursday as the most recent storm departs. An additional dusting-3" can be expected through Thursday at peaks from Wisconsin to Maine, and down the spine of the Appalachians to West Virginia.

A much weaker, quick moving clipper system scoots across the Great Lakes Friday, delivering another a 1-3" from Minnesota to Wisconsin. This system skims by New York and Vermont peaks Friday night-Saturday with a light coating possible. 

The next system takes shape over the weekend, spreading a thin swath of snow from the lower Great Lakes region to New England. Expect another 2-6" of snow to fall by Monday from southern Michigan to New York's Adirondacks and northern New England. Areas farther south will likely see rain.

This system opens the freezer door for the Midwest especially, with biting cold winter air settling in next week.

Yet another system takes shape around Wednesday next week. Keep an eye on the forecast for this one, since it's still pretty far out in time. 

West

As of Thursday, scattered snow showers continue to pepper the Rockies northward to the Western Canadian slopes. A trough will dig in over the next several days, reinforcing snow (for some, a lot of it!) and also causing cold air to dive southward through the weekend.

Friday, the heaviest snow will focus across the Pacific Northwest Cascades, and the far northern Rockies from Alberta to Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado with a widespread 6-12" for most bases and mid-mountains. Snow persists Saturday for the northern Rockies which allows a total of 1-3 feet to pile up at the higher peaks through the weekend. Watch around Jackson Hole, Grand Targhee, Big Sky, and Bridger Bowl and others nearby for big totals.

Here are the National Weather Service snow forecast maps state by state for the northern Rockies.

By Sunday and Monday, the snow slips southward, delivering freshies to the southwest and southern Rockies. In California, enough cold air likely lets snow slip all the way to the far southern peaks, including Big Bear and Snow Valley.  While totals may adjust with time, it looks as though a general 4-8" can be expected. But, if enough moisture can hang on, there is potential for 10" or more for some of the peaks from California to Utah and Colorado.  

Looking Ahead

Much of the country will be colder than average through early February, with temps as much as 20-30 below average for the coldest core over the Midwest and northern Rockies. Get the layers ready for next week! Here's the temperature and precipitation outlook for Jan. 31-Feb. 4.

 

 

We'll see ya next Thursday with another SnoCast! -Meteorologist Kerrin Jeromin

 

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Snowshoeing at Vermont Alpine Ski Resorts

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Snowshoeing is an excellent way to get some outdoor physical and mental fitness in the winter and it can be a great warm-up for skiers or snowboarders. At alpine ski areas snowshoeing can be a great activity for those joining family or friends who may not want to ski at the resort.

Recognizing a market when they see one, many ski resort operators in Vermont over the past several decades have continually increased their snowshoeing offerings, including snowshoe-specific trails, tours, and rentals. Moreover, each resort tries to carve its specialized snowshoe niche, just as they do for the other aspects of their ski and snowboarding business.

Here, in alphabetical order, are some snowshoeing highlights at some of Vermont’s alpine ski and riding resorts. Each resort has a wide variety of rates, rentals, and tours so contact them directly for additional details.

Bolton Valley Resort

Aside from section 22 of the Catamount Trail (the longitudinal Vermont statewide trail), Bolton Valley has 5,100 acres of backcountry terrain and a connection to Mount Mansfield State Forest. The Bolton Valley Nordic Center, which provides this backcountry access, also offers snowshoe rentals and lessons. Snowshoe rentals are available and once equipped there’s 100 km of snowshoeing and cross country ski trails.

During the snow season, the resort offers a variety of guided tours, which they often modify based on the whims and abilities of the snowshoers. For example, some tours are easy, and some bushwhack around Bolton’s sometimes steep forests. Most tours usually last 1 – 1.5 hours for those aged 10+. The Bolton Valley Resort base is at a higher elevation compared to most of the other resorts in Vermont. 802-434-3444 X1071

Burke Mountain

Burke Mountain in the town of Burke provides access to the Dashney Nordic Center and nearby Kingdom Trails for snowshoeing. Dashney Nordic Center is on the access road to Burke Mountain and it offers 18 km of ski and snowshoe trails. Also, just down the road, Kingdom Trails (well-known for mountain biking) opens ungroomed trails and groomed fat bike trails to snowshoers in the winter. However, you’ll have to leave your pup home to access Kingdom Trails. Snowshoe rental equipment is available at Dashney 802-626-1466.

Jay Peak Resort

Jay Peak Resort is a mecca for daring tree skiers, but the northern Vermont resort also has trails for snowshoe enthusiasts. The Jay Resort Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Center has seven short snowshoe trails up to 1.7 miles (2.7 km). The resort also typically offers guided snowshoe tours throughout the season, which may include equipment, guide services, and hot beverages around an outdoor fire pit. Call to make reservations. Snowshoe rentals and guided tours available (minimum of 3 people) in the Tram Haus Lodge 802-327-2199

Killington

Near the Killington Resort is Base Camp (802-775-0166) which is a retail outlet on Route 4 at the junction of the Killington access road that has snowshoe rentals and guided tours. A two-hour snowshoe rental is $20 and a 90-minute tour on flat terrain which includes a waterfall is $70 ($40 for kids). If you’re interested in an extended stay for more snowshoeing, try the snowshoe-friendly XC ski area at the Mountain Top Inn in the nearby town of Chittenden.

Mount Snow

At Mount Snow in southern Vermont, there are guided tours and trails all over the valley. Check out the NatureSpa 802-464-6606 for a snowshoe tour package ($66 per person for snowshoes, guide for 1.5 hour hike) out of the Grand Summit Resort Hotel and Mount Snow Sports. Timber Creek XC is directly across the Mt. Snow access road off Route 100 and they have snowshoe rentals and trails. 802-464-4041.

Okemo

In Ludlow, Okemo Resort has dedicated snowshoe trails at the golf course at Fox Run Nordic Center, separate from the Nordic ski path, along the banks of the Black River. There are 10 kilometers to snowshoe, but snowshoers can wander off the trail to explore meadows and forests in the shadow of Okemo Mountain. Fox Run has a restaurant, snowshoe rentals, and an indoor golf training facility. Okemo also has an ice house and snow tubing that is great for the family if you want a break from snowshoeing, skiing, or snowboarding. 802-228-1396

Smugglers’ Notch

Family-friendly Smugglers’ Notch in Jeffersonville offers a wide range of snowshoeing programs, tours, rentals, and lessons. Smuggs programs range from a gentle introduction to the joys of stomping through the winter woods. Take advantage of some of Smugglers’ special guided tours. The Vermont Experience provides the opportunity to search for animal tracks and learn about local history. Look for the bear claw marks on the beech trees. Other guided tours explain the maple industry and the process of making maple syrup while snowshoeing the forest. Or, for the adventurous, learn winter survival skills while you snowshoe. The apres dinner/drink experience on the Snowshoe Adventure Dinner takes snowshoers up to a mountain slope cabin for those aged 18+. 802-644-1173

Stowe Mountain Resort

Stowe Resort has rental snowshoes, backcountry equipment, and gear for children aged three or older (including kids snowshoes). You may want to book your equipment in advance.

The trails take snowshoers on guided tours into the state forest. “No road crossings, no buildings, no skiers,” said a staff member. 802-253-3658. Also nearby is the Trapp Family Lodge which has more than 100 km of trails.

Stratton Mountain

Stratton and the Sun Bowl Nordic Center offer guided snowshoe hikes highlighting the magical scenery among the trees. Try the Sunrise Snowshoe Hike on Sundays or the Nordic Lights tour on the lantern-lit trails Saturday evenings. Before or after your hike, you can enjoy snowshoeing on the 3 km of snowshoe trails at the Stratton Mountain Nordic Center. Snowshoe rentals available. 802-297-4567

Sugarbush

Keeping with their adventurous motif, Sugarbush in Warren, VT, offers both self-guided and Outback Guide-led tours that include snowshoes rentals and a lift ride to access trails at higher elevations on the mountain. Take the lift with rented snowshoes for $79 ($64 with your own snowshoes).

If you’re interested in self-guided tours, explore their marked snowshoe trails (beginner, intermediate, or advanced) daily between 9 and 4 pm. If you didn’t bring your snowshoes, they have rentals available at the Farmhouse Building at Lincoln Peak in Mt. Ellen Base Lodge.

The guided tours will give more than an afternoon jaunt on snowshoes. For example, one 2.5 to 3-hour guided tour brings guests to the Slide Brook Wilderness Area, a prime habitat for bears, moose, and lynx. Guides will often find tracks and lead the group to them. As an alternative, the guided tour of their advanced trail, the Gate House Loop, which also includes a large variety of wildlife and animal tracks. 802-583-6504

SnowshoeMag.com and Matt Sutkoski contributed to this content.

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Skiing Along The Big Muddy And Its Tributaries

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When those outside the Midwest think of the mighty Mississippi River they think riverboats, gambling and long barges hauling grain. Heartlanders know there's also a few ski areas, Chestnut Mountain, Sundown Mountain, Mt. La Crosse, Coffee Mill, Welch Village and Afton Alps located along the northern reaches of the river and its tributaries in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Perched along craggy bluffs and ridges overlooking the wide Mississippi River valley and its tributaries these ski areas provide some of the most interesting terrain in the Midwest from long blue cruisers to surprising steeps.

Chestnut Mountain is the only full service resort and sits right above the river offering stunning views, a hotel, restaurants and lounges. Located above historic Galena, Illinois it offers a 475-foot vertical, 19 trails cut through rocky bluffs and the seven-acre Far Side Terrain Park.

Sundown Mountain is perched on a river escarpment above Dubuque, Iowa, from which you can see three states, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. A couple of day lodges sit atop the upside down ski area with a 475-foot vertical overlooking a scenic valley once a tributary of the Mississippi. The majority of its 21 trails and slopes are rambling cruisers with a few quick, steep shots. There are also two terrain parks.

 Mt. La Crosse, located just south of La Crosse, Wisconsin, is a delightful sprawl of knolls, chutes and headwalls with a 512-foot vertical. It's home to some of the steepest runs in the Midwest and some are nearly a mile long. With its quaint day lodge, the ski area feels much like a New England mini-Stowe.

Coffee Mill, located about a half-hour south of Red Wing, Minnesota, is a small community run area with a 425-foot vertical offering some great skiing with long runs. It sits back in a horseshoe shaped canyon with nice views of the river valley. Some of the best advanced ski runs in the Heartland, long and western like.

Welch Village, located just 10 minutes north of Red Wing overlooking the Cannon River valley, skis much bigger than its 360-foot vertical. They ski off off two peaks with a nice variety of 50 runs and eight chairlifts. It even has a back bowl.

Afton Alps, located just minutes north of Welch near Hastings, Minnesota, is another sprawling Midwest ski area offering 48 runs, 18 chairlifts and a 360-foot vertical. It's only about 20 miles south of St. Paul. It overlooks the scenic St. Croix River valley. Nicely spread out it absorbs crowds easily.

Like the “Old Man River that just keeps rolling along,” these ski areas have been catering to Heartland skiers for over 60 years. The deep river valleys gouged out by retreating glacial waters centuries ago provide some of the best skiing in the hinterland.

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Purveyors Of Ikon Pass Buy Snow Valley, Couples With Big Bear Resorts

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The owners of the Ikon Pass and 16 North American resorts has bought Snow Valley and linked it with its two other southern California mountains.

Denver-based Alterra Mountain Company said it plans to directly connect Snow Valley with Big Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. They sit 11 miles apart. The triad of ski and snowboard mountains are within easy driving distance from the L.A. Basin, and have long been popular destinations for the metro area's day-trippers.

On February 20, Ikon passholders can ski and ride at Snow Valley without charge. No reciprocal arrangement has been worked out for access to the other two mountains this season, according to Alterra, although Snow Valley passholders can get a free one-day voucher for either Big Bear Mountain or Snow Summit. Snow Valley remains on Indy Pass for this season.

In a press release, Alterra said that it sees beginner-friendly Snow Valley as the first step in a skills development track that leads to intermediate and expert terrain at the Big Bear. Snow Valley's renowned learning area huddles around the base (6,800 feet elevation) with a couple of chairs and carpets, and an award-winning snow school. There's even a chair dedicated to sledding. And the acquisition should reduce crowding by spreading out the number of skiers and riders across three mountains.  

Up above, Snow Valley offers up a mixed bag of blues and blacks to fill out its 1,041 of vertical feet -- topping out with the 35-degree pitch on double-blacks in Slide Peak bowl.

The mountain has an extensive terrain park presence, beginning with a progression park below, then two more jib parks of more demanding layout up the mountain off Chair 3. Snow Valley runs night skiing on selected weekends throughout the season.

People have been sliding down Snow Valley slopes since 1924. The industry's first first overhead cable lift started in 1937. Except for one high-speed six-pack -- the only one in southern California -- the mountain's eight other chairlifts date from the '70s and '80s, and new ownership is expected to upgrade the lift system.

In California, the Ikon Pass is good at Palisades Tahoe, Mammoth and June Mountain, as well as the Big Bear resorts twosome.

 

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New K1 Base Lodge Elevates Killington Experience

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Although it has been mostly operational since the Heroic Killington Cup on Thanksgiving weekend, Killington’s new K1 Base Lodge is set to be fully operational by month’s end as the finishing touches are completed on its state-of-art rental shop featuring tuning services, boot fitting experts, and a fleet of skis and snowboards showcased next to the escalator. 

Yes, that’s right! An escalator—undoubtedly the first one at a New England resort—was built to service the new 58,000 square feet, three-story structure that seats 900 inside and an additional 180 on the heated slopeside patio. There are also restrooms on each floor with six in total. 

The food is definitely a step-up from basic lodge cuisine and follows what Killington’s culinary team whips up at the Peak Lodge with delicious offerings that are well worth a visit. The second-floor food court offers Bison and regular burgers with customized toppings, a rice and bean bowl, delicious soups, Boar’s Head deli sandwiches and a custom salad bar. On the third floor, the K1 Pub menu has QR code ordering directly from tables or in between runs. A large gas fireplace, big-screen TVs throughout the lodge, a shuffleboard table, a breastfeeding station and multiple charging outlets add to the many amenities in the new K1 Base Lodge. 

The Brew Pub serves gourmet coffee creations as well as grab-and-go menu items. It’s also home to the PB&J bar, where guests can find creative takes on the childhood classic, including the Bourbon and Brie with bourbon blueberry spread, brie and fresh blueberries.

In an effort to streamline the rental process, packages can be ordered online so that everything is ready for pick up when guests arrive. There is also a retail shop with apparel and accessories, a first-floor bag check and a lift ticket center. 

The new lodge also has live music most days in the upstairs K1 Pub, providing a real nice vibe after a tiring day on the slopes. A lounge area with sofas and comfy chairs are the perfect place to listen, sit and watch the action on Superstar and Highline out the large floor-to-ceiling windows. 

With all of the added benefits and luxuries, Killington’s new lodge provides a worthy upgrade to the Beast of the East. 

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Angel Fire, Red River Suit Themselves To Those New To The Slopes

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The Enchanted Circle highway loops through scenic northern New Mexico, providing the route to a pair of ski and snowboard resorts up high in the the Sangre de Cristo Mountains that cater to those who are learning the sport.

The southernmost is Angel Fire which sits on 560 acres of a former cattle ranch with 8,600-foot base elevation. Mostly, Angel Fire appeals to never-ever, novice and leisure skiers and riders.

Known also as a mountain biking mecca, the all-season resort's menu of kind-and-considerate blues and greens sling off a long ridge. A large terrain park runs its own chairlift off the 10,677-foot-high summit. Less than one-quarter of the trail map is rated black.

Appealing to vacationing families, Angel Fire deeply discounts day and season passes for kids 6 and under, seniors 75+ and fifth-graders. It's a member of the Powder Alliance, and pass partner with Cooper, Monarch and Powderhorn. Night skiing lights up on selected evenings, and ample tubing and sledding hills beckon. Not much of an apres-ski scene.

Head north over Bobcat Pass (9,820 ft. high) to Red River Ski Area in a tight canyon 8,750 feet above sea level. A half-day's drive from Texas Panhandle, the Red River valley draws heavily from the high plains. It exudes a Western cowboy vibe with plenty of eats, rooms and music.

The trail map depicts just over 200 acres on a compact but surprisingly steep pitch off its 10,350-foot summit that attracts storms with its persistent northern aspect. Expert runs dive off the high ridge, blues fill up midmountains above lower greens. Snowguns reach more than 85% of Red River. Crews added more snowguns and water lines this summer.

A secondary base at Main Chalet is a premier learning area aimed at improving skill by moving through progressions. Two moving carpets, slow chairs, gentle terrain and a novice terrain park serve the beginner in a non-threatening way. Kids 5 and under and seniors 70-plus ski and ride for free.

Along with Ski Cooper and Sunlight, Red River is in the Freedom Pass system, meaning a passholder from any of 21 U.S. mountains gets three free days at any of the others. A Red River season pass partners include Monarch, Powderhorn, Snow King, Diamond Peak and Red Lodge.

 

 

 

 

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Montana Ski Areas Make Good Trip Choice For Heartland Skiers

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Montana ski areas like the rest of the west have plenty of snow, and you can plan a trip to these three ski areas—Red Lodge Mountain, Bridger Bowl, and Showdown—without breaking the bank to pay for the trip and lift tickets. There is nearby lodging available with some lodging facilities offering nice deals.

A nice plus for Heartland skiers and riders on the western side of the Great Lakes is that it's an easy two-day drive, and the three of the ski areas mentioned in this post are near each other for possible combination visits.

Red Lodge with a 2,400-foot vertical has 70 runs spread across two summits that appeals to skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. Nestled within the Beartooth mountains, just outside of Yellowstone National Park, it delivers big mountain fun without big crowds. It's the closest Treasure Sate ski area for Heatland skiers and riders, and the ski area is also on the Indy Pass program. Four pack lift tickets are available for $279, and a daily pass is $89. The nearby Yodler Motel offers rooms in the mid-$80s per night for two adults.

Showdown, a couple of hundred miles north of Red Lodge, is Montana's oldest ski area with a 1,400-foot vertical and over 600-acres of skiing terrain. It's a local favorite for Montana skiers and riders. Lift tickets are $60, and the nearby Edith Hotel offers a mid-week getaway for $300 that's good for an overnight stay and two days of skiing for two adults.

Bridger Bowl, located less than 150 miles to the west of Red Lodge, is also one of the state's larger ski areas offering a 2,600 vertical with over 75 named runs, eight chairlifts and three surface tows. Daily lift tickets are $70 bought online and $85 at the window. Three day passes are $200 and a five day pass is $325, which can be purchased online. A one time fee of $5 for a Bridger Bowl card is required to access the lifts when purchasing a lift pass. A wide variety of lodging options are available in nearby Bozeman only 15 miles from the ski area.

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SnoCast: Storms in the East; West (Finally) Settles

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The West finally settles down after an extremely active stretch, while the East prepares for three storms this upcoming week. Here's the forecast scoop in this week's SnoCast. 

East

On Thursday, a storm continues to lift northeastward through the Great Lakes, delivering blustery winds and a healthy 6-12" of snow for parts of northern Michigan and Wisconsin. Great news for Midwest ski areas around Granite Peak, WhitecapShanty Creek, and Big Powderhorn

This same system shifts to the Northeast later Thursday-Friday, delivering much-need 5-10"+ of snow for northern New England ski areas, with highest amounts in northern Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Look to Jay Peak, Burke Mountain, Loon, Sunday River and others nearby.

Unfortunately, warmer air sneaks in from the south generating a wintry mix parts of the Catskills, Poconos, and Berkshires with slick travel expected. 

Colder air returns for all through Friday with light upslope snow lingering across the northern Appalachians, which will be followed up by a beautiful weekend for skiing and riding. Get out and love it! 

A second system will track up the Appalachians to interior New England Sunday through Monday (1/22-23). This time, the rain/snow line threatens to bisect New England from southwest to northeast, so most likely areas to see snow remain across northern Pennsylvania , New York, Vermont and perhaps northern New Hampshire. Keep monitoring as the rain/snow line will shift based on the exact storm track. 

A brief lull Tuesday, before yet another storm targets the Northeast by mid-next week with another good chance of snow for the north. A bit too far out to talk amounts, but at this point, any snow is good snow.

 

West

After an unbelievably active stretch, the West finally appears to have a break in view. With nearly a dozen separate storms since late December, California and Utah have had huge totals, now topping some 300-400" on the season (in some cases more, including Alta at 426" and Brighton at 412"!). Excellent news for the snowpack and water resupply out West.

On Thursday, a cold front continues to sag across southern California toward the Southwest U.S. with snow drifting over the four-corners states by Friday. Expect a general 2-6" of snow for the Arizona, southern Colorado, and New Mexico mountains to round out the week. 

Most of Saturday looks pleasant to hit the slopes, albeit breezy over the Rockies.

 A system drops in from western Canada and the northern U.S. Rockies by Saturday night-Sunday with potential for 5-10" in the Washington Cascades, and a fresh 2-6" for Oregon and Idaho before slowly drifting down the northern Rockies by Monday.

This will open to the door and allow much colder air to spill in for much of the West next week.

Check in again each Thursday for a new SnoCast. Until then, happy skiing and riding!

- Meteorologist Kerrin Jeromin

 

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Indy Pass Road Trip To Local Hills Kelly Canyon, Snow King, White Pine

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Many of us cut our teeth lapping runs on small local hills, so taking an Indy Pass on a nostalgic road trip back to our roots should appeal to most skiers and riders.

One such trio of local slopes sit around the Wyoming-Idaho border and within a four-hour drive of each other. Each is under 800 acres, has modest vertical drops around 1,000 feet, brings a definite localfeel from the nearby town it serves -- and takes the Indy Pass.

Start the Indy road trip at Kelly Canyon just outside Idaho Falls. Four fixed-grip chairs -- the newest and longest is an 8-minute ride on Gold Rush -- deliver to Kelly's ample choice of greens and blues. With 1,000 vertical drop on 740 acres, Kelly gives novices and intermediates more choice than most. Frontside full of broad groomers, and upper mountain basically wide open.

New owners came in 2019, and they remodeled base lodge, put in Gold Rush triple, and upped snowmaking capabilities. Day tickets top at $79, so half price on third Indy day is a deal. Night skiing six days a week, closed Mondays.

Head across the Wyoming border to Snow King, rising out of the town of Jackson. Expect the unexpected once at town-owned Snow King. Its compact 500 acres combines with vertical drop of 1,500 feet to produce more steeps (60% of terrain) than most local hills. Snow King even has a small back bowl.

And for sure, no U.S. in-town hill has a gondola. Installed in 2021 for both winter and summer visitors, the four-seater takes five minutes to reach the 7,808-foot-high summit. Double-black a-plenty on both sides off gondola summit. For plenty of blues and a few greens, take the Rafferty quad which has a midstation. Night skiing six days a week, and third day on Indy costs $37.50.

Final stop finds Indy roadies making a two-hour drive to White Pine. Pinedales's go-to hill packs plenty into its 370 acres, including 1,100 feet of vertical drop. A triple fixed-grip takes eight minutes to the 9,500-foot summit, and all 29 trails run off it. Plenty of short steeps to skier's left, while blues and greens weave in and out of each other on the other side. Limited novice slopes at bottom with short chair, but a great resort to learn to ski at.

A third half-off Indy day tops out at $30. White Pine spins its lifts on Friday through Monday.

 

 

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Owners Of Power Pass Resorts Buy Into South America's Largest Ski Mountain

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The aggressive owner-operator of Purgatory, Arizona Snowbowl and eight other Western mountains has extended its reach to Chile by becoming the majority partner in sprawling Valle Nevado.

Known as a "skier first" resort operator, Durango-based Mountain Capital Partners fits in with Valle Nevado management which, despite its international reputation, has apparently been looking for a partner with the cash to upgrade its lift system and snowmaking. That's right down MCP's alley: When the company buys into a mountain, it immediately invests in on-mountain infrastructure like high-speed lifts and snowmaking systems.

Located an hour-and-a-half drive up from Santiago -- the nation's capital and largest city of 8 million -- Valle Nevado sits between 9,400 and 12,000 feet elevation and covers some 2,200 lift-served, alpine acres (with tens of thousands more for heli-skiing). As the biggest mountain in South America, it has been a popular destination for North Americans seeking to keep their skiing and riding jones going during their off-season, and is a regular summer training location for international World Cup skiers and snowboarders.

A press release says that MCP principal James Coleman and his family skied at Valle Nevado numerous times over the past years: “Our company is made up of authentic skiers who, like me, have a relentless passion for skiing, and we consistently focus on improvements that enhance the skiing experience,” said Coleman. “While we are still getting to know Valle Nevado in this new relationship, there’s no question that we’re committed to maintaining and elevating Valle Nevado’s reputation as the premiere ski resort destination on the continent.”

Valle Nevado is the only South American resort under the continent-wide Ikon and Mountain Collective passes, while MCP is the purveyor of the regional Power Pass. Company officials said they have not decided how season passes would work for Valle Nevado.

MCP now owns and/or operates a disparate 11-resort, one bike park network. Starting in 2000 with the purchase of compact Sipapu in New Mexico, the partnership has grown its portfolio to include mountains of all shapes and sizes in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and, in 2022, Willamette Pass in Oregon.

 

 

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SnoCast: Flakes in the East, Storm Train Continues Out West

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Each week, we're diving into the forecast nationwide with meteorologist Kerrin Jeromin to find the snow and bluebird skies. Here's what's on tap for January 12-17, with a peek ahead at the pattern through the end of January.

East

In this week's SnoCast, let’s start in the East where it’s looking a bit more like winter than, say, a month ago. A storm is lifting northeastward from the Ohio River Valley to New England Thursday and Friday, delivering both wintry weather and rain.

Expect a quick shot of snow, ranging from 2-5" (locally more) over New England and Maine Thursday before a warmer, wetter change takes over later by night. Unfortunately, this snow will compact and some will melt off with the rain by Friday. Not to worry, though, because once the storm pulls away, colder air and lingering upslope snow returns over the weekend. 

Through Friday, the storm lifts away from New England dragging in colder air from the northwest allowing a few final flakes in New England in New York. But, more notably for the southeast, with colder air and a brisk northwest wind, upslope snow (or snow forced by wind bumping up and over the mountains) develops Friday and Friday night over the southern Appalachians from North Carolina to West Virginia with several inches of new snow through early Saturday.

Here's the snow forecast through early Sunday (Jan. 15) for the East, keeping in mind most of New England's snow occurs before the rain changeover Thursday to early Friday. 

Overall, a quiet and pleasant weekend lies ahead for much of the East to hit the slopes. Nighttime temps will be cold enough to allow for snowmaking, with a milder trend beginning again early next week.

West

Since late December, the West has been hammered with storm after storm. Some peaks in California have now surpassed their typical annual snow amounts (300"+), and its only mid January! The stormy pattern will continue for another week or so before finally calming down late month. 

Expect another 2-4 feet of snow (locally more at the highest peaks) Friday into Saturday (Jan. 13-14) for the Sierras, and lighter snow with high snow levels up the Cascades as the next storm begins to dig in across the West. 

This storm continues to dig in Sunday-Monday, with reinforcing systems keeping periodic snow going across the mountain West through mid next week. In total, expect another 1-2 feet of snow for Utah and Colorado, 6-12" for New Mexico and Arizona as well as the northern Rockies through mid next week. 

 

 

Looking Ahead

A notable change lies ahead for the West in the extended 1-2 week outlook. After a stormy month, the West finally begins to trend drier, allowing a break from the storm parade. Meanwhile, the East still keeps an overall warmer than average pattern, with short windows of cold and snow opportunity within the next 1-2 weeks.

 

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Skiers, Snowboarders Can Ride The Rails To Winter Park

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Alternate kinds of transportation are all the rave these days, and Colorado visitors and locals can count the Winter Park "ski train" as their own special contribution -- for much of the last eight decades. 

Running Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through March 26, the Winter Park Express takes skiers and riders over the Amtrak tracks from downtown Denver's Union Station to within walking distance of the chairlifts at Winter Park. Ski-train railcars hitch a ride on the transcontinental Amtrak California Zephyr on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

In the morning, the ski train departs Denver's Union Station at 7 a.m. Seating is limited to about 500, so online reservations are highly recommended.

For $34 one-way adult, $17 preteens -- skiers and riders jump take a two-hour ride of 56 miles, 49 tunnels and 4,000 feet of vertical rise in order to get to Winter Park --- just in time for first chair at 9 a.m. Skis and 'boards get to stow away for free. Ski train ticket-holders sit in coach class.

To return to Denver, skiers and riders head to the Winter Park platform to catch the eastbound Zephyr. It departs at 4:30 p.m. to wind back down from the Continental Divide to the Denver basin and arrive at Union Station 6:30 p.m.

Skiers and 'boarders can customize their train trip over any number of days. For instance, they can ride up on a Friday, book a week's stay at Winter Park, and take the return trip any day the train returns to Denver. During the week -- when the train doesn't stop at Winter Park -- skiers and riders can stay on to the next top in Frasier, and hop a shuttle to the slopes.

The history of "ski trains" runs back into the 1930s. One of the earliest hauled skiers from Seattle-Tacoma up to what is now Snoqualmie. Back east, weekend ski trains provided transport from Boston and New York City to the New England ski areas into the 1970s.

When Winter Park opened in 1940, the first iteration of the ski train steamed up from Denver. It has remain viable until 2009 when it shut down. In 2015, Amtrak and partners agreed to re-christen the Winter Park Express.

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Forbush Corners Cross Country Skiing In Michigan's Lower Peninsula

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Old Man Winter has not been kind to Michigan's Lower Peninsula this winter for cross country skiing and snowmobiling, which are very popular winter activities in this neck of the woods. They are not happening.

Downhill ski areas are doing fine with snowmaking and open with no problem in the Wolverine State's Lower Peninsula. The Upper Peninsula does have some natural snow especially along the Lake Superior shoreline. However it is a long drive for the majority of snowsports loving people in the LP that want to cross country ski.

There is one place in the Lower Peninsula where you can find snow covered, tracked cross country trails, and that is Forbush Corners just north of Grayling and next to Hartwick Pines State Park. They put in a snowmaking system three years ago that covers about two miles of their roughly 13 mile trail system, which is a delight when covered with snow. You also connect with the Hartwick Pines groomed trail system from the west side trails when there is good natural snow, which adds another eight miles of trail.

The two mile trail is a nice intermediate/beginner trail with well set Piston Bully groomed tracks and a skating lane. The snowguns set around the track cover the trail with about a foot to foot-and-half level of snow, and it's always freshly groomed daily when they are open Thursday through Monday during the season. You can make several loops around the snow covered trail to get in a few miles. They are the only touring center around the Great Lakes with this amount of snowmaking.

Forbush Corners, which was opened by Dave Forbush in the mid-1980s on an old family homestead, quickly became the unofficial epicenter of cross country skiing in northern Michigan. He unfortunately passed away in 2014 from a quick bout with cancer. He passed the touring center onto five friends he knew had the same passion going into the future. They all had worked closely with Dave in establishing Forbush Corners and were committed to keep it going. Today they've become a non-profit, which works well for securing funds for the future operation.

It's located a half-mile east of I-75 about eight miles north of Grayling on CR-612. If you like cross country skiing it is worth the drive to get in some trail miles.

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Gaylord Michigan Makes A Great Family Winter Visit

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Located just a snowball throw off I-75, Gaylord, Michigan, has a charming alpine motif that would fit right into the Swiss Alps. There's close to 30 miles of cross country trails, both tracked and untracked, to choose from. Add to that a couple of the Wolverine States top dowhhill ski areas, Treetops and Otsego Resort, and it makes for a top notch family winter getaway.

Treetops is considered one of Michigan’s most family friendly resorts. All lifts converging in one activity filled area at the top makes keeping track of the entire family easy. Located just east of Gaylord along a ridge overlooking the expansive Pigeon River valley. It offers 23 runs, a terrain park, tubing, four chairlifts, a couple of surface tows, cross country trails, snowshoe trails, dog sled rides, ice skating and fat tire snow biking. There are 238 guest rooms, including standard and deluxe hotel rooms and two- and three-bedroom condominiums, all close to the restaurants and lifts.

Otsego Resort has an old world charm that you won’t find anywhere else in the Heartland. The upside-down resort, which opened in 1939, offers 31 trails, four terrain parks, and five chairlifts including a high-speed quad off three peaks that plunge down into the wild, scenic Sturgeon River valley. There’s over six miles of cross country tails meandering down into the valley along the river and additional snowshoe trails. Snowmobile rentals are also available. The resort offers 117 guestrooms, suites and condominiums.

It's impossible to not see elk at Aspen Park, only four blocks from downtown and adjacent to the city elk pen. It contains a herd of more than 30 animals. The park contains about two miles of single-tracked trails, and is lit for night skiing. Trails glide gently through a hemlock forest.

Pine Baron Pathway offers a little over six miles of fairly easy gliding on double tracked trails through mixed pine and hardwood forest, and is located about five miles west of the city off Old Alba Road on Lone Pine Road. There are three loops, each about two miles in length.

 

Shingle Mill Pathway is located about a half-hour north of Gaylord in the Pigeon River Country State Forest off I-75 east of Vanderbilt. It offers 10 miles of untracked trails, which meander along the swift-flowing Pigeon River and then climbs into highlands overlooking the river valley. I've seen elk while cross country skiing here.

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Despite Modest Size, Sunlight And Powderhorn Offer Up Complete Package

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Shunning the glitz, a pair of mid-sized mountains on the Western Slope of Colorado bring a bit of the old-school and historic experience back to skiing and riding in Rocky Mountains

Perched on the east edge of the Grand Mesa, Sunlight Mountain opened in 1966, and its front side of Sunlight Mountain appears much as it has been for the last five decades: A ton of blue groomers, a couple of long top-to-bottom greens, and a sprinkling of black glades and pitches.

However, the big change came a couple of seasons ago when the East Ridge came onto the trail map. Its dozens of double-diamond plunges doubled Sunlight's skiable acres to 730, and gave gnarl-seeking locals a reason to eschew the fancy Aspens and take the 13-mile drive up from Glenwood Springs.

This season, Sunlight joined the Indy Pass network for two days at any of 120 resorts in U.S., Canada and Japan. An adult Sunlight season pass includes free days at Loveland, Monarch, Powderhorn and Ski Cooper.

In 2023, skiers and riders will find a new ski school yurt at the base area, along with a new outdoor food station for grab 'n' go. Never-evers get a good deal at Sunlight with the Learn-to-Shine combo of rentals, three half-day lessons and five day tickets anytime afterwards.

Sunlight's three chairlifts are dated ("youngest" went in 1987). So it's big news for locals and day-trippers that the 50-year-old Segundo double chair with a triple fixed-grip next season.

About an hour's drive down-valley sits Powderhorn, off the northern edge of the Grand Mesa near Grand Junction. The trail maps spreads between two 9,800-foot elevation high grounds with 1,600 acres, three chairlifts and two surface lifts.

From a rope tow in the 1940s through multiple owners of varying successes, Powderhorn was bought by experienced Colorado ownership in the last decade. The first step was to put up high-speed quad in 2015. The quad reduced lift lines at the base and ramped up access to Powderhorn's long, groomer blue runs and expert terrain on its east edge.

Novices can ride to the top and wander down the switchbacks of Stagecoach-Pacemaker green run to the novice-friendly base area. Across the way, the two-seater West End chair drops off above some the Powderhorn's steepest terrain.

This summer, crews added capacity to the mountain's snowmaking system, cleared out about 100 new parking spaces, and installed the second beginner surface lift.

Powderhorn season passes include three reciprocal days at a dozen mountains in the West, including Colorado partners Sunlight, Loveland, Monarch, Ski Cooper and Bluebird Backcountry.

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SnoCast: 2023 Kicks Off With Epic Snowfall

A fresh 8 inches of snow at Red River in New Mexico (RedRiver/Twitter)

It's a new year, but the same story continues across the West as atmospheric rivers yield feet of more snow and create blizzard-like conditions!

Western U.S. & Canada

Bomb cyclone. Atmospheric river. You’ve heard the terms before and these significant weather events kick off our first SnoCast of 2023. A storm (that has already “bombed” out over the Pacific Ocean) will be ongoing in California’s Sierra Nevada Thursday. Strong winds up to 100 miles per hour, along with snow rates of 3"/hr, will continue through Friday morning. In total, 1-2 feet of snow will be likely above 5,000 feet elevation and 2-3 feet above 6,500’. Road closures and the halting of lift operations will be likely, so be patient when going to ski and ride this snow! 

The aforementioned California storm will scoot across Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming Friday dropping 3-6” of snow. Then this weekend, another coastal California storm will arrive and bring another 1-3 feet to the central and northern Sierra Nevada. Many of these weather systems will impact Cali-Nevada, with lighter snow falling in surrounding areas.

The incoming West snow will fall atop amounts up to 40-50" in the past week in California, and on 40-70" across the Rockies. Always check the avalanche forecast and exercise extreme caution!

Eastern U.S. & Canada

Recent snow will end Thursday in the Upper Midwest, with totals from this event ranging between 4-8". A couple of weather systems bear watching across the East, one on Thursday-Friday and another on Saturday night. Both of these, as of this writing, will be lighter winter storms with 1-4 inches of snow possible through each event.

However, there’s a small potential for each of these to get a little stronger and gather more moisture to drop a few more inches than just “freshies.” Nonetheless, Maine will get 1-4” of snow Thursday-Friday, while the mid-Atlantic could get a swipe of that 1-3” Saturday night. Otherwise temperatures will continue to stay mild, trending colder on Tuesday.

Read our holiday SnoCast next week as we highlight the snow you can expect for the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend! Until then, happy skiing and riding!

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Northern Utah Couples Big-Mountain Skiing, Riding With Local Hill Vibe

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Just up the road from its more famous neighbors, the ski and snowboard resorts of northern Utah hold their own, with everything from massive powder terrain to former Olympic race courses to a seriously local vibe.

Up-and-down Nordic Valley finally got stability when Colorado-based Mountain Capital Partners took over management of the Ogden-area mountain in 2019. Right away, the local hill above Eden got a high-speed six-pack to radically upgrade access to its 500 acres of terrain.

This summer, crews cut a half-dozen new expert runs and glades off the Nordic Valley Express detachable chair. Nearly half of its 40-trail network is now black-rated. They also built a yurt lounge at the top of the lift and put in more snowmaking -- plus a new beer bar and expanded parking down below.

Up the road at Snowbasin -- home to the men's and women's downhill races at the 2002 Olympics -- the resort has moved from the Epic Pass to the Ikon Pass and Mountain Collective. More snowmaking, avalanche mitigation, more gladed trails and regrading of the connector Broadway trail topped summer work. Big news next season will be a second lift for more slopetime on Strawberry sector.

With the largest in-bounds skiing and riding in the U.S. (8,434 acres), Powder Mountain is as it was last season: A powderhounds' heaven with lift, snowcat, snowmobile and hike-to stashes. Off-season work focused instead on setting up summer mountain biking terrain, expected to open next summer.

Move over to Logan and a pair of local hills have no new surprises for the season. North at the Idaho border sits Beaver Mountain, the quintessential local hill that opened in 1939 and has been under the Seelhozer family ownership from the git-go. "The Beav'" has four fixed-grip chairs and a couple of magic carpets handle 828 acres of skiable terrain. Night skiing is around the base and mostly private, although a dozen public nights are scheduled.

Utah's newest alpine mountain, Cherry Peak epitomizes the "local hill" as it's just four miles from downtown from Richmond. Opened in 2015, the 400-acre ski area appeals to mid-level skiers and riders with most of its 29 runs in the green or blue categories. And, as many close-to-town areas do, Cherry Park has night skiing, six nights a week.

 

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January Is Learn To Ski Month And Discover Michigan Skiing

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January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard month, which has become very popular with the growth of participants in downhill skiing over the last couple of years in the Heartland. Throughout the Midwest ski areas are offering discounted lesson programs. Michigan offers one of the best programs for cost and simplicity, and it’s available at many ski areas throughout the Wolverine State.

Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) and McDonald’s Restaurant team up to offer an affordable lesson package for both first-time adults and children. It covers downhill skiing for those seven years old and up and snowboarding for 10 or older. Cross country skiing lessons are for seven and up. If you live in northern Indiana, Ohio or Wisconsin it would be easy to take advantage of the program at a ski area along the border. The Discover Michigan Ski program includes a beginner lesson, ski or snowboard rental, and a beginner area lift pass or cross country trail pass at 18 of the state’s top ski areas in both peninsulas. The program is available throughout the month of January. The cost for the program is $45 for a beginner session, which can cover a downhill, a snowboard or cross-country lesson, one session per customer.

Signing up is easy. The Discover Michigan Ski vouchers are available at participating MSIA retail ski stores and online. The voucher lists participating ski areas. You must pre-register with the area. It's available at 18 ski areas and three cross-country areas. Some downhill areas are also offering cross-country lessons.

“It’s been very popular program in past years,” Mickey McWilliams, longtime MSIA executive director, told SnoCountry. “It offers an affordable way to give snow sports a try, and many keep up with it after that initial lesson. We’ve been offering this program in January for several years, and in that time a few thousand people, both young and old, have come out to give winter sports a try.”

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Quartet Of Southern Idaho Resorts Aim At Skier-Comfort This Season

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Like many U.S. ski and snowboard resorts this season, a group of four Idaho resorts focused on nitty-gritty projects to make things more comfortable and safe for skiers and riders in 2022-2023.

At Boise's own Bogus Basin, lift crews added more chairs to Morningstar and Superior Express to help move more skiers and riders around the mountain. Two new trails on the upper mountain make back-to-front connection easier, and some greens got wider.

Night skiing terrain has expanded, putting Sunbeam and Superior runs under the lights. Down below, there are 50 more parking spots, and snowshoeing operation is gaining ground.

About two hours' north sits Tamarack. Rejuvenation continues since new owners took over in 2018. Focus this summer was on apres-ski: A new 5,000-square-foot restaurant and bar -- with mezzanine and outdoor seatings -- went in slopeside in the base village. Pay digitally and choose from a wall of 40 self-serve beer taps.

The Indy Pass works at Tamarack. On the 1,100-acre mountain, snowmaking continues to be amped up so that about a fifth of the terrain has snowguns. Tamarack's trail map leans toward the more difficult and difficult categories, with clearly 80% of the trail falling into one or the other rating.

Just up the road, Brundage Mountain ski patrol have moved into new digs this winter. A brand-new 2,800-square-foot space houses patrol and first aid facilities. A couple of new groomers are on the hill to smooth out the early-season surfaces. Brundage is also a members of the Indy Pass system.

Nostalgians will take the last rides on the 32-year-old Centennial fixed-grip triple, as plans call for a detachable high-speed chair to go in next season. Also in the near future at Brundage is a new base lodge to replace the original A-frame, and there will be hints of real estate development around the base of the heretofore day-trip resort.

In Idaho's southeast sector, venerable Sun Valley continues its march toward 90 years in business (2026) by opening up some new terrain in the Warm Springs portion of the 2,700-acre resort. Two gladed sections were cleared this summer to expand the mountain's western edge in preparation of two new chairlifts scheduled to go in for next season as part of an aggressive improvement plan.

Also, Sun Valley joined the Ikon Pass as a seven-day partner, and the Mountain Collective for its two days free and half-off any additional days. And, Sun Valley will reclaim some of its old racing roots by hosting the U.S. Alpine Championships in March.

 

 

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