Diablo Magazine February 2017 : Page 26

Less than one mile to the east is Sun Valley Lodge, where Ernest Hemingway finished For Whom the Bell Tolls and where we are staying for our ski adventure in Idaho. The lodge was built in 1936 by railroad king W. Averell Harriman, who developed Sun Valley to lure passengers onto his Union Pacific Railroad trains. To make it a destination, Harriman invited Holly-wood’s A-list, knowing that crowds would follow Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, and Lucille Ball to Idaho. Sun Valley Lodge closed in 2014 for a yearlong renovation that took the hotel down to its studs. Now, it boasts spacious rooms and all the amenities you would expect in a world-class resort. The hotel’s luxe spa has 15 treatment rooms, plus a sauna and steam room. The resort features a fitness center and yoga studio, two outdoor swimming pools and a hot tub, a skating rink, and a 1950s retro bowling alley with a bar and video games. You could stay and play at the lodge all day and never even hit the slopes. But that wouldn’t be a bucket list ski adventure. It’s almost 8 a.m., but before the mountain report and assign-ments are given out, our patroller, David Schames, herds us outside to catch the sunrise. I pull out my iPhone as the sun peeks over the stark white ridge of the Smoky Mountains. One very cool thing about Sun Valley is that it’s high desert, so its south-facing slopes are sun scorched and treeless, leaving absolutely perfect white mountain vistas. As the sky turns purple and orange, the rest of the 25 patrollers start creeping out of the lodge. Every. Single. One of them. And each one pulls out a phone to capture the view. “It never gets old,” Schames says. The assessment report is quick: One lift is closed for repairs, but the rest of the mountain is open. Sun Valley is having its best winter in 20 years, and the head patroller warns that it will be a busy day. He ends with what must be the standard closing: “Be safe out there.” the morning patrol assessment, so we ski over to the old, low-slung wooden lodge. Even though I ski 40 days a year, I’m a little nervous about skiing in the dark. But it’s just a few easy turns, and soon we are inside the warm lodge, which has the gritty ambience you might expect for hard-core ski patrollers. It is cluttered with rescue gear and ski paraphernalia, and scattered with tables and metal chairs. Three avalanche dogs, already in uniform, wag their tails hello. Before we can get to work with the ski patrol, we need coffee and we click into our bindings, and Schames quickly finds a rare stash of ungroomed powder left over from a storm, and we swoosh down a black double diamond. We have the mountain to ourselves until the lifts open at 9 a.m. We do a little patrol work, but mostly Schames wants to show off Bald Mountain. He takes us to the bowls, where we find more powder. We even catch a little tree skiing in a small glade at the bottom. Then, over at Seattle Ridge, we ski nice, long, perfectly groomed greens. 26 february 2017 Both pages: courtesy of sun valley resort

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