As ski season 2016 / 17 winds down I reflect on my Winter in Ketchum, Idaho. It was a good ski season in many ways. And difficult as hell in others. Over 325 inches of POW dropped on Bald Mountain and Sun Valley. By SV standards it's an excellent score. But, after 13 years in Aspen (all with my trusty dog Carmelo), I needed a change. Aspen is still great, but variety is spicy, soooo, we ended up in Ketchum, Idaho. Over the summer, I teamed up with a new best friend, Wagner, a very high strung cattle dog mix. Wagner, a puppy (now 10 months) is extremely management intensive. He needs to run 3 to 5 hours a day. Needsless to say Lil' Bro kept me plenty busy all Winter.
I experienced an aborted entry to Ketchum. I had to re-locate almost immediately upon arrival. I was forced to find dog-friendly housing in early December because of the mental instability of my first landlord... who lived below me. Not a friendly welcome to "the HO". See the story KRAZY in KETCHUM.
One good thing happend the day after I moved to a safe location...it started snowing and didn't stop.
Baldy as it's known has some excellent terrain...and it's quite steep. The main arteries on"the bald one" are fast, fast fast...and very hard underneath due to the "exceptional" snow making. The black diamonds are not as extreme as Aspen, but they are challenging. There are some great stashes in the trees (snow conditions permitting) and the wide expanse of "the bowls" is very sweet. SV is also known for its grooming...which I call bullsh*t on. Apparently all the groomers got fired for drug test failures or quit over money depending on who you believe. Anyway, the inexperienced crew regularly left some very dangerous ruts on some very steep and fast runs eg; Warm Springs. All in all the terrain is spectacular. 2054 acres with a vertical rise of 3,400 feet. At a peak elevation of 9150 ft its lower than Aspen mountain's 11,212 ft. The snow, albeit plentiful, was not the light, fluffy Colorado POW POW I got spoiled by in Aspen. The sheer volume of snow was great...but it was often wet, heavy and thick. I enjoyed the PNW POW(Pacific North West) but boy...it could be pretty tricky to ski. Sun Valley takes pride in their snow making for a reason... because they usually need it. I found out after I arrived in Idaho that SV has a nickname "the doughnut hole". This Winter was considered "epic" and one of the biggest seasons on record. 325" is very good, way above SV's 220" average. Its still a far cry from the 500" that neighbors like Utah and Wyoming usually get. Overall the weather in Idaho was quite harsh. it was 20 below in December. I experienced more rainy days in one season here than I had in 13 years in Aspen. There were collapsed roofs all over town from the heavy snow, followed by torrential rains. That followed by flooding. The local paper said there were only 10 bluebird days all season. The freeze thaw cycle was on fleek all Winter.
So I will refrain from calling my season in Idaho a mistake...but I am 100% certain I won't be back in Ketchum next year. It's a lot more remote than I realized. The closest real town is 80 miles away with very little in between. Boise is 170 miles away. It's a nice town, good for a weekend...but it's no Denver. Idaho is pretty red-neck too and that's being kind. I did meet some very nice people...but in general Idahoians are pretty gruff. If you're familiar with the Aspen Ski Gang ..The Dogs (not very friendly)...everyone is like that here. As a side note the hot chick quotient in Ketchum is unmeasurably low.
All that being said I accomplished every one of my pre-season goals (see below). Based on that it was a successful ski season.
2016/ 17 Ski Goals for A. Party.
80+ ski days. normally I go for 100. This year I scaled back by design.
1 million+ verts
10+ legit POW Days
10 Resorts in 5 States with 5 of them new(*) to me: Sun Valley* and Dollar* (Idaho). Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee* (Wyoming). Bridger Bowl* (Montana), Mt. Batchelor* (Oregon) and Powder Mountain*, Snow Basin, Deer Valley, Park City and Alta (Utah). The highlight being a 20" POW day at Alta.
No serious injuries ( I only had a couple dangerous falls all season).
No head shots. (Gotta protect the mellon).
Stay Illness Free (Amazingly, I did not get sick once).
Stretching routine every day before skiing ( i think I missed a few, but not many).
Swim laps twice a week all Winter. (I missed some swim sessions, but only because I was exhausted).
Road Trip with Wagner and go to bed early.
In conclusion, it was a good season here in Idaho...but clearly it's no Aspen.
PARTY / OUT