best of ski runs
Skiers and snowboarders prepare for another run down Warm Springs in spring 2013. Lower Warm Springs is to the left.
Photo by Roland Lane
warm springs run—
it's practically perfect
On No, 1 slope, it's the snow, not the sun.
A skier would probably search in vain for a ski run more conducive to doing fast, carved turns than Warm Springs run on Bald Mountain. For 3,000 vertical feet and two and a half miles, there's almost nothing in the way. There are few trail intersections, no blind spots and, most of the time, not many skiers. If you love to go fast, this is the place.
Sun Valley skiers clearly love this slope—it was voted the No. 1 ski slope in this year's Best of the Valley survey.
"I've skied all over this planet, and the pitch for the length is just second to none," said Hailey resident Dan Kurdy, an ardent Master's ski racer who's been skiing Baldy since he was 5. "If you were to design a ski run any way you wanted, you could not design a better run."
According to "Sun Valley, An Extraordinary History" by Wendolyn Spence Holland, the Warm Springs run was cut in 1939. Dick Durrance, the top American racer of the period, helped design the original run and supervised its cutting. The run initially ran along the top of the ridge on the north side of the mountain, then dropped down a face still called Steilhang. A bus trip was required to get back to the lift at the base of River Run.
Though it tends to attract the fastest skiers on the mountain, Warm Springs has a split personality. Lower Warm Springs is a slow-skiing area. Its broad width and moderate pitch give intermediate skiers all the room they need to think about what they're doing and to execute their turns without fear of picking up too much speed. But even top-notch skiers take advantage of those traits.
Nancy Auseklis, an active local Master's ski racer and former U.S. Ski Team member, says there's no better place to practice her turns than Lower Warm Springs.
"It's big and wide-open and it's not too steep and it's not too flat," she said.
Plus, she notes, it's easy to make laps using the Greyhawk lift; even during crowded times, there's rarely much of a wait there.
Warm Springs tends to attract those who value snow quality more than they do a chance to ski in the sun. Its northern exposure means it usually has the best groomed skiing on Baldy.
"The grooming is immaculate 90 percent of the time," Kurdy said.
A long run with just the right pitch and immaculate grooming—why ski anywhere else? Some skiers rarely do.