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Copyright © 2006
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The Sun Valley Guide magazine is distributed free three times a year to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area communities.

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What's a flying squirrel got to do with it?
Sun Valley ski instructor Greg Moore navigates through the intriguing origins of the monikers of Bald Mountain’s ski runs. Photos by Chris Pilaro.

It is widely known that the 70-year-old Sun Valley resort is situated where it is because Austrian count Felix Schaffgotsch deemed the surrounding mountains perfect for skiing. What is not quite so well known is that skiing did not begin in earnest on Bald Mountain until three years after the resort opened its doors. Alpine skiing was still in its infancy in America, and it was thought that there were not enough accomplished skiers to justify its development in 1936. Management eventually spotted their restless Austrian ski instructors hiking up and skiing down Baldy on their off days and quickly determined to realize the untapped potential of that glorious mountain.

The first lifts were rushed in and opened in 1939. In the ensuing 66 years, the names of the runs on Sun Valley’s cherished Baldy have been inspired by a variety of sources and events, many of which serve as bookmarks to the country’s skiing history.

Information for many of the names’ origins listed below was obtained from Nelson Bennett, who worked at the Sun Valley resort from 1940 to 1960 as ski patrol director and mountain manager, and from Walter Hofstetter, who worked from 1949 to 1965 as a ski patrolman, mountain manager and ski instructor.

River Run
The runs first developed on Baldy, which opened in December 1939, were named after geographical features. Those include Ridge, River Run and Canyon.

College Shortly after it was developed, Sun Valley began to host ski races for college ski teams to help sell skiing over Christmas vacation. Though the races were not held on College, the run was named to promote visits by collegiate skiers. The tradition was somewhat revived in 2005 with the inauguration of the Holding Cup, a race for teams made up of college alumni. Participants and Sun Valley Company donate money to the alma maters of the top-placing teams.

Rock Garden The most obvious source of inspiration for this name is the run’s southeastern exposure, where snow melts relatively fast, exposing rocks. However, the name may also derive from a section of the original Harriman Cup race course, which was held in 1937 and 1938 on Durrance Mountain, behind the Sawtooth National Recreation Area headquarters north of Ketchum. After racers skied down the mountain’s main bowl, they were funneled into a rocky section called Rock Garden. The race was moved to the Warm Springs side of Baldy in 1939 and to the River Run side in 1941. That course included Ridge, Rock Garden and Exhibition. Durrance Mountain was named after Dick Durrance, who won the race three times.

Exhibition Soon to become famous as a showcase for expert skiers, the run was named for its location under the lift. When Baldy opened, the Exhibition single chair was part of the only route to the top. One of the lift’s towers and four of its chairs have been refurbished and installed in front of the Lift Tower Lodge, at the southern entrance to Ketchum.

Cut-off When Baldy was first developed, skiers descending Ridge had to continue down Rock Garden. Cut-off was made to give skiers an alternate route to Canyon and the Roundhouse restaurant.

Holiday That name was the winner in a trail-naming contest held among employees when the run was cut in 1956.

Blue Grouse The large, dark ground bird is common on Baldy and throughout the Sawtooth National Forest.

42nd Street Actually the lower segment of Mid River Run, this trail funnels skiers on most of the River Run side of the mountain to the base there. Due to its congested nature late in the day, Hofstetter named it after the street he had once stayed on in New York City.

Olympic Named in honor of the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, held the year the run was cut.

Cold Springs Named after the springs that are now contained in a small building under the Cold Springs lift. The water is pumped uphill for use at the Roundhouse restaurant.


A skier descends Limelight on Bald Mountain.

Warm Springs
This side of the mountain is named after Warm Springs Creek, which flows by the base and has numerous hot springs in it. Skiers getting on the lift can often smell the sulfur from Guyer Hot Springs, just upstream. In addition to Warm Springs Run, ski runs on this side of the mountain include:

Limelight This run was the original lift line for a chairlift built to the top in 1965. Skiers were “in the limelight” as they descended the steep and narrow bump run under the lift. The run was widened after the current lift line was cut in 1988 for the Challenger high-speed quad.

International Originally called Steilhang when it was cut in 1939, the run was reconfigured in 1960. Hofstetter gave it its current name to honor international-level downhill races held there in the early 1960s.

Flying Squirrel Named by Hofstetter when the run was cut in 1965. “Flying squirrels came out of the tops of the trees,” he said. “They looked like huge bats.”

Arnold's Run Named in 2001 for frequent Sun Valley skier Arnold Schwarzenegger. It had originally been called Flying Maid, a name given by Hofstetter in honor of two young women from Seattle who worked as maids at Sun Valley. He said the women often hiked on Baldy and frequently stopped to visit with the men cutting the run. One day, he said, they realized with a panic that they were late for work, and crew members watched the maids bounding downhill to get back to Sun Valley on time.

Picabo's Street Named after former Sun Valley Ski Team racer Picabo Street, who won a gold medal in super G in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, and a silver medal in downhill in the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. The run had previously been called Plaza because it was the widest cut run on the mountain.

Greyhawk Mountain employees say they’ve assumed trail crew members saw a gray hawk fly out of the trees when the run was being cut, similar to what happened at Flying Squirrel.

Cozy Before the run was cut, Sun Valley Company owner Earl Holding told mountain manager Max McKinnon that he wanted a run there that gave him the same “cozy” feeling he got skiing on Seattle Ridge. McKinnon honored the request, and gave him the name to boot.

Hemingway Named for writer Ernest Hemingway, who made frequent visits to the area beginning in 1939. Between hunting and fishing trips, Hemingway wrote parts of For Whom the Bell Tolls, Islands in the Stream and A Moveable Feast here. In 1959, Hemingway bought a house in Ketchum, where he lived until he shot himself there in 1961.

Brick's Island “Brick” was the nickname of a Sun Valley snowcat driver named Gary Grant, who was killed while on a machine doing summer trail construction at another ski area.
 

Seattle Ridge
The area was named after a group of skiers from Seattle who regularly hiked up the ridge from Broadway and skied the backside before the lift was built in 1976.

Gretchen's Gold Named for Gretchen Fraser, who won a gold medal in slalom in the 1948 Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Fraser was the first American alpine skier to win an Olympic gold medal. She had trained at Sun Valley and later worked for Union Pacific Railroad, the original owner of the resort, as a public relations assistant.

Muffy's Medals Named for former Sun Valley Ski Team racer Muffy Davis, who won three gold medals in the 2002 Paralympics and a silver medal in the 1998 Paralympics. Davis had just been named to the U.S. Ski Team’s development squad when she broke her back during a training run on Bald Mountain in 1989. The accident left her without the use of her legs.

Christin's Silver Named for former Sun Valley Ski Team racer Christin Cooper, who won a silver medal in giant slalom in the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo.

Leigh Lane Actress Janet Leigh was a frequent visitor and part-time resident of Sun Valley since 1963, and wrote a historical novel about the resort’s early years called House of Destiny. The cat track across Seattle Ridge to Broadway was named in her honor after she died in 2004 at age 77.

Byron's Park Named for Byron Cady, a Sun Valley ski instructor who disappeared while rafting the Salmon River. Presumably he fell in the river while scouting at high water.

Broadway Named for the famed New York City boulevard, due to its function as a major artery for skiers exiting the Bowls.

Frenchman’s Ridge
The old Frenchman’s Mine was located just downhill from where the lower terminal of the Frenchman’s chairlift now stands. The shaft was filled in when the lift was built in 1995. Several of the runs in the area—Au Jus, Can Can and French Dip—follow the French theme.

Graduate It comes after College.

Janss Pass Named for Bill Janss, head of the Janss Corporation, which owned Sun Valley from 1964 to 1977.



The Bowls
 

Mayday Bowl Instructor Florian Haemmerle, who taught skiing at Sun Valley from its opening in 1936 until the mid 1960s, organized a slalom race on the bowl on May 4, 1938—St. Florian’s Day. Haemmerle’s widow, Bebe Haemmerle, said the race was for instructors who had decided not to return to Austria for the summer, and was won by her husband. “He stuck his pole in the snow and said, ‘I proclaim that this is Mayday!’” she said.

Christmas Bowl & Easter Bowl  After Haemmerle christened Mayday Bowl, other instructors followed the holiday theme in naming the two nearby bowls.

Lookout Bowl Named for the U.S. Forest Service fire lookout built on the top of Bald Mountain in 1941. The building is still there but is now used only as a radio repeater station.

Lefty Bowl  Originally, this was the farthest bowl to the left (looking up from the bottom) that could be skied without getting into thick trees. Trees near the bottom of the bowls farther to the left have since been cleared.

Farout Bowl  Well, it’s pretty far out.

Sigi's Bowl  Named after former Sun Valley Ski School Director Sigi Engl. Originally from Austria, Engl served as ski school director from 1952 to 1975.