Sun Valley Aims To Revamp Warm Springs Chairlifts

Sun Valley Aims To Revamp Warm Springs Chairlifts

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Sun Valley Aims To Revamp Warm Springs Chairlifts

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After adding the Sunrise terrain pod and the Broadway lift during the 2020-21 season, Sun Valley Resort in Idaho isn’t done improving.

Their next projects will involve replacing three of their lifts, one of which was removed back in 2014. In proposals revealed last week to the Sawtooth National Forest, two lifts will be going in for the 2023-24 season. The first replacement will be the addition of a high-speed six-pack chairlift.

This new Doppelmayr chairlift would replace the Greyhawk and Challenger chairlifts. The lift will have a mid-station unload, which would stop around the point where the top terminal of Greyhawk currently is, and would end at Challengers’ top terminal.

The top of the Greyhawk station, where the new Challenger mid-station will be. Credit: Hayden Gilmour/Sun Valley Resort

According to the Idaho Mountain Express, both the Challenger and Greyhawk chairlifts were built in 1988 and retrofitted in 1996. With both lifts being nearly thirty-five years old, they are reaching the end of their operational lifespan.

The Warm Springs base area. Credit: Hayden Gilmour/Sun Valley Resort

Back in the summer of 2014, the Flying Squirrel lift was removed due to a structure fire that occurred during the prior winter. Sun Valley plans to put a new lift on that will end slightly above the top terminal of the old lift. The new lift will start at the current bottom terminal location of the Challenger lift, rise through the lower Warm Springs and Picabo trails, and will end above the start of Picabo’s Street.

Additionally, a new Lower Flying Squirrel trail would be added in order to provide guests with an easy way down to the Warm Springs base area. Currently, those who want to get to the Warm Springs base area have to take a sharp turn to reach a flat cat track.

The Sawtooth National Forest is accepting public comments until September 2nd. If approved, Sun Valley will start work on the lift after the 2022-23 season.

Image Credits: Hayden Gilmour/Sun Valley Resort

Sun Valley released the following statement to us about their plans for the Warm Springs terrain pod:

As an independently owned year-round destination ski resort, Sun Valley is focused on improving guest and community experience on the mountain. The proposed projects in the first phase will benefit the recreational experience on Bald Mountain by improving skier circulation, increasing the accessible skiable terrain, and improving both lift and snow quality. The proposed projects in this phase prioritize the vitality and experience of the Warm Springs area of Bald Mountain and include the replacement and realignment of the Challenger Chairlift, the construction of a new chairlift at the Warm Springs base area, and the extension of Flying Squirrel ski trail and snowmaking.

We’ve built additional capacity into the two new Warm Springs lifts to ensure we can continue to offer the minimal lift lines Sun Valley’s guests have come to expect. The new Challenger lift will be a high-speed Doppelmayr 6-pack carrying skiers to the top in 8 minutes, 35% faster than the current Challenger lift, which includes the stop at the mid-station for guests wanting access to what is currently serviced by Greyhawk.

The second lift out of the Warm Springs base area will be a high-speed quad and will link to the top of the former Flying Squirrel lift. The new lift layout will improve skier circulation, spread the flow of skier traffic over a wider area and provide our guests with multiple options for accessing the rest of the mountain from Warm Springs thereby improving the skier distribution between the two lifts.

Additionally, the Flying Squirrel trail will be extended down to the Lower Warm Springs trail which will provide additional repeat-ski terrain serviced by the new Lift A. Snowmaking will be extended onto Lower Flying Squirrel to provide a high-quality snow surface Sun Valley is known for. As part of this year’s forest health work through the Bald Mountain Stewardship Project in partnership with the National Forest Foundation, and the U.S. Forest Service, we are removing dead trees and reducing fuels in the “Scorpion area” which will open up additional gladed ski terrain to skier’s right of the new Lower Flying Squirrel trail.

‘This is an exciting project for Sun Valley Resort as we make a significant investment in the mountain and commitment to our guests and the community. Our guiding principle in this multi-year endeavor is to improve the experience for our guests on the mountain and we think focusing on the vitality of the Warm Springs area is a great place to start,’ said Pete Sonntag, Sun Valley Company’s Vice President, and General Manager.”

Image Credits: Hayden Gilmour/Sun Valley Resort, Sun Valley Resort, Sawtooth National Forest, Featured Image: Matt Lorelli/Unofficial Networks

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