There’s a lot to love about spending a day skiing at Sun Valley but there’s a recent addition that frankly blew me away. Sun Valley got a new chairlift and it is outta this world.

It was storming the morning we pulled into town so we threw on our low light lens and slipped Skigee goggle wipers on our fingers before exiting the opulent base lodge for a gondola ride to the top. Loosened up with few warm-up runs before taking my much anticipated first ride on the world’s tallest chairlift (most vertical feet) and let me tell you, The Challenger 6-Pack did not disappoint.

By pure serendipity, we loaded up for our inaugural ride with the new head of ski school Kyle Peterson who answered all our prying questions and pointed out all of the little terrain features we should hit after unloading from the freshly minted chairlift. We had been covering the construction progress throughout the summer and I knew a fair bit about it but have to thank Kyle for locals perspective on the project.

The first thing I noticed about Challenger Lift as we climbed Baldy is just how peaceful an experience it was. Much like riding in a modern luxury sedan, its easy forget just how fast you going because its operates so smoothly and quietly. Conversations can be held at whisper tones while you appreciate the serene natural surroundings despite the fact that you’re being rapidly whisked uphill by a technological marvel.

Just how fast you ask? How about climbing 3,410 of vertical feet in 8 minutes which includes a brief slow down at the mid-mountain station. The thing absolutely whips but its hard perceive unless you were acquainted with its predecessor’s ride time (30% faster than the old Challenger).

When we got to the top we followed Kyle for a bit before he had to jet to teach a lesson. Before departing he pointed out a nice cat track with a steep landing if we were looking to get rowdy and proceeded to blast a massive spread eagle off it and skied away casual as can be. It was like out of a movie. Dude knows how to make an exit. Nice ta meet ya Kyle, stay rad.

The Challenger made a ton of headlines but it isn’t the only new lift added at Sun Valley this season. Back in 2014 a wildfire took out the old the Flying Squirrel Lift and its replacement Doppelmayr 4-pack opened up in December. The new lift also comes with new terrain options with the extension of Lower Flying Squirrel trail and 54 acres of glades. While it totally sucked to have a wildfire rip through the resort, it did have a silver lining as it thinned out the trees in the Lower Flying Squirrel and the resulting terrain is sweet. Approachable but sporty enough to keep it entertaining.

The opening of the Challenger and the new Flying Squirrel Lift marked the completion of the Sun Valley’s Warm Springs Enhancement Plan and I would have to say they knocked it out of the park. If these new infrastructure improvements are any indication of the level of excellence for the upcoming Seattle Ridge Replacement Project, great things are are in store for Sun Valley. Can’t wait get back!

Challenger Lift

Introducing the first D-line chairlift with a mid-station in North America.

  • Slope Length: 8,693 feet
  • Vertical Rise: 3,138 feet — the biggest vertical rise chairlift in North America
  • Lift Time (bottom to top): 8 minutes
  • Lift Time (bottom to mid-station): 3 minutes, 20 seconds
  • Motor Size: 1,690 Horsepower
  • Speed: 1,181 feet per minute
  • Capacity: 2,465 people per hour
  • Chair Lifts & Towers: 109 Chairs and 28 Towers

Flying Squirrel Lift

A Doppelmayr 4-pack, Flying Squirrel transports skiers from the Warm Springs base to mid-mountain, offering access to terrain of all difficulty levels.

  • Slope Length: 6,252 feet
  • Vertical Rise: 2,353 feet
  • Lift Time (bottom to top): 6 minutes, 15 seconds
  • Motor Size: 800 Horsepower
  • Speed: 1,000 feet per minute
  • Capacity: 1,795 people per hour
  • Chair Lifts & Towers: 98 Chairs and 21 Towers

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