Monday, May 20, 2019
Sun Valley Opener Greeted by Snow, Good News
It was still dark when Joe Hilber, Tre Burton Black and Lukas Taylor lined up at the head of the lift line Thanksgiving morning.
Friday, November 23, 2018


Steve Van Lier Ribbink grinned as snow pelted him in the face as the Lookout Express climbed towards the top of Bald Mountain.

“The snow is awesome,” said Van Lier Ribbink, who moved to Sun Valley from Hawaii a few years ago. “If this isn’t heaven, we must be able to see it from here!”

Van Lier Ribbink was among hundreds of skiers and snowboarders who turned out Thursday to toast the opening of Sun Valley’s 83rd season. And they were rewarded with a good solid 18-inch base, thanks to Sun Valley’s 500-plus snow guns.

Skiers were all smiles as they boarded the Lower River Run lift.

Three chairlifts and the gondola were running, and skiers and boarders happily sprayed powder on Upper and Lower College Boulevard and Mid-River Run before heading down 42nd Street and Lower River Run.

Dollar Mountain also opened with one chairlift and the Accelerator Carpet running.

The runs were well covered and the snow soft—all good news for a state whose ski industry generates more than $400 million a year for the state’s economy,

The first chair of skiers had hardly reached the top before the snow began flying--a snow that would eventually leave three inches of snow on Bald Mountain. And Sun Valley’s Communications Manager Kelli Lusk had her fingers crossed and a smile on her face with the forecast of heavier snow on Friday.

Boarders and skiers made their way down Mid-River Run as the snow fell Thanksgiving morning.

Lusk’s smile was made all the broader by the news that the Warm Springs Lodge, which had been damaged in a fire in April 2018, would reopen for the season “well before Christmas.”

The Sun Valley Inn renovation is nearly finished, as well, she added. And Sun Valley Resort hopes that the Sun Valley Ski Patrol will be able to offer advanced skiers a sneak peek at the chutes and tree skiing in Turkey Bowl by January.

Turkey Bowl is part of the Cold Springs project expansion that will add more than 380 acres to Sun Valley’s ski terrain.

It was 5:30 a.m. when Joe Hilber, Tre Burton Black and Lukas Taylor took their place at the head of the line.

Lift ticket checker Gary Hino showed off his hat sporting pins guests and employees have given him. One from Costa Rica given him by a fellow Sun Valley employee comes from the farthest away.

“Being first gets your photo in the paper—that’s what it’s all about,” said Black.

Hilber had never skied Sun Valley before but was anxious to try it after moving to Sun Valley a little over a month ago to work as a firefighter. He called himself a “lift shack baby,” having grown up on Washington’s Mount Baker with a father who worked as a ski instructor and a mother who worked as a lift ticket checker.

“I came here for the world-class skiing,” he said. “I think skiing is the greatest thing in the world—the left and the right. I’m all smiling, all excited.”

While Hilber was new to Sun Valley, Larry Kraay has been making the journey to Sun Valley Resort each morning during winter from his farm south of Bellevue since 1972.

Steve Van Lier Ribbink missed only eight days of Sun Valley’s 144-day season last year because he and his wife were in Hawaii watching their pilot son taking part in a missing-man flyover during National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. He hopes to ski every day this year.

“I missed the first day several years ago and it put me behind,” he said. “It’s all about getting right on your skis.”

Bill Gehrke had Kraay beat, having started skiing Sun Valley in 1970.

“My favorite memory is the first time my grandson beat me down the mountain. He’s 14 so that was a while ago,” he recounted. “Why do I do it? My wife likes her free time in the morning. She wants me gone!”

John Reagle recalled skiing with Jean-Claude Killy on the mountain.  Those skiing with him had to call him Joe Bob, he added, or Killy never would have had a moment away from his fans.

 “It was pretty fun skiing with him—you were definitely in his shadow,” he added.

Reagle has skied at least 120 days a season since moving to Sun Valley in 1971. And he says he would like to ski every day this coming season, if possible.

“Living the dream,” he said. “I’m so excited for the season to begin—I can never get enough. I’ve skied all over the world and you get so much more vertical here than almost any place in the world.”


Those with season passes at other resorts may present them at Sun Valley ticket windows to get 40 percent off lift passes from Nov. 26 through Dec. 20. For more information, visit


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