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Rotarun and Soldier Now Open for Skiing
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Soldier Mountain overlooks the Camas Prairie. PHOTO: Tony Harrison
 
 
Friday, December 18, 2020
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Rotarun Ski Area a few miles west of Hailey has opened for its 80th season. And Soldier Mountain near Fairfield opens Saturday.

  • New snowmaking and grooming capabilities have allowed Rotarun to open from the top for what may be the earliest date in recent history. And Thursday’s new snow was a bonus.

    The poma lift is running. And a new 800-foot rope tow located along the original line will be open as conditions allow. A small terrain park will also make its debut as soon as possible.

    The ski area will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through Jan. 5. It will be open from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays Dec. 31, through mid-March if conditions allow.

    Night skiing will begin on New Year’s Eve and run every Thursday and Friday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. through the end of the season, which is projected for mid-March.

    The ski area was established in 1940 by Jim Hurst, Bob Jackson and Bill Mallory. In 1948 Swiss Olympic skier Janet Winn started to teach local kids how to ski. It was coined Rotarun in 1958 after the Hailey Rotary Club, which was among its early benefactors.

    And in 1964 the Arkoosh Family established the Rotarun Ski Club as a 501c3 nonprofit, installing the first top-to-bottom J bar and building a warming hut. The family donated the land to Blaine County in 1966. And in 2001 the J bar was replaced with a Doppelmayr Pom lift from a ski hill in an Austrian town.

    In 2017 the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation took over its management. It installed snowmaking and grooming infrastructure last year. And it adopted management strategies from the ice rink, establishing operating times based on when the community uses the ski hill the most to minimize expenses while maximizing impact and accessibility.

    “We’re elevating the quality of life here. We’re cultivating a passion for the ski industry,” said Scott McGrew, who heads up the SVSEF. “We offer an affordable, inclusive community hub.”

    This year comprehensive COVID-19 safety protocols are in place. Skiers and riders are required to wear a mask while in the lift line and within six feet of other guests; staff are required to wear masks at all times.

    There will be no lodge access so tailgate picnicking is encouraged. There will be a singles lines only at the poma lift and rope tow. Firepits are being provided for use with proper social distancing. Two outdoor restrooms will be provided.

    “Rotarun’s place in our community has never been more essential, and we are taking every step possible to provide a safe and magnificent place for kids and families to enjoy the fresh mountain air, be involved in the winter community, and have the opportunity to fly on the snow,” said Rotarun’s Executive Director Scott McGrew. “Our vision at Rotarun is to celebrate the grassroots of winter sport and maintain a community of skiers and riders who love the ‘old school’ and grit of rope tows, poma lifts, campfires and being with friends and family in a beautiful and welcoming setting.”

    Rotarun is selling $100 season passes for individuals and $200 season passes for families. Day tickets cost $5 for children 11 through 18 and $10 for adults. They’re available at www.Rotarun.org. Day tickets will be available for purchase at the new ticket kiosk at the base of the poma chair.

    Children under 10 ski for free. There will also be free skiing for all on Friday evenings.

    And Santa has come early in the person of Freddy Johnson who has offered to pay for all day tickets for children under age 18 through Dec. 31.

    Questions? Email General Manager Riley Berman at riley@rotarun.org or call 208-788-6204.

  • Soldier Mountain, a family-friendly resort 10 miles outside Fairfield, will open for the season Saturday, Dec. 19. The resort will be open Saturday and Sunday. Then it will reopen daily for the holidays Dec. 22 through Jan. 3.

Following the holidays, the resort will resume its regular operations schedule and be open Thursdays through Sundays weekly through the ski and snowboard season. Soldier Mountain is open for cat skiing bookings seven days a week and open for private mountain bookings Monday-Wednesday on non-operational days of the open season.

Both chairlifts will be running and the kitchen and Fox Den Pub bar will be open.

Facemasks will be required in lift lines and the lodge when not dining or drinking in accordance with the National Ski Areas Association’s “Ski Well, Be Well” program.

The ski hill has 35 named trails and two chairlifts reaching an altitude of 7,177 feet. Camping spots are at the end of the resort’s parking lot and along the road beyond.

Visit www.SoldierMountain.com for lift ticket prices and other details.

 

 

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