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Baldy Hill Climb-A Celebration of Good Fortune
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Tuesday, September 26, 2023
 

STORY BY GEORGE MURRAY

PHOTOS BY HEATHER FOSTER AND JULIA SEYFERTH

The Baldy Hill Climb returns for its 45th year of action on Saturday, Sept. 30.

The annual event was founded in 1979 by Kevin Swigert, who was head coach of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Cross-Country Ski team at the time. Started as a way to raise funds for the team, the event has held strong over the years and is now a local tradition.

“The event has turned into a celebration of our good fortune to live in such an amazing place with all that the mountains have to offer. Baldy is an iconic presence in our town,” said Rick Kapala, director of Sport Development for SVSEF and former Nordic Ski Team head.

Kapala said the Baldy Hill Climb has become a tradition built on the acknowledgement of something of value by an entire community, combined with a collective effort to regularly re-affirm that value.

“Much of what we have here can be traced back to that original idea to create a recreational ski area. All that has sprung forth in this town is tied back to the mountain. The event is a way of saying, ‘Thank you, mountain.’ In addition, people care that the SVSEF has been providing great winter skiing opportunities to the children of our valley for over 50 years. It’s a gesture of support for the SVSEF on the part of the participants.”

This year especially is a great year to give the Baldy Hill Climb a try, Kapala said. Due to lift construction on the Warm Springs side of the mountain and on the summit, the event has been temporarily relocated to the River Run side of Baldy.

“The course is about the same length (1.8 miles) but with less vertical climb, so it’s slightly less daunting than Warm Springs. The key is to pace oneself,” Kapala said. (This year’s climb is 2,045 vertical feet versus 3,140.)

Kapala added that the SVSEF has been able to continue the event year after year because of the support of Sun Valley Company.

“They believe in the event and the SVSEF and their support by providing lift service is huge,” he said. 

The Baldy Hill Climb is for everyone—young and old.

 “It’s a simple proposition: Put on your running shoes and climb uphill as fast as you can,” explained Kapala. “No real gear considerations, no complicated logistics. We offer a non-competitive hiking class that starts at 9 a.m. and then the racing class starts at 10. All you have to do is get out of the door in the morning!”

Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, at https://svsef.org/baldy-hill-climb/. There is no race-day registration. Cost is $30 for those 17 and under and $40 for those 18 and older.

“I don’t think Kevin Swigert and the SVSEF necessarily envisioned that the Baldy Hill Climb would be going strong 45 years later,” said Kapala. “But, as it turns out, the event has staying power because it celebrates the many great benefits of a life well lived in the mountains.”

All participants receive an event T-shirt, a refuel at the Roundhouse aid station and a ride back to the base of River Run on the gondola.

DID YOU KNOW?

There is a Kinderclimb in conjunction with the Baldy Hill Climb for kiddos 8-sh and younger. It starts at 8:30 a.m. It’s free and no advice signup is required.

The idea: Run 200 yards up Lower River Run.


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