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Baldy Avalanche Serves as Prelude to Sun Valley’s Safety Season
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The Sun Valley Ski Patrol released this picture of the avalanche triggered by mitigation efforts in an ungroomed area near the Seattle Ridge area of Bald Mountain.
   
Friday, February 9, 2024
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Part of Bald Mountain ski area remained closed Thursday after the Sun Valley Ski Patrol triggered a large avalanche off the Seattle Ridge area of Bald Mountain on Tuesday.

The avalanche, triggered during mitigation efforts to open that part of the mountain to skiers and boarders, occurred in the Cold Springs Chutes in the Sunrise expansion area. The area opened a couple years ago with the building of the new Broadway lift.

The slab that broke out was about four feet deep and a hundred feet wide. It broke branches during its 900-foot-run, the debris piling up four to seven feet deep against trees below.

The area, which includes Cold Springs Chutes, Numbers, Sunrise Bowl and The Glades, remained closed to the public on Thursday.

The Sun Valley Resort reported Thursday morning that it had received 34 inches, or nearly three feet of snow during the last snowstorm, which started early Monday morning. Prior to that, the resort had received 33 inches in the 73 days since it opened on Thanksgiving.

It enabled the resort to open up areas like Can Can and the new Flying Squirrel extension on Bald Mountain. And it enabled Sun Valley Nordic Center to open up Hyndman View, Nemesis, Sidewinder and Boundary, which had been awaiting more snow because of damage caused by people driving on the trail. The only trail remaining closed is Diamondback.

Sawtooth Avalanche forecasters continue to warn of large destructive avalanches outside avalanche controlled areas due to several days of heavy snowfall stressing weak layers near the base of the snowpack in the Soldier, Pioneer and Sawtooth mountains.

“You’re VERY LIKELY to trigger a large, unsurvivable avalanche,” forecasters warned Thursday as they told of multiple slab avalanches triggered in the past few days, including one in Murdock Canyon north of Ketchum. “Some of these slides will be powerful enough to destroy a house.”

Coincidentally, Sun Valley Resort will kick off Safety Season this week.

The resort will partner with Sawtooth Avalanche Center on Saturday, Feb. 10, to offer skiers a chance to practice rescue skills at the Beacon Park on top of Bald Mountain.  Experts will be on hand to teach skiers and boarders to use the beacon equipment from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Those who take a lap through the beacon park will be entered into a raffle.

On Saturday, Feb. 17, there will be a GPS Scavenger Hunt to demonstrate how Ski Patrol uses GPS coordinates to locate lost and injured skiers. Skiers and boarders can win Sun Valley swag hunting down coordinates scattered around Bald and Dollar Mountains. The first GPS coordinate will be posted at 9 a.m. to the @SVskipatrol Instagram account.

On March 3 the Patrol Olympics relay race will give recreationalists a peek into life on the patrol.It starts at 4;30 p.m. Saturday, March 3.

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