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Oh Chute: Sun Valley turns “back country” on; Big bucks Utah terrain coming next season

8th February 2021 | Craig Altschul

Sun Valley adds new steeps

Sun Valley adds new steeps

Copyright: Sun Valley Resort photo

Get started on 380 acres of new steep and deep terrain right now at Sun Valley Resort in Idaho. Then next season, if your bank account is seriously overflowing, enjoy your own slice of heaven on skis as the uber-private Wasatch Ranch Club cranks up its opening salvo for skiers.

We’re only at the mid-point of the season, so you have plenty of time to explore the long-awaited Sunrise Ski Zone, 380 acres of “ski it if you can” expert terrain on the southern flank of Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain. It opened last week following a dump of 51 inches of new snow the previous seven days.

“Sun Valley Resort has been working on the Sunrise construction expansion for over three years, and we are elated to open up the fruits of our labor to our community, pass holders and guests,” said Tim Silva, president and general manager. 

This new “back country experience,” as the resort calls it, means an increase in skiable acreage of 20 percent with chutes, glades and bowls for “advanced through expert” skiers and snowboarders.

Baldy grows into 'back country'  - © Sun Valley Resort photo

Baldy grows into 'back country'

Copyright: Sun Valley Resort photo

Expansion at a reasonable price

Sun Valley is certainly one of the best-known, venerable ski resorts in the world, but at least it doesn’t break your credit card for a lift pass. Your day ticket is 50 percent less than window price through use of the Epic Pass.

But, when the Wasatch Ranch Club opens its ski terrain in Utah next December, as Ski Area Management (SAM) magazine is reporting, it plans to attack your wallet with gusto and all bets are off. 

The Ranch Club will be larger than luxurious Deer Valley and will have only half the number of member/residents who are part of the Yellowstone Club, the other exclusive enclave in Montana. “This is a resort being built for the 1 percent of the richest 1 percent,” Utah’s KPOA radio opined as it interviewed Ranch President Bob Weaton.

Recognize the name? Weaton was Chief Operating Officer for Deer Valley for about 20 years, leading it to regularly being chosen as the best ski resort in America by magazine and website polls. There are reportedly 10 owner/investors in the ranch from across the globe, one of those being Lessing Stern, son of Deer Valley founder Edgar Stern. The ranch property was originally listed for a sale price of $42 million.

Pay dearly to play

Club membership pricing hasn’t been publicly released yet, but it will most likely top that of the Yellowstone Club which currently demands an upfront fee of $300,000, owning a condo ($4 million-plus) or private home ($5 million-plus), along with an annual “season pass” or dues topping $30,000.

But, if you’ve got the juice, the Wasatch Ranch Club will deliver mind-boggling excitement for skiers (anglers, hikers, golfers, and whatever else attracts you to pristine wilderness) as it builds out over the next 10-15 years.

First there’s the location. The ranch is only 35 minutes from Salt Lake City and, if you still need a ski fix after all that sliding, Snowbasin (where the price tag is significantly more doable) is only 10 minutes away. Ogden Airport is 15 minutes should you have your own private jet. Few Morgan County residents will be able to afford membership, so it will be mostly a community of second homes.

Wasatch R anch Club skiing for '21-22  - © Mirr Ranch Group photo

Wasatch R anch Club skiing for '21-22

Copyright: Mirr Ranch Group photo

Heated seats and bubbles

The club’s total playground rolls over 12,750 acres and that includes some 3,000 skiable acres with a 3,600 foot vertical. Leitner-Poma of America plans to begin construction this spring on the first two chairlifts — both high speed quads. Members will be pampered with high-speed quads, planned with carriers that feature heated seats and bubbles. 

The two new chairlifts together will provide access to 1,650 acres of terrain, with a top elevation of about 9,500 feet. One lift will be 8,000 feet long, so those bubbles will be welcome. Nine lifts are planned by buildout.

So, the chutes and steep terrain of Sun Valley’s new Sunrise Zone are available to you right now for the cost of a lift ticket. The chutes and far more terrain should be available to you as a Christmas present and will likely be the most expensive stocking stuffer you’ll everreceive.



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