The Perfect Ski Day 

Dreaming of winter turns

Sometimes the coolest thing going during a hot Sun Valley summer is dreaming about winter. It's never too early to wax poetically about the promise of wicked sweet powder or gloat about having shredded last season's gnarliest lines. Stories about best ski days abound any time of year. The question is: What is an epic ski day in Sun Valley?

Hands down, anyone who has been enjoying turns in the historic ski area for a decade or more will say the key to perfection is to find a way into the backcountry.

In the spring, early morning skinning up a high peak to then arc gorgeous figure eights in untrammeled powder is hard to beat. Yet, such high adventure can still leave time for lunch, an afternoon corn skiing session at the resort, followed by festive, frothy apres ski with friends at a Sun Valley lodge on the mountain (preferably the Roundhouse for its stupendous views).

Baldy for 3,000 vertical feet of adrenaline and Dollar Mountain with a dizzying chaos of terrain park mayhem are definitely part of the quest for the ultimate Sun Valley ski day. But by hook or by crook, to experience the best Sun Valley has to offer­, attempt to get off piste, say the experts who cater to all ability levels.

Getting outside regular lines is how skiing began. In Sun Valley, doing so is a key to how the sport grows, and it's not just the purview of ski film stars and athletes who began breathing snow at age 2. There are many mountain guides in the Wood River Valley and the Stanley Basin who will gladly take anyone out in search of great turns. Regardless of skill, an adventure to match one's experience and motivation awaits.

Unabridged, a way to maximize a day skiing in Sun Valley is to arrive the night before and sleep semi-outdoors. Galena Lodge has three yurts that collectively can sleep 20 people per night. Sun Valley Trekking adds dozens more berths at its six hut sites, and Sawtooth Mountain Guides fill the balance of outfitted backcountry accommodations at the Williams Peak Yurt. An alpine start after being nestled for the night in the embrace of the Smoky, Pioneer, Boulder, White Cloud and Sawtooth mountains means that skiing begins while the coffee is still hot.

Dreams of skiing are remarkable when sleeping in a yurt with a wood stove. Of course, driving from Ketchum, Hailey, Bellevue or Stanley is also doable. It just means departing a little more bleary-eyed from couch surfing and a little less in tune with the snowpack. Either way, catching a post-backcountry lift for the last panoramic light on Baldy makes a classic Sun Valley day complete. There's always time to sleep at home or another night in a yurt.

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