Mountain Safety

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Here you will be provided with information to help you enjoy your Sun Valley Resort vacation safely while maximizing fun on the mountain. Remember to always ski and ride within your ability and be aware of the skiers/riders around you.

Mountain Community

The Mountain Community encompasses our entire recreational landscape and is inspired by the idea that we all enjoy and engage in sport without competing with or interference from other mountain enthusiasts.

The Mountain Community reaches far beyond our local mountain ranges and includes everyone who shares a passion for and appreciation of the mountain lifestyle. The Mountain Community can be expressed through the three C’s: Community, Consideration for others and Common sense. Combined with a desire to enjoy as safe an on-mountain environment as possible, this philosophy exists as a key component of the Sun Valley Company’s Safe Skiing Initiative.

Connect with us on Facebook Mountain Community fan page Facebook


Sun Valley's uphill travel policy, approved by the U.S. Forest Service, allows access for uphill travelers outside of operational hours. Uphill travel within ski area boundaries poses significant safety concerns for uphill and downhill recreationists, ski area operators and staff. Sun Valley's policy reflects our commitment to seek a balance between mitigating safety concerns of uphill travel as a recreational use within the downhill ski area/Special Use Permit area and the resort has been granted a Special Use Permit from the U.S. Forest Service.

Sun Valley continues to work closely with the Ketchum Ranger District, Sawtooth National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management, local organizations, to build awareness and provide public education regarding uphill travel and recreational uses. Our Goal is to find a reasonable balance between and among user groups who share a common interest in recreating within the Sun Valley Special Permit area in a safe, non-confrontational and sustainable manner.

Bald Mountain Policy – During the Season & During Operating Hours

Uphill travel by the way of foot, snowshoes, trax, or skis is not allowed between the Hours of 9:00 am and 4:00 pm. Users will need to be descending at 9:00 am.  Exclusions may apply for unusual circumstances. These exclusions may include but not limited to special events, maintenance, etc.

Bald Mountain Policy – Pre-Post Season

Safety considerations, maintenance or operational requirements, grooming operations, snowmaking operations, special events, avalanche hazard mitigation work, wildlife or resource considerations, or construction, may cause public risk management issues to exist.  To protect the public from potential hazards that may exist from time to time, prior to the opening of the ski season, the ski area is authorized, with Forest Service pre-approval, to close areas subject to those potential hazards and to post signs at uphill access points closing those areas.

Bald Mountain Policy – During the Season & Outside Operating Hours

Outside of operating hours, there may be circumstances in which the ski area may eliminate uphill traffic or limit or restrict uphill traffic by designating specific times or days or routes that will be available for such use.  These circumstances might include safety, maintenance or operational needs, grooming operations, snowmaking operations, special events, avalanche hazard mitigation work, wildlife or resource considerations, or others.  The ski area is authorized, with Forest Service pre-approval, to perform any or all of these actions as deemed reasonable and necessary by the ski area.

All participants within the permit boundary are considered skiers and are subject to Idaho Statute title 6 chapter 11, 6-1106 Duties of Skiers.

Uphill Travel Protocol


  • Yield and stay clear of ski area machinery, i.e. grooming machines, snowmobiles and snowmaking equipment. When encountering winch operations, (lights and signs) re-routing is required.
  • Mountain users should use reflective clothing, Headlamps and blinking lights when possible. Animals should have blinking lights when possible.
  • Adhere to Trail Closures. Blaine County Ordinance 86-4 states; No skier except a member of the ski patrol or employee of the Forest Service, Sheriff or ski area operator in the course of his employment, shall enter or go upon any closed area.
  • Dogs are preferred to be left at home for their safety. Should they participate, they should be on a leash through the private land at the base and on a leash or under control of voice command at all times while on Forest land.  Please have the courtesy to pick up after your pets. Pet waste stations are available on private land at the base.
  • If you pack it in, please pack it out. Help us keep the Forest clean for future users.



In 1936 the Union Pacific Railroad company opened the doors of Sun Valley, America’s first four season mountain resort. Billed as North America’s premier mountain recreation destination, Sun Valley became the standard for all mountain towns to follow. Concurrently, the Sun Valley Ski Patrol (SVSP), America’s first and longest-tenured ski patrol, began skiing the slopes of central Idaho’s Pioneer and Smoky mountain ranges.

More than three quarters of a century later, the SVSP continues its tradition of world class service to our guests. Trained in skier safety techniques, advanced first aid, snow science, lift evacuation, avalanche mitigation and rescue, toboggan handling and mountaineering skills, members of the ski patrol are highly certified and skilled individuals.



Originally the ski patrol was led by members of the U.S. Army’s famed 10th Mountain Division. In fact, Nelson Bennett, one of the SVSP’s original Directors, actually cut many of Sun Valley’s most famous runs by hand. Over the past eight decades, the patrol has continued to be an industry leader in the development of best practices within the ski resort profession. These advances range from the invention of the ski patrol toboggan in the 1940s to technological advances in computerized dispatch systems today.


Ski Patrollers and Avalanche Dogs


Ski Patroller


The ski patrol staff encompasses 67 highly trained professional men and women who average approximately 17 years of service with many exceeding 40 years on the job. This unequalled level of service is one of the many shining lights of the Sun Valley Company brand. The team consists of world-class skiers who are dedicated to enhancing our guests’ experience on the slopes of world-famous Sun Valley.

Connect with us on Facebook Ski Patrol fan page Facebook


Mike Lloyd - Ski Patrol Director

“The safety of our skiing and riding guests is our first priority. We view everyday as an opportunity to meet and greet our skiing and riding guests and talk about safety on the slopes,” said Mike Lloyd, Director of the Sun Valley Ski Patrol. “As members of the Mountain Community, it is incumbent on everyone to respect each others’ space and desire to have an enjoyable experience on the mountain.” Mike Lloyd - Ski Patrol Director


Skiing can be enjoyed in many ways. At ski areas you might see people using alpine, snowboard, telemark, cross country or other specialized equipment such as that used by the disabled. Regardless of how you decide to enjoy the slopes, always show courtesy to others and be aware that there are elements of risk in skiing that common sense and personal awareness can help reduce. Observe the code listed below and share with other skiers the responsibility for a great skiing experience.

Sun Valley trails are rated according to their difficulty relative to other trails on their respective mountains. Users of all ability levels should begin with easer trails before advancing.

Responsibility Code

1. Always stay in control and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.

2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.

3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not visible from above.

4. Whenever starting down hill or merging into a trail, look up hill and yield to others.

5. Always use devices that help prevent runaway equipment.

6. Observe posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.

7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.

In addition to Easier, More Difficult, Advanced and Experts Only runs, Bald Mountain offers five Family Areas where we ask our guests to "Go with the Flow." These areas are shaded in yellow on the trail map and include: Lower Broadway, Seattle Ridge, Lower College, Olympic Ridge and Lower Olympic and Mid and Lower Warm Springs. These areas are clearly marked with yellow on-hill signage.

There are also three Slow Zones in which guests are asked to go "Very Slow." These areas include: Upper College, the Meadow Hill at the base of Seattle ridge and 42nd Street to the bottom of Lower River Run. These areas are highlighted in red on the trail map and are clearly marked with red on-hill signage.

Areas beyond the ski area boundary are not patrolled or maintained, and Sun Valley assumes no responsibility for the safety or welfare of skiers in these areas. Rescue in the backcountry, if available, is the responsibility of Blaine County Search and Rescue, a service often very costly to the skier.



Proud winner of the NSAA 2015 National Safety Award for Best Overall Safety Program (350,000 or more visits).


Though Sun Valley makes efforts to minimize risk of in-bounds avalanches, these natural events cannot always be avoided. Stay out of closed areas, do not ski alone, and be aware of your surroundings. Call Ski Patrol immediately if you witness an avalanche. Avoid deep snow and tree wells, as these areas expose skiers to risk of snow immersion injuries and fatalities.

There is a big difference between closed areas within the ski resort and Baldy’s area boundaries.

Closed Area

Closed means closed. Areas are closed for various reasons – lack of snow, poor snow conditions, maintenance, wildlife considerations, grooming and most importantly – avalanche hazard and mitigation. In the interest of public safety, skiing in closed areas is against the law in Blaine County.

Snow and weather conditions can change quickly. Avalanche gates open and close accordingly for your safety. Never enter a closed area. You may lose your pass or receive a citation from Blaine County Sheriff (class B misdemeanor). If you are unsure about terrain access, please contact the Ski Patrol. In case of emergency call 911.

Ski Area Boundary

Public lands extend beyond Baldy’s boundary ropes. You are on your own when you go out-of-bounds. Rescue is not imminent when you leave the ski area and avalanche hazards are no different than touring in remote areas.

Avalanche Rescue Equipment

Skiers need to use good decision making when leaving the ski area and…

  • Have at least a basic understanding of Avalanche Awareness
  • Know the avalanche hazard for Baldy’s Side Country
  • Ski with a partner
  • Carry a cell phone
  • Carry an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel
  • Practice with your equipment!

Skiers can practice their avalanche skills in Baldy’s automated Beacon Park. If you need assistance honing your skills or have questions about the avalanche hazard, stop by the ski patrol headquarters on top of Baldy or call the ski patrol at (208) 622-6262.

Useful Info:

Avalanche Education Opportunities -
Avalanche Advisory for the Wood River Valley -

Controlled Blasting at Lookout


Kids' helmet and goggles

NSAA promotes the use of helmets on the slopes. We urge skiers and riders to wear a helmet – but to ski or ride as if they are not wearing a helmet. NSAA views skiing and snowboarding in a controlled and responsible manner – not helmets only – as the primary safety consideration for all skiers and boarders. A skier’s behavior has as much or more to do with the safety of the sport as does any piece of equipment.

In 2002, Lids on Kids debuted as a resource for consumers to learn about helmet use in skiing and snowboarding. This site contains FAQs about helmet use, fit and sizing information, general slope safety information, related articles and games, and testimonials about helmet use from well-known athletes, including US Ski Team members.


Out of safety concerns for guests, employees, and resort property, as well as concerns for individual privacy, Sun Valley Company   prohibits the operation or use of unmanned aerial systems, or drones, by the general public – including recreational users and hobbyists – without the prior written authorization from the Company.  This prohibition includes drones used for filming or videotaping, as well as any drone use by media or journalists operating above or within Sun Valley Company boundaries. including property under the special use permit with the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management..       The general public are not allowed to transport drones on the ski lift or be carried uphill by any means without prior authorization.  This prohibition on drone operations or use extends to any drones launched or operated from Company property, as well as drones launched from private property outside of the Company boundaries.  Any authorized operation of aerial drones may be governed by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and regulations, local law enforcement, and/or U.S. Forest Service or BLM regulations, as well as those policies separately established by Sun Valley Company, which may include certification, training, insurance coverage, indemnification requirements, and waivers or releases of liability.  Any violation of this policy may involve suspension of skiing or snowboarding privileges, or the revocation of season pass, as well as confiscation of any drone equipment, and may subject violators to any damages, including, but not limited to, damages for violations of privacy and/or physical or personal injuries or property damage, as well as regulatory fines and legal fees.

When operated in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Sun Valley Ski Area, ski equipment is allowed, with the exception of ski bikes (and any other prohibited equipment), which are prohibited at  Sun Valley Ski Area due to safety concerns for our guests. Those concerns include: but are not limited to, skier and snowboarder collision impacts with equipment, run away and abandoned, equipment, equipment, user separation from one another, while either on the slope or on the lift, damage to lift seats that could cause subsequent compromise to the ability to properly, load and unload the lift by other users, the overall difficulty of the use of this devise as a result of the slope gradients present at this facility.

A person who has a disability is allowed to utilize any specialized equipment that has been designed and manufactured solely for use by individuals who have disabilities, for example on snow monoskis, biskis, outriggers, and sitskis. Equipment in other seasons includes any device that meets the definition of a wheelchair. That use is in accordance with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) Section 36.302(b)(2)(A)(ii) which requires reasonable modifications in rules, practices, or procedures, unless the entity can demonstrate that making such modifications would fundamentally alter the program. The Sun Valley Ski Area offers or will arrange for any adaptive equipment that meets this definition when requested in advance by individuals wanting to enjoy sports at the Sun Valley Ski Area.

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Enjoying the 80th Opening Day


There’s nothing quite like the first day of ski season. It’s like a combination of the first day of school and Christmas morning—except there’s isn’t any homework afterwards and it takes a lot longer than one day to unwrap all the gifts of another season on the slopes. The 80th opening day for Sun Valley couldn’t have been much better. Fresh snow had fallen the day before creating conditions that felt more like mid-season than opening day. And that’s always a great sign for the upcoming season. In fact, “great” was the word I...