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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Bald Mountain or "Baldy"as the locals call it.

Updated: Jan 10, 2021

Today was the last day for the Gondola & Christmas Lift to be open on Bald Mountain. We were very happy to have had the chance to go up Baldy.

Bald Mountain at 9150 feet or 2789 meters is adjacent to the city of Ketchum. "Baldy" has one of the higher summits of the Smoky Mountains of Idaho, that are located in the Sawtooth National Forest. The forested Smoky Mountains were named for their propensity to summer forest fires.

"Bald Mountain is the primary ski mountain of the Sun Valley ski resort, and renowned for its lengthy runs at a uniform gradient, at varying levels of difficulty, and with little wind."

Well, there was wind today and they had to close down both the gondola and chair lift for a short time. Michael took the picture just before we got off the chairlift. They stress wearing masks. They sanitize the seat and the bars before you get on the chairlift. I wonder what they will do in the winter. Bottles of hand sanitizer and masks are everywhere!

"In the Sun Valley's fourth year of operation (1939–40), Bald Mountain was opened for lift-served skiing, with a series of three (single-seat) chairlifts, unloading at an elevation of 9020 feet (2749 m).

"With a base elevation of 5750 feet (1753 m) along the Big Wood River at River Run, Baldy's vertical drop is 3400 feet (1036 m) along its northeast face. It is served by 14 ski lifts (1 eight-person gondola, 7 high-speed quads, 3 triples, 2 doubles, 1 surface); Baldy has more uphill capacity per skier than any other ski area. It has 75 runs with 2054 acres (8.31 km²) of on-piste skiing, 645 acres (2.61 km²) of which have snow making. The slope ratings are 36% easiest, 42% more difficult, and 22% most difficult. These ratings are relative, not absolute; much of the "easiest" terrain on Bald Mountain would be rated as "intermediate" at most ski areas, as the beginner areas are on the gentler and smaller Dollar Mountain.

Sun Valley's Bald Mountain is independent of the Bald Mountain Ski Area, a modest ski hill near Pierce in Clearwater County in north central Idaho.

"Perched atop the Roundhouse Gondola on Baldy, the Roundhouse has been serving up memorable meals, "soul-warming" drinks, stunning views, fondue by the fire and good cheer since 1939."

We decided to have lunch at the Roundhouse restaurant. It is located between the gondola exit and the chairlift entrance.

Christmas Chairlift going up the mountain

Michael and I both had the burgers. He opted for the homemade potato chips. They were delicious! I tried his.

I had the burger with a kale and quinoa slaw. Very fresh and tasty! They had a lobster roll on the menu. I was very tempted to try it! It was to be served on a New England style bun. The price was no different than what we pay in Scottsdale.

While I was taking pictures of the four sided fireplace, I got to talking with one of the hosts. The young man is from Tempe, Arizona. He attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. He worked at Little American in Flagstaff and then moved to Sun Valley. He told us the owner of Sun Valley also owns Sinclair Oil. Michael has sold storage computers to Sinclair Oil. They had an interesting conversation.

A little history:

"Robert Earl Holding(November 29, 1926 – April 19, 2013) was an American businessman who owned Sinclair Oil Corporation, the Grand America Hotels & Resorts, The Grand American Hotel, the Westgate Hotel in San Diego, California (directed by Georg Hochfilzer) and two ski resorts, Sun Valley in central Idaho since 1977 and Snowbasin near Ogden, Utah since 1984."

"Holding first tasted success after becoming manager of the struggling Little America truck stop and hotel near Green River, Wyo., in 1952. After revitalizing the business and becoming its owner, he opened other Little Americas in Cheyenne, Wyo., Flagstaff, Ariz., and Salt Lake City."

Michael has stayed at all three hotels. I have not stayed at the one in Wyoming but I have at the other two. If you have the chance to stay at the one in Salt Lake City make sure you try their dinner rolls. OMG!!!! They are wonderful!

"But Holding’s boldest moves came when he acquired a Mobil refinery in Casper, Wyo., in 1968 and Sinclair Oil in 1976. Sinclair Oil, based in Salt Lake City, now has 2,700 independently-owned stations in 22 states in the West and Midwest. The company also operates two major refineries in Wyoming.

Holding later purchased the Sun Valley Resort in Idaho and Snowbasin Resort in Utah, as well as sprawling ranches in Wyoming and Montana. He owned 400,000 acres in 2010, making him the 19th greatest land holder in the U.S., according to"

"In 1952, Holding began work on the first Little America west of Rock Springs, Wyoming. In 1965, Holding and his wife, the former Carol Orme, started the Little America in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and completed construction a year later. For a time they resided in a house on the grounds of this Little America. His son, Stephen, also lived there when he managed the travel plaza. In 2008, the Holdings added a large convention and conference center at Little America.

Holding owned 400,000 acres (1,600 km2) of working cattle ranch land in northern Wyoming and southern Montana.

With an estimated net worth of around $3.2 billion at the time of his death, he was ranked on Forbes's Forbes 400 list as the 155th-richest person in America.

After suffering a severe stroke in 2002, Holding was partially paralyzed, but made a sufficient recovery to continue the management of his organization until his death in the spring of 2013."

"While accounts of business success are relatively common, the Holding story is unique, I believe, because of the outstanding lessons they have taught by example — of hard work, humility, loving care for employees, superb customer service and quiet but effective philanthropy."

"The Holdings have been loyal to thousands of employees, and their employees have been loyal in return, many of them spending their entire careers with Sinclair. For Earl and Carol, their employees have been part of their extended family. They also have enabled thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs who have operated service stations, trucking companies and other affiliated businesses.

The Holdings are legendary for never asking an employee to do something they wouldn’t do, or hadn’t done, themselves. Even after achieving exceptional success, the Holdings could be seen at their various properties taking luggage to rooms, washing windows, waiting tables and washing dishes."

"They are also legendary for their hands-on business involvement and attention to detail. They have personally selected the key features of their beautiful hotels and ski resorts, and have overseen every detail of construction.

Their longtime business associate Ken Knight once said, only half joking, that Sinclair’s organizational chart was simple. “At the top of the chart you have Earl Holding, under which there are 5,000 direct reports.”

Their lives offer a pattern for success in business and life: Focus on quality. Be the best. Never sacrifice long-term results for short-term gains. Be passionate. Make your vision a reality.

Zions Bank has been associated with the Holding family for over half a century. Their loans have always been character loans, their integrity being the only formal security needed."

snow making machines

We did a little hiking at the top and we sat in the chairs and enjoyed the scenery.

We watched this man fly fishing. We didn't see any fish in the stream, though.

I found a Fitbit Watch in the parking lot. Michael said it was the high end model. I returned it to the person whom we bought the lift tickets from. She was so excited as someone had just asked if anyone had found it. She went running to the parking lot to find the person. I felt great doing a good deed.

We had dinner again at the Sun Valley Village Station. We met the couple whom we saw skating yesterday. She is the hostess and he is a waiter. In April, they were supposed to skate in Europe but didn't go because of COVID-19. He is a professional skater but she said she is not. They love training and working at Sun Valley.

Michael had the spaghetti Bolognese with garlic croissant

I had the spaghetti and meatballs with a garlic croissant. Both dishes were very tasty.

The swam at the lodge was sleeping. There weren't any children to bother it. I think it is saying, "Are you looking at me?"

Another Sun Valley Day comes to a close!

Hope everyone had a restful and pleasant Labor Day. Michael and I appreciated the calls and emails checking on us because of the weather and the possible smoke from the fires in California. We are fine and having a terrific time!

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