But, inevitably, Sun Valley discovered skiing. The masses came to town and Hollywood moved to Klosters, which is Sun Valley in Switzerland. In the years since, the place has been taken over by the Janss brothers, Ed and Bill, who collect Rauschenbergs, de Koonings and ski resorts, and the emphasis now more than ever is on skiing, which is what Sun Valley is really all about. Mountain Manager Les Outzs controls Baldy by walkie-talkie from atop the hill, and every time a mogul appears he tunes in a Sno-Cat, which rolls out and smashes it down. And now there is an even more notable improvement—there is a whole mountainside devoted to powder snow.
Even in the Valley's old days small bands of skiers had discovered the north face of Baldy, that forbidding, pitching Warm Springs Run zooming down to Jim Patterson's front yard at the river. That oldtime run was not so much a run as it was a wild chase through the trees, and those pioneer boomers often ended up carrying sprigs of pine bough in their teeth. But the powder was there, touched only by shadows and Idaho's snowshoe rabbits. For years it was the secret slope. Then the Janss brothers, who know a great run when they ski one, called in the decorators and did the mountain over completely. The result: Son of Warm Springs, 50 acres of pure powder running down through smoothed, open flying hillsides.
From the 9,200-foot top, where the pitch rolls along at 21� to 28� (and where the girl in the picture opposite leans into her first turn), Warm Springs runs two and a half miles down to where Patterson's front yard used to be. It is fast company, doubling back and forth beside two new chair lifts and across plazas, kicking up feathery plumes all the way—a 3,200-foot vertical drop. And no more pioneer trailblazing. It is now possible to run Warm Springs all the way without once crossing another run or access trail.
The remodelers did it up right. Churning dips that used to pull skiers right out of their socks have been filled. The trail averages 200 feet in width, and is deliberately cut crooked, complete with scenic islands of trees for skiing around, through, under.
"And to think," said Outzs on the day we skied it, "of all those years spent on the other side of the mountain." At last Sun Valley has everything: manicured snow, hard skiing on one side and soft skiing on one of the country's smoothest slopes on the other side. And don't forget: tea about 5. Tea?
WEST FACE KT-22, SQUAW VALLEY
Everybody should know the history of KT-22, that dandy mountain in the Sierra Nevada. Kit Carson and John Sutter both slept at its base in the 19th century, and it never got much more crowded than that until Alex Cushing and the 1960 Olympics came to town. In the 1930s pioneer skiers had herringboned all over the hill, marveling at its snowy wonders, and the wife of one of them, Mrs. Sandy Poulsen, claimed it took her 22 kick-turns to get down it, hence the name. If that is how mountains are named, it is a good thing she did not try to ski the West Face.
"Actually, it is not a ski run at all," says Cushing. "It is really an avalanche chute. I have fallen from the top all the way to the bottom of that thing. I would imagine that not 5% of the people who come to Squaw Valley can ski the West Face of KT-22."
One slip on the West Face usually means you chute all the way to the bottom. There are stout pines spotted strategically all down the course, each one a potential lip-splitter. Still, the fact remains that the West Face of KT-22 is the ruggedest, fastest, most challenging and soul-searing ski run in the country.
From the top, at 8,200 feet, the face does not look all that tough. Its first humpback loops over rather modestly to a small staging area just atop the main face. It is on this snowy platform that some of winter's worst snap decisions are made. One chill morning last March, we made one.