I lay peacefully on my living room floor with my 7-year-old son stretched across my chest, enlightening him to the joy of an ’80s relic ski movie, Better Off Dead and reminiscing of the days when I wanted to ski the “K-12 dude!”
The Tram in Jackson, Wyoming, is definitely responsible for bringing people to the top of what was considered “extreme” back in the days of Better Off Dead. Although our ski culture may now consider a tram ride more mainstream than it was in the ’80s, I can tell you from personal experience that the thousands of acres of potential terrain accessible from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort tram are just as temperamental as in the days of Better of Dead.
This winter storm was so aggressive that Tigger Knecht, Hadley Hammer, Andrew Whiteford, and I spent two days in a row sitting inside of Corbet’s Cabin until almost midday as ski patrollers relentlessly bombed avalanche zones to make it as safe as possible for everyone who wanted to access Wyoming’s K-12.
Every photo composition that I had pre-visualized was a no-go. We were confined to rope-lined boundaries of the ski area for safety. Avy danger was rated “high” pretty much to the valley floor. Rain was falling at my house 12 miles away during most of the storm, but here on the mountain peaks of the Tetons the snow was falling at almost an alarming rate. Both of the mornings that I sat in Corbet’s waiting for our ski light to go green, the mountain was reporting double digit snowfall totals.
Yes, the glamorous job of the ski athlete is to highlight blue-sky powder conditions, but that wasn’t going to happen today. This storm allowed only for survival skiing and survival photography. Don’t get me wrong, nothing beats four feet of snow (except for four-feet, one-inch of snow) but when everything you own is wet, fogged, and barely functioning, it is not as easy to accomplish the task at hand.
As I type this, a text on my iPhone just alerted me to…a winter storm warning is in effect until 12 a.m. Wednesday with another potential 10-20 inches on the way. Guess I am going to have to struggle through more rough photo taking conditions. See you out there. —Jay Goodrich