If this week's cold temperatures and snowfall ushered winter back into your brain, you're not alone. After a cold front brought several inches of snow to areas across the West, including the Sierra Nevada and parts of Utah, Wyoming, and Montana, it's the perfect time to set aside the mountain bikes and dust off the skis.
On Monday, the day after its closing, Snowbird once again found itself covered in fresh snow. And in Jackson Hole, where skiers can still ride the tram to tour out of bounds, Griffin Post found six inches of "hot pow" on steep lines off Cody Peak.
"Coverage is still pretty good and there's a full-on European vibe, with summer in the valley and winter-ish up top," he said Wednesday afternoon. "I kind of hung the skis up already, but saw the forecast and figured one more day can't hurt."
Snowy weather and vehicle logistics have closed down Beartooth Pass, on the Wyoming/Montana border, since earlier this week, possibly delaying the start of the first annual Mountain Rider's Alliance SummerShred Fest. Celebrating small ski areas, the three-day event begins Friday morning at Beartooth Basin, which sits high in the Beartooth Mountains outside of Yellowstone National Park.
The ski area posted a Facebook message Thursday morning stating, "The park service has informed us that Beartooth Pass will be closed until ‘sometime Friday’ due to drifting and vehicle maintenance. It’s sad and frustrating that the Beartooth Highway is such a low plowing priority for visitors and locals within the Greater Yellowstone area. Beartooth Basin will be closed until tomorrow. We will open at 9 a.m. or as soon as YNP plows the road.”
Austin Hart, owner of Beartooth Basin, said the cold weather and deep snowpack has provided what he called "the old average," or, basically, back when it used to snow more.
"The base depth at the top is probably 100 inches," he said. "Before two years ago, we never had the issue of not opening. Now, you never know what you're going to get up there. It's been a pretty decent year. Snotel is reading about 150 percent of normal and the rivers are high, so it's good for everyone."
Friday morning, the Summer ShredFest starts with SheJumps hosting a "Get the Girls Out" event with demos from Coalition Skis. That evening, from 5-7 p.m., MRA's Jamie Schectman will moderate a panel discussion focusing on the challenges facing small community ski areas. The event will be streamed live on the MRA Facebook page.
Saturday kicks off with a two-star Freeride World Qualifier at the Basin, followed by burgers and beer with Sego Skis. The event wraps up Sunday with a Community Ski Day. Get two-for-one lift tickets after purchasing a Mountain Playground Card, which supports a consortium of small, independent ski areas across the country.
For more information, go to SummerShredFest.com.