My car sounded weird. On every bump there was a ker-chunk and ka-lunk due to so much snow stuck under the wheel well. I can't remember the last time I saw this much snow in downtown Jackson, Wyoming. All the more reason, then, to crank the tunes as I bashed through the three-foot snow bank that had been, once again, pushed in front of my driveway by Mr. Plow. Thanks, partner.
Like many places across the West, the winter in Jackson has been relentless. As in, relentlessly good. While it's not unusual for the Tetons to get pounded by snowfall (Jackson Hole Mountain Resort averages around 450 inches each season), we typically go through our share of dry spells. After the second deepest December on record, when the resort tallied nearly 13 feet of snowfall after a ridiculously dry November, we expected things to slow down. Then the second week of January produced what longtime locals were calling the best day ever. Which brings us to the latest storm, which has produced nearly three feet of new snow over the past few days, including 11 inches last night.
Total snowfall for the year is already 340 inches, with base depths on the upper mountain measuring 116 inches--almost 10 feet and it's not even February.
On Tuesday morning, I hopped on the tram with KGB Productions' Chris Kitchen and Matt Hines, along with skiers Bryce Newcomb and Allie Rood. Powder fever was in full effect, as it happened to be the first day of Jackson Hole's popular Steep Camps. There were some deer-in-the-headlights looks among some of the first-timers, with one guy even walking up to the tram carrying his skis tips down. I feel you, man. We all get nervous sometimes.
Our first run came along the boundary rope far right of Rendezvous Bowl. Completely untracked, the snow felt much deeper thanks to the wind. The snow was so light and dry that we definitely hit bottom, but the face shots were truly delicious. We were first to the Alta 3 chutes, where we found hallways of steep and deep among groves of frosty whitebark pines. The third turn down may have been my best turn of 2017: a little hop into the chute, a slight wiggle to build up speed…and in for the deep plunge as the snow consumed my entire body at the bottom of the turn. We heard the whoops and hollers of the skiers above us on the Sublette chair, delighting in our good fortune. The sound of their voices, combined with the swoosh of fresh powder flying past my ears, certainly put my car to shame.