Snow falls, tram opens
By Angus M. Thuermer Jr., Jackson Hole, Wyoming
December 10, 2012
A storm that dumped 18 inches of snow in Rendezvous Bowl over two days allowed Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to open its Aerial Tram on Saturday for the first time this season.
Exuberant skiers flocked to the ski area at Teton Village, some camping on the tram dock to be the first public skiers or snowboarders to ride from the top of the 10,450-foot mountain. Facebook friends shared pictures of the diehard campers.
“I think there were five gentlemen,” resort spokeswoman Anna Cole said in a cellphone interview from Thunder chairlift Sunday. “They brought sleeping bags, a grill — the whole nine yards.”
They, and others, weren’t disappointed. The storm laid down a generous blanket pushed by wind into soft pillows on lee slopes.
The resort posted video of happy skiers racing from the tram’s mountain station to get first tracks in Rendezvous Bowl. On Teton Pass, backcountry riders packed the summit parking lot all day, digging up face shots from Mount Glory to Mount Elly, Edelweiss Bowl and beyond.
Some described the great skiing with words unfit for print. Others were more quotable but no less excited.
“It was surprisingly very powdery, more than you would expect for your first day,” Jackson resident Mira Lee said of her day out Saturday.
She was back Sunday, riding Thunder lift. Ahead of holiday tourist crowds, she also found space.
“It was like your own private mountain,” she said.
In a statement, resort president Jerry Blann called the snow an example of the “perfect cowboy powder that Jackson is famous for.”
A quick fall of the mercury accompanied the snow, with temperatures on the mountain plunging to below zero during the storm.
Wind became a nuisance. Morning avalanche work delayed opening Saturday, Cole said, then wind hampered operation of some lifts.
“It was really busy in the morning,” Cole said, but once lifts ran they cleared out lines of eager skiers.
The resort posted a video of the first public tram car.
“Excuse me,” the tram conductor said to cheers in one clip. “Urgent and terrifying message: Welcome to the first tram of the year, ladies and gentlemen.”
A clear Sunday revealed natural avalanches along the Teton Range. The Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center posted photographs of slides on Teewinot Mountain, Static Peak and Mount Hunt in Grand Teton National Park. The fracture on Hunt was 5 feet deep.
Just south of the ski area boundary, Cody Peak’s Powder 8 Face slid, and Unskiabowl to the north of Teton Pass also ran.
Skiers triggered an avalanche in the Teton Pass area Sunday on Elly’s Avalanche Bowl. The center reported a skier deploying an air bag in another slide and ending up on top.