With snow in the forecast and the Bridger Gondola set to open for the summer on Saturday, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has a message for people who still want to get their lift-accessed fix.
“No ski equipment on the gondola this year,” resort spokeswoman Anna Cole told the Jackson Hole Daily.
Saturday and Sunday are not likely to be particularly summerlike for the resort’s first day of its summer season. Rain is in the forecast at lower elevations, and MountainWeather.com predicts roughly 6 inches of snow at upper elevations between Saturday and Sunday night.
Mountain biking won’t be an option at the resort, because the Jackson Hole Bike Park isn’t set to open until June 12, so there’s no need to worry about tires messing with muddy trails. But visitors will be able to hike, ride the gondola, dine and shop for the first time in the season.
Skiing off Bridger will not be an option for a few reasons.
In normal years when the Aerial Tram starts to spin for the summer, skiers can ride it to the top of Rendezvous Mountain and duck into the backcountry for late-season turns on Cody Peak and other high-altitude haunts.
But this summer the resort will not run the tram so it can complete what Cole called a “laundry list” of maintenance items. And that’s part of the reason ski gear won’t be allowed on the gondola.
Other reasons are the Bridger Gondola’s location well within bounds and the resort’s operating permit with the Bridger-Teton National Forest, which is for inbounds skiing and has a set date range.
“When we operate the tram and allow skiers to access the tram” in the summer, Cole said, “we ask them to go out the gates directly, because that is not in our permit area.”
That, she said, removes skiers from the “inbounds area where there are unmarked hazards.”
But with Bridger being where it is, skiers would have to cross inbounds terrain to reach the backcountry.
“It’s really just a safety precaution and so we can follow all of our Forest Service permit guidelines,” Cole said.
The Bridger Gondola will nonetheless operate for the intrepid, skiless few who want to get up on the mountain Saturday and visit a store like the gondola-top Off-Piste Market. That market will be selling waffles usually slung at the top of the Aerial Tram since Big Red is closed for the season.
Bridger will begin its early season hours Saturday, running from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
The Lower Faces Loop, Seven Bridges and Tramline trails will also be open, though there will likely be snow in some areas.
The Valley Trail and Saratoga Loop trails are closed for construction.
Other summer resort amenities are set to open June 12. Those include the bike park, Via Ferrata, Teewinot lift and Sweetwater Gondola, climbing wall, bungee trampoline, and the ropes and Frisbee golf courses.
Other gondola-top restaurants such as Piste Mountain Bistro and the Deck at Piste are set to open in June as well, as is the Tin Can Cantina.