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Same time (8:45 am), same red box (Jackson Hole tram), same familiar faces (local skiers) standing with fat skis on the dock. A packed line is an expected event with record snowfall and 160” base up high. But a few things were not normal for a ski day: green grass below, flowers gamely attempting to proclaim summer, and oh yeah, it was May 28th. The Jackson Hole tram re-opened for summer tourism, but spent most of the day ferrying skiers up high and shooing them out the backcountry gates (inbounds skiing is prohibited during summer tram service).
Old habits die hard: I found myself gobbling breakfast on the go, telling my friends to hurry, nearly running over the summery throng of garage salers milling in my road, and spilling my coffee in the haste to grab my pack and get in line. Our tram car was full of skiers laden with packs, and a couple of bewildered sightseers.
30 degrees and sunshine greeted us at the summit, with a cold wind, boot deep powder, and winter-white peaks as far as the eye could see. “It’s like a heli-tram! I’m at the top and I’m not even tired yet!” exclaimed one skier gleefully, referring to the month locals have spent climbing the Tetons and elsewhere for turns. Corbet’s Cabin was buried, with only the doors dug out from under the well over 100” of snow that has fallen since the ski season ended.
Most people opted for the vaunted Cody Peak area, and by mid-day every north-facing line was pretty much slayed. Conditions ranged from powder to chalk to corn lower down. Others stayed out of the spotlight and lapped powdery trees and other ridges from the tram.
We skied almost all the way back to the base elevation for a short walk over to the village—we grabbed some refreshing PBRs and sat in the sun, celebrating success with a bluebird après session. The way things look now, weeks of real skiing, not novelty summer turns, are still to be had.
With record snowfall of 723” as of the end of May and a 160” base at the top of JHMR, the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Forecast resumed forecasting last week after closing on their usual mid-April date. Serious concerns about the massive amount of snow and backcountry travel sparked the decision. You can check it at www.jhavalanche.org. Skiing inbounds is not allowed in the summer.