Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Jackson Hole Skiing - Record Snowfall Year

Just got back from a vacation in Jackson Hole a couple days ago. Whoa, I've never seen so much snow! Never. One night we got thirty inches, another night sixteen, and on and on. Avalanche guns went off almost every morning ... booming, triggering avalanches so we wouldn't end up in one. I brought the same skis I usually use up at Boyne, knowing I would likely demo skis depending on the conditions. I expected to be renting "all mountain" skis, but decided instead in favor of "powder" skis, the type most of the locals were using. I'd never tried a pair of fats, but was glad I did. My own skis threw me all over the place, and I couldn't bring the skis to a stop easily. It wore me out. The powder skis, on the other hand, seemed to float down the mountain. I used a lot less energy. Unfortunately, by the time I rented the skis, three days in, I was almost too exhausted to enjoy them. But that's me, trying to save a few dollars. Silly. The whole idea is to enjoy the vacation.

I don't consider myself a powder hound. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that in Michigan we don't get much powder. I actually was hoping more for sun and groomed slopes and maybe some soft forgiving moguls. I love to ride chairlifts on a thirty or forty degree day, relaxing and soaking up the warmth. Makes me feel like singing John Denver tunes about Rocky Mountain highs. But it wasn't to be. I knew this, after all it is Jackson Hole, famous for sub zero temps. Fortunately, I was spared the coldest temperatures. For Jackson, it was somewhat balmy, cold in the early morning (I think one or two degrees) but warming up to twenty or thirty most days. The problem was the flat light and sometimes blizzard conditions. At one point I could see about two feet in front of me, and only the pines on either side of the slope kept me on course. On two of the days they closed the chairlifts on the upper parts of the mountain because of dangerously high winds. Since it was also windy on the lower slopes, I didn't venture over there on those days. I have experienced chairlifts during high winds, not fun at all, especially when the lift stops and you're blown horizontal, your feet dangling over the tree tops, the wind sounding a lot like a locomotive.

I did enjoy the vacation though because a lot of my friends were on the trip, and really, how many times do I get a chance to ski that much powder? It was a record snowfall year for Jackson Hole, over five hundred and seventy-five inches, and I was there to see it happen. Think I'll be talking about this trip for a while...

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