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Jackson Hole Warm Weather Tactics?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi all -

 

First, as a regular lurker turned first poster, thank you to everyone on this forum, it is a wonderful resource!

 

We are headed out to JHMR next week (1/26/15) for the first time. Unfortunately it is looks like we will be hit with a spell of very warm weather (maybe 40s). Statistically the end of January seemed snow strong, but the role of the dice said different. I have read Bob's excellent guide (and reached out) and checked through old threads on the resort, but had a couple of opinion questions for the rest of you:

 

      1) Will it make more sense to spend additional days at Grand Targhee?

      2) It seems to me that if you hit 40 and then drop below freezing at night you are set up for perfect "ice rink" conditions in the morning. Any reason to think otherwise?

 

As all snow lovers can understand, we are deeply disappointed about the weather, but firmly resolved to have a great trip. I figure if it is warm and sunny we will get great views of the scenery and it won't be crowded...plus it is still Jackson Hole!

 

Thanks for your thoughts.

post #2 of 17

i have never been to JH so i cant be of much help there but i would definitely tell you to keep your head up.

 

I spent last week in Utah  and we were faced with a very ominous forecast less than a week before the trip. It was all but guaranteed to be warm with 0 chance of precip and it was looking pretty grim.

 

then all of the sudden a snow storm appeared with only a few days warning, and dumped 2 feet of snow in 2 days. we had one of the best weeks of skiing Ive ever had. So keep watching that forecast, things change very quickly in the mountains.

 

I only took a quick glance but it looks like they are predicting highs in the mid 30's with chance of precip on Wednesday. at high elevations wed could definitely turn in your favor....

Good luck 

post #3 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by One21Fifteen View Post
 

Hi all -

 

First, as a regular lurker turned first poster, thank you to everyone on this forum, it is a wonderful resource!

 

We are headed out to JHMR next week (1/26/15) for the first time. Unfortunately it is looks like we will be hit with a spell of very warm weather (maybe 40s). Statistically the end of January seemed snow strong, but the role of the dice said different. I have read Bob's excellent guide (and reached out) and checked through old threads on the resort, but had a couple of opinion questions for the rest of you:

 

      1) Will it make more sense to spend additional days at Grand Targhee?

      2) It seems to me that if you hit 40 and then drop below freezing at night you are set up for perfect "ice rink" conditions in the morning. Any reason to think otherwise?

 

As all snow lovers can understand, we are deeply disappointed about the weather, but firmly resolved to have a great trip. I figure if it is warm and sunny we will get great views of the scenery and it won't be crowded...plus it is still Jackson Hole!

 

Thanks for your thoughts.


Did exactly what you are planning last year with a couple friends.  Hadn't snowed in three weeks when we arrived at JH for 4 days of skiing.  Trip was our first time at JH and planned months in advance.  Definitely worth a day at GT.  Day 1 we explored on our own based on Bob's guide.  Although doing the free mountain tour is probably a reasonable choice too depending on the ability levels in your group.  I'd set up a "group private" lesson with a very experienced instructor for the morning of Day 2.  Since the price is the same for up to 5 people, it's really a pretty good deal.  Day 3 we were very lucky and met up with a JH Bear (long time Epicski member).  Day 4 we went GT.  Only about an hour drive in clear weather.

 

There is a day bus from JH to GT.

 

Nina's Fish in Wilson is a good place to stop for dinner after skiing at JH if you are driving.

post #4 of 17
Quote:
 It seems to me that if you hit 40 and then drop below freezing at night you are set up for perfect "ice rink" conditions in the morning. Any reason to think otherwise?

Those are the days to remember that you are on vacation, it's supposed to be relaxing and fun, and so sleep in and wait for the sun to soften things up.

post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Christy319 View Post
 
Quote:
 It seems to me that if you hit 40 and then drop below freezing at night you are set up for perfect "ice rink" conditions in the morning. Any reason to think otherwise?

Those are the days to remember that you are on vacation, it's supposed to be relaxing and fun, and so sleep in and wait for the sun to soften things up.


+1

 

JH can have quite a temperature inversion.  It was a surprise the first day last year because it was cold at the base but already about 30 at the top of the Casper lift by the time we got there around 10:30.  Took a little getting used to.

post #6 of 17

40's in the western mountains won't be as bad as you fear.  The low humidity and high altitude mean less refreezing onto the surface.  There will be some ice, especially in high traffic areas or spots with extra sun, but it won't be an ice rink horror show.

post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post
 

40's in the western mountains won't be as bad as you fear.  The low humidity and high altitude mean less refreezing onto the surface.  There will be some ice, especially in high traffic areas or spots with extra sun, but it won't be an ice rink horror show.


Plus the chances of rain are a lot lower than in the northeast.

post #8 of 17

Or you could do what my buddies just did: cancel your trip and go when it snows.

 

If only we all had the freedom and the $$ to do that.

post #9 of 17

Rip groomers in the a.m., ski by sun aspect toward lunch and after. Corn can be a beautiful thing.

post #10 of 17

What level of skiers are you?  If you are experts, you can simply lap the north facing runs.  I've skied JH twice when it had been in the 50s for days before hand and the north facing stuff (like Paintbrush, Toilet Bowl, Tower 3 chute, Hoops Gap, Mushroom, Thunder Bumps, Alta Chutes, etc.) skied with winter snow.

 

Elevation makes a big difference as well.  It may be that the lower stuff will get warm and melt.  But it may not as well.

 

Personally, I love ripping on Apres Vous when it's warm and the slush is up!

 

You'll have a great time.

 

Mike

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks all for the great replies. We will definitely take it easy as it is vacation, and hope for the best. I hope to have a chance to stop in Wilson, and if so will check out Nina's. Canceling the trip is definitely not an option =p.

 

habacomike - really appreciate those tips, not sure where I'll come out on expert terrain. My only real comparison base are double black tree runs at Telluride, which I was comfortable on. I suspect these are much easier than JH runs, so I plan to work my way up slowly to make sure I don't get in over my head. My SO is still a novice, so I'm sure the tram won't be an option for her this time. 

 

I'll write a trip report when we get back for others interested in this topic.

post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by One21Fifteen View Post
 

Thanks all for the great replies. We will definitely take it easy as it is vacation, and hope for the best. I hope to have a chance to stop in Wilson, and if so will check out Nina's. Canceling the trip is definitely not an option =p.

 

habacomike - really appreciate those tips, not sure where I'll come out on expert terrain. My only real comparison base are double black tree runs at Telluride, which I was comfortable on. I suspect these are much easier than JH runs, so I plan to work my way up slowly to make sure I don't get in over my head. My SO is still a novice, so I'm sure the tram won't be an option for her this time. 

 

I'll write a trip report when we get back for others interested in this topic.


Have you consider any lessons?  JH has a very good ski school for all levels.

post #13 of 17

Follow the sun as markojp suggests.  Early morning groomers  (a.k.a. cowboy powder) are awesome.  Habacomike is correct that the steep north facing runs will stay fluffy longer, especially off the Thunder and Sublette lifts.  You'll probably want to stay off the Hobacks & Sublette faces in the early morning as they will set up hard and can be miserable.  Once the sun has softened things up by around 11 AM  the whole mountain is your playground.

 

Monday and Tuesday are supposed to be in the low to mid 30's.  Where are you getting these 40 F forecasts?  Snow on the weekend before you arrive, and maybe some by Wednesday - you'll be fine.  A day at Grand Targhee is well worth it too.  Consider hitting it on one of the sunny days so you get a stupendous view of the backside of the Tetons, which is a rare sight in winter.

 

You will get your SO up on the tram at some point.  It must be done....

post #14 of 17
I just remembered something I noticed at JH. There can be a big difference in snow quality on adjacent pitches. I think it is because so many go off ridge lines, the local angle varies quickly. So following the Sun is not always a matter of moving around the mountain on a macro scale.
post #15 of 17

Quote:

 It seems to me that if you hit 40 and then drop below freezing at night you are set up for perfect "ice rink" conditions in the morning. Any reason to think otherwise?

At high altitude western areas with low humidity this is not necessarily true except on slopes taking a fair amount of direct sun.  At Mammoth and Snowbird I routinely ski dry chalky snow on steeper north exposures at 50+ in March/April.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by mdf View Post

I just remembered something I noticed at JH. There can be a big difference in snow quality on adjacent pitches. I think it is because so many go off ridge lines, the local angle varies quickly. So following the Sun is not always a matter of moving around the mountain on a macro scale.


The Lower Faces generally work this way.  The ridge lines face southeast, skier's right side to the ridge faces nearly due south while the skier's left side faces more east.  In January/early February those east aspects generally don't take enough sun to melt/freeze.  You may feel the crunch on the direct south aspects; if so just traverse over to the other side of the ridge.

 

I was in Jackson a week ago when there was an inversion and the snow was good everywhere.  Tuesday Jan. 27 I was at Alta/Snowbird after the big warmup and only true north-facing escaped the melt freeze.  Hopefully that warmup was less extreme at Jackson as only about 10% of terrain is true north facing.  Those are the sectors mentioned by habacomike above, and I'll add the Wally World/Bivouac area to that list.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 2/1/15 at 1:45pm
post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 

I posted my trip report with subjective views on the snow at:

http://www.epicski.com/t/132285/jackson-hole-1-25-15-1-30-15

 

Wally World and Bivouac did hold up initially and Paintbrush seemed ok (but was a bit thin I was told).

post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

I just remembered something I noticed at JH. There can be a big difference in snow quality on adjacent pitches. I think it is because so many go off ridge lines, the local angle varies quickly. So following the Sun is not always a matter of moving around the mountain on a macro scale.

Exactly!
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