Originally Posted by Tony Crocker
How long were those lower faces skiable this year? I assume they burned off in the warm March because the JHMR website was reporting only 68% open starting around mid-March. January was a lean snow month in most of the West this season too. How was the skiing then? JHMR season overall snowfall was only 70% of normal. I was quite surprised to see the press release recording 2nd highest total skier visits of 402,000.
I'd appreciate Bob's further local insights on this season at JHMR.
It was a strange spring for the Lower Faces.
Because we had a considerably lower snowpack than "normal", coverage on the lower part of the mountain was thin. Where that really came into play was as it started warming in March; the more southerly aspects of the Hobacks and the Lower Faces really never got a heavy enough snowfall to totally cover all the brush. That brush really absorbs warmth as the sun starts to shine, so most of the south-facing aspects just totally melted out by about the third week of March.
The more northerly aspects on the lower part of the mountain, however, didn't do that. Those aspects had good cover and actually set up some really great corn skiing during that sunny period. We were skiing absolutely great lines down the skier's-left sides of Sublette Ridge, South Colter, Buffalo Bowl, North Colter, and North Hoback. The issue was that the ski patrol was closing the Hobacks and Lower Faces around 1:00pm each day because things were getting too soft. That's why they were reporting the 68% thing.
We also were skiing really, really good sidecountry out-of-bounds in Rock Springs and Green River bowls. We'd lap all the way up to the top on the various lifts, bop out the gate at the top of Rendezvous Bowl, and then ski great snow all the way down to where you come back inbounds at the bottom of South Hoback. It was just outstanding skiing and nobody was doing it.
By the last week of our season, however, the lowest part of the Hobacks was shot and they closed the Union Pass chair. Our season stayed open a week later than "normal" this year, however, so the net result was a bonus.
As to the second-highest skier days ever, that was an interesting statistic. With the added capacity on the Gondola and the Thunder chair plus the addition of the East Ridge chair, I almost never saw what I would consider a significant liftline. My own experience was - as I said earlier in this thread - that the mountain "felt" much less crowded than in previous years. We did have a HUGE number of beginner skiers this winter, which was borne out by the land rush business that was done by the Ski School.