GT v. JacksonMy trip report from last year (3/14-17/08) provides some more anecdotal evidence that GT is worth the trip, especially when both JHMR and GT are getting hit:
My brothers and I arrived at JAC on Wednesday afternoon in time to make a quick side trip to the icy eastern-like slopes of Snow King. Aside from the gorgeous and rare view of Teewinot and the Grand, this trifle served one purpose -- to provide a point of reference for the snow that was barreling in from the Pacific.
Thursday started with a groomer in boot-high “Cowboy Powder” (aka dust on crust) down Ranger beneath the gondi. Having gotten our legs, we headed to Sublette for a few rippers in Bivouac Woods, followed by forays down Alta Chutes (3, 2 & 1 -- blast-off!) and a truly bewildering and failed traverse down SPT (ending in the sun-baked but pow-cloaked shite that was North Colter/Elk Alley). After a welcome lunch at Nick Wilson’s Cowboy Cafe, we stole a Bivouac or two, a Tower Three and Hoops Gap and ended the day with a blast down the untracked but chunky pow of Expert Chutes to the filled-in woods below. With 5-8 inches having fallen throughout the day and very “challenging” visibility, Thursday gave a sweet foretaste of the conditions to come. Classic.
On Friday, we breakfasted to the sounds of the 1812 Overture in the distance (the Patrollers needed serious percussion to control the massive amounts that had fallen since the close of the lifts -- JHMR would officially report “18 inches -- the most snow recorded in a single 24 hour period since we first started keeping track 8 years ago”). A little before 9, Matt, Tim and I trudged the 50 yards to the Moose Creek Quad which we rode to the UP which in turn carried us over to the Village base where the masses were assembled at the gondi for the inevitable 30-45 minute wait. Rather than waiting in line for the chance to fight for not-so-first tracks on Sublette and Thunder, we smugly skated on to the Teewinot Quad (which had a 30-45 second wait), shot over to Après Vous (2 minute wait) where we proceeded to gorge ourselves on the floaty waist deep (and over the shoulder too) pow of Saratoga Bowl and Teewinot Face. The steady storm refilled “our bowls” run after run after run after run with snow that fell at a rate of 2 inches per hour. Our best morning ever?
Shortly after noon, we met up with Sean and Mike for a 15-minute PB&J break at the base and then headed to Teewinot and Saratoga for an encore. After joining with Rick (a local friend), we went for some Moran Face shots (coinciding with a sunny break in the storm). With the lift in cloud cover and our return to the center of the resort, we were stunned to see that the slope beneath the Casper lift was absolutely trashed (a herd of elephants could not have done more damage). Like Sherman's Army, we witnessed similar carnage as we headed south. Fortunately, Rick found us refuge in the blessedly deep, somewhat heavy, and relatively untracked Bernie’s Bowl. Finally, we took our one and only ride of the trip on the East Ridge double to 10,450 feet. Matty and Tim took a quick trip over to Corbet’s Couloir where Matt’s dreams of blood & glory were mercifully snuffed (To quote Matt: “My knees were shaking just looking in. Even the patrollers were saying no f’in way!”: To quote Tim: “Good thing I was wearing my diapers.”). Meanwhile, Mike, Rick and I stole over to the far side of Rendezvous Bowl for thigh deep, windblown, quasi-powder. After 10-15 easy bounds down the steep face, my skis & boots were grabbed simultaneously by a snow gremlin and I was launched into my first full-on endo since I was in 2nd grade gym class. None the worse for the wear, we reunited with M & T for a night cap on Hobacks. While conditions were less than perfect (our legs and the snow both being somewhat worse for the war, er wear), we reveled in the valley view and late afternoon sunshine on that most classic of runs. To top it off, we joined Dad and Sean for fondue and many pints at the Alpenhof while the bluesman lamented the love of a “big bottomed girl in a short, short skirt.” A tuneful bookend to the cannon blasts of morning.
Matt’s 40th Birthday dawned cold and promising (a few more inches having fallen overnight). Hungry for adventure and with much to celebrate, we hit the road early for the scenic 55 mile trek through Idaho to Grand Targhee. The ride over Teton Pass made a big impression on us all (Mt. Glory is awesome), but especially on Matt and Tim who vowed to come back in shape and equipped to ride the Pass. Targhee was the right call. For as stunned as we were to witness the thrashing that J-Hole had taken in a few hours, we were just as stunned (and thrilled) to see that Targhee, while no virgin, was still blanketed in mostly uncut pow from top to bottom. After a few magic carpet rides beneath the main lift and a Good, Bad or Ugly thrown in for good measure, we ventured over to Sacajawea (skier’s far left) toward Northern Lights. A mere 25 feet out of sight from the gapers lay a 3-5 foot deep treasure trove of cold smoke and deep woods. The afternoon trees were as fresh with pow as the AM, with a few side trips down the face of Fred and over the precipice at Das Boat [sic]. Epic.
So there you have it -- 18 inches at JHMR stayed fresh a few hours during the storm; the same amount (and there is usually more) can last for days at GT.
One more thing -- it is true what they say about the orographic clouds at GT. Three years ago we awoke at 6:30 to Bluebird skies at the Village and so decided to check the radar at GT which showed a tiny speck of cloud cover. Checked GT's site which said 2-4 expected. So we saddled up for GT. By the time we arrived in the lot, the snow was boot high and it NEVER stopped all day. The best part? We had the place to ourselves. Second best part (schadenfreude anyone?), JHMR received nothing--not a flake.
"There’s nothing really can touch skiing, is there?" Nick said.
"The way it feels when you first drop off on a long run."
"Huh," said George. "It’s too swell to talk about."
E. Hemingway, “Cross-Country Snow”*