By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
Jackson Hole is a mecca for skiers and snowboarders from around the world. With winter weather pummeling the region, the increasing amount of fresh powder on the slopes is music to the ears of staff at the three ski resorts in Jackson – Snow King, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee.
Jake Zatz with Hoback Mountain Sports in Jackson said some parts of the mountain have already received 3 feet of snow.
“It’s been a great start to the season,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “Obviously, the resorts aren’t really open yet, but the stoke is definitely high.”
Grand Targhee: This Weekend
Grand Targhee will be the first of the Teton ski areas to open this season, starting up the Shoshone and Dreamcatcher runs Friday and the Blackfoot and Sacajawea on Saturday.
Sitting on the western slope of the Tetons less than 90 minutes from Jackson, Targhee Resort is routinely ranked among the top 3 resorts in North America in terms of snow quality and quantity.
Jordan Wilsted with Grand Targhee Resort said it has plenty of natural snow on the ground and won’t need to use snowmakers just yet.
“We’re really excited to open up a lot of terrain early on and get the mountain going pretty quickly,” he told Cowboy State Daily.
Wilsted said the resort has a few new features this year that may entice even more skiers to its 2,000 acres of lift-served terrain.
“We’re actually opening up a new lift this year called the Colter Lift,” he said. “The opening date is still TBD, but it’s going to open up a significant amount of new terrain on the south side of the mountain.”
Snow King Mountain: Dec. 3
Snow King Mountain, locally known as Jackson’s town hill, bills itself as the first ski resort in all of Wyoming. Although scheduled to open Dec. 3, Ted Kyle in the Snow King Ski Shop said that might get bumped up.
“It’s definitely the best early season snow we’ve seen in a long time,” Kyle said. “But knock on wood, if the snow keeps coming we might get open a little bit earlier.”
Snow King is just a few blocks from Jackson’s Town Square, offering terrain difficulties from beginner to expert, as well as night skiing, a winter coaster and a tubing park, as well as a new gondola and lift, and more slopes on the back side of the mountain.
Kyle, who’s lived in Jackson since 1992, said he’s seen a few early seasons as nice as this one, but none in recent years.
“The last couple years have been a little rough early season, and this one, it’s looking good,” he said. “We got good natural snow and plenty of cold weather to make some man-made snow.”
Jackson Hole Mountain: Nov. 25
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is perhaps the most well-known of the Jackson ski areas, in part because of its famous Big Red aerial tram.
At this point, the Resort is scheduled to open its 4,139 vertical feet of world-class skiing the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25.
Ben Konigsberg, who has been coming to the resort with his family since 2002, said Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s Paintbrush run was the first double black diamond he ever skied – and that experience has kept them coming back for more – all the way from New York.
“We try to go every year,” he said. “Sometimes more than once.”
Snow conditions are excellent at the resort right now, according to Andrew Way, vice president of marketing for Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
“The whole mountain’s covered,” he said.
But this season, the resort has more than just a ton of snow to offer its loyal customers, said Way.
“During the summer we made an extremely large capital investment in our snowmaking, both in terms of technology, and then, most importantly, in terms of the amount of snow we can make and terrain we can cover,” Way said.
As exciting as the new snowmaking technology, Way said the famous “Thunder” chairlift, which has been in operation since 1970, has been upgraded from a fixed-grip, four-person chair to what is known as a “detachable” chair, allowing for a quicker run up to the top.
“The crux of the whole thing is, it’s going to get people up to the top of Thunder in about half the time as it did previously,” Way said. “That just means more Thunder laps for all the people like me, who just love that terrain so dearly.”
Those experiences are what keep skiers like the Konigsbergs coming back year after year.
“We love the ski culture and big mountain terrain,” Konigsberg said. “Steep and deep!”