Such thing as too much snow, and nostalgia

Well, there is such thing as too much snow as I found out today.  About a foot of very heavy, wet snow fell overnight, more on the upper mountain, and when I woke up this morning to clear my car, it was raining. I knew there was going to be a ton of avy work going on this morning, but did not anticipate just how much this would delay mountain opening and how much of the mountain would remain closed as a result. I later found out that today was the first time since 1979 that schools were closed due to weather here!

There were a lot of “running starts” in my car to drive over piles of snow etc. this morning

Very heavy wet snow covering car this morning

Very heavy wet snow covering car this morning

Walking back to inn after clearing car

Walking back to the inn after clearing car. Quite pretty.

While I am not a fan of driving, my gear setup is a bit finicky and I find myself having to carry more than the average skier. So I elected to drive to the Ranch Lot because I had read there was free handicapped parking there, and I also thought I would be able to walk from that lot to the aerial tram/gondola. To my chagrin, I ended up having to pay $10 for all day parking, and still had to take a shuttle bus, even though the website does say that parking is free with a handicap placard. I may have to return tomorrow and show them this on my phone, or just suck it up and take the bus.

I arrived at the base around 8.30am in anticipation of the 9am lift start times. A lot of people appear to be louts like me and not have to work on a Monday morning. Actually, that is not true. A lot of people standing in line were locals looking to get some turns in before heading to work later in the day.

Don't people have to work on a Monday morning? :)

Don’t people have to work on a Monday morning? :)

I elected to wait in the gondola line versus the aerial tram line, because I didn’t think I wanted to drop into Corbett’s my very first run…

We waited and waited. And waited. 9am passed by, then 10am…There was so much avalanche blasting to be heard as I stood in line getting in the wet rain/snow. A lot of people left the line because, heck, they needed to get to work. I also wondered whether I wanted to use my lift pass on a very short day where very few of the lifts would be open, if they even did open. At this point only three of the small metro quads had begun turning.

Ski patrol wearing a snorkel

Ski patrol wearing a snorkel

Aerial tram line

Aerial tram line about 1.5 hours in

Lift status after over 1.5 hours of waiting in line. You can see only three small quads are turning because of the High avy danger indicated on the sign below. At least my sore shins felt good in my ski boot…

Very high avy risk and therefore so few chairs opens

Very high avy risk and therefore so few chairs opens

I decided to call it quits at 10.45am. By this time, the aerial tram was still not loading. I checked back later in the afternoon to see what lifts did end up running. The only change to the above was the Bridger Gondola, so I feel justified/okay in my decision. After taking the shuttle back to the Ranch Lot and then driving to park at the base briefly to run an errand, I found people were STILL waiting in line for the aerial tram at 11.30am. Damn!

Well, maybe one day I will ski…but today I decided I might as well check out the town of Jackson itself, especially since it is a little bit of a drive from Teton Village. It had been many many years since I was in the town center itself (I had avoided it the last time I was climbing in the Tetons around 2008, when we stayed at the American Alpine Club Climbers Ranch), so going back brought back many memories.

The "famous" Jackson Town Center antlers on each of the square's four corners

The “famous” Jackson Town Center antlers on each of the square’s four corners. You can see the roads and pavements were just ice and lakes.

In particular, I wanted to check out an old-school mountaineering shop called “Teton Mountaineering.” I love places like this and hanging out and talking with cool staff members.

Teton Mountaineering shop, Jackson, WY

Teton Mountaineering shop, Jackson, WY

teton-mountaineering-inside-1

Got piton?

teton-mountaineering-inside-2

Hammers

Hammers and ice-axes

The very first time I came to Jackson was as an 18 year old, in the summer between freshman and sophomore (1st and 2nd) year in university. I had only just gotten my US drivers license in California that summer (although I had been driving in Thailand etc. before that) so was still quite new to the road. I remember driving to meet my brother in the dark Wyoming night, being quite nervous because I did not have experience driving on dark, relatively rural roads alone, and thinking about all the elk and other game waiting to impact my car. Today, I had to smile as I drove through the exact intersection where I so clearly remember being pulled over by a Wyoming police officer that evening. I had failed to turn left using the left turn lane and he made me pull over into the nearby Albertson’s supermarket parking lot. He kindly let me off with a warning, saying that “There are left turn lanes in California too, you know.” I cannot believe I remember all this almost 20 years later!

The left turn lane was the site of my first WY infraction

The left turn lane was the site of my first WY infraction as an 18 year old

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