After postponing its scheduled Nov. 22 opening day, Grand Targhee Resort announced on Nov. 25 that the hill would be open the day before Thanksgiving.
Shoshone, the beginner lift, and Papoose, the conveyor belt, will spin starting Wednesday, with access to the Big Horn trail. Lift tickets will be $10 until more terrain becomes available.
Local webcam watchers weren’t terribly surprised to learn last week that Grand Targhee was pushing its opening day back.
“We just need Ullr to give us a bit more snow,” said resort marketing director Jennie White.
After what seemed like a very promising early start to the season (late September and early October brought feet of snow to the high peaks) hopes died down in November when warm, dry weather dominated the region. Skiers who had been skinning up Grand Targhee since early October reluctantly hung up their sticks and returned to the mostly mud-free trails of Horseshoe Canyon (which closes for wildlife on Nov. 30).
Resort management was initially considering opening only a day late, on Nov. 23, if the forecasted storm delivered, but on Thursday, when little precipitation had materialized on the thinly-coated slopes, opening day was delayed again. Uphill travel is not allowed.
This week’s forecast promises significant accumulation, which is part of the reason Grand Targhee made the call for Wednesday. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, which has a more elaborate snowmaking system, still plans to open on Nov. 28.
Morale at the hill hasn’t been too bad, White said. Resort management has been offering free dinner to seasonal employees who haven’t been able to work, as well as providing shuttles for them to get to and from dinner. Full shuttle service will start on Wednesday when the resort opens.
White pointed out that in the winter of 2016/17, when Grand Targhee delayed its opening until Dec. 1, the resort ended its season with a jaw-dropping 508 inches of snow. That winter ended up being one of the snowiest on record in Jackson, according to meteorologist Jim Woodmencey.
Meanwhile, snow safety professionals are gearing up for what could be an eventful season. The lingering low-density snow on north-facing aspects and at high elevations is a recipe for a persistent weak layer that can cause avalanches. For more on the winter’s outlook, go to the free AJ Linnell Avalanche Awareness Night, hosted by Yostmark at Teton High School at 7 p.m. on Dec. 12.