By Dina Mishev
Although it wasn’t my first day of the seasons on skis — that was back on October 29 — I still mark the beginning of ski season with opening day at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. It was November 26 this year. This was the second year in a row it happened in November. Prior to the 2010–2011 season, JHMR always opened the first full weekend of December … at least it had since I moved to the valley in 1997.
I don’t think it’s a JHMR PR ploy when they’re saying this is looking like another la Nina year.
What does that mean? Lots of things. Most simply it means awesomeness. And awesomeness means more snow than usual. The 2010–2011 season was a la Nina one, too. It was one for the record books from opening day through closing day.
The 2011–2012 opening day wasn’t quite as unbelievable as last yes, on which the resort opened with pretty much 100 percent of its terrain ready to go. But this November there were still 3,000 feet of vertical, which is more than many resorts have even at the height of the season.
The sun was shining (part of the day). Six inches of snow had fallen the day before. Village Café was serving breakfast burritos and cinnamon rolls. The iconic tram and the Sublette high-speed quad lift weren’t yet open, but there still wasn’t even a bit of a line at the lifts that were.
There’s a new lift too: Marmot. Marmot doesn’t access any additional terrain, but, man, is it welcome. Stretching from the base of the Thunder lift to the top of the Bridger Gondola, it finally allows skiers and riders to easily go back and forth between the two sides of the resort. And it allows skiers in the vicinity of the Thunder lift to get to Rendezvous restaurant (and the supersized cupcakes there) at the top of the gondola without skiing all the way to the resort’s base and then taking the gondola up. It might be my new favorite lift.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is open daily through April 8. For the first time ever, JHMR has special “featured rates” for multiday lift tickets purchased online. These re only available for certain dates and must be purchased at least seven days in advance.
A 14-year resident of Jackson, Dina Mishev is the author of Total Tetons, an app available in the iTunes store. She is also a host of the Wyoming PBS show Wyoming Chronicle and is always looking for interesting people to interview. Email her if you've got any suggestions.