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TRIP REPORT: Grand Targhee - December 2017

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During November through April, my mornings consist of forecasting for the Tetons in the form of the Grand Targhee Daily Snow and the Jackson Hole Daily Snow. This mountain range and these resorts have a special place in my heart but my skiing opportunities are limited throughout the winter as I live in Boulder, Colorado.

This limitation has been severely put to the test during the 2017-18 season as we've received limited snow in Colorado, while I forecasted storm after storm for our friends in the northern Rockies. That all changed when my girlfriend and I made the pilgrimage north to sample the goods. 


Resort Breakdown

Grand Targhee Resort is located directly on the border between Idaho and Wyoming. The mountain is approximately 60 minutes from Jackson, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park and a few hours drive from Yellowstone National Park. 

The resort offers 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, accessed by 5 lifts and 72 trails. The mountain stretches from a base elevation of 7,408 feet to a summit elevation of 10,000 feet.

Our friends at Zrankings.com list Grand Targhee's True Annual Snowfall at 465 inches. 20% of the mountain is considered difficult terrain, 70% intermediate, and 10% easy terrain. 60% of the mountain features a west-facing aspect, 20% south-facing, and 20% north-facing.

The 2017-18 season kicked off on November 17th and is scheduled to end on April 15th. The lift operating hours run from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm (weather and lift depending).


The morning of December 28th started with my normal routine of coffee and forecasting the next round of snow for Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole. Each area received 2+ FEET over the previous week but only a dusting for this morning's report. After driving over Teton Pass and into Idaho, we quickly made our way back into Wyoming and up to the base of the Ghee for more coffee at Snorkels Cafe. 

It was then onto Dreamcatcher for our first run of the day. "Grand Foggy" was out in full force as we made our way toward the top but as multiple locals referenced throughout the day, "if you can see, it ain't the Ghee". 

Yes, this is normal but don't worry, once you're off the lift, the fog blends in and you're left with endless fresh snow to enjoy. From Dreamcatcher, we skied multiple laps down Lightning Trees, Nasty Gash, and the Crazy Horse Woods.

From here, we followed the Headwall Traverse and down Headwall to the NEW Blackfoot Lift. Blackfoot was upgraded to a new Doppelmayr fixed-grip quad chairlift over the summer, replacing an old double chair. The glades in Fallen Timber featured the best snow of the day, with plenty of leftover powder stashes and soft snow to be found at every turn. 

Even though Blackfoot is not a high-speed quad, the ride up 1,200 vertical feet to access 500+ acres of terrain only takes 7 minutes. This is the place to be when the mountain isn't reporting fresh snow but you're still looking for soft turns. 

Another fun area to explore is the cliff bands and the runs named Bob Cat, Reliable, and Toilet Bowl off of the Sacajawea Lift. This is accessed by turning left off of Sacajawea and immediately entering the open gate on the right. This area should only be accessed if you're an expert skier or rider and feel comfortable making you're way down steep and rocky terrain. 

The one area that we did not ski but have in the past was Mary's Nipple. This area is accessed via the Dreamcatcher lift and a short bootpack. It usually doesn't open until a day or two after a storm but as you'll see below, the goods can be DEEP and plentiful.

The day ended with one final cruiser down Chief Joe Bowl before loading up the car and saying goodbye to the Ghee.

The final recommendation that I can make for anyone visiting the Teton Valley is the Grand Teton Brewery. This beer is distributed across the US but I especially love their tap room in Victor, Idaho. 

Cheers to another successful day and as always, stay tuned to the Grand Targhee Daily Snow and let it snow!


Visit GrandTarghee.com for all lodging, event, and other ski-related information.


OpenSnow Resources

Snow Forecast & Report: Grand Targhee

Daily Snow Forecast: Grand Targhee

Download: OpenSnow Mobile App

SAM COLLENTINE

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