I hastily rifled through bins of winter gear in the shed in my backyard. I had neatly packed away all of this stuff for the season just last weekend. Flurries were flying outside and the word was that significant snowfall had already accumulated at the higher elevations of the Teton Range. The date was June 18th and I was trying to gather my gear to go skiing the next day.
The spring has been suspiciously summer-like in Jackson Hole, and in the haze of flip-flops, mountain biking and river time I had forgotten that it was only June. This temporary switch back to winter is the type of weather that only seems to happen immediately after you put your skis in storage of take the snow tires off your car. I should have seen it coming.
It’s easy to grumble when you see snowflakes out the window and you’re already in your summer routine, but there are definitely some positives that stem from this kind of weather. When I got a message from JHMR athlete Griffin Post asking about skiing on Thursday morning, I ignored it at first. He couldn’t be serious, could he? Skiing was the furthest thing from my mind at this point in June, but 5 minutes passed and I came to my senses. I was in.
This morning is beautiful in Jackson Hole- bright and sunny outside with high temperatures predicted to hit the mid-70s. Yesterday morning was very different, and as Griffin and I headed up the tram for some quick access backcountry skiing it became apparent that we were headed straight back into the heart of winter. Temperatures in the 20′s and fresh snow greeted us at the top of the tram. If it was winter we were looking for, we had found it.
Workers clear of snow on the stairs to the “Top of the World”
Editor’s Note: Skiing in-bounds is strictly prohibited during summer tram operation. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR) neither encourages nor discourages backcountry touring. Skiers/snowboarders crossing out of the JHMR boundaries do so at their own risk. Read the posted signs at the designated access gates before proceeding.
After heading outside of the resort boundaries, Griffin and I started the hike up nearby Cody Peak. Visibility was poor but we trudged through the new snow with powder skiing on the brain, also discussing each of our plans for the rest of the day. I was planning on mountain biking after work and Griffin wanted to go sneak in some surfing (yes, surfing. We’ll get back to that). Spring is the time of year for multi-sport adventures in Jackson Hole.
As we neared the top of our first intended ski line, it became clear that we probably wouldn’t be getting much visibility. Regardless, the fresh snow was pretty deep on leeward slopes and we were excited to ski a few inches of wind deposited spring powder.
Our first run was a blast, steep skiing with soft snow is always a winning combination and the heavier nature of the spring snow made for some really enjoyable skiing. Griffin effortlessly cruises down the fall line:
After high-fiving at the bottom, we didn’t even have to discuss whether or not we should go for a second run. This was good skiing! Without hesitation, we traversed out to a new spot and started hiking. As we hiked up another skier was making smooth turns nearby. This always has the effect of building anticipation and pushing you to hike just a little faster, hustling to get some of those turns.
Because snow is relegated to just the higher elevations at this point, we opted to skin back up to the top of the tram to enjoy the scenic ride down the mountain. Upon arriving at Corbet’s Cabin we decided to hang out on the deck and enjoy some of the famous waffles while gazing at where we had just skied in the distance. We chatted with a few visitors up top from places like Florida. Needless to say, these people were amazed at how much it can feel like winter in the Tetons in June. There were kids building snowmen and enjoying the different world that is the roof of the Tetons.
We enjoyed a tram ride down the mountain, where we were transported to a completely different climate at the base of the mountain. The sun was starting to come back out and temperatures were heading back to seasonal norms. Griffin and I parted ways after a unique ski adventure. I went back to work, and Griffin went surfing. I chuckled to myself a bit, thinking about how lucky I am to live in a place where this is just another day in June.