A look back at the Winter so far…
With the season drawing to a close here at Targhee, it’s fair to categorize this season as rather unique in terms of the weather we experienced. Although we had our fair share of soft snow this year, there is no doubt that this Winter turned into a lamb at times.
Crazy looking back on it, but the opening day was actually a powder day. Although snowpack still had some ground to cover, literally and figuratively, GTR opened to 8” of fresh and 99” for the year to date on November 24th, 2021.
It was a day full of promise for the year to come, although the early season influence was still apparent through the next few weeks… Until the middle of December, when winter came in full force
From 12/7/21 to 1/8/22 we would receive around 152 inches of snow, raising the spirits of everyone in Teton Valley. Highlights included 12/16-12/17, in which 27” fell in 2 days. The holidays would provide the biggest celebrations of the year and, the most intense stretch of snowfall for the winter.
A whopping 77” would fall from Christmas Eve to New Years Day, with 22” gifted to us over Christmas (12/24-25) and 27” falling during New Years (12/31-1/1). We would also hit 20” during a 2-day span over 1/6-1/8.
People were stoked. The boost in morale could be seen across the mountain from lift operators and ski patrollers to servers and ticket cashiers… Let alone the smiles shared on every chairlift. Winter was here and looked like it wasn’t leaving anytime soon.
Little did we all know just how abruptly the snow would shut off. Over the following 6 weeks, GTR would see measurable snowfall in just 5 of the next 38 days. A paltry 11” would fall from 1/9 to 2/15 with 6” of that 11” falling in one day.
The only silver lining was that normal to below-average temperatures would keep the snowpack mostly intact. GTR would only see a loss of 11” of base depth over that time period. At least the snow stuck around.
Every winter starts with the potential to be the best year ever, just as each winter could be the worst on record. Feast or famine would be the best descriptor of the winter we saw through the middle of February. Both pessimists and optimists must have thought they were right at some point.
The excruciating mid-season dry spell wouldn’t last forever, with the brutal high-pressure regime finally being broken down by a much-celebrated 9” on 2/16. After that storm, we would see a return to more consistent accumulations during the end of February.
The first double-digit powder day since 1/8 would come just over 2 months later, on 3/9 with a fantastic 14”. As of 3/24, GTR has seen 50” of snowfall in March ’22, which signifies a relative return to normalcy. March ’21 saw 42” by comparison.
With Spring in full effect across the west, now is a great time to evaluate GTR’s snowfall against other western resorts. As of 3/22, Grand Targhee currently ranks #9 in year-to-date snowfall for North American ski areas at 341”. The ‘Ghee sits 20” above #10 Jackson Hole and 9” behind #8 Whistler Blackcomb.
All things considered; one could argue that we had a better winter than most. Being well ahead of our neighbors across Teton Pass never hurts either.
While it may have been a tougher winter to line up that perfect powder day, this winter was a great exercise in adjusting expectations. While I doubt anyone would be complaining about a 500” winter, ’21-’22 gave us at Grand Targhee conditions that would be considered rare by our standards.
Just think about all those sunny groomer days with perfect corduroy. With our reputation for being notoriously foggy, it gave an opportunity for beginners and visitors to get to know the mountain and hone their skills in less challenging conditions.
It also gave us an opportunity to relax and savor all the elements only skiing and snowboarding in the sun can bring. With the powder panic gone, it was easier to have crew days with the homies and painless family ski days.
That’s not even considering the abundance of views we had on deck throughout the year. I don’t know about you, but a sunny early morning cruise down a freshly groomed Teton Vista Traverse can be a very special if often overlooked, Grand Targhee experience.
I also noticed an uptick in proper inversion days this year, which turns the mountain into a refuge for sunny skies while those in the valley below are stuck with a grey day.
This year then illustrates an important lesson not only in skiing and snowboarding but also in life. Keeping expectations in check can mean the difference between frustration and elation. Dialing them back can turn a normal day on our slopes into the day that you remember for the rest of the year or the rest of your life.
No one ever knows when the magic of the mountains can touch them.
While we certainly pride ourselves on consistent snowfall, it is important to realize that we, like everyone else on the planet, can not just summon snow.
Only mother nature can do that.
Words by Connor Shea & Thomas Pausch