February snowfall just shy of record

By Jim Stanford on February 28, 2014

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Jess McMillan gets a faceful during this month’s near-record snowfall.

With 7 inches of new snow measured this morning in Rendezvous Bowl, February 2014 will go down as the second-snowiest February since record keeping began at the Jackson Hole Ski Area in 1975.

This month has seen 133 inches of snow fall in the Tetons, trailing only the infamous February 1986, when the Headwall slid to Teton Village and a ski patroller died during avalanche control work.

“This is a very close second to an unbelievable year, an unbelievable February,” Bridger-Teton avalanche forecaster Bob Comey says.

The precise amount of snowfall that fell in Rendezvous Bowl in February 1986 will never be known, as the upper mountain was closed for eight days because of avalanche danger. The 129 inches listed on the avalanche center’s website is an estimate, Comey says.

An additional inch of moisture fell in February 1986, and the mid-mountain study plot received 122 inches of snowfall, compared to this month’s 117.

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in memoriam: Slim Weston

By Jim Stanford on February 12, 2014

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Leon “Slim” Weston

Leon “Slim” Weston, the iconic cowboy lifty who greeted skiers at Grand Targhee for 45 winters, died last night after a battle with cancer. He was 72 years old.

Weston’s smile, cowboy hat and long, lean frame were a fixture at Targhee since the resort’s inception in 1969. He appeared in Warren Miller films and a host of ski magazines, gaining as much of a reputation as the resort’s fresh powder. A snowboarder, he was known to give out hugs and back rubs in the lift lines.

“He is the spirit of Grand Targhee and is greatly missed,” resort spokesman Ken Rider said. “A bunch of heavy hearts over here today.”

Weston was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2011 and had been fighting an ongoing battle. Still, he worked three days at the resort last week.

“Whatever he wanted to work, we’d let him work,” Rider said.

Weston was a farmer and rancher who lived outside Driggs. He got his nickname after riding up on his horse at the beginning of a Miller ski movie, and the filmmaker called him “Ol’ Slim.”

Rider said the resort is deferring to Weston’s family on plans for a memorial service. More information will be posted as soon as it is available.

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Chasing Ice screening at Walk Hall

By Jim Stanford on January 15, 2014

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The film chronicles shrinking glaciers.

Staffers at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort have organized an inaugural Eco Night on Thursday, featuring a screening of the acclaimed documentary Chasing Ice.

Chasing Ice is photographer Jim Balog‘s attempt to chronicle the rapidly changing Arctic landscape. Balog placed cameras in some of the harshest environments on Earth and shot time-lapse images of glaciers for three years. He found mountains of ice disappearing.

Also at the intersection of skiing and climate change, writer Porter Fox will be in Jackson on Saturday night promoting his book Deep, which ponders diminishing snow and the sport’s uncertain future. Fox will sign copies of the book during a party at Q Roadhouse, and Lazy Eyes will perform.

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avalanche kills skier on Pucker Face

By Jim Stanford on December 26, 2013

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Crown of the avalanche on Pucker Face. Click to enlarge.

A massive avalanche on a cliff face killed skier Mike Kazanjy today just south of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

Kazanjy, 29, who recently came to Jackson from California, triggered the slide at about 1 p.m. on Pucker Face, according to the News&Guide. Several members of his party helped dig him out, and rescuers tried to revive him with CPR, to no avail, the paper reported.

The slide comes after a fast-moving storm deposited more than a foot of snow in the Tetons before Christmas. High winds topping 70 mph buffeted the peaks, creating dangerous conditions.

Today’s Bridger-Teton avalanche advisory warned, “At the mid and upper elevations, backcountry travelers could trigger recently developed wind slabs up to 30 inches deep in steep, wind-loaded terrain.”

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Jackson Hole to offer day of free skiing

By Jim Stanford on November 26, 2013

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Tram worker Mark Hannon captured this image on Oct. 29, when Jackson Hole Mountain Resort already was looking pretty wintry. Click to enlarge.

After sweeping up accolades from national publications, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort will give back to the community with a Free Ski Day on Friday.

Yes, free skiing and snowboarding at the Teton Village resort.

Teewinot, Apres Vous, Casper and Marmot chairs will be running. Guests are asked to make a donation of $1 or more, which will be given to Teton Adaptive Sports and Friends of Pathways. The resort will match donations up to $5,000.

The START bus will run to the village for free, parking in the Ranch Lot is free, there will be free clinics for adults and kids, and various eateries will offer $1 food and beverages. Jackson Hole Sports will wax boards for $1.

The promotion hearkens back to the time, as late as the 1990s, when the resort used to offer a nonprofit benefit day at the start of each season.

Enjoy the free amenities while you can. The price of a single-day lift ticket will be as high as $117 this winter.

(Photo via JHMR)

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