I was very tired after 5 days of backcountry skiing, but today was clear, cold, and 5-10″ of new snow had fallen. I forced my self to go skiing again.
I checked the Pass Cam around 6:30 and the parking lot was half full. I quickly got my stuff together and left my house about 7am.
Unfortunately, I was in the morning commuter traffic to Jackson, so it was a bit slow. As I got close to the summit of the pass, the traffic slowed to a crawl and then stopped. I had this problem once before and had to turn around because I couldn’t get started again.
I have a 1998 Honda Accord (there is no substitute), a great car but two wheel drive. It can be difficult or impossible to get going again on the steep Teton Pass road once I come to a complete stop on a steep, icy road.
I was one switchback from the Pass. The traffic would move 100 feet and stop again. Each time I could barely get moving. With the summit 200 feet away, the traffic stopped again. I got a little frantic and just kept going up in the downhill lane. People were honking and giving me all kinds of gestures, but they didn’t understand. I was going skiing; they were just going to work.
I got to the parking lot and it was jammed with commuters waiting. Apparently the road was closed on the east side. Probably a car wreck. It’s amazing how many people try to drive the pass with no snow tires. Probably one of those idiots slid across the road on the east side and was blocking it.
I managed to squeak into a tiny space after I told a commuter that I was going to park there for the day. He was kind enough to move his car out of my way.
I got my skins on and started hiking in to Fruit Bowl. There was only one skier ahead of me. Everyone else was up on Glory.
It turns out that a skier on Glory had triggered the Twin Slides avalanche path and the snow was blocking all traffic. Since all other skiers were on Glory and no more skiers could get up the Pass, 3 other skiers and I were the only ones on the south side of the pass. And only 3 of us went to Fruit Bowl. We had it to ourselves all day.
I always hear the old timers say how in the 70s, you could ski on Fruit Bowl all week and it never got tracked out. Maybe this is what it was like. Or maybe the old timers are full of bullshit.
WYDOT couldn’t open the pass until they did more avalanche mitigation, but they couldn’t do avalanche mitigation until all the skiers on the Pass were accounted for.
What a treat to have exclusive access to Fruit Bowl: just me and two other loners. I was the first one down. A perfect day in all ways.