Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY, made the decision to temporarily close the resort’s backcountry gates on Friday, due to the shallow snowpack below 8,000-feet.
The lack of snow lower down makes rescues extremely difficult, should they be required.
With safety as their first priority, the gates will remain closed until conditions improve. Although rare, it’s not the first time the resort has closed the gates. In March 2019, the gates were closed for an unprecedented three-day stretch as the Tetons got buried under snow. Unfortuantely, the closure did not stop some from entering the backcountry area.
The full announcement from JHMR is below:
We are temporarily closing the backcountry gates around the Resort due to a shallow snowpack below 8,000 feet, a decision made in collaboration with Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF), Teton County Search and Rescue (TCSAR), Grand Teton National Park (GTNP), and Sheriff Matt Carr.
Current conditions at lower elevations make rescue difficult. It is unsafe or not possible to use rescue toboggans, and helicopter landing zones are limited due to exposed rock.
“Safety is our number one priority, and to reduce exposure to the public and rescue personnel in the backcountry, the gates will be closed until conditions improve to where search and rescue response is reasonably feasible,” said JHMR Vice President of Operations Tim Mason.
While closing the backcountry gates is infrequent, the move is not unprecedented. Sheriff Carr, TCSAR, BTNF, GTNP, and leadership at JHMR agree that low snow below 8,000 feet may force a skier to walk back into the ski area once they drop into the backcountry, potentially trapping skiers with no reasonable access back to the ski area. This safety mitigation falls within our special use permit and a Forest Supervisor special order.
With 48″ of snow falling during this storm cycle at upper elevations and cold temperatures for snowmaking, the Bridger Gondola, Casper lift, Marmot lift, Thunder lift, and Sublette lift will all spin this weekend offering skiers and riders 3,600 vertical feet of terrain.
Stay informed and connected this winter through JHMR’s free app, JH Insider, and SMS text alerts! These digital platforms provide important information about operational details and promotions. Download the JH Insider and text JHMR to 855-246-1761 to sign up for SMS text alerts.
Early season conditions still exist at all elevations, and we advise all guests to stay out of all closed areas and look for hazards. Per Teton County Health Orders, masks are required in all indoor spaces and on the Tram.