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March 06, 2007

Great Article About Jackson and the Loss of the Tram

The Denver Post has an article about Jackson Hole and the loss of the tram:

By now, pretty much every self-respecting skier has at least some familiarity with Jackson Hole Mountain Resort because of its 40-year reputation as the king of big mountain skiing. From Corbet's to Coombs, its status among experts is as big as its 4,140-foot vertical rise, rivaled by only a rarified few on the continent.

Still, most of those skiers (and snowboarders) would be shocked to learn just how few people actually visit the famed mountain - fewer than 400,000 a year on average. And thanks to tradition, you can expect even less this season.

Last winter saw a record number of skiers and snowboarders at Jackson Hole, a whopping 450,000 (compared to more than a million each at Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and others that comprised Colorado's 2005-06 record of more than 12 million). After learning of the retirement of the fabled Jackson Hole tram, the tribe of traditionalists (and, yes, I was among them) flocked to the mountain to pay respects to the retiring war horse after 40 years of dedicated service...

The good news is that plans have been submitted for a new 100-passenger tram that will double the capacity of the former lift when it comes online in December 2008. The better news is that between the end of one tradition and the start of the next, the skiing remains as stellar as ever. The only real difference is that they're practically giving it away.

They might have taken away the tram, but they can't take away the terrain. And while some might lament the loss of the traditional ride up, the reality is that Jackson Hole remains - as it always has - all about the ride back down.

I rode the tram in summer when I was around 10 years old. The Tetons are magnificent and worth visiting Teton National Park any time of year. The town of Jackson is great, but I am biased because my birth certificate says Wyoming. Cody (just outside the east entrance to Yellowstone) is where my dad, aunts and uncles grew up. My mom's mother was born there. My other three grandparents grew up in Lovell, just across the Bighorn Basin. Wyoming has the most beautiful and the ugliest country in the US.

The article highlights a sad fact about the Rockies. Everyone loves Summit County or the areas surrounding Denver for skiing. But the Rockies are a big range. If not Denver, folks love Utah and the SLC area. But when it comes to big mountain skiing Big Sky, Montana and Jackson Hole, Wyoming will astound you. Vertical that is beyond belief and massive areas. No crowds. Both combined average around half the visitors that Breck, Keystone, or Vail get. And both are practically inside of either Teton or Yellowstone National Parks.

Posted by Justin at March 6, 2007 11:12 AM