34″+10″=44″ at Grand Targhee

This morning we woke up to an iced over Driggs.  It had rained, then snowed, then froze, and everything was slick and iced over.  We immediately checked the snow report at Grand Targhee, and learned they had only gotten 5″ overnight, not the 9″-11″ which had been predicted.  Due to wind yesterday, the lifts had never opened, and they had gotten 5″ yesterday, so we could arrive and there could be 5″ or there could be 10″, or there could be nothing after all the wind.  My high school buddy Chellee Lowder had offered us a two for one ticket and a tour around her home mountain, so we decided to take our chances on the snow and take her up on her offer.  We got to the mountain, prepared to ski and started hiking to the lift.  As we walked from the truck, Moiwa gave anxious barks and howls from the cab, upset she couldn’t come this time.  Even though Targhee was officially open, we had to wait in a growing lift line while they de-iced the lifts.  Chellee was saying hi to friends all over the place in between riveting dog sledding stories and giving us all her beta on the mountain.  She had been in charge of the tube hill all last year, so she never had to be at work before 4pm, and spent much of her time before that skiing.  Chellee is one of the few people I know that has a very deep passion for skiing.  She talks about it like an infatuation, her voice filled with spirit.  She speaks our language, and it was fun to share our mutual love.  Finally they dropped the rope and loaded the lift.  We got to the top and began in earnest to keep up with our guide, through the fog and crowds, watching her brown curls blow in the wind.  Keeping up with locals away from your home mountain is a humbling experience.  We get so used to every turn, gully and tree where we are from that we can rip through lines and make our way back to the lift no problem.  But then we travel, and ski the unknown, and even though the terrain may not be that challenging, it is just a test to not know where the stashes are, to not know what is around the next bend or over that next roll over.  Lucky for us, Chellee was patient, and showed us niches we would have never found on our own.  The mountain had gotten snow, but it was very wind affected, which made picking runs a trial.  We just kept choosing different slopes and aspects, until off of the Sacajawea Lift we found the hip and swivel out the top gate and the most snow on the hill.  Chellee led us to the best places to take the mandatory airs off the cliff bands, and the transitions were super smooth and soft, so we decided to do a few more laps there.  After our third lap, Chellee did a nice air off a 15 footer, but ejected on her landing and lost her right ski.  We thought we saw it right where she landed, but after hiking back up, it was just a piece of rope.  The ski was gone.  We searched and dug and side-stepped for an hour, but it never turned up.  She sacrificed it, and began to make her way back on one ski.  We had a long cat track out, so Jon took one side and I took the other, and some how we made a three person ski train and managed to ski Chellee all the way back to the parking lot.  It had been a great day, but we really wish we could have found that ski.


2 thoughts on “34″+10″=44″ at Grand Targhee

  1. the manager says:

    more photos please…

  2. Chellee Lowder says:

    Found my ski! Thanks to the old faithful metal detector I rented! It was way deep and right where we looked.

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