The snow is piling higher in the high country of eastern Idaho and western Wyoming.
The white stuff is coming so fast that Grand Teton National Park and Teton County (Wyo.) Search and Rescue has asked the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to close its gates to the north and south backcountry. The resort issued a notice that it would honor the request until further notice.
The avalanche forecast for the Tetons, Togwotee and Greys River has been at high for all elevations. Natural slides are very likely and human-caused slides are pretty much a guarantee until sometime next week. Areas in the Tetons received 3 to 4 feet of snow during this past storm. Yellowstone National Park also issued an avalanche warning for Tuesday. Some slides have already crossed highways, blocking traffic.
And the snow is still coming.
On Saturday, I paid a short visit to Camas National Wildlife Refuge in the morning. I didn’t stick around too long because the snow was piling up and I wanted to get my little putt-putt car out without any trouble.
I did see some huge eagles, hawks and a group of pheasant that mostly ignored me and went about their business eating seeds off of dried grass that was still poking above the snow. I hope to come back during the big migration of waterfowl in early spring.
I also managed to get in some cross-country skiing. It was a day you could just about ski anywhere — if you could drive there. Rather than spend the time and money to drive far, I stayed in town and skied at Freeman Park.
The Island Park area is a good bet for people wanting to ski the trails at Harriman State Park or Mesa Falls or elsewhere. Snow levels have topped last year’s mark. Highway 20 north of Ashton has been closed off and on in the past week because of blowing snow. Perhaps things will settle down by this weekend.
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Fans of the Alex Honnold climbing film “Free Solo” know by know that the film won an Oscar for best documentary.
There’s a telling pre-Oscar night interview with Honnold showing up in a tuxedo made especially for the occasion by North Face (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ao8c0f89lWg). Honnold said he spent the morning climbing at a local gym with his friends — mostly climbers who were on the movie’s film crew. When the interviewer called him the world’s best climber, he quickly disagreed with her saying there are many others in the world who are much better, some were even part of the film crew.
What he didn’t say, though, was that there probably isn’t anyone else in the world able to shut down their fears and climb 3,000 feet in a few hours without any protection.