Everyone was up a little bit earlier to finish packing and check out of their condo's as Thursday represented our last day of skiing.
The drive up Ski Hill Road was a bit more interesting as we saw several Mule deer (above) as well as a female moose and her calf (below) grazing along the hillsides.
Unfortunately we didn't pick up any new snow and with a fairly thick cloud cover we were faced with the prospects of "flat" light and rock-hard groomers.
Everyone headed back to the groomers in Sacajawea in hopes of soft snow, but it was to no avail as the cloud deck hung tight and the stiff southwest wind actually made things feel downright cold. It was back to the front for an early lunch and ponder throwing in the towel.
When we came out from our 10:30 AM "lunch" we could see a clearing line in the distance. We headed up Dreamcatcher to assess the snow on the front of the mountain and as if on cue, one run after the next started to turn to spring corn snow a.k.a. "Hero snow".
First it was Slims Shot, then Wandering Moose, then Crazy Horse, then Wild Turkey and finally the creme de la creme -Williamson Bowl. The entire group started taking laps one after the next on runs that only an hour earlier were considered frozen chunder.
As the afternoon progressed everyone broke into smaller & smaller groups pondering how to spend their last couple of hours of their ski season at The Ghee.
Dave & Eddie opted to take in the vista and enjoy a final beer from a spot near the top of Fred's Mountain.
The last 2 1/2 hours were unbelievable, the snow was perfect and the access trails through the woods did not break down as they did late in the day on Wednesday when our skis just would not glide.
It was a perfect way to end the season and at 3:45 our "Mystery Guest" a.k.a. our longtime Rossignol rep Gary Ladd and myself finally called it a day after our 5th lap on Williamson bowl; logging 43,000 vertical feet for the day.
The final drive down Ski Hill Road signaled the end of the 2013-14 ski season and the conclusion of another epic Pierce shop staff ski testing trip with hopes of doing it again in 2014-15.
Wednesday started off just like Tuesday. Excellent testing for all-mountain skis with waist widths ranging from 85-89-mm. The sun softened up the snow back in Sacajawea first, resulting in multiple laps by the whole crew on a run called Shadowwoman.
One of the great aspects of ski testing at Targhee is that every run routes back to the base area. With 2,000 skiable acres currently served by 3 lifts and no liftlines = no wasted time.
At noon we "herded the cats" and headed up for our group photo. In the background from left to right are the Grand Teton, Middle Teton and South Teton. We will try again tomorrow to get everyone in the photo...
Mary's has been closed for the past two days due to avalanche potential but it was still fun to stand at the bottom and admire our lines that still remain from Monday.
In the afternoon the snow softened up quickly and for about 2 hours we were able to enjoy some classic spring corn in the trees and bowls and found out exactly how versatile all-mountain / all-condition skis really are today.
Pictured above is GT patroller Becca and her avalanche dog in training - Ivy. GT has a total of 6 dogs on staff ranging in age from Leo (in yesterdays blog) who is 8 down to newbie Ivy.
What a shock! It was back to the Trap for our last "debreifing" this time out on the sun deck. Tomorrow we depart right after skiing and therefore no more Trap Bloody's:(
We headed back to the condo's and stripped all of the skis that we would not be using on Thursday and started getting packed for our long trip home.
Most of our crew headed to the local's favorite hangout "The Royal Wolf". If you are ever in Driggs make sure to check out their eclectic menu as there seems to be something to please everyone's pallet.
Light's out just after 9:00 PM. Time to dream about one more day of skiing at The Ghee.
It was an absolutely bomber clear day at The Ghee and everyone was loading onto chairs at 9:00 AM ready to rip the groomers until the snow softened up so we could head into the trees.
Craig, Dave, Eddie & Tyler were the first skiers to be tempted into the trees and Das Boat off of the Sacajawea lift. A rare occurance took place that was captured in the photo below with "Fast Eddie" Atwood enjoying playtime in the snow.
As the day progressed the crew fanned out across the 2,000 acres trying to find the exact time when the snow transitioned to corn. Williamson Bowl was the first spot that changed and almost the entire group skied together for 2 to 3 laps.
At the top of the Dreamcatcher lift is the Patrol Hut and the famous Grand Targhee Avalanche dogs; often seen playing in the snow.
After between 25,000 and 35,000 feet of vert, the crew threw the towel in around 3:30 and headed to The Trap for our typical afternoon debreifing (Bloody May's & beers) to fill out score cards.
Everyone headed back down to the condo's for the typical post-ski R & R of grabbing a short nap, hot tub and ski set-up for the next day. The evening wrapped up with Bruce Morrissette's fantastic baked ziti dinner & Joanna and Rita's cookies for dessert.
The entire crew was chomping at the bit and headed up Ski Hill Road by 8:30 and loading 1st chair by 9:00.
The entire crew fanned out across the mountain, some warming up ripping the groomers while others jumped right in to the cut-up and crud that remained from the day before.
To everyone's surprise the snow conditions were better than the day before. Overnight the area picked up another 2 inches bringing the new snow total to 7"+ and it blew into the trees perfectly.
By noon Bart, Craig, Dave, Eddie, Tyler & our mystery guest decided to hike Mary's and were amazed when we jumped in and cut 6 parallel lines down the bowl in light knee-deep powder.
At 12:30 the group met at the bottom of the Dreamcatcher lift to swap out skis for afternoon testing. This process enables everyone to ski approximately 3 hours per day on 2 models in a variety of conditions and terrain.
Everyone went hard until 3 to 3:30 with "Fast" Eddie Atwood crushing it until 4:00. And then it was off the The Trap to fill out test forms and a little apres ski.
Then it was down to the condo's for a little R & R in the hot tub.
The group split up for the night with 1/2 heading to Teton Thai for dinner and the other 1/2 to Tony's Pizza to take in NCAA Final Four. Dave Hinz called it - U Conn by 6.
With more overnight snow Dave, Terri, Tyler & myself headed out the door at 8:15 in anticipation of testing some of the wider skis in the new snow.
Typically someone who "rolls out at the crack of 9 AM"; ever Tyler was ready to roll on the 1st chair.
Tyler & Dave hiked Mary's and found knee deep blower in the trees while Terri and myself consistently found untracked lines all over the front of Fred's Mountain.
The end of the ski day ended as it always does - at the Trap Bar; a classic apres ski bar reminicient of years gone by.
When we returned to the condo we discovered that the rest of the Pierce Crew had arrived and was chomping at the bit for their first day of skiing; so Eddie & Dave got busy setting up test skis.
The entire crew showed up at our condo for the opening night chili feed and by 9PM the day of skiing and travel had caught up with everyone and it was lights out by 9:30.