Grand Targhee “Opener” 2013.

The Grand looking good early morning on our first day out. Photo- Chris Kamman

Alex Buecking getting some loft between the trees. Photo- Travis Andersen

The dudes on the right were waiting in line since 5am to score first chair. We opted for the 8am start for tenth.

Skiing in a Better Place

In an industry known for targeting deep pockets, many ski resorts market themselves on expensive real estate, swanky rental properties, and overly-available upscale amenities. Not Grand Targhee, though. Somehow, the folks at the resort have managed to keep it real for the last 45 years, and haven’t ever showed a sign of changing.

Northern Southwest Wydaho’s premier ski area opened on Friday with a 48″ settled base and 100% of its in-bounds terrain open, but nobody there was bragging about it. We showed up only an hour before the Dream Catcher lift started turning, expecting to stand behind a long line of anxious, powder starved locals. Instead, us out-of-towners stood in line with a bunch of almost-too-laid-back-for-opening-day folks, and despite our unambitious arrival time, made 10th chair without being pushed, shoved or cut once. The weekend was graced with blue skies, calm winds, and a really-deep-for-November, stable snowpack.  Hoots of excitement echoed from chairlift riders and skiers alike as we spent the entire opening day hot lapping the long runs of un-tracked powder that we set out for.

On Saturday, we met up with local pro skier, binding innovator, and fellow life-stylist Lars Chickerying-Ayers to see what the seldom-hyped backcountry that lies adjacent to Grand Targhee had to offer. Like everyone else we met on the trip, Lars was happy to share Targhee’s unguarded secrets with us. We warmed up with a short skin to a long, deep, untracked, nearly perfectly-spaced tree run. The group dynamic was encouraging, so later in the day the crew decided to take on some more aggressive terrain that lies within reasonable striking distance from the resort’s open backcountry gates.

Coming from an area where first-year locals never shut up about how much better one resort is than another, we expected to hear at least a hint of rivalrous banter from Targhee locals about their neighbors. Historically, the resort has been bashed by nay-sayers for being flat and foggy, but instead of arguing back, the locals here just keep skiing.

Rather than being defined by premier lodging or a single run, Grand Targhee’s identity is a product of the resort’s active terrain, deep snow, and the unconditionally friendly people that work and play there. If everybody who visited the resort could take one sliver of its friendly vibe home with them, we’d all be skiing in a better place. - Alex Buecking

KT talking to "Slim" who's been at every Targhee opener for the last 45 years. KT dropping in.

Lars pointing us in the right direction, and keepin' it real on the late nite dirtbike ride home.

Sun and moonrise from the Souix Lodge. Photos- Chris Kamman

Thanks Targhee. See you soon.

Perfect early morning turns. Photos- Travis Andersen


Ryan Walters 360 and the group skinning back for another lap.


100% open, bluebird sky's. Not too shabby for a season opener, eh?


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