Another one of the very best events on the annual snowmobile competition calendar has been cancelled this year.
The incomparable Jackson Hole World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb, hosted annually in downtown Jackson by the Jackson Hole Snow Devils at the Snow King Resort, was officially called off this week due to poor snow conditions. The event was scheduled for March 26-29.
Aside from being the championship for the increasingly highly competitive form of snowmobile racing that involves hucking a snowmobile 1,500 vertical feet up a steep ski hill, passing through gates and clearing multiple obstacles, the annual Jackson Hole Hill Climb is also a big celebration of all things snowmobiling. New snowmobiles are always displayed there, other vendors show off their wares and often more than 10,000 fans pack the small town of Jackson for a party on the hill.
However, according to an article on the Jackson Hole News & Guide website, the snowpack on the hill is isothemal. That, combined with warm weather and slushy snow, has created two wet avalanches on the hill this week, and dicey (at best) conditions.
Snow Devils officials visited the hill and met with local officials from the U.S. Forest Service, the town of Jackson, the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce and the host Snow King Resort, and that group reached a joint decision to cancel this year’s event, according to the Snow Devils website.
It wasn’t a decision that likely came easily. The event is a big money maker for the town, and it has only been cancelled once in its previous 39 years, and that was way back in 1981. Overall snow conditions have been quite poor some years, including very low snow yearss with a lot of dirt and rocks exposed on the course. But the avalanche risk, to competitors but also fans who regularly line the hill to catch the action, likely pushed this decision.
The article in the Jackson Hole News & Guide included this note from Dale Deiter, Jackson District ranger for the Bridger-Teton National Forest:
“Frankly, it is a kick in the gut to reach a conclusion to cancel an event that provides so many benefits to the community and charities that receive donations from the funds raised,” Deiter wrote in an email, “but in the final analysis it is the right thing to do to maintain the integrity of the event, to assure rider safety and protect the mountain.”
Earlier this year, the cross-country I-500 event planned from Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Willmar, Minnesota, was also cancelled due to bad (or, in this case, lacking) snow conditions. Snowmobile riders in the East, however, are still reporting great riding conditions in some areas.