Sunday, February 4, 2018

Jackson Hole, WY: 01/23 - 01/28/2018

Jackson Hole, WY, January 2018.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.

Jackson Hole’s reputation for some of the most challenging terrain in North America puts it near the top of every avid skier’s bucket list, so when I was tasked over the summer with picking the destination for this year’s guys ski trip, JH was a no-brainer. Our group doesn’t get the luxury of storm chasing. Like most working schleps, we pick our dates and make our plans months in advance. Jackson’s reliable mid-winter snowfall was a big factor in our decision making process, and that reliability paid off with a foot of powder the day before our arrival and another 20 inches over our five days of skiing.

One of the great things about flying into Jackson Hole is the tiny, easy to navigate airport. Our flight arrived at 11:20am, in plenty of time for an afternoon of warm-up skiing at the local hill. Perched on the edge of town just blocks from Jackson Hole’s famous town square, Snow King is a perfect warm-up for the big mountain. We were inside the base lodge less than an hour after our flight landed, picking up lift tickets and in my case renting gear (United “misplaced” my boot bag – luckily it arrived later that evening). Regrettably Snow King doesn’t have telemark rentals, so I swallowed my pride and tried out a set of rigid alpine skis and boots. While Snow King can’t compare to JH, its 1600 vertical feet of consistently steep terrain is impressive for a local hill. By the time we wrapped up skiing around 4:30, the lights were coming on and hordes of school kids were arriving for race training.

Warm-up runs at Snow King

Jackson from Snow King

Our next 4 days were spent at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. I might as well get this out of the way up front: No, I didn’t ski Corbett’s Couloir. I peeked over the edge on our first day, but it was 2:15 and ski patrol had already pulled the rope. For the rest of our stay visibility was poor and (I think) Corbett’s was closed. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Tram view from the top of Corbett's

The drop into Corbett's

But I did get to ski run after run of awesome terrain: steeps, chutes, trees, bowls, even a bunch of really great groomers. Favorites included Rendezvous Bowl, the Moran trees, the Apres Vous cruisers and all the north-facing terrain off the Thunder and Sublette lifts: the Alta Chutes, Bivouac trees, Tower 3 Chute. I don’t think it’s likely I’ll ever huck myself into Corbett’s, but on a return trip I’d like to get to some of the hike-to terrain.

Apres Vous cruiser

Greg R skiing Saratoga Bowl

Howard skiing Alta Chute 1

Sublette Trees

Don't sleep in on a powder morning. JH skiers are serious about getting after the goods. A couple other general observations: JH needs a lot of snow for the expert terrain to ski well. Even with 60 - 80 inch base depths we still found occasional rocks on some of the steeper black and double black shots. JH faces due east; avoid south-facing slopes if there hasn't been recent snowfall. Stick to north-facing aspects for better snow conditions. Get your tram laps in mid-week - Friday and weekend tram lines run 20-30 minutes.

Paintbrush

Steeps

Greg R Somewhere off the Teton Quad

Greg T skiing the Thunder lift line

It's hard to make comparisons between the mountains I've skied out west, but Jackson's combination of terrain, snow, scenery and a great town make it hard to beat. We're already making plans for JH for next winter's family ski vacation.

2 comments:

  1. With the IKON pass we can go together next season too. What a STORY! Wis we could have joined you there too.

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