Originally Posted by Maineac
No worries about the wishy washy-how can a definitive answer be given? You certainly gave a tremendous amount of detail and it is greatly appreciated. I did notice the sluff you were kicking off early on and the sluff lines lower down. I know you from your posts to be a pragmatic skier who ways choices and the group ski was what caught me by surprise and elicited my question.
Given the amount I assume the backcountry gets hit up around Jackson, I have been surprised by the lack of a current published guide to the area or more information on line. I do appreciate Steve's work at http://www.tetonat.com/teton-descents/, but there does not seem to be a whole lot more. Is that because between the guides and the locals it is an unspoken agreement to keep it quiet? Or maybe I have not found what I am looking for.
Thanks again for your thoughts as it is much appreciated local knowledge.
I'll propose a bit of an alternative...
I don't think it's an unspoken agreement to keep it quiet, I think it's an oft-spoken concern that publicizing directions on how to get to various out-of-bounds skiing at JHMR has the potential to encourage people to get themselves into terrain and conditions that they're unprepared for. I honestly think it's not so much a conspiracy to keep the goods to ourselves or "force" visitors to hire guides, it's an honest belief that there's a lot of potential danger out there and it's better if newbies learn it in bits and pieces by gradually experimenting and learning the terrain the old-fashioned way - by going there yourself..
There are a lot of sidecountry routes that are VERY accessible from the gates at JHMR where going past the right tree and underneath a certain rock will take you to a good, clean line that can be safely skied. Going just a little bit off that same course, however, could leave you cliffed-out in extremely exposed terrain. The open routes, on the other hand, are usually open because they're avalanche tracks and encouraging someone to go ski those without some solid knowledge of the immediate snow conditions is also pretty foolhardy. There's no way to put that level of detail into a backcountry guide book.
You're probably aware of the Jackson Hole Ski Atlas. That's the closest thing that I know of to a guidebook showing where stuff is. If you want to ski Jackson Hole backcountry, it's considered the Bible around here. It won't tell you exactly how to find Once Is Enough couloir or Connie's Knob, etc, but it does show the drainages, peaks, names, etc all through the valley. If you don't have one and want to add to your backcountry knowledge ahead of a trip to Jackson Hole, I would highly recommend it.
I love author Angus Theurmer, Jr.'s multi-layered disclaimers (in red below):
This site only shows a few of the 38 ultra-high resolution photos as featured in the full-size 10 " x 10 " print version that reveals the subtle nuances of the Teton backcountry. Terrain in the new expanded edition includes addtional Teton Pass, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort O.B., Grand Targhee Resort O.B. and Grand Teton National Park explorations. Purchase at your favorite local sporting-goods store for only $19.95.
Skiing is a dangerous sport. People who ski subject themselves to risks of avalanches, extreme weather and other perils. Avalanches have killed people on ski slopes depicted in this book. The area is notorious for winter storms. Each individual must assume these risks.
Backcountry travelers must use common sense and follow established safety practices. They should venture with a partner, leave word of route and expected time of return, and pay attention to the weather and the avalanche report at 307-733-2664 or jhavalanche.org to understand current conditions before departing. It is necessary to carry a map, compass, lighter, extra clothing, food and water, and other safety gear.
This is not a quidebook or an avalanche index. The authors and publisher are not responsible for injury or death resulting from excursions into country shown in these photographs. Terrain depicted in these photographs is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and private parties, each of which has its own regulations. U.S. Board of Geographic Names' style has been retained for features named on U.S.G.S. topographic maps. Possessives are used in vernacular names.
Photographs by Angus M. Thuermer, Jr., with John Wright, Michelle Bevier McCormick and Linda Sternberg.