Day One (Saturday 1/9)
The SO and I arrived in Chicago for our connection to Jackson in the afternoon. We met up with a friend from Japan who is currently living in the U.S. (I’ll call him “Mr.K”). The flight to Jackson was pretty smooth and the shuttle to Snow King eventually arrived. We stayed at Snow King the first and last night of the vacation to save money on the taxi and staying in the village.
Day Two (Sunday 1/10)
We took the ski shuttle from Snow King to Teton Mountain Lodge. Conditions were perfect, mid twenties, and everything was skiing great. As anyone who has skied JHMR knows, the resort’s grooming is top notch.
Mr. K and I skied a run or two with the SO and then headed off for the tram. Rendezvous Bowl was in excellent condition, and would remain that way the whole week. I immediately managed to lead us into Cheyenne Gully and lose speed on the traverse. The result was hiking for me and painful sidestepping for Mr. K so we would not get cliffed out. I seem to be a pro at getting stuck in this area at Jackson Hole. After lunch, we met up with the SO again and cruised around in the afternoon.
Day Three (Monday 1/11)
Things felt a bit firmer despite the weather staying cold. A good day, but nothing super notable. We took the bus to Albertsons for supplies and chilled out with a big pasta dinner.
Day Four (Tuesday 1/12)
We repeated the usual ritual of a warm up run with the SO before working on the harder stuff. We headed over to Tensleep (quite the traverse) and hiked the headwall. We dropped in above the gondola right before the gate to the Casper Bowl. It was a sharkfest and we probably should have dropped in closer to Coombs or continued to Casper Bowl.
At this point I began to wonder about Mr.K’s skiing history. I did some subtle question asking along the lines of “how often do you ride?” “Did you race?” “How good are you compared with the people you ski with normally?” The last question I was sure would elicit something to the effect of “I’m the best in my group of friends.” Instead the answer was “I’m not the best in my group of friends; many of my friends in Japan are professional freeskiers.” Ahhh, everything falls into place. As many of you know, there are “experts” in the sense of being able to do any in-bounds territory (I count myself in this category) and there are Experts in the truer sense of the word – someone who can effortlessly, and stylishly, paint the snow with their movements. I felt truly lucky to spend a week with someone in the later category.
Day Five (Wednesday 1/13)
An unbelievably beautiful morning. The vista from Apres Vous looked like a Monet:
I learned that I’ve been carving wrong my whole life. It is strange to have such a major realization like this, but it is true. Something to work on...
We hit the park several times, and the half-pipe was open. It’s been a long time since I rode pipe so I mostly watched Mr. K air away.
Day Six (Thursday 1/14)
The sleeper powder day…and what a day, what a day. The hint of snow had sent me into a frenzy, and I checked several times in the night, but it looked like no snow was falling. I started having nightmares about last January when it did not snow and then proceeded to rain at the base. This time was different. The mountain reported 4 inches at 6AM, but by 8AM it was clear that more than 4 had fallen and the snow was continuing to come down strong. I met Mr. K at the tram at 8:40AM and we easily caught the first tram up. We headed straight down the Bowl – Wow! Powder heaven. We headed down the traverse to the Hobacks – Wow! There is powder here too? We headed to the far right on the Hobacks. Oh my God. This is how people fall in love with Jackson Hole. We did the tram twice more (once in the middle of the Hobacks, and once in the trees to Cheyenne Gully) which were both awesome. We had a quick lunch and then did the Hobacks again. It just kept dumping all day. Things were getting a little choppy (mind you still incredible and we never had to wait for a tram), so we decided to head over to Woolsey Woods. My thinking was that everyone would be lapping the tram and there would be snow left in this area. This turned out to be completely true. We stayed on the traverse all the way to almost the bottom of Shot 9. The snow was heavenly. Here is Mr. K demonstrating that with me following:
Then I heard Saratoga Bowl was open, so we went over there. This is such a fun area – tons of little boulders to hop off of and then a brutal traverse back. The final count was an additional 11 inches during the day, 4 tram rides, 4 gondola rides, and an Apres Vous to Saratoga adventure.
Day Seven (Friday 1/15)
More snow. People have figured it out this time and we have to wait one tram - gasp =). We hang to the right on the Hobacks again. The powder is great, but I have the feeling there is the possibility for even better turns elsewhere on the mountain. We head over to Washakie Glade, which looked intriguing. The snow was so good. We ended up closer to Grizzly Glade. Jackson Hole is really big and this in itself felt like a huge fun area. We did it twice and then checked online to see that Casper Bowl was open!!
So we headed to the top of the Teton Lift to hike to Sheridan Bowl. But the hike was out of bounds. I was so bummed. I didn’t have avalanche gear and have a strict policy of not screwing around with those types of risks. Patrol said we could get to it by hiking from the Headwall or the top of the gondola. We got on the gondola because the tram lines looked long. Promptly the gondola stopped. We were the last cabin still open. The lifties informed us that it was likely to be a long wait due to mechanical issues. We gratefully hopped off. The only way we could make it was from the Marmot chair. No one was on this side of the mountain. Patrol showed us the path, and with a huge smile said “it is unreal out there, watch out for cliffs.” It was a fairly steep hike up. Of course being the snowboarder, and thus having more comfortable boots, I kicked our path up front.
Worth every second of it. Mr. K leading the way on Fremont (I believe, we may have started at the top of Moccasin) with me following:
We entered Casper via the Headwall from the tram for the second run and caught some amazing powder in the Tensleep Bowl area. Also there are some huge boulders there! You have to stay on your toes. I tried to take a GoPro on our second run, but I am not the best at GoPro, and the results were lets say less than spectacular .
Those two runs on Casper Bowl are my favorites of all time. I cannot wait to return – Shot 7 looks so intriguing and Sheridan Bowl on the map looks awesome too. I have become a complete addict to hike to terrain after this trip and Taos earlier in the year.
Day Eight (Saturday 1/16)
Some ridiculous amount of snow was clearly on the way.
It was dumping at Snow King from the start of the morning. I kept hoping our flight would be cancelled for a couple of days. Unfortunately, after sitting on the plane for an hour we took off. I hope some EpicSki board members got to enjoy the goodness. All in all it was a tremendously fun trip.