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Jackson compared with Alta, Snowbird?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'm interested in heading out to Jackson Hole next year for the first time. I've skied Alta and Snowbird in Utah many times, and I'm interested to know how Jackson compares with these places. How does the quality and amount of snow vary? What about the terrain? Steeper, less steep? Similar? Plus, my girlfried is an intermediate level skier and I'm wondering what's available for her out at JH as compared to Alta.
post #2 of 19

Icy, steep, advanced +. Oh, and temperature inversions. I hear a powder say there is fun, but I never had one.

Grand Targhee is supposed to be the place.

post #3 of 19
Alta and Snowbird get more snow than Jackson. Jackson is quite steep, but not much more so than Snowbird. Jackson has plenty of intermediate terrain as well. Jackson is fun have a great time!
post #4 of 19
I've skied Alta and Jackson, but not the Bird. I agree with Chronic. Jackson's big stuff up high is so wide open that you can be deceived into thinking it's not as steep as it truly is. I hit Jackson on a late March day 2 yrs ago, 18" fell overnight, and it was heaven until about noon when the snow got heavy in the sun. First run of the day, I straightlined for a moment to get planing, and next thing I knew I was going about 40mph and really had to angulate to hold my first turn. The bowl was so big that I didn't get much perception of how fast I was moving.

I'd say the steeps are comparable at both places and maybe a wee bit steeper at JH. I've heard the Bird has some stuff steeper than Alta, so maybe the Bird is a better comparison.
post #5 of 19
I think that I am a pretty good person to help out here. Alta has the snow, Jackson has the steeps, if Alta and Jackson had a bastard child, they would name it Snowbird. I ski Alta and Snowbird every weekend, but at least once a year I head to Jackson on the skier's pilgramage. Terrain wise, Jackson is my favorite moutain, snow goes to Alta, combo is Snowbird.

Jackson Hole is a steep, beautiful mountain. It seems much bigger than Alta or Snowbird because it has much more vertical. Jackson is steep, and it stays steep, which is why I love it so. Unlike places like Big Sky, Montana, it doesn't roll, it just keeps going down, and does so for a long time. Don't underestimate JH snow, they get a lot of it, and it is high quailty. The steeps are similar to Snowbird in that they can challenge a skier of any caliber, they are both tough mountains. Jackson has some vast intermediate terrain, but it is mostly an advanced mountain. If your girlfriend likes easier terrain, she will be fine if she can handle Alta, both are advanced mountains that have some intermediate terrain. Jackson can be colder, so take warm clothing.

The line for the Tram at JH can be slightly longer than that of Snowbird (due to half the capacity), however the view any direction but East is amazing.

Nightlife in Jackson is better than anything that Alta or Snowbird has to offer.

I am not a big fan of Grand Targee, however, that probably has to do with the conditions that I was there in combined with my hangover from Jackson's night life.
post #6 of 19
The vertical at Jackson is what really sets it apart, a run from the top of the Tram down rendevous into the hobacks on a powder day, is about as good as it gets.

Berthoud's sick dude.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thx for the info folks. Wish I could make it out to Jackson this year! This year I got to ski some of the steeper stuff at Alta (gunsight, high notch), and I'm looking forward to comparing with JH. Don't know that I'm that interested in risking my knees on jumping in on anything (ie Corbett's) though.
post #8 of 19
Speaking of Alta, how 'bout this forcast!?!

Cottonwood Canyons Forecast
Prepared by the National Weather Service, Salt Lake City
for use in snow safety activities and emergency management
Date/Time Issued: Fri Jan 25 13:14:48 MST 2002
Synopsis: Mild temperatures and gusty southwesterly winds will be the story into Saturday night. Our next winter storm system is expected to spread snow in on Sunday. The cold front and favored northwest flow is timed to move through the Cottonwood Canyons Sunday evening. Monday into Tuesday scattered snow showers should continue with a chance of Lake Effect. Total accumulations Sunday into Tuesday will likely be measured in feet rather than in inches. Much colder temperatures will develop by then as well.
post #9 of 19
I agree with AltaSkiers comparison. Grand Targhee can be fun when they get a powder dump which is more often than JH.
post #10 of 19
I'd pretty much agree with AltaSkier. However, I've had great experiences at Grand Targhee and recommend it to everyone. they get more snow and it seems to be a lil lighter as well. There are no crowds and cheaper lift tickets. Also, for your beloved, there will be much more terrain for her ability. Even though there is "blue" terrain at JH, most intermediates I know like groomers and JH doesn't have much in that area away from the base...which are green runs.
post #11 of 19
Altaskier had the best analogy. Jackson is the best. For an intermediate, there is plenty to get better on. Good time to get more lessons. In its' late season it is best to follow the sun to find the softer spots early and catch the Northern exposures later. Late January to early March can be prime, but other times can be good too. Right now it is hard for me to look at their pictures coming form the top of the Bridger Gondola, 'cause it doesn't look crowded and they are getting good snow!
post #12 of 19
Altaskier, that's the best, most objective assessment comparing the three areas that I've ever seen.

Bburdette, I now ski about an equal number of days each season at Snowbird and Jackson, but I've skied over a thousand days at Jackson during my lifetime. I also ski a few days at Alta each season for good measure.

Here are my own very humble opinions:

Alta has great snow, some fun terrain, no snowboarders (sorta), and a lift system that's "interesting". The downsides of Alta are serious crowding on weekends and never-ending traverses from hell.

Snowbird has almost-as-great snow, far better lifts, and more challenging terrain. The downside of Snowbird is that all that lift capacity results in a gigantic frenzy on powder days. Almost the entire mountain gets tracked very quickly. Plus, you get to deal with the boarder horde.

Jackson has the best terrain of all. The Hobacks themselves have almost as much vertical drop as Snowbird or Alta altogether. All that vertical combined with a relatively low base elevation and a more easterly/southerly aspect, however, means Jackson can and does have an unbelievable variety of snow conditions. When the snow is good, there's no place like it. When it's bad, it's probably worse than anywhere else.

Jackson's downsides include a hopelessly overcrowded tram, a *huge* population of local gunners who show up on every powder day, and temperatures that can hit 50 below (no exaggeration) during a January inversion.

One very definite plus of all that vertical (and the different aspects) is that if you know the mountain you can almost always find some very good skiing - but you might have to ski through some horrible stuff to get to it. Another huge plus is the backcountry policy, which allows you to ski an incredible variety of terrain and still get back to the area base.


Can you tell which one I like best?
post #13 of 19
"When it's bad, it's probably worse than anywhere else."
It couldn't possibly be worse than New Jersey packed powder(translation-ice)
Any suggestions on where to start out on for an old guy (52) used to skiing "packed powder"?
38 days and counting

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 29, 2002 03:18 AM: Message edited 1 time, by BillA ]</font>
post #14 of 19
Good info. I've never skiied Jackson but heading over in a couple of weeks. Can't wait!
post #15 of 19

You're probably right about the New Jersey thing, but maybe not by as much as you might think. Just kidding... hopefully.

Anyway, a good place to start would be the Bridger Gondola. It's usually a quick ride up for quite a bit of vertical. You can warm up on Sundance or Ranger, which are usually groomed. You can venture off those and find lots of off-piste stuff to the sides in the trees.

Beyond that, so much depends on the conditions. There's excellent groomed skiing off the Aprez Vous and Casper chairs. There are tons of great chutes and bumps off both the Thunder and Sublette chairs. The only access to the Hobacks is from the Sublette chair or from the tram.

And then there's the Lower Faces - Sublette, South, and North Colter ridges and the gullies between them. All of them can have super skiing.

Last but not least, if there's any money at all in the budget for a guide, consider one for at least a day. Especially if there's a bunch of new snow. They can really show you the best places to go and maybe show you a little of the backcountry skiing.

Have a great time.

post #16 of 19
Thanks for the information. I'm sure I'll have a great time.
Happy skiing
36 days
post #17 of 19
Another option instead of a guide is taking a Mountain Masters lesson. It's an all day lesson with a max of 4 students for $85. Be sure to ask for a PSIA Level III instructor or equivalent who has been teaching at JH for at least 5 years.

I was just at JH last week (and wishing I was there right now) and took a Mountain Masters lesson. We had 3 in our group, got a great tour of the mountain and a great lesson as well. We mostly skied with lots of the instruction coming on the lifts. Our instructor took us to places we probably wouldn't have gone to on our own since many of the approaches to the steeper stuff are pretty scary looking if you don't know where you're going. Our instructor was Cristoph (from Germany) and he was great. It's a cheaper way to go than a guide and you get some helpful instruction. Just an alternative to consider.
post #18 of 19
Just got home yesterday from the Hole. Man what a mountain. If you like steeps, long never ending steeps, JH is for you. They do have some green flats over to the north of the tram but there intermediate runs are really groomed black runs. Blues are very steep as well. There really isn't any true intermediate cruser runs like one might find at say Snowmas or Steamboat. JH is no doubt an advanced area. Friday, Feb 8, they got 15" of powder and the Hobacks were wonderful, but really steep. It just don't get any better!
post #19 of 19
Just got back from Jackson. What a great mountain. Took a one day Mountain Masters Clinic. Instruction was excellent and he took us to some of the best snow on the mountain. Started snowing the last day of the trip which is the way it seems to happen. I'll be going back. [img]smile.gif[/img]
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