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Jackson Hole Questions???

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
A bunch of us are going to Jackson Hole the second week in march. (first time) I am a advanced skier likes steeps, bumps, powder and fast crusing runs. I'm not really into cliff jumping (corbes S&S) but like all other kinds of terain. I've heard the hobacks are awsome any suggestions on good mogul runs and steep powder/crusiers without cliffs would be appreciated. Also several of the other people going are begineer/intermiated skiers any suggestions on easier runs ( I know Jackson does not have much of this...thats the reason i'm so excited about it). I know its tough to predict the weather but for those of you who have skied there in early march how are the conditions normally?? Would a day trip to Targhee be worth it??

Thanks, sorry for the long post
post #2 of 22
By far, the best resource I've found about JH's trails is the Jackson Hole Ski Guide by Bob Viola and Thomas Turiano. It lists and describes in detail every trail on the map plus many that are not. It also rates the trails' difficulty level on a scale of 1-12. You can either order it off of Amazon which will take 4-6 weeks or call a local bookstore in the town of Jackson and have them ship it to you (about 10 days). If you do get it off Amazon, make sure you access Amazon's site from the Barking Bears Forum home page. There's a link at the bottom of the page. Epic Ski receives a small commission for referring buyers to Amazon. This helps to defray the operating costs of the site.

IMHO, you and all you friends who are level 5 or higher will have a great time. There's so much at JH for intermediate and higher skiers, especially for the higher levels. For the beginners, there's a relatively small amount of terrain that they will be able to ski on. The transition from beginner to intermediate terrain at JH is pretty harsh. The greens are green, but the blues are more like double blue to blue-black. It's a great place to go if you're already a competent skier, but probably not the best place to learn or to advance past the beginner lever unless you're really athletic or very gutsy.
post #3 of 22

Second week of March is actually fairly late in the season for Jackson. You could run into anything from major powder dumps to warm springtime sunshine. That's okay, because that mountain can provide outstanding skiing in most any conditions. Be prepared for just about anything and you won't be disappointed.

Prosper's suggestion about Viola/Turiano's book is dead on. It's an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the mountain.

The Hoback's *are* awesome. Just be aware that like almost any inbounds ski run at a major resort, powder doesn't last real long so get to 'em in a hurry when it snows. If it doesn't snow, at least three great bump lines develop down the Hobacks if that's what you're looking for. The center of Sublette Ridge bumps up, Pepi's Run and the first Alta Chute also grow moguls pretty quickly. The best-known bump run is Thunder, but Tower 3 Chute, Indian Paintbrush, and Toilet Bowl also will give you all the bumps you need.

Your intermediate friends will find quite a bit of groomed terrain. I think it's more than most people realize, mostly due to how much vertical many of the groomers have.

You should take a day and go to Targhee. The terrain is a fair bit more mellow, but it's very pretty, has almost no liftlines, and is a super place to learn to ski powder if you happen to catch it during or right after a storm. (Of course, if you ski there *during* a storm, you'll quickly learn about the nickname "Fog-ghee".)

Last but not least, give some thought to spending one Jackson ski day with one of the guides. They can take you out of bounds and show you some even more impressive terrain than what you'll find inside the ropes.

Have fun.

post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies guys.....its just october and i find myself daydreaming about a trip i'm going on in march. What will the crowds be like during the second week of march. It should be too early for spring breaks so hopefully it won't be too bad

Thanks again

post #5 of 22
How would you Jackson Hole vets compare Hoback's to Vail's Back Bowls?

[ October 03, 2002, 07:38 AM: Message edited by: Orange_Julius ]
post #6 of 22

Just to establish credentials, I don't consider myself all that knowledgeable about the terrain at Vail so take this with a grain of salt. I've skied there several times and have skied Sun Up, Sun Down, and China Bowls but haven't been in... Mongolia Bowl(?).

Generalizing, I think the Hobacks are a fair bit steeper and have a more sustained pitch top to bottom. My recollections of the Back Bowls involve somewhat shorter steep sections followed (or preceeded) by fairly long shallower pitches.

The thing I really like about the Back Bowls is that the trees and the long ridges/gullies mean you can find patches of good snow for quite a while on a powder day. Wandering around a bit can produce hidden little out-of-the-way pockets that are lots of fun.

I don't know what the vertical of the Back Bowls might be, but the Hobacks have close to 3,000 vertical and if your timing is *perfect* (which, of course, almost never happens) you can make untracked powder turns on a low-to-mid-thirty-degree pitch all the way down the fall line for that entire vertical. That's pretty special.

The Hobacks are so well known, however, and such target terrain on a powder day that they get hit hard and fast as soon as they open. Another downside of the Hobacks is the lift access. Once you make a run on the Hobacks, to return there you either have to ride the tram back up or the gondola and two chairs. Liftlines on the tram can be a nightmare on a powder day, and the round trip on the gondola/chair/chair will take at least 30 minutes of just lift time.

In a way, all that's good because it does preserve the snow on the Hobacks to some extent, but it can be pretty frustrating.

Bottom line, both offer great skiing if you're fortunate enough to there for a dump.

post #7 of 22
Thanks for the post, Bob.

post #8 of 22

My pleasure.

Actually, typing that response reminded me of the greatest lift-served run I've ever had in my life.

About five years ago, I was in Jackson and got invited to tag along with one of the guides and his two clients. His clients were powder-day regulars (in other words, they hire him on big-snow days not really for his knowledge of the mountain or his ability to find snow, which are fantastic, but for his ability to cut liftlines). Their routine is that they pretty much decide on a run at the top of the lift, take off, and then regroup at the bottom. The guide sort of trails along to make sure nothing goes wrong, and they just ski.

Anyway, we just happen to be the first ones through the Hoback gate when the patrol drops the rope. 25-30" of new snow and *no* tracks.

I drop onto North Hoback at the first possible opportunity and start making turns in unbelievable snow. About halfway down, I sort of start thinking that maybe I should stop and make sure my friends are doing okay.

After all, I'm their guest. It's the courteous thing to do.

Well, temptation overwhelms good manners and I just can't stop. I do the rest of the run thinking about nothing other than making turns and trying to keep breathing through all face shots. And how good it feels. All the way down the straightest, longest fall line on the Hobacks.

When I finally stop on the road at the bottom, there's the guide, one turn behind me. He's got this *enormous* smile on his face and I look at him and shout "OHHHHH. MYYYYY. GODDDDDDD!!!!!"

It was amazing.

Thanks for reminding me.

post #9 of 22
Also several of the other people going are begineer/intermiated skiers any suggestions on easier runs ( I know Jackson does not have much of this...thats the reason i'm so excited about it).

Don't worry about the beginners; my recollection about Jackson is that some of the blue runs would be OK for beginners because there are wide open runs that really aren't that steep. Don't scare dem 'ginners!
post #10 of 22
I'm looking at a map of JH, trying to figure out exactly which blue runs you're referring to that would be suitable for beginners. Off the Apres-Vous Chair, all three trails are wide and groomed, but quite steep up top (hence their double-blue rating) -- your friends would probably end up as roadkill for people smoking down Moran and Werner at top speed. Off the gondola, there are Gros Ventre, Sundance, Slalom, and Ampitheater... nope, wouldn't send a beginner there.

Maybe a couple of the easier runs under the slow-as-molasses Casper Chair could be attempted, but if you're planning on spending more than one or two days there, I'm predicting a mutiny from your posse of beginners.
post #11 of 22
A long-time ago, my second ski trip ever was to Jackson Hole so I was still at the beginner stage. Overall, I had a great time. I loved teton village, the town and the atmosphere of the resort. (Loved looking up at the rocks 30 feet above my head and seeing ski tracks off them.) Overall, I found the blues on Apres Vous to be skiable for a beginning, if you have an adventurous side to you. If any of the skiers are the more tentative type, the blues could be kind of daunting. I was also able to ski down from the gondola (on a rather circuitous route). By the end of the week, I was even veturing into some of the bowls and, while it wasn't not pretty, I had a good time getting down them. I enjoyed Targhee for a day as well. (Targhee still has my favorite sign of any ski resort. At the top of one of the runs, there's an out of bounds line with a sign that says "Warning: Skiing beyond this line may result in death and/or loss of skiing privileges." I always had this image of some ski patroller cutting the lift ticket off a corpse at the bottom and saying "No more skiing for you, mister").

In short, if the beginners you're going with are the more adventurous type and are not affraid to push their limits a bit, they'll have a great time. If they're the more timid types, it'll get pretty boring for them after a couple of days. But hey, at least they'll be able to say they skied the Hole when they get back.
post #12 of 22

Over the years, I've taken a lot of lower intermediates on Apres Vous. The ski area grooms Werner and Moran every night, and I think those are pretty easy runs for most people who've figured out how to maneuver left and right.

Also, you can ride up the gondola and take the access traverse over to the Amphitheater area. That provides a big and easy run down to the Thunder chair, as well as access to lower Gros Ventre. As you mention, there's also the Casper area.

Personally, I think there's quite a lot of terrain that is pretty appropriate for "athletic" low-to-mid intermediates. I would grant that getting from one to another isn't all that intuitive, however.

I will admit that there's a bit of a gap between first-day-beginner terrain (of which Jackson has some of the best anywhere) and solid intermediate. But what the heck, skiing should be an adventure, right?

post #13 of 22
Seeing that my experience at JH consists literally of 2.5 days there and yours stretches over decades, I'll certainly defer to you on this topic.

I agree with everything you just wrote, but I was referring to BEGINNERS, rather than lower intermediates.

[ October 10, 2002, 11:03 AM: Message edited by: jamesdeluxe ]
post #14 of 22
I am going to chime in on JD's side about Jackson Hole. There are some good groomed runs on Apres Vous, but the main problem is that it is a very limited amount of terrain on a rather large ski mountain. I can't think of anyone that might spend a week at "The Hole" who wouldn't eventually want to venture to other parts of the mountain. -That is when trouble starts. This is one mountain that makes little or no effort for the likes of 'newbies' on the rest of the mountain. I have only spent one week in Jackson Hole, but the lesson I learned was that I would NEVER bring a group with beginners up there. The group I went up with had 50 people in it, and about half were either sick, beat up, or already gone by the time Friday rolled around. ...We all agreed it was a great experience, but some in the group found the experience harder to swallow than others.
post #15 of 22
Hello Jackson Dreamer!
I am from the East and have been out West 3 [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] times. 2 were to Jackson. It's an amazing place! The others have said it all so I'll keep it short. I am advanced, and you'll not find bordom on the mountains many faces. Your beginners will have a blast as well. I went with 50 and everyone was smiling for weeks after returning home. Go OB if you get the chance, but respect the advice seen on those signs and heed any conditions warnings, then go have a run you'll never forget. DO TARGHEE!!! Do not miss it. We bought tickets on a Thursday afternoon that was a day of small squalls. In the tram I asked some locals if it was going to snow or just tease us. They began chanting... Targhee... Targhee... Targhee... POW! Targhee was getting nailed that day leaving little in the clouds for jackson. The bus ride over and back and the lift ticket was something like $50. It was worth $250 as the day turned out. POW was almost waist deep! At days end my quote on the bus was... "If I never strap on the skiis again that's cool... cause I'd had a day that could not be topped". You'll make the Mangy Moose a regular stop once you go in once. The town of Jackson is great. Food, Fun, Brews, and shopping. We did Yellowstone for one day as well, by snowmobile. It's amazing country. Any way, so much for keeping it short. You got me going dude! Have a blast... you won't be disappointed...

I'm hitting Whistler this year... again with a group of 50.. [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ October 10, 2002, 06:50 PM: Message edited by: NH Skier ]
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the good info guys. Its just october and I can't wait to get to the HOLE!!! Can anyone give me good info on the hobacks and the tower chutes?? The hobacks look enormous...any suggestions on certain lines for good pow and bumps?? What are the tower chutes like??? I like steep stuff and am not bothered by moguls but am not really into cliff jumping. Is this something I should try??

Thanks agin

post #17 of 22
Originally posted by bigbadwulf1:
...any suggestions on certain lines for good pow and bumps?? What are the tower chutes like??? I like steep stuff and am not bothered by moguls but am not really into cliff jumping. Is this something I should try??
I highly recommend buying:THE JACKSON HOLE SKI GUIDE

Study it, and carry it in your pocket. It's a great guide.
If you want the best snow, hire a mtn. guide for a day. They're great. You can cut the horrendous tram line and find loads of hidden pow stashes that you'll never find on your own.
post #18 of 22
It's been said many times before on this post, but make sure to buy the Jackson Hole Ski Guide. Read it, Study it, and sleep with it under you pillow.

There is also another great book out there if you are in to skiing the backcountry, the Jackson Hole Ski Atlas. It gives detailed photographs of the areas outside JHMR and Teton Pass. Most of the book is devoted to Teton Pass. You can also get a topo map of the Teton Pass area from Wilson Backcountry Sports that will have the trails, ridgelines and bowls of the Teton Pass area marked on the map. This past year, we skiied an area called Bear Claw 2 weeks after the last storm and still found light and untracked powder. Be carefull in this area though. A lot of the runs on Teton Pass are avalanche paths. Hire a guide if you are unsure about conditions.

As for JHMR itself, I was there 2 years ago the second week of March and the conditions were so so when we arrived. It hadn't snowed in probably over a week, but we did get about 14 inches the 6 days we were there, with the biggest 24 hour snow being only about 8 inches. Even with the fresh snow, the lower half of the mountain will turn to mashed potatoes if it is sunny. For the experts in the group, I would recommend mostly skiing off of the Sublette and Thunder Quads to stay higher on the mountain.

We also had several beginers in the group, and they were able to ski off the Apres-Vous and Casper chairs with ease. If they get bored with the beginer side of Jackson, they can ski Targhee.

The bumps at Jackson are hardly worth talking about. Most of the advanced skiers there are jumping cliffs, hiking to the backcountry, or skiing the chutes in the woods, leaving most of the bumps on the mountain are formed by intermediates. They are often oblong, sized differently, icy as hell, and have no real zipper line through them. One exception would be the bump line just under the Sublette Chair, where you will have quite an opinionated crowd scutinizing your every turn

Bob, you post about the Hobacks on a 25" day makes me wish I had skiied them last year. I was lucky enough to be at Jackson on February 9th, the day after the 19" storm there, listed as one of the top 10 best powder days of the year by one of the magazines. But I had to leave at 12:30 to catch a plane, and stayed on the quads to get more runs in. Still catching the first box up and skiing Rendezvous Bowl untracked was probably one of the best runs I have ever had.
post #19 of 22
Originally posted by bigbadwulf1:
Thanks for all the good info guys. Its just october and I can't wait to get to the HOLE!!! Can anyone give me good info on the hobacks and the tower chutes?? The hobacks look enormous...any suggestions on certain lines for good pow and bumps?? What are the tower chutes like??? I like steep stuff and am not bothered by moguls but am not really into cliff jumping. Is this something I should try??

Thanks agin


Since I obviously love talking about JH's mountain, I'll throw in some more suggestions.


You access the Hobacks primarily through a gate on skier's right a little ways down Rendezvous Trail. After a couple hundred yards on a cat-track, you'll come to the end of the cat-track and the formal beginning of "The Hobacks". It looks narrow and bumpy right there, but don't despair - there's *lots* to come.

When standing right where the cat-track ends, you're at the very apex of a huge triangle that makes up the whole Hobacks area. You have three general choices here:

The bumpy little cut through the trees directly down the fall line leads (after about 10-20 turns) to North Hoback. This is a very large, open area that will develop a bump line right down the center of the ridge if it hasn't snowed for awhile. Center-punching the ridge is the best line if you're lucky enough to have first tracks there, but everybody knows that so you'll need exceedingly good karma to find the main body of North untracked. As an option, angling left as North Hoback opens up will take you to a shallow sub-gully near the tree line that forms the left hand (north) side of North Hoback. That gully faces more north (slightly) than the rest of the ridge and often has better snow and more of it after a storm. As that gully shallows out and joins back with the rest of North Hoback, there's a good-sized rock just to skier's right of some small pine trees. It's a great rock for getting a little air. At that point, you're about halfway down North Hoback - you can choose the skier-packed center line or play around in the trees/shrubbery off toward the left boundary. A little suggestion all over the Hobacks (and anywhere else, for that matter), is to look for small patches of trees and cut in and ski just below them. Those lines usually hold powder longer than the more open stuff. Anyway, keep dropping down and turn left on the return cat-track at the bottom.

Back at the top, if you go slightly (like 40 feet) right from the end of the cat-track and then drop through the next little cut through the trees, you're set up for the Middle Hobacks area. The upper half of the Middle Hobacks consists of a few open areas, a few pine glades, and some small aspen patches. This area is kind of undefined and tends to hold good snow a bit longer than the more open approaches to North and South. About a third of the way down, the trees thin out and you get into two obvious gullies with a sub-ridge down the middle and shoulders on both sides. This area probably gets skied the least, because the obvious lines are right down the ridge-top or down the bottoms of the gullies. You can milk out powder turns by dropping off the top of the ridge down into the gully, traversing back up to the ridge, and then dropping down again. That sounds confusing, I suppose, but it'll be obvious when you ski there. The only caution I would add is that this middle-gully area has lots 'o rocks, so coverage can be an issue (that's a big reason it doesn't get skied as much). Poke around a little bit and you'll have fun. Just be a little careful.

Finally, back up at the top again... If you traverse a little farther to the right (maybe 100'), drop down a few turns, and then cut right underneath a large rock outcropping, you'll come out at the top of South Hoback Ridge. The main part of South Hoback (you'll see the south ski area boundary rope on your right side) is a little shallower angle and faces more south than the rest of the Hobacks. There's fun skiing in the little tree-and-wind mounds on the boundary line, and right down the gut can be great if you get there soon after a storm.

There's also a fun area that's hard to describe but obvious when you see it. As you're looking down the main part of South Hoback, there are some small, open aspens on the left shoulder of the run (kind of at the apex of the left-hand ridge). Those aspens lead to a rollover face that is just left of a corniced ridgeline with big pines. This area is about the steepest part of the Hobacks and is known as "The Boob" (don't ask). This also faces a bit more north and drifts in more snow during windy storms, so there can be *great* skiing there.

If it hasn't snowed, there's always good bump lines down the center of North Hoback, the center ridge of Middle, and to skier's left of The Boob.

Whew! That's the Hobacks.

By "Tower Chutes", I think you mean Tower 3 Chute. It's named that because the entrance is right next to the third tram tower (and just below the top of the Thunder Chair). The chute itself is pretty steep (but moderately open) and dumps out into Toilet Bowl. T3 is north-facing so the snow usually stays good there for days (not untracked, of course, just nice bumps and skier-packed). One nice line is to ski down T3 (the steepest part of the run is on the little skier's-left shoulder at the very top through the gate) and then cut right into the trees as T3 starts to narrow. This takes you into the area known as Mushroom Chutes. Be a little careful your first time in here, because there are many large and small rocks (the snow pillows that form on those rocks are where the name comes from), but it's a great place to play. Even a little more skier's right of there is Hoop's Gap, which is a nasty, steep little cut through the trees.

Tower 3 is a great run and so is Toilet Bowl. You can also access Toilet Bowl from a run called Indian Paintbrush. That entrance is a little north of the entrance to T3. Toilet Bowl has lots of rocky outcroppings and faces on skier's left. Just be careful about that area if the visibility is bad - you can go off a substantial rock without even knowing it's there (BTDT).

Well, that ought to give you a little bit of background. None of this will make sense when you get there, of course, but it might help a little.

Turiano's book will help a lot.

post #20 of 22
Jackson is my home mt. I have skied it every year for the past twenty five seasons, with a season past for the last 15 or so.

Beginner/Intermidiates at JH can be a problem. Jock males 20 something years old as beginners/intermidiates can handle GV, or Casper lift or Apres Vous.

Now timid (male or female) out of shape older beginner/ intermidiates will have a harder time. A few years back I had a friend come out with his wife, a solid timid intermediate. She had a tough time and found lots of what I thought would be ok for her to be too steep. She did not have a good time.

So for the lower level skier it will really depend on there level of adventure, and how in shape and young they are.

I could go on for pages but the post above give you a pretty good idea.

JH is a great area, and early March can be a great time, or the mt could close early. No way to predict that now. I love early March, but I also have no problem with cherry picking the days and on a good snow day, that is warm ,I will knock off at 1:00 PM or so.

If you have any specific questions PM me. The book everyone talks about I hate to admit I have never see. But as a local I guess I know the mt by now.
post #21 of 22
Trouthead, even old dogs can learn new tricks. The book is probably worth a quick glance through even for a local. You can find it in many book and gift shops in Jackson. I'm not anywhere close to a local but the book talks of a number of runs and areas that are proported to be little know and little skied by anyone, including locals. I wish all big mountains had a little book like this one.
post #22 of 22
Jacksonhole pics

This is a link to some pictures I took at JH last March. We were there the first week in March. It was great,snowed just before we arrived and several days while we were there. I'm not giving any advice here, listen to the experts. You're gonna love it, have a great time.
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