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Jackson Hole Steep & Deep Camp 2/7-2/10

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Intro: What follows is a trip report for my first-ever Jackson Hole Steep & Deep Camp (2/7 to 2/10). It is written from the perspective of someone who is a decent skier, but not great. I’m advanced by most measures. I ski blues easily, and can ski black runs with varying degrees of proficiency. As terrain gets more challenging, I tend to ski in survival mode. When I ski alone, I usually ski about 70/30 blue/black runs out West. Never skied a double black at a Western Resort. There have been some posts in the past about this camp, so I thought this trip report might be particularly helpful to those who are considering the camp, but who are unsure of whether they are good enough.

Day 0: February 6. Nearly got stuck in Chicago due to the winter storm. Just got out in-time. Thought we were out of the woods, but circled east of Jackson for nearly 90 minutes because the runway was too slippery to accommodate the B757. We almost had to go to Billings to get fuel. They finally got the runway cleared and we landed. Got in 3.5 hours late – no time to ski.

Day 1: February 7. We took the early Gondola up and then skied to the Thunder Chair. The resort was reporting 3 inches, but that was WAY conservative. Boot top and higher in most places. Skied the first run (Amphitheater) over to Thunder with two young women from Aspen -- who ripped. At that point, I thought I might be in way over my head. At top of Thunder we did a ski-off to sort us into groups. The Aspen girls got put into group 1 – the best. I went into group 6, with about 10 others. Group 7 was the lowest. Because there were so many of us in group six, we split into to sub-groups of five campers. Our sub-group was pretty well matched, and our coach, who just passed her PSIA level III teaching exam, was an excellent coach; best ski instructor I’ve ever had. We spent most of the day skiing from the Gondola and the Casper chair. Some bowl skiing and LOTS of trees. I think that was because of the conditions -- heavy snow and high winds. The trees offered some perspective and some protection. The powder was deep; knee deep in some places, and very light. Prior to today I had a grand total of two days of powder experience. I don’t remember all of the runs, but a lot weren’t officially named. Much skiing in Moran Woods and Moran Face. Got some good coaching advice and ended up skiing lots of stuff I NEVER would have tried if I was on my own; quite frankly it was stuff I didn’t think I could ski. I definitely did not rip it up, but I’m alive to relay the experience. One of the reasons I signed-up for this camp was to push me out of my comfort zone. So far, mission accomplished.

Day 2: February 8. 4-5 inches overnight on top of the 12” that we got during the day yesterday. Light snow today. High winds in the afternoon shut down all of the lifts by 2:45 – more on that later. In the morning we skied from the Thunder Chair. First run of the day was called Elephant Tree (not on trail map), which led us down to Amphitheater. Completely untracked powder, easily shin deep, knee deep in spots. More dense than the stuff we skied yesterday, probably due to high winds overnight. We were getting video footage during the morning. Should be interesting to see. Also skied the lower parts of Toilet Bowl and Paint Brush. Got some footage of us hucking a mini-boulder (2-3 foot drop, soft landing). Back up Thunder. This time more trees, and our first chute. It was called Goldminers’ #2. It is opposite the Alta Chutes – and falls from the ridge that the tram follows, but once again, not on the trail map. Very steep and very tight. Probably the hardest run we’ve skied so far. All of us survived. We finished the morning skiing trees and powder fields in Rawlins Bowl down to the Union Pass Chair. We were scheduled to go out-of-bounds after lunch. That’s when the winds shut down everything but the Gondola; so no backcountry today. More powder & trees instead; Woolsey Woods, under the gondola, and Jackson Face. It’s 1:45 & I’m dragging. One more trip up the Gondola, then it shut down due to winds. Our last run down was in white-out conditions with the backcountry guide leading the way. Trees, trees, trees down past Thunder Chair -- finished the day skiing North Colter Ridge, and taking a secret locals’ traverse back to the Gondola. I thought the skiing in North Colter Ridge was excellent. Lightly gladed, and the snow quality was really nice. Our coach didn’t drop a lot of new stuff on us today -- mostly working on techniques we covered yesterday. And just like yesterday, virtually everything we skied was outside my comfort zone. I’m surprised that I’ve been able to ski some of this stuff. It’s 3:30 now in the wind is absolutely HOWLING outside, and my quads are howling inside. Hope the Advil works.

Day 3: February 9. WOW. Today was the “scare ‘em stupid” day. First run off the Gondola in the morning was a chute called Granny’s. This was our warm-up run. Not as steep as Goldminers’ #2 from yesterday, but still….Next, up Thunder, then we skied Goldminers’ #1, which is steeper and tighter than #2. Some side slipping, lots of real short turns to get out. Next, back up Thunder, up Sublette, up East Ridge to the summit. Peeked into Corbet’s & watched several group 1 campers drop in. This is probably a good year to do it with all the snow. People were side-slipping in, then letting ‘em run. Not us. Down Rendezvous Bowl, which wasn’t a big deal; pretty easy. Over to South Hoback. Tons of cut-up powder. It was heavy because it was sunny and fairly warm by the time we got there – about 11:30 am. I got beat-up pretty good; all of my flaws surfaced. I’d like to ski the Hobacks on a cold, light powder day. That would be awesome. The snow was too heavy today for my tastes. BTW, the pitches in the Hobacks, Rawlins, and Colter Ridge are pretty mild; it’s the lack of grooming that makes these black runs. After lunch our coach pulled-out the whoop-ass stick. Time to ski our first marked double-blacks. First up was Paint-Brush. We caught the lower part of it yesterday, but today, it was all-the-way. Our coach went first and stopped part way down. She counseled us to ski to her left unless we wanted huck a cliff and then die. We all thought that was good advice, so we complied. Some side-slipping, lots of short turns. No deaths in our group. Back up Thunder. This time it was the Tower Three Chute. Let’s see, steeper, tighter, longer, and scarier than Paint Brush, but at least there weren’t any cliffs. My entrance was awe inspiring; skied over my pole basket and did a face-plant on the first turn; right under the Thunder Chair. After that, though, not so bad. More side-slipping, and short-turns. It seemed like it took forever, but we all made it out in one piece. This was the highlight of the day. Next we skied some more trees, then skied Dick’s Ditch down to the Gondola. It was close to 3:00, and I was spent. Another great day. I’ve never skied a double-black run anywhere out West until today. To have skied two double blacks at what many consider one of the steepest, scariest mountains in the US – I never thought I could have done it. Had our banquet that night. Bubba’s BBQ, Snake River beer, and every group had to do shots of Jagermeister from a ski that had six shot glasses glued to it. Nice.

Day 4: February 10. This morning we went out-of-bounds and did some backcountry alpine touring. It was a gravity tour, so there was minimal hiking, and the skis stayed on the whole time. We went up to the summit & got some avalanche safety and recovery training in Corbet’s Cabin. Our guide buried some transceivers outside & we had to go find them and dig them out. Pretty cool, but also emphasized the seriousness of what we were about to do. We exited JHMR at the top of Rendezvous Bowl, and skied into an area called Rock Springs Bowl. Skied down the bowl in short increments, one at a time, each time finishing in safe zones with the lowest risk of getting taken-out by a slide. Skied into another area called the Green River Valley, which was gladed, and then skied through the woods, some really tight trees, to the ski area boundary. We came in at the bottom of South Hoback, and headed to Solitude Cabin for lunch. After lunch, the camp was officially over, but we free skied with our coach for the rest of the afternoon. We dialed it down a bit because most everyone was pretty tired. Afternoon runs included the upper section of Dick’s Ditch, Hoops Gap (another double black), and a run off the Horn’s Hole Traverse from the top of Thunder called Broken Goggles (not on map). This is where we had the ski-off on the first day. Conditions today were packed-powder on that run as opposed to powder for the ski off. That was it. Made it over to Gros-Ventre and hacked my way down to the base to call it a day.

Some final thoughts. This was the craziest stuff I’ve ever skied. Stuff I never thought I could ski & would never, ever, try on my own. Some of the upper lifts have a famous warning about JH being nothing like you’ve ever skied before, and to treat the mountain with respect…or else. It’s true. The great thing, though, was that being in the camp, our coach knew where to take us, how far to push us, and so on. So the risks were manageable. Anyone who is a good skier should think about skiing JHMR. You don’t have to be a TGR type to do it; but you should think about taking one of the camps, or schedule some full-day lessons, or at least ski with someone who really knows the mountain. That way you’ll go to lots of cool places; ones that aren’t obvious from the trail maps….And go there at the right times. I hope some of you will find this TR useful.

Go Huge!!!!!!!!!
post #2 of 33
Originally Posted by Dr.Skinny View Post
...I hope some of you will find this TR useful.
Absolutely, and great report. Thanks. I'll be in Jackson in about one month, and plan going to the camp next year. Thanks, again.

BTW, did your group have the "option" of going into Corbet's? :
post #3 of 33
second that...nice, concise report with good insights and capturing the awe and enthusiasm you obviously experienced during your camp.
post #4 of 33
Thread Starter 
Dr Rick

Yes -- Every group had the option of skiing Corbet's. I'd say about 15%-20% of the campers actually did it. The rest of us just peered into the abyss....and said "maybe next year." Like I said in the TR, though, this IS the year to do it...tons of snow up there.
post #5 of 33
Nice write-up, Doc... thanks!
post #6 of 33
Thanks a lot! How would you assess your ski level before you ventured into the camp?
post #7 of 33
Thread Starter 

I am an advanced skier; definitely not an expert. If I use the JHMR skill assessment measures, I am a low 8. Here's the link.


Prior to camp I'd ski a mix of blue and single black runs out West. I am perfectly comfortable on all blues anywhere. My comfort level on blacks depends on conditions. I can ski them, but my style/proficiency/form deteriorates as the terrain and conditions become more challenging.

After the camp, I'd say I'm more confident about skiing black and even double-black terrain in variable conditions; and I learned a lot about what I need to do to improve my proficiency. I know what I have to do to reach the next level; now it's a matter of going-out and practicing.
post #8 of 33
good report - I gotta get to Jackson some time. Dunno about Corbets but I definitely want to check it out in person.

Other questions: age, height/weight/fitness level? how were you with the altitude etc?
post #9 of 33

T minus 10 day

awsome report. I'm heading to JH in 10 days. I'm so pumped, it's the first and last thing I think about everyday (don't tell my fiance that)

Been waiting for this for a long time..

If it wasn't for a few of my buddies being broke i'd do an advanced camp for sure..
post #10 of 33
Thread Starter 

The vitals: 5'11", 155 lbs. 42 yrs old. I run 2 miles a day 3X a week or so, and do some exercise bike riding if the weather sucks. Light lifting too. I'm not Conan the Barbarian, but I'm in okay shape for my age. Altitude wasn't an issue for me at all. Base is 6300' and summit is about 10,500', so it's not like skiing A Basin or Summit Country resorts, which tend to cause me some headaches & dizzyness until I acclimate.


Yeahhhh...A lot of people on this forum go off on how good it is...Now I know what all the fuss is about! I'd be counting down the days too.....Also, I really do recommend trying to hook-up w/ someone who knows the mountain, or if you can swing it, biting the bullet & signing-up for a full-day lesson -- not so much for the instruction, but for the guidance. It will be $$ well spent. If not, do a search on this forum -- I think Bob Peters has a post from a few years back that offers an insider's perspective on where to ski. It's 2500 acres, and to me, skis a lot bigger than that. Have fun.
post #11 of 33
thanks for the input - yes I think for anyone not familiar with some of these big mountains guidance is almost a requirement IMO!
post #12 of 33
Glad you had such an awsome time at the steep & deep. You really skied some good stuff on a great week. I've been doing steep & deep trainings and am hoping to get some shadow time on the next one if I'm not too busy. How about that wind on the 8th? I got stuck at the Village for several hours because the road was blown down. Nothing to do but celebrate passing my assesment. I went over to the Bistro, but most of you campers had left. The instructors were still hanging out and made it sound like you were a fun group. It's great that you pushed your threshold and built your confidence.
post #13 of 33
Thread Starter 

The wind on the 8th was crazy. I heard the road closed because a snowplow spun out -- You know it's bad if that happens. I was thinking about heading into town that night, but ended up hanging at the Bistro until 6 and then crawling back to my room to rest....Looks like you've been having some bluebird says since I left. I'm already thinking about returning -- Steep & Deep next year &/or possibly a trip with the family...
post #14 of 33
Great report. I've had my eyes on this camp. Maybe next year.
post #15 of 33
very nice report. sounds like a sick camp.
post #16 of 33
Great TR..What did you use for skis, and did they recommend a certain ski?
post #17 of 33
Thread Starter 

They recommend mid-fat skis for the camp. They say powder skis are nice if you want to bring/rent a second pair, but not essential. I was on Dynastar 8000s, which seemed to work pretty well. BTW, most of the ski shops in Teton Village stock skis that are a minimum of 80mm at the waist; 83-100 being pretty typical; so I'd treat that as a de facto suggestion on what skis well out there. I'd say most campers were on skis in the 83-95mm waist category. At 79mm, I was a bit skinny....imagine that.
post #18 of 33
Originally Posted by Dr.Skinny View Post
We went up to the summit & got some avalanche safety and recovery training in Corbet’s Cabin.
Me and my two buddies were in the cabin when you were doing that. We were sitting in there by the fireplace eating beef jerky. Looked like fun. I should do that camp some day. Thanks for the report.
post #19 of 33

In CO?

Great report, sounds like you learned a lot/faced some fears and had a great time. I was wondering how much its costs?
Anyone also know if there are similar camps in CO. Looking for a camp/lesson that focuses on the tougher terrain that a mt. has to offer. More than just the typical advanced lesson at a given resort. If not, I might have to resort to a private lesson.
post #20 of 33
Originally Posted by drewski180 View Post
Anyone also know if there are similar camps in CO.
No. There is no such thing as "Steep" in Colorado.
post #21 of 33
Even I know that there is such a thing as steep in Co. (Silverton, CB are all steep).
May be the deep is less of probability.

Or was that kinda joke?
post #22 of 33
Thread Starter 
U.P. Racer -- I think I remember seeing you & the beef jerky. Good time to be at JH.


The details on the JH camps are on their website. Pricing is about $890, which includes 4 days of lifts & coaching; plus lots of food & drink all day long. Lodging is not included; but they have some packages. Here are some links to other camps:


The last link is now affiliated with Epicski I think. Also, you can check-out Squaw Valley's website, Whistler, Alta, and Snowbird...I think they all offer camps. As far as Colorado goes, I didn't find too much. Aspen has the Clendennin Bump School Camp, and Vail has SKImmersion. Finally, try the search function on this forum....I recall a thread from a year or two ago that highlighted the similarities and differences between the Epicski acadamies and some of these camps. It is worth reading....

Each camp seems to have a fairly unique focus & "personality." Costs are highly variable too. Best to poke around and see which one you like.
post #23 of 33
Hey Skinny, great trip report! Do they still serve a killer buffet lunch every day at Solitude cabin like they did back when this photo was taken?

The food alone during my camp was enough reason to go back. We had a great time!
post #24 of 33
Thread Starter 

Thanks! It was a great trip. Some days lunch was at Solitude Cabin, others it was at Couloir Restaurant at the top of the Gondola. Too many groups for everyone to eat at the Cabin every day. Food at Couloir was pretty good; food at the Cabin was excellent IMO. Oh yeah, and Tommy Moe was at the next table on day 2.....~Skinny.
post #25 of 33
Carvemeister, sweet pic with Sick Rick!

Once upon a time I took a Mountain Adventure tour/class at JH, I signed up as a level 8 skier and had a mountain tour with some teaching thrown in and tram cutting priveleges that went from opening until around 2PM. It kicked some serious ass (as well as my ass), my instructor was Mike Leverino who had been a judge at the World Extreme Championships in AK the year before. He showed me a bunch of stashes that held snow, gave me a lot of tips and techniques for steep skiing, and we basically had a great time.

If you can't afford the full Steep & Deep camp this is a good way to get a lot of it in a single day, I think it cost me about $75-80 at the time which is probably more like $150-200 now. I won't forget the whole skiing the upper half of the mountain on technical terrain and then Mike saying, OK let's head to the tram and them maching nonstop for 2000-2500 vertical down to the tram. I can still feel the burn that I experienced from this after about 11AM.

Glad you had a great experience, JH is my favorite resort in the Continental US.
post #26 of 33
Originally Posted by teledave View Post
Carvemeister, sweet pic with Sick Rick!
Actually we didn't get to ski with Rick. But on a bus trip over to Targhee the day before the camp started, they were showing a Warren Miller movie (I think) on the bus and there he was hucking it over a huge cliff!

We did ski of course with Tommy Moe for half a day, which was a thrill, and with Rob DesLaurier for another day, which was phenominal as well. Leveroni was a guide in one of the other groups when we were there. I beleive he's one of the guys in an old Warren Miller movie who was shown jumping out of the tram.

That camp and the o/b skiing we did for 2 half days was actually the highlight of my skiing experiences. Hopefully I will surpass that one day with some heli skiing or another JH camp.

BTW - Our instructor was Jimbo Collins who was a great guy as well. I have some old Hi-8 video stashed away somewhere of a couple o/b runs. I'll have to post it up one of these days.
post #27 of 33
Leveronis first name is Chris, not Mike. He's an incredible skier and you were lucky to get him.
post #28 of 33
There a good story of Leveroni in a race (maybe an older version of the pole, pedal, paddle - maybe not) from the top of Cody (??). Bob Peters would have to chime in to get this straight. I assume Leveroni's still wearing his trench coat? Skiing with Rick is unique - to me he expresses more joy in every movement, turn, jump and huck of his skiing than anyone I've ever seen. They represent part of a Jackson Hole era that will be remembered for a long time. I would really like to ski with Rob Delauriers someday (Eric too). I know a few people who at one time considered him to be the best skier on the planet.
post #29 of 33
Originally Posted by tetonpwdrjunkie View Post
Leveronis first name is Chris, not Mike. He's an incredible skier and you were lucky to get him.
Brother maybe? Or I could just be wrong, this was circa 1992'ish (maybe '93) but I would swear it was Mike.
post #30 of 33
Could be a different guy, but I doubt it. Leveroni has been around for a long time. He did win the race on Cody... I may not have it exactly right, but it went something like this. Start at the top of the tram, Ski and hike to the top of Cody peak. Race down 4 shadows, climb back to the top of the tram. Ski into Corbets and race to the bottom. I wasn't there, but I heard that Chris just pointed it straight down 4 shadows.
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