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Jackson Hole vs Sun Valley for Intermediate

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Bears, what do you say? My wife is an intermediate (good on anything groomed, freaks out in bumps or ice, fine with a little powder but doesn't go off piste) and I'm looking for the best choice to take her for a few days from Salt Lake. Have narrowed it down to Jackson Hole or Sun Valley, based mainly on how much driving I'm prepared to do after a day's skiing. We'll be skiing five days at Alta/Solitude before, and probably five more days after (maybe with a day or two at Deer Valley/Canyons). This is just to break things up a bit and give her a little more varied exposure. I've been to Jackson a few times myself, never to Sun Valley, but am more interested in making sure she enjoys it -- I'll have enough days in the Cottonwoods to fill my cup. At Jackson, I'm figuring she'd spend most of her time on Apres Vous and the Gondola runs. Wondering if stuff off the Christmas lift at SV and/or other stuff would be good for her. All opinions, experiences welcome. Thanks much/Jim
Oh, beer is good, too.
post #2 of 19
Sun Valley has great on-piste skiing but the snow can be iffy. There are a lot of civilized places to eat and drink there, which is a plus. I think it would be a good place for a competent intermediate, conditions permitting. Some other choices (just to beat everyone else to it): Snowbasin (never been), Targhee (have, excellent easier terrain and great snow).
post #3 of 19
 Obviously I prefer Jackson to Sun Valley.  Sun Valley is a big mountain and I have had fun skiing there, but it doesn't quite feel as alpine as JH and I like the alpine feel a lot!  She may be able to ski more of the mountain at Sun Valley because they seem to be better at grooming and their trails are, in general, less intimidating than at JH.  That being said...  I think that JH has plenty of terrain to keep an adventurous intermediate entertained for several days.  You have skied here before.  If she can do AV comfortably there are runs off every lift that she would enjoy.  If we are in the middle of a storm cycle the groomers can fall behind and things could get a bit more limited for someone who struggles off-piste.  The good part of this is that the snow is soft and If she was willing to push a little she could have a real breakthrough day.  One cool thing about JH is that it's possible for groups with an ability split to ski "together".  I have done privates with families where, for one example, the Parents would ski on Amphitheater and the kids would do Paintbrush/Toilet Bowl or Study plots and we would meet.  If it's clear the "parents" can see their kids skiing the "hard" stuff and even shoot video.  There are lots of places where you can duck off-piste for a taste and come right back in.  People like Bob Peters and myself have intimate knowledge of the topography of the huge terrain at JH.  We are available for hire.  I would also be happy to suggest some places for you to explore on your own.  Grand Targhee can be an ideal place for an intermediate to feel like an expert while learning to ski powder and off-piste.  It's not "The Big One", but it's a lot of fun and very laid back and friendly.  I like the town of Jackson and the surrounding area much more than Ketchum/Hailey and so does my wife who BTW lived in Hailey for 16 years before meeting me and moving to Jackson.  I hope this helps out and that you and your wife have the best trip possible!  
post #4 of 19
I have never been to Sun Valley but based on the trail map, it looks like it might offer more diversity in terms of skiiable terrain for an intermediate -- especially a timid intermediate. Jackson Hole does have some relatively mellow intermediate terrain but likely not enough of it to keep up the interest for an entire week, unless you like riding the same chair over and over. I always looked at JH as a place to go to challenge yourself a bit, otherwise you are likely to get bored skiing the same runs that are suitable for your level.

Also, another thing I noticed about JH is that the jump from Blue to Black desginations in terms of actual terrain difficulty is much more siginifigant than other places I have been too. At a place like Copper Mountain, when you move from a blue to a black, a lot of times the main difference is really going to be that the trail is ungroomed w/moguls, a little narrower, and perhaps a bit steeper. AT JH the difference usually means terrain that is a whole lot steeper and you likely are going to be dealing with not only moguls but cliff walls, ledges, and chutes.
Edited by MojoMan - 11/24/09 at 7:47am
post #5 of 19
Sun valley has plenty of long groomers, posh lodging and dining and sunshine. I would rank it pretty high for the intermediates. What it doesn't have is snow. They do a bang-up job with the grooming, and many of the (mostly older) locals will ski in the morning when the mountain is freshly groomed, then head in by lunch.
post #6 of 19
Everybody should ski Sun Valley at least once.  This is the original destination ski area in the West, they invented the chairlift.  The mountains are much more civilized than Jackson Hole, and it is not as snow sure, but SV offers the whole package as a resort.  The grooming is spectacular, the weather often lives up to its name, and the food options should work for anybody. 

It was enough mountain for Gretchen Frazer and Peekaboo Street, and enough town for Earnest Hemingway; it should satisfy almost any vacationer.  Those are pretty good credentials.

Try something you have not done before, variety is always good.
post #7 of 19

Both are great, and I would throw in a day at Snowbasin (owned by Sun Valley).  Sun Valley is steeper than most people think, but doesn't have the cliffs and drop offs.   Below are the significant lifts at both resorts, the degree of the lift, and the vertical rise.  You can make the evaluation.  If she is more comfortable with traditional intermediate grades (14-16°), then she will be more comfortable at Snowbasin. If she can handle upper intermidiate and low advanced terrain, then Sun Valley has endless runs.  As you know Jackson is a spectatular mountian.   In addition to the gondola, she could try Amphitheater, Grand, and Laramie runs on the Thunder chair, and Rendezvous trail on the Sublette chair.


Jackson Hole:

Thunder 4C 34°   1,456
Sublette 4C 23°  1,630
Apres Vous  20°   1,748
Bridger Gondola   18°  2,730
Tram 19°  4,139
Casper Bowl Fixed Triple 18°   1,046
Teewinot  9°   405

Sun Valley:

Frenchman's  22°  1,502
Challenger  20°  3,142
Lookout  20°  2,673
Christmas  16°  1,353
Seattle Ridge  15°   1,309
River Run  12°  619

Snowbasin:

John Paul Express  20°   2,435
Middlebowl Gondola  15°   2,473
Strawberry Gondola  14°   2,311

post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all of you for some great advice, suggestions (yes, a day or two at Snowbasin is already factored in) and food for thought.
post #9 of 19
The Blue runs on Bald mtn would almost rate black on most other mountains, not that they're really steep, but just enough tilt for an intermediate to fell intimidated. Even the green runs on Seattle ridge are steep enough for a blue rating at ANY area. If there's fresh snow SV can be fun, but with only 200-250" a year...

Never been to Jackson...
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks K2.
And thanks again to everyone. In the end I've decided on Sun Valley, partly because this may be the only opportunity to get there while I will definitely be back to Jackson Hole again. What I was able to book for lodging in terms of convenience & cost also played a part. And I certainly gave a lot of thought to what everyone was kind enough to say. The decision came after these words from my darling wife:
``Why don't we go to Sun Valley this time since it's only for five days. Then we can go to Jackson Hole for a week or so next season.''
post #11 of 19
I think you (and she) made the right choice.  Sun Valley is an excellent ski resort and I'm betting your wife will love it.

Bring her to Jackson on your next swing through the West.  She's a smart woman.
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for that, Bob. First three beers on me when we get there. Same to you, TPJ, and to any of the rest of you who are around. Mrs jimintokyo sends her thanks also.
post #13 of 19
Yea, she might find the blues slightly intimidating at Jackson Hole so I agree with a good decision.
post #14 of 19
Ketchum is a great ski town.  If you want a "special evening" ask around ahead of time to see if there are still sleighrides to the Trail Creek Inn for dinner.  You have to work around their schedule (2 seatings per night?) cause the sleigh is the only way there.
post #15 of 19
Also, the drive to/from SV is a breeze compared to JH.

Now, we usually do BOTH when we want to adventure out of SLC.  4 hrs. to JH, from JH to SV 4 hrs. good roads, and back to SLC 4 hrs. from SV.  Heck, we even did a day trip to SV one time!

Enjoy!
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by gpaulski View Post

Also, the drive to/from SV is a breeze compared to JH.

Now, we usually do BOTH when we want to adventure out of SLC.  4 hrs. to JH, from JH to SV 4 hrs. good roads, and back to SLC 4 hrs. from SV.  Heck, we even did a day trip to SV one time!

Enjoy!

gpaulski - I hate to be nitpicky, but 4hrs from SLC to Jackson seems a pretty hot time.  I've driven it fifty or more times and I'm pretty sure my best time (offseason and good roads) was about 4:15. That's from either downtown SLC or from the airport.  I drive about 5mph over whatever the posted speed limit it, and I've tried every one of the approximately eight different routes.

I think someone unfamiliar with the drive should plan on about 4:45 or even 5 hours, again assuming dry roads most of the way.

Just sayin'.
post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by gpaulski View Post

Also, the drive to/from SV is a breeze compared to JH.

Now, we usually do BOTH when we want to adventure out of SLC.  4 hrs. to JH, from JH to SV 4 hrs. good roads, and back to SLC 4 hrs. from SV.  Heck, we even did a day trip to SV one time!

Enjoy!

gpaulski - I hate to be nitpicky, but 4hrs from SLC to Jackson seems a pretty hot time.  I've driven it fifty or more times and I'm pretty sure my best time (offseason and good roads) was about 4:15. That's from either downtown SLC or from the airport.  I drive about 5mph over whatever the posted speed limit it, and I've tried every one of the approximately eight different routes.

I think someone unfamiliar with the drive should plan on about 4:45 or even 5 hours, again assuming dry roads most of the way.

Just sayin'.
post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by gpaulski View Post

Also, the drive to/from SV is a breeze compared to JH.

Now, we usually do BOTH when we want to adventure out of SLC.  4 hrs. to JH, from JH to SV 4 hrs. good roads, and back to SLC 4 hrs. from SV.  Heck, we even did a day trip to SV one time!

Enjoy!

gpaulski - I hate to be nitpicky, but 4hrs from SLC to Jackson seems a pretty hot time.  I've driven it fifty or more times and I'm pretty sure my best time (offseason and good roads) was about 4:15. That's from either downtown SLC or from the airport.  I drive about 5mph over whatever the posted speed limit it, and I've tried every one of the approximately eight different routes.

I think someone unfamiliar with the drive should plan on about 4:45 or even 5 hours, again assuming dry roads most of the way.

Just sayin'.
post #19 of 19
I stuggled with this exact issue: was JH too hard for my wife who prefers intermediate groomers etc??.  After taking her for her first out west trip to Deer VAlley, I was nervous that JH was too rugged and tough .  If you ask her, she was very happy and thrilled with our trip, and of course, our day with Bob Peters.  That is the best $$ ever spent for on-hill "light" instruction and awesome guiding .  Don't ski JH without grabbing Bob for some time, and buy hima  few beers in the Moose.
Despite having Bob throw himself in front of her head-long descent down Rendevous Bowl, she has no regrets, grew as a skier, and feel like she can ski anywhere now,.
Enjoy Sun VAlley , but dont miss JH in the future.
This year we are taking the kids , 8 and 11 to Steamboat and I'm sure my wife will confidently take on anything after skiing the great JHMR.
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