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Jackson Hole, Jan. 28-29, 2006

Thu Feb 02, 2006 5:53 pm

These were the 2 days I've been waiting to see since my first ill-fated trip to Jackson Hole in March 1986.

Saturday morning I was with a NASJA group of about 5 and JH snowboarder guide Jason. With another 5 inches new snow underlying crust or moguls were becoming less prominent each day. We skied Paintbrush, Tensleep Bowl and some trees near the Thunder chair, then headed down to take one tram run before lunch. I got separated from the group when I went to switch skis to the Chubbs. For my one tram ride of this trip I skied skier's left of Rendezvous Bowl near the trees (wind and visibility weren't great up there) and then North Hoback, which was already better than my one previous run there back in February 1995.

At 2PM Patrick and I met up with Bob Peters, a 30-year Jackson resident that I met on another forum. For those interested in a local take on the finer points of JH skiing, check out . By this time the storm had cranked up and it was dumping snow with plenty of fog. Just after we started skiing we crossed a cat track where a lady from Atlanta was nauseated from vertigo. As a former patroller Bob attended to her and called in the patrol to take her down the hill in the meat wagon, while Patrick and I ran a lap in the Thunder trees.

Bob caught up and asked what we wanted, and I requested to maximize powder and minimize bumps or crust underneath it. The next two hours were a blur as we moved among the Bridger gondola and the Thunder and Casper chairs, crossing trails and linking tree stashes. Patrick estimated that 80% of the 10K vertical we skied with Bob were fresh tracks. "Bits and pieces" skiing was what Bob called it. There was one long open powder run on South Colter Ridge with just enough scattered trees around to maintain orientation. Saturday's total was 21,100 with 11K of powder.

The storm continued intensely until about 9PM. My NASJA dine-around in Teton Village was at Cascade, an outstanding restaurant in the ideally located Teton Mountain Lodge that was developed by Rob DesLauriers. He knows his real estate as well as his skiing, as Teton Mountain Lodge is impeccably decorated and the 1BR suites our host showed us after dinner go for $850 a night. Teton Mountain Lodge has 58% year/round occupancy (that means 90% in ski season and 80% in summer) and is considered the second most desirable property in Teton Village after the Four Seasons.

NASJA was bussed over Teton Pass to Targhee on Sunday. I remained in Jackson as I had been to Targhee Wednesday. Patrick arrived from town about 8:30AM and we walked over to the tram and gondola, where the powderhounds were out in force after 11 inches in the past 24 hours and 21 in the past 3 days. We chose the 10-minute gondola line over the 90-minute tram line. At the top Patrick started to retrieve his camera from the backpack that had taken the long slide at Big Sky, so we parted company. I later learned that he had found the best route from gondola to Thunder, a winding traverse and sidestep over a couple of cliff bands to the Cirque, which retained decent powder through most of the day.

Meanwhile I was intent on making a beeline for Thunder and Sublette to get to the Hobacks. Once on Sublette I was lured to return twice by its small to moderate liftline and by the freshies available in Alta 1 and Bivouac. 3rd run into South Hoback ~10:15AM was still sweet. There were lots of tracks but it's so huge that there was plenty of room to make your own for at least 2,000 vertical. Next time up the gondola I went north to Moran Woods. These were fairly chopped up, but at Jackson's water content the chowder skis more like powder and less like Sierra snow that tends to be stiffer once it's tracked. After another lap through Thunder and down lower Sublette Ridge I needed a lunch break about 1PM.

As I came out of lunch I ran into Patrick who had not yet stopped. When we got to the top of the gondola he decided he could use some lunch so we agreed to meet at 3PM for last tram. Patrick arrived 2:55 and I at 3:02 after a run on South Colter. The attendant announced 2 trams in the maze would be allowed to go up, and I calculated that Patrick would make it and I would not. So I hustled out, eventually squeaked onto Sublette chair just before its 3:40 closing, and headed down North Hoback at the edge of the trees. This time I dropped through a small cliff band into Cheyenne Gully and found a traverse out the other side to some intermediate pitched trees that provided the final fresh tracks of the day.

I have mentioned before that I think total vertical + powder vertical is not a bad measure of the quality of a ski day. Sunday 1/29/06 was 31,300 vertical, 12K of powder, only my 12th day lifetime that number has exceeded 40K. And given Jackson Hole's terrain and powder it was a memorable day by anyone's subjective measure.

From Teton Village patrol tracks are visible Sunday morning before the mountain opens.
JH_patrol_tracks.JPG (34.8 KiB) Viewed 5633 times

Alta Chute #1 at left from the Sublette chair. I saw a few airs off rocks but not in time to get any pics.
JH_alta_chute.JPG (24.32 KiB) Viewed 5633 times

In the Hobacks there is a skier in the lower left quadrant of this pic, but he is just a speck at this resolution.
JH_hobacks.JPG (17.27 KiB) Viewed 5633 times

While waiting for the Bridger gondola a live band added to the festive atmosphere of a great powder day.
JH_bridger_band.JPG (40.18 KiB) Viewed 5633 times

View down Moran Woods to Teton Village
JH_moran_woods.JPG (35.26 KiB) Viewed 5632 times

I've just started into Lower Sublette and spotted this skier. Hobacks are beyond the trees in background.
JH_cheyenne_gully.JPG (30.92 KiB) Viewed 5631 times

Fresh tracks on Lower Sublette Ridge
JH_lower_sublette.JPG (32 KiB) Viewed 5631 times

I managed a mid-afternoon face shot in these trees. Tram ascending over cliffs near Corbet's in background.
JH_tram_trees.JPG (29.41 KiB) Viewed 5631 times

re: Jackson Hole, Jan. 28-29

Thu Feb 02, 2006 11:11 pm

Although I had a few powder days on this trip (especially since being in Utah), that Sunday January 29th day at Jackson was defintely the biggest and the best. 8)

re: Jackson Hole, Jan. 28-29

Mon Oct 02, 2006 9:21 pm

YouTube video from Jackson, January 28-29:

re: Jackson Hole, Jan. 28-29

Thu Oct 05, 2006 7:29 pm

i don't know if you posted that video because you were in any way a part of it, but if you were, i was pleasantly surprised when leo kottke's guitar chimed in. if you have no idea what i'm talking about, nevermind, but still a great video.

Re: re: Jackson Hole, Jan. 28-29

Thu Oct 05, 2006 7:40 pm

bigprocess wrote:i don't know if you posted that video because you were in any way a part of it.

The video is totally unrelated to Tony and I except that we were somewhere on the mountain that weekend.

What an amazing weekend. \:D/

re: Jackson Hole, Jan. 28-29

Fri Oct 06, 2006 4:22 pm

My perspective was that it was not that amazing a weekend. I was just gratified to finally show up at Jackson at the right time of year.

21 inches new snow over 3 days is nice, but not off-the-charts lucky. I thought the weekend demonstrated a couple of Jackson's virtues.
1) The inefficient lift layout and expansive acreage contribute to great powder runs.
2) It's especially enjoyable for us West Coast skiers to ski the light and dry. It's still fluffy when you're skiing leftovers late in the day. In the Sierra the untracked is fine but you get bounced around a lot in the chopped snow as the day wears on.

I suspect Jackson is this good or better in January about 1/4 of the time.

re: Jackson Hole, Jan. 28-29

Sun Oct 15, 2006 1:57 pm

I've been to Jackson on MLK weekend 2x in Jan....

2003 - heavy rain. snow above 8k. everything was bad but sublette and 1/2 of thunder. Nightmare.
2006 - heavy powder, snow everywhere, snorkel. excellent.

re: Jackson Hole, Jan. 28-29

Sun Oct 15, 2006 8:19 pm

2003 was the year it poured rain to the top of Fernie and Big Mountain on Super Bowl Sunday, one week before I went up there. I give Jackson a hard time about the exposure and sun baking, but I would think rain is a fairly rare event. I have heard that when it does, 8,000 is about the highest the rain/snow line will go.

re: Jackson Hole, Jan. 28-29

Sun Oct 15, 2006 10:28 pm

These are nice pics.

I thought there were a lot of Ginsu locals tracking everything 1pm.

My friends there - 1 a photo guy, 1 a TGR'er - stop skiing early on any powder day. No snow left.

And getting in line at 4am for a tram. I don't care for 3am wake-up.

re: Jackson Hole, Jan. 28-29

Thu Oct 19, 2006 1:46 pm

The last 3 pics are after 1PM, on a good weather powder Sunday. By my standards it wasn't that tracked out. Moran Woods at noon was more chopped up like I would expect at that time on a Mammoth powder day.

Jackson locals are spoiled like LCC locals. But I wouldn't put up with that insane tram line. There were many other options to get to the goods.
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