"This is not skiing!" Bo moans halfway up the boot pack, and honestly, I have to agree with him. We are most definitely not skiing. Instead we seem to be walking straight up a mountain with our skis dangling off our backs. Since I wrapped up my coverage of the Jackson Ladies Session and met up with Sander and Bo, chairlifts have been conspicuously absent from the agenda. Instead we have been skinning, waddling and hiking up, around and through the pass.
Lift tickets are expensive and Ski Patrol frowns on booters but Snickers bars are cheap and the mountains around Jackson are prime for jumps. That's why, midway through Day Two of shooting, some of us are climbing the billboard near the top of Glory Bowl while the rest of us catch our breath and debate what really constitutes "skiing." Some would argue that using lifts or sleds dilutes the actual meaning of skiing. Ski up, ski down, earn your turns. Others say that any activity where the skis are not pointed downhill is not skiing, no matter how many "hippy bindings" and carbon bits are involved. Regardless of your definition of skiing we are still out in the mountains and everyone is stoked.
I linked up with Sander Hadley, Bo Ferro and Meaghann Gaffney the day before. After a late start we skinned out of the parking lot, past melted booter after melted booter, aiming again and again for "just one more ridge." Unfortunately that majestic peak never materialized and we settled with carving out hits from a set of wind lips perched on the ridge. As we sessioned and tweaked the jump a group of camo clad men skinned past. While I was a little disappointed that a McConkey/Bond style chase didn't ensue we were reassured to find out that they were simply a group of Air Force troops out on a pit digging expedition. If the recruiter in high-school had told me that the perks of enlisting included Dynafits and some DPS skis I may have considered the service a little more carefully.
After a solid afternoon of tweaking we declared the booter "marginally sub optimal." Even though the hit was less than perfect Sander and Bo were still able to stack a few shots and Meaghann and I got to show off our knuckled straight air steeze before we headed back to the car.
Day Two opened with bluebird skies and the addition of Matt "Tsak the Cat" to our crew. We resolved to climb the bootpack up Gory Bowl, regardless of its definition as "real skiing." Apparently Full Tilts and Tall T's are not normal equipment for this kind of expedition but we made it to the top anyway. Once there, we realized any haste on the ascent had been wasted since the snow had not yet softened up. When it did we were met with a descent worthy of any resort. Each turn was just that much sweeter, tempered by the sweat of our climb.
After Meaghann headed out for deeper snow and softer couches, the rest of us skinned back up to the jump zone, this time focusing on a butter booter to cornice. The sirs continued to throw down and progress throughout the afternoon even though the hike alone for each hit was a challenge. As the sun dipped lower we turned out attention from buttered out underflips to a ghetto pole jam out of the cornice. Unfortunately we left the ramp to solidify overnight and skied back down to the car without hitting it.
You're gonna have to wait for footage of this one...
As I unbuckled my boots in the Tetons for the last time and tied my smelly socks to the roof rack in preparation for the 10 hour track home I was just as full as full of skiing excitement as my memory cards were of shots. We only had a few days of Teton touring but I'm already stoked to get back out!
Disclaimer: Nobody payed me to write this article, I'm just super stoked on these people, and by extension their sponsors. So go check out ON3P skis, Panda Poles, Flylow Outerwear, Smith Optics, Treefort Lifestyles, Gopro cameras, and Arcade belts. Show these guys some love and convince them to invest in more of this kind of content.
Also, if you like Sander's skiing you should probably go check out his entry in the PBP Undiscovered here: http://theundiscovered.discoveryouraltitude.com/835 To say it's "pretty neat" might be the understatement of the year!