“I’m

heading to Jackson”.  Drop that gem in the lower 48 and watch

everyone’s eyes get big like silver dollars.  The place is legendary –

Judaism has Jerusalem, Islam has Mecca.  Those of us in the skiing

community who only ski the green circles to get to the bar have Jackson

Hole, Wyoming.  The name even rolls off your lips, like a pair of fat

skis rolling into 45-50 degree Pucker Face on Cody Bowl.

The

plan was simple enough – finish coaching at WPR at 3pm Sunday, roll to

the airport in Denver and catch a 90 minute flight.  The Super Bowl was

on.  Was I upset to miss it?  Not for a second.  Perhaps that’s what

separates me from the majority in the States.  Those that would much

rather watch a sporting event on TV than get the legs and lungs pumping

by doing something physical.  Anything really; skiing, surfing,

skating, jogging, whatever.  Get off the couch already is what I want

to yell at the majority of Americans!  Exercise is your friend – fun,

boosts endorphin levels, leaves one mentally sharp, sculpts the

physique and increases sex appeal.  It’s a win-win for god’s sake.

United

Airlines managed to lose my one ski bag.  Pretty impressive considering

I was at the airport 1 hour 45 minutes early and it was a direct

flight.  After the initial frustration subsided, it actually worked out

for the best, as I took out the new Seth Pistol K2 skis all 3 days on

United’s tab, and saying that’s a dope ski is like saying Bode Miller

skis fast.

Day

1 - We had to stay inbounds as my backcountry ski gear was still in

transit.  It’s been a while since I have been on the true steeps that a

place like the Teton Mountain Range offers.  Squaw Valley last year was

sick, Taos 2 years ago as well, and Silverton the year before.  They

all had it.

While

I love the valley I live in as well as the mountain I claim, the steep

and deep isn’t exactly our forte.  In J-Hole rock drops beckoned from

all angles, and I must have hit 2 dozen in the 6’- 12’ range by the

time I caught my flight back home.  I’d love to be back with some local

knowledge on which of the bigger cliffs were ready to huck, yet

unfortunately through my eyes anything in the 20’+ range had a

potential plethora of jagged rocks just below the surface.  Enough to

make me think twice, that’s for sure.

The

most startling thing I noticed skiing in Jackson was the difference in

snow quality as you changed aspect.  Anything north facing was soft and

carvable, but switch to a southern aspect and you were asking for sun

baked crud that had thawed and refrozen too many times to count. 

Within one run you could go back and forth a half dozen times. 

Day

2 - A strictly side-country day.  We started with a hike on Cody Bowl. 

That’s the one you’ll see in plenty of pictures taken at Jackson.  It

is exquisite from any angle – corniced out 40-50 degree pitches with

plenty of rock exposure and mandatory airs both in and out.  The hike

was even rowdy.  One of those in which the boot pack is solid ice and a

fall would be devastating at best, deadly at worst.  The snow was a bit

heavy, but I’m a fan of the theory that perception, and not reality, is

everything.  For example, Winter Park has kind of sucked in regards to

powder skiing this winter; therefore my perception of the snow at

Jackson was enhanced.  However, someone coming from Utah may have

thought that it was less than stellar.  Remember that, perception is

everything, reality isn’t.

Day

3 – The night before we stumbled into town, caught a true country

western band and then stumbled back to Teton Village to catch the last

couple of hours of the annual Jackson Ski Patrol party.  To say your

average resort patrol unit is a bit heavy on the testosterone is a vast

understatement.  Imagine that same crew at a mountain like J-Hole. 

They attacked the bar with zeal, probably in the exact same fashion in

which they descend the mountain.

Day

3 started a little slow.  We did a short hike in Casper Bowl and that

led us to some soft turns.  Unfortunately, the snow had deteriorated

considerably since day 1.  This is a mountain with sick locals that

know where every rock drop is in every nook and cranny.  Jackson Hole

gets tagged quickly.

We

didn’t catch it on the most epic of powder days, and the mountain still

impressed.  If that’s not a solid endorsement of a ski resort I’m not

sure what is.  I’ll be back.