Pushing my limits in Jackson Hole, WY – February 24 – 28, 2014

One week in Jackson, Wyoming with an opportunity to ski an amazing resort that is getting pounded with snow. Bring it on. It was a much needed vacation. An opportunity to actually get some turns in this season. An opportunity to separate from daily stress and to-do lists and just chill. We got what we were looking for.

Jackson Hole is an amazing ski resort. The terrain is varied and beautiful. The powder is wonderful and the wind strong enough in places to change the runs each time you go back to the top.

We arrived on Sunday as the locals were relishing the amazing dump that occurred over the weekend. We settled into our rental cabin with the dogs and headed into Jackson for dinner. We decided to try out Thai Me Up Restaurant and Brewery… thai and beer sounded like a winning combination and it was. Melvin Brewing Company is the actual brewery and their selection was good. (They will be distributing to Seattle in the coming months – exact location unknown)

Monday morning we woke up to fresh snow and a nice gift of moose droppings outside our cabin door. The dogs enjoyed the smells but it reminded me that the moose warning signs along the road were legit. We headed to the resort and jumped in the tram line. We even saw a few riders with Jackson Hole Air Force patches (for those that don’t know what that is, it’s a very special, secret type society of amazing skiers in Jackson Hole – I can recommend a very cool movie about it).

Moose droppings by our fire pit:  IMG_1697

Looking at the line ahead of us to get on the Aerial Tram: IMG_1583

Of course we were going to start at the top. We got off at 10,450 feet and were hit with intense winds. We put on the skis and followed the crowd. Not knowing the terrain made us unwilling to just go but knowing that I needed to push my limits this week, we followed a group along the boundary ropes and then down Rendez-Vous Bowl. We were giddy. The powder was awesome. Soft and easy to float across. It was magical. We explored the whole of the resort on Monday, taking in all that the area had to offer and realizing how out of shape our legs were.

Monday afternoon we returned to the cabin and headed out with the dogs only to encounter the neighborhood moose. Fortunately for us, it’s just an adolescent moose… as if that means anything to the two dogs who were rather intrigued by this large beast. We got them safely into the car and observed his journey around the resort before leaving for the evening. Dinner was enjoyed at Snake River Brewery.

Tuesday morning we woke up to more moose droppings immediately at the base of our stairs. We took that as a warning message from Mr. moose.

We had to avoid the moose droppings for the rest of the week: IMG_1698

Tuesday was another great resort day. It was still windy up top all morning so we weren’t able to see what was around the top of the mountain, but we sure enjoyed the ride down. Tuesday evening we decided to try Mexican and benefited from the recommendation from the resort office’s weekend employee for a more local joint. El Abuelito was just what we needed.

We woke up Wednesday and as predicted there was no new snow and the sky was clear. Given that it was a bluebird day we decided to be tourists at Jackson Hole. We rode up the Aerial Tram first thing and had an amazing view of the Grand Tetons and surrounding area from the top. We also watched Cody Bowl and surrounding back country terrain get explored by many skiers and boarders. The lines were awesome and they all seemed to ski the bowls effortlessly. We didn’t have our backcountry gear with us, so we knew staying in bounds was our fate that day.

The Grand Tetons from the top of the Aerial Tram at 10,450 feet: IMG_1614

Views from the top of the Aerial Tram: IMG_1615

More views:

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Cody Bowl where we watched many people drop in for fresh lines:IMG_1642

We visited the entrance to Corbett’s Couloir. Having watched many videos that include high flying jumps into the couloir, we wanted to see what it was all about. We were definitely not going to be jumping into that anytime soon. Maybe with a gazillion more inches of powder after the jump in it would happen. This was not an “outside of my comfort zone” opportunity, this was an “I prefer living” opportunity. It was fun to see what it was all about.

Looking down Corbett’s Couloir: IMG_1646

Brian taking a look at the drop in area: IMG_1647

This is what you have to drop in to:IMG_1649

It’s a funnel of snow that opens up to a wide bowl: IMG_1653

Brian standing across from the drop in point. This is where many spectators stand when the Corbett’s Couloir show is on:IMG_1658

On a second trip back up the tram, we stopped in for waffles at Corbett’s Café. They were very tasty and a fun lunch treat. We spent time doing laps on Sublette Chair and dropping into the different black diamond runs. As I continued to force myself out of my comfort zone, I dropped into some steeper bowls and made turns around rocks and cliffs, navigating some of the harder terrain I’ve ever done. In one trip up the chair, we had the pleasure of riding up with Edy and Art – both locals that had unique insights into the resort. What made the ride fun was the patch on Art’s hat indicating he was a member of the Jackson Hole Air Force. It was obvious he’d skied every square foot of the resort. But he had no plans of dropping into Corbett’s Couloir today. He said he was going to wait until the snow fell the following day.

We called it a day relatively early and took the dogs to a local dog park along the Snake River to run around and enjoy the smells of other dogs. We enjoyed the scenery of the surrounding mountains including the Grand Teton.  We decided it was a red meat night, needing to enjoy the local food offerings and went to the Cowboy Bar and Steakhouse and enjoyed elk and buffalo for dinner.

Thursday was our backcountry day (you can read about that here). For dinner, we stayed close to the Resort and went to Q Roadhouse Brewery for a delicious food and some well crafted beer.

Thursday night the snow started falling and we headed back to the resort early on Friday to take full advantage of 7 inches of fresh powder and explore the terrain outside of the gates. We got in line for the Tram early enough to be on the second ride up. We were prepared for a wait, but didn’t anticipate a 45 minute delay in opening the Tram. Due to avalanche control we didn’t get to the top until 10am and headed out a lower gate to Rock Springs Bowl. We had talked about going out the gates all week, but I was pretty chicken-shit. But as I was trying to go outside my comfort zone, I knew I’d need to go through the gates and that I was prepared. We glided to the saddle, following several other tracks. From the saddle, we watched a few others drop into the bowl to scout out different routes.

We dropped in and had a blast. The powder was perfect and fresh and we had no problem getting first tracks. The bowl led into a nice tree filled area that was loads of fun to wind around. It was easy to maneuver and turn and follow others’ trails when necessary. Ultimately we dropped back into the resort area and were able to work our way back to the Tram with no effort. It was true slack country skiing.

Brian scoping out the terrain halfway down Rock Springs Bowl:IMG_1688

It took an hour from top to bottom. We did the run again and then called it a day. Our legs were exhausted and the snow was getting very wet and sticky. We ended on that note for the week, leaving super pleased with the awesome terrain we conquered. We took the girls back to the dog park and went into Jackson for our final night and enjoyed pizza and beer at Pinky G’s Pizzeria.

The weather was coming in strong on Friday and Saturday so we prepared ourselves for a challenging journey home, and potential alternative routes back west on Saturday. The snow had fallen all night and even at the lower elevations, there was significant accumulation. We packed up and got out about 7am Saturday. As we filled up with gas, the snow plow started up towards Teton Pass. It was a good sign that the road would be in decent condition. Fortunately we had the pleasure of falling in behind the plow and had a relatively easy trip up and beyond the pass. The drive went smoothly until we hit I-15 in Idaho Falls… then the idiots came out and too many cars ended up in the ditch. But we made it through safely and enjoyed the rest of the drive back to the Bay.

Weather conditions were snowy as we left the cabin Saturday morning: IMG_1703

Beatuiful views along the drive in Nevada Saturday:

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It was a great week – Beautiful, relaxing, exhilarating, and rejuvenating. I pushed myself beyond what I thought were my limits and came out alive and ready to take on new challenges.

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