Sunday, January 29, 2006

Is there a better place on earth?

This past week in Jackson have been a blur of backcountry skiing. I ski in the backcountry every day. My rule is I don’t pay the $56 to ski JHR unless it’s snowed more than one foot. There is so much great terrain that is easily accessible off Teton Pass, and in the Grand Teton National Park that it’s really not necessary to pay for the lift… plus it’s more fun to earn your turns.

Yesterday morning Brandon (snowboarder), Lasse (skier), Mike (snowboarder) and I woke up at 4:30am for Dawn Patrol at Glory Bowl. There were a few reasons for this; Lasse needed to be to work by 11am but still wanted to ski; it’s a fun adventurous way to start a day of skiing, in the dark climbing with a headlamp on; and most importantly it SNOWED 11”. We were the first up Glory Bowl and the first to enjoy it’s treasures.. although we worked for it. The old boot-pack was filled in by the new snow, so we made our own. At times we were crawling on hands and knees up 10 foot wind drifts during the 1,600 foot climb. By the time the sun was high enough to help light the way, around 7:15am, we were already past the worst of it and relatively close to the 10,086 foot summit.

Before this new snow fell the avy danger hasn't been that much of a concern. Before yesterday's snow we had two blue bird days. The first of which, Thursday Jan 26th, I dug a pit and could get only Q3 sheers on both shovel and tap tests - not very concerning. But the sun, although great to have around, can create scary layers in the snow. I noticed some large surface hoar on the way out to Avalanche Bowl on Friday. Yesterdays 11" on some aspects fell on surface hoar and/or a melt/freeze layer. Perfect layers to slide on. On top of that, today's snow is denser than Saturdays' snowfall. Anyway you cut it there are going to be some natural slides, skiers beware.

In the last week or so I’ve explore most of the routes on Teton Pass, here are the ones I remember the names off:
  • Glory Bowl obviously (Slope 2, Coal Creek, NW Ridge, Twin Slides and a few other slopes I don’t know the names off)
  • TittyMouse Ridge down Trail Creek to Wilson
  • Avalanche Bowl (some of the best turns I’ve ever made on two different days)
  • Elly Mountain (the Claw – epic steeps shots through the trees)
  • Eidleweiss Mountain and the Nose
Yesterday Lasse and I enjoyed some demo skis. On our hitchhike back up to the top of Teton Pass the day before we got a ride from some of the woodworkers at
Igneous Skis. If you are serious about your powder skiing, and you live in Jackson Hole you ski on some double or triple fat Igneous skis. They are everywhere, you can tell them by their wood grain top sheet design. So we stopped by after our day of skiing to see what they had for us to demo. The skis on the left are not a production ski, more of a concept ski. The ski on the right is the single fat GS 175cm. I skied this to get an idea of what their skis are like. I would prefer the double fat, GS (FFGS) in a 180. But borrowers can’t be too choosey.

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