As a member of CMC Alpine’s Backcountry Club, I get first dibs on the annual Club trip to Jackson Hole. Each year the itinerary is a little different, but this year the trip cost only $300 dollars and included a 3-day lift ticket to Jackson Hole, as well as lodging for three nights and transportation from Steamboat. I had never ridden at Jackson before, but I knew of its infamous terrain. I knew Jackson Hole would provide relief for a flats-weary snowboarder from Steamboat.
We left Steamboat caravan style, 4 cars deep, early on a Thursday morning. Windswept plains and abandoned buildings passed my window for hours until the peaks of the Wyoming Rockies began to appear out of the horizon.Our plan was to arrive at Teton Pass around 2 pm or 3pm, to get at least one run in before our three days at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. From the summit of the road, we climbed south along to a higher point that would take us down to where we parked at the bottom of the pass. The snow was heavy, but soft, and provided some great steep turns. Minutes after the sun had set we piled back into the caravan of cars and set off for our condos. The next day was bluebird and warm, a perfect day to explore Jackson. Our first run was on the the tram, and riding this would be a recurring theme throughout the trip. The tram rises about 4,500 vertical ft. and is outfitted with plenty of windows so that the riders can get a good look at Jackson Hole’s terrain that lies beneath. I would not recommend the tram for those afraid of heights, as it passes over huge cliff bands hundreds of feet high.
Prepared with avalanche gear and led by our guides, CMC teachers and Backcountry Club sponsors Mike Martin, Tim Widmer, and Alex Pond, we explored the huge sidecountry terrain that Jackson Hole has to offer. We started the day with two Rock Springs runs. Rock Springs is accessed from a gate near the top of the tram, and leads to a drainage the contains chutes, cliffs and just about and open bowls. Our last run of the day was through Granite Canyon. This is also accessed from the tram, but requires a traverse and about twenty minutes of hiking to reach. Granite Canyon was definitely the best run of the day, but it wasn’t without a price. The traverse out is long, and especially brutal to snowboarders such as myself. If you want to venture into Granite Canyon, make sure you’re ready for a workout.
The next day was a snowy one, and we spent it exploring Jackson’s inbounds offerings. The runs got better and better as the snow piled up throughout the day. While our edges scraped against the rough surface underneath the soft powder, I knew the next day would be a different story.
With 11 inches of snow in 24 hours reported, the crew and I hustled to pack up and leave the condo in time to catch an earlier tram. We showed up to a long line, but it moved quickly, and we were on the tram about twenty minutes after opening. From there, we dropped into the infamous Corbet’s Coulior. At the top is a mandatory drop into the steep powder-filled chute. From there we rode over to the hike across the Headwall, which would take us to Casper Bowl. We lapped Casper Bowl’s various chutes for the rest of the day. The last day was our best day of riding in Jackson, and it only made me ask myself why I was leaving. Jackson Hole’s abundance of terrain, frequent snowfall, and steepness make it a step above most other resorts.
While it was sad to leave, I knew that I would be returning to Jackson Hole one day in the future. Thanks to the CMC Backcountry Club for an awesome trip!