A JACKSON HOLE VIRGIN
12th March 2017 | James Cove, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Last modified on September 14th, 2020
The PlanetSKI 4-week road trip swings into the resort we’ve most been looking forward to ski – Jackson Hole. Our editor has never skied it before but heard so much about it.
February 27th – Day 21
And it’s goodbye Colorado and hello to Wyoming – home to the resort I have been wanting to visit for years.
It reputedly has some of the steepest and best freeride terrain in America.
It has had huge amounts of snow this winter and earlier this month a storm brought down power lines and the lifts could not work for a few days – see here for my news report at the time.
Many of my friends who know about these things have it as their Number 1 resort.
Now you know why I am looking forward to it.
And I have a new travelling companion for this leg of the journey – the final week of my trip.
Step forward Katie Bamber.
She has never been to Jackson Hole either.
Katie is PlanetSKI’s senior news reporter and has been skiing in Whistler with friends for a week to so.
“Jump on a plane and I’ll pick you up at Salt Lake City in Utah and we can ski Jackson together and then see a few other resorts,” I said when I heard we were both going to be in North America at the same time.
We have done a couple of trips together this winter in France and Switzerland.
And now here she is in the USA.
On a professional level it is brilliant as we can shoot better videos, write many more stories for PlanetSKI, up our activity on social media and provide you, the reader, with more content.
She didn’t hesitate for a second.
“Sure I’ll check out the flights.”
And now here we are leaving Utah, passing through Idaho and on the way to Jackson.
Katie joined PlanetSKI last June and many people have asked how she came to work for PlanetSKI.
Like all good journalist she banged on the door.
I was in the PlanetSKI office at home in London last June when there was a knock at the door and a stranger on the doorstep.
“Is this PlanetSKI? I am a journalist and I want to come and work for you,” said the door-knocker.
We chatted for about half an hour over a coffee and it turned out she was a ski instructor, we had a several mutual friends, she was an experienced journalist and above all she had passion for skiing, writing and knew all about PlanetSKI.
And now she has joined my North America road trip.
Salt Lake City to Jackson is a 4-hour drive through Utah, Idaho and the Wyoming in some stunning scenery.
Lunch was at the tiny town of Inkom – I have never been before and will no doubt never visit again.
And after Idaho Falls as the afternoon drew to a close the light changed dramatically.
We are in Jackson for three days and nights and then the canvass is blank.
I have decided the road trip is a bit too planned and we need to wing it a bit more and decide things on the spur of the moment.
Hence the empty diary towards the end of the week.
We may be heading to Sun Valley in Idaho, Big Sky in Montana or return early to Utah as the forecast is for deep powder.
We may do all three, a combination or something entirely different.
I have heard there are some fabulous little resorts like Bridger Bowl, Grand Targhee near (ish) to Jackson.
But enough of that I m about to ski one of the most iconic resorts of them all – Jackson Hole in Wyoming.
My road trip is set to take another twist.
March 1st – DAY 23
First of all apologies for the slight delay in the latest blog. I have been busy doing extensive research for this article as I don’t want to short change our readers.
I have rarely researched an article so much.
I have decided to write today’s blog about the skiing in Jackson Hole so I have been skiing, skiing, and er, yet more skiing.
Spread over the two days I’m here.
Oh, and a spot of drinking too in the cowboy bars of Jackson, but more about that in tomorrow’s blog.
Again it has been heavily researched.
So, Jackson Hole.
Where to start?
We arrived in pitch dark on Monday night unsure of our beds for the night.
The cabin in the woods turned out to be just perfect.
And we had company for breakfast.
Then it was off to Jackson Hole.
It’s piste map looks like many other resorts.
But there the similarities end.
It is like no other ski resort I have visited in North America.
I have wanted to ski this resort for many, many years.
My expectations were high.
So, have then been met?
This was the view of the base of the resort I have seen so many times in videos and photos.
To say I was excited is a slight understatement.
I am in resort with PlanetSKI’s senior news reporter, Katie Bamber, as I mentioned in Monday’s blog above.
It was snowing heavily at the top and we didn’t hang around.
We are in resort for just two days and so we went straight to the steeps.
We were also skiing with Anna Cole from the local tourist office.
I asked her to describe the snow that has fallen this winter.
She looked me in the eye and used just one word to describe the snowfall this winter: “Relentless”
One word seemed enough to describe things.
The snow in Jackson Hole this winter has been extraordinary.
115″ in December and then 87″ in January.
For the record the resort has had 488″ of snow to date and there is still a while of the season to go.
February has broken all records as I mentioned in this snow report video I recorded in the trees – though things didn’t quite go as I expected.
Now I have to report it wasn’t the wind that brought the snow down but rather the camera operator who got bored with me waffling on and hit the branch above me with her ski pole.
Thanks Katie 😉
Jackson Hole has a reputation for steep and deep but has made an effort in recent years to expand its less gnarly terrain and attract intermediate skiers.
50% of its terrain is for advanced skiers, 40% for intermediates and 10% for beginners.
“It is critical we develop the resort and appeal to a wider market of skiers and snowboarders as we have the terrain. The intermediates of today are the advanced skiers of tomorrow,” Anna said to me
Now Katie and I like our steeps and powder, but we also like groomers.
And tree skiing.
Now there are many advantages to being a ski journalist and on the following day, Wednesday, it was this.
We got to ride the Tram before it was open to the general public.
We made first tracks down.
And all too soon our two days in Jackson Hole was over.
It far exceeded my expectation – maybe that was because we had such great powder but I think I owuld have loved it anyway.
I will just remember steep slopes and powder.
And then more steep slopes and powder.
Thanks Jackson – you’ve been a dream!
And in tomorrow’s blog I’ll be telling you all about the Cowboy theme as we it the Silver Dollar (and others and take a stroll around town).
March 3rd – Day 24
People come to Jackson Hole for two reasons. The first is the skiing and we have dealt with that on the blog above.
The other reason is The Wild West.
Jackson Hole is a cowboy town and there is evidence across town.
It is like no other ski resort town I have visited.
The place to head to is the Silver Dollar bar and the best night to visit is Tuesday – which us lucky because that is the day we arrived.
Each Tuesday a band plays and the place is packed – mainly with locals.
I just sat at the bar and chatted with assorted locals passing by.
Meet Chris Koch.
And yes those are the silver dollars – all 2,032 of them.
It turns out this man has danced with Pippa Middleton.
‘How come?” I hear you asked.
Well the TV network, NBC, did an edition of the Today show a few years ago from Jackson Hole and he taught her cowboy dancing.
She picked it up very quickly and was a very good dancer,” he said.
One of his partners, when the dancing got underway, looked somewhat different.
I also met the man who ran the Jackson Hole hat company and he invited to his shop the next day.
He had a vast selection with more than 150 on display and more in the storeroom.
Most ranged in price from $295 to $695 and the most expensive was $1,200.
One even has a snake round its brim.
I opted for an orange one – it was made of 100% rabbit fur.
Most are a mix of rabbit and beaver but apparently rabbit holds coloured dye better.
But back to the Cowboy bars – another bar worth a visit is the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – complete with saddles as bar stools.
And the hotel to stay in is The Wort where the Silver Dollar bar is located.
It is a stunning building and unlike no other ski hotel I have stayed in .
It was built 75 years ago when the main street was just a dirt track.
It has 55 rooms and I was fortunate to stay in this one.
It’s not every ski resort that has decorative arches made from elk antlers.
Nearby is the National Elk refuge with 7,500 animals roaming freely and each Spring the bulls shed their antlers and they are collected to make the arches.
All too soon our 48-hours in Jackson Hole was coming to an end.
I can safely say is was blown away by the skiing and the town.
Why I have never visited before I do not know and this will certainly not be my last trip to Jackson Hole
Next stop Sun Valley which is a 4-hour drive west in the neighbouring state of Idaho.
Time then for a morning’s ski.
Heading up the tram was the only option.
We skied for a couple of hours lapping the Thunder chairlift a few times.
It was a quick update of the blog and then on the road.
Sun Valley here we come and then it is on to Grand Targhee and posibly Big Sky before heading back to Alta and Snowbird in Utah.
I have decided to finish where I started, Utah, and in one of my favourite resorts in North America.
Is it better than Jackson Hole?
That’s an impossible question to answer.
But before that it’s Sun Valley in Idaho – the first ski resort to be built in the USA back in 1936 and steeped in skiing history.
For a PlanetSKI feature on Jackson Hole from Katie Bamber then see here.
See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.
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