TR: Jackson Hole, 2/13-2/16 w/ Breckenridge Bonus!
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February 17, 2009
Member since 01/25/2005 🔗
368 posts
Last month I threw up a trip report on my time skiing Mount Baker in December. In it, I mentioned my High Society Freerides, but was reluctant to really review them after just one trip. Well, I've now taken them out to Breckenridge for three days in January, and now just returned from Jackson Hole this past President's Day weekend. So here's the giant trip report, covering both trips, and the skis.

First Jackson, because that's where I have the eye candy. Flew out Thursday afternoon, and stayed at the Snow King Resort in the town of Jackson. This place gets mediocre reviews on Trip Advisor, but I was very pleased. For $84 a night on, during President's Day weekend, you can't go wrong. The place has a nice bar with decent food, a heated pool, and a hot tub. Plus free shuttle to and from the airport, as well as vouchers for the bus to JHMR. It's not the Four Seasons, but I'd recommend it. They also have their own little mountain there, which looked like it had some decent steeps, but not the snow that JHMR had.

Anyway, day 1 was Friday, and since my wife wasn't arriving until that evening, I took a group lesson. I hadn't had a lesson since I was 12 or so, so about 17 years. There were about 15 non-beginners that day, and we started with a ski-off in front of the instructors. I was put with the "nines" along with two others, and we got a 29 year old instructor from Oregon who was an excellent skier. We skied hard for a solid six hours, pretty much skiing bumps and trees. The snowpack was solid, with 13 inches in the previous 72 hours, but Eastern exposures were a bit crusty. The trees, and northern exposures, held nice, soft fluffy stuff, however.

After skiing Friday, I decided I should probably be wearing a helmet if I'm going to keep skiing as much technical terrain as I was. I was the only person (including the instructor) at the lesson not wearing a helmet, and some of the chutes we skied (Tower 3 Chute, Central Chute, Expert Chutes) could mean head-on-rock collisions if I were to fall. Not to mention all the trees... So I bought a helmet Friday night.

Saturday and Sunday were spent skiing with the wife, and each day was preceded by a solid six inches or so of powder. Again, not knee-deep skiing (at least not outside the trees), but still very nice. Here are a couple of pics:

Early morning, headed to the mountain:

Grand Teton, here we come!:

The Tram:

The wife and I:

Peering into Corbet's Couloir. Sad to say I didn't ski it, as I'm leaving for South Africa in 10 days for a VERY expensive, three-week trip. On the off-chance that something were to go wrong, I didn't want to risk an injury.

Another oddly-angled shot of Corbet's. It had a solid 15-20 foot mandatory drop to get in. That cornice is way built up...

Aggressive terrain:

Lots o' Rocks:

Triumphant, after dropping the rock behind me just out of frame.

Animal Tree with Tram line in the background. See if you can see the rhino, moose, and elephant in the branches:

February 17, 2009
Member since 01/25/2005 🔗
368 posts
People poach this...

Foot cramp in the snow. Gotta massage that out!:

The wife and I in Jackson after a hard day of skiing (forgive the red-eye):

February 17, 2009
Member since 01/25/2005 🔗
368 posts
Breckenridge Bonus & High Society Freeride review.

Sadly, I don't have any Breck pictures, as I forgot my camera on that trip. I came away solidly unimpressed, for the second time. I read earlier today in the latest issue of "Skiing" that Breck gets 1.5 million skier visits, more than any other mountain. The author spent much of the article defending Breck, but I think the criticisms are still valid. Breck never seems to have as much snow as Vail. It has a ton of intermediate terrain, and the expert terrain gets tracked out VERY quickly. Lift lines tend to be on the long side. The steeps at the top of the mountain tend to be rather short...

Anyway, I was there for four days starting the 16th of January. We had no new snow, and very warm temps, with lots of sun. I got several core shots, even while being exceedingly careful. The snow was quite soft as a result of all the sun, which made groomers a blast. That said, runs like Devil's Crotch were thinly covered (if at all), and even stuff like the burn was totally tracked out.

I convinced a friend to hike up and do Lake Chutes one of the days, and that was definitely worth it. The cornice there was quite large, and I dropped in where it was about 15 feet (it was easily 30 in some spots).

Another day, we drove over to Vail. The back bowls were as bad as I have ever seen them, just complete ice chunks. What hadn't been broken up was covered in boilerplate, akin to East Coast conditions. However, I spent most of the day in Blue Sky Basin, where the snow was still soft and light, and you could find untracked powder in the trees. I was amazed that even with such warm conditions, Vail found a way to offer up the goods. I wish I had been able to get more days over there, but it was tough to convince friends to make the drive.
February 17, 2009
Member since 01/25/2005 🔗
368 posts
Finally, a word or two on the HS FR's.

I bought the 179's off SteepandCheap, and mounted them with Marker Gryphons, which is a lighter version of the Jester. This setup is light! The bindings way 1000 grams each, and while not a foam-core park ski, the FR's are by no means heavy. I had the Gryphons mounted at the freeride line, as I have no intention of skiing in the park very often with them. That said, they easily will come around to land switch in a mogul field. One of these days, I'll have to see if I can throw a "helicopter" with them...

On Breck's hardpack they railed high-speed turns no problem, and seemed surprisingly stable for a ski with no metal in it. In Baker's waist-deep powder, they left me wanting for something even wider than the 93mm underfoot they offer. In Jackson, they seemed ideal, busting through chopped up powder, and making quick turns in tight trees or mogul-fields without difficulty.

Overall, I'm very pleased using them as a West-Coast ski for all but the deepest of powder days. I'm halfway tempted to buy the same ski in the longer size, but enjoy the nimbleness of the 179 (which skis probably a tad bit shorter due to being a twin-tip). My plan is to ski this as my main ski, trading out for Elan 666's on the EC, and demoing something with a 100mm+ waist for big dumps out west. I'm just as pleased with the new Marker bindings as I am with the ski, and feel the extra cash I paid (I paid retail for the bindings, but Hoback sports in Jackson had them for $159) was worth it.
pagamony - DCSki Supporter 
February 17, 2009
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
926 posts
dude, you went to Breck on a holiday weekend in a year that that Vail resorts sold $579 season passes - and you found lift lines ! That's why they have Loveland and A-Basin.

We got there the day you were leaving, so the snow was even worse, but there were no lines more than two or three chairs. They didn't even run chair 10 (the devils crotch area) since there were so few people there. Still, the t-bar and chair 6 terrain were fun. We did get 10" snow the last two days. People go to Breck for the whole package and it's a good base for exploring the region. If you really just want 3000' steeps just outside your door, you have to go back to Jackson - where you had some really nice pics.

More interesting are the HS FR, good review. thanks.
February 17, 2009
Member since 11/27/2004 🔗
532 posts
We went to Breck last year and found it very family friendly. Tons for the kids to ski and even our youngest (8yrs old at the time) was able to ski most of their terrain. Short walk to the lift, and a twon full of choices at night make it perfect for families. We did do the drive to Vail. Just one day, and not enough time to see even 1/3 of the place. Parking was steep ($28 I think), and quite a walk to get to the lifts. We were lucky with tons of snow though. Just like anywhere, you have to hit the right days to make or break the trip.
February 17, 2009
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
We just came back from JH on the 8th. We skied 6 day old snow with no fresh for 5 days until the 6th. It was only 4-5" during that day, but the entire week was still fantastic. Looks like you hit some decent snow. Monday through Friday was as good as you can ask for, no lift lines. We waited for 1 tram once, all other times, right through the maze and onto the Tram and the Gondi and all lifts were ski right up and on. On Saturday, that all changed. The place exploded and the Gondi was insane, never even attempted the Tram. All lift lines were full.

I can't wait to get back to JH, the place is just SICK. The town of Jackson is very cool and laid back. We got the same obligatory photo of us in the antler arch at night, lol. Shoot across the street for burgers at Billy's, then into the Cowboy Bar for beers.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
February 18, 2009
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,974 posts
I'm about ready to make that second photo my screen saver. Great stuff.
February 18, 2009
Member since 06/28/2004 🔗
2,444 posts
Originally Posted By: JimK
I'm about ready to make that second photo my screen saver. Great stuff.

Heck yeah!! Could you imagine living in that house and waking up to that view every day??
February 18, 2009
Member since 01/2/2008 🔗
174 posts
Thanks for the pic looking into Corbet's. Sadly, I've never been to JH and I've always wondered...

But damn you've got a nice life! ;-) JH, Breck, and now S. Africa in a few days. I thought I had carved a nice self-employed existence. I need to catch up! Safe travels.
February 18, 2009
Member since 02/11/2009 🔗
6 posts
Thanks for the pics and the review. Jackson Hole is one of the resorts I have on my list to visit in the next couple of years. The new T Rice video made it look amazing, and you have verified this in the pics.
February 27, 2009
Member since 12/29/2004 🔗
538 posts
Great pic.s!
March 2, 2009
Member since 01/25/2005 🔗
368 posts
Thanks, all. I'm actually in South Africa right now (arrived last night), and it's the middle of summer here, so no skiing for me. SA is great, but I'm bummed I'm missing out on the DC snow you guys are getting right now! Ahh well, I'm back in a few weeks, and am going to try to get in another trip somewhere in late march.

Weird going back and forth between snowy and hot weather. I saw a number of people on my flight to Johannesburg yesterday with helmets or Steamboat / Breckenridge stickers. Returning home from trips!

Ski and Tell

Snowcat got your tongue?

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