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It’s big, it’s rowdy, and it rocks. No ski lifetime is complete without a ride up “Big Red” or a contemplative entry into the iconic Corbet’s Couloir (some seasons it’s easier than others, but for most just looking over the edge will be enough of a thrill). Jackson is a skier’s paradise, a big mountain complete with immense terrain and non-stop vertical to keep you skiing all day, whether that’s inbounds or exploring the massive backcountry. Here’s a look at everything you should hit on your next trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
JACKSON HOLE MOUNTAIN RESORT
Jackson isn’t called “The Big One” for nothing. Its bragging rights include the longest continuous vertical (4,139 feet), arguably the steepest and deepest terrain, and some of the best lift-accessed backcountry on the planet.
So what to do first? Ride the tram, aka Big Red. Try to wedge yourself by the left windows, where you’ll get a close-up view of the infamous Corbet’s Couloir and the pucker-worthy S&S Couloir (named after former patrollers John Simms, founder of Life-Link and Simms Fishing, and Charlie Sands, of Jackson's Sand's Whitewater).
Before you click into your skis, take a pit stop at Corbet’s Cabin, at the top of the tram—it’s home to the best waffles in ski country (try the peanut butter and bacon). Then head down Rendezvous Bowl, taking a quick look into Corbet’s on the way down.
If you hit JHMR on a powder day (which is likely because it seems to always be snowing there), hit the Crags—a short hike from the Teton Quad—and hike the Headwall when it opens. There are a lot of cliffs, which means you need to be with someone who knows where they’re going, and a lot of hiking, which means fewer people and better snow. (Be sure you’re in tip-top shape, too: Here are our best ski training tips.)
Other runs you can’t miss include often overlooked chalky steeps of Paintbrush, the classic Tower Three, Alta Chutes, Pepi’s Run, Bird in the Hand, and the long, steep, groomed Grand (the best route to Sublette).
If you’re an experienced backcountry skier and you want to get after it on your vacation, Jackson offers some of the best lift-served backcountry in the world. Rock Springs is likely the easiest terrain to start with, however there are still burly lines like Space Walk, Zero G, and Fat Bastard to be wary of. As a general rule of thumb for any Jackson backcountry terrain, never follow tracks. Terrain progresses from Rock Springs to the areas of Four Pines and Cody Peak with iconic lines like Pucker Face, No Shadows, and Four Shadows.
On the north side of the resort lies the famed Granite Canyon (home to lines you’ve probably heard of like Mile Long Couloir, Endless Couloir and 7 Dwarfs). Lines here are steep, sketchy, and awesome. Don’t head into Granite Canyon unless you know where you are going and the avalanche conditions are stable. The ski lines are long and plentiful, but many lines exit with a mandatory air over a cliff—sometimes a really, really big cliff. Also note that entry back to the ski resort requires a strenuous sidestep that dominates the right thigh.
As always, be prepared with all the necessary gear and know how to use it—the backcountry terrain and avalanche hazard are both the real deal.
Teton Pass is a quintessential backcountry zone, located just a few miles outside of Jackson. Most folks hike or skin from the parking lot at the top of the pass (parking can be tricky on busy days). Common options here include a boot-pack to the summit of Glory Peak across the road from the lot, or a skin to mellow terrain like Edelweiss off the top of the pass. Jackson Hole Mountain Guides will ensure a great day of guided skiing on Teton Pass.
GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
The Park, just north of Jackson, has some of the best backcountry skiing anywhere, and enough of it to last a lifetime and then some. The catch is that there is about a two-to-three-hour approach to everything, if not longer. Fuel smart and head out early. GTNP offers big vertical, couloirs, open chutes, technical mountaineering, and everything in between. It’s home to the famed Grand Teton, of course, and lines like 25 Short, the Apocalypse Couloir, the Sliver Couloir, SE Couloir, the Northwest Passage and so many more. You can ski the park all winter and even up until mid-June.
Exum Mountain Guides is the preferred guide outfitter for the park; call them if you are ready for adventure.
No matter where you go, or who you go with, be sure to check out the Bridger Teton Avalanche Center and stay up to date on the current avalanche conditions.
Depending on your price range, Jackson offers lodging for the luxury minded and for the ski bum, with ski-in, ski-out access as well as town accommodations. Here are our top picks:
Jackson is quickly becoming a foodie paradise. Be sure to hit:
When on a ski trip, do as the skiers do:
Town: Silver Dollar Bar in the Wort Hotel
No matter where you ski, eat, drink or stay, a ski trip to Jackson should be on your bucket list this winter. The skiing options are immense and won’t let you down.
Thanks to our friend Jay Goodrich for insider knowledge on all the spots to hit. Visit Jay’s website here.