Teton Fly By

Grand Teton Aerial Photo

On Thursday morning last week I flew out of Jackson airport and was treated to some incredible aerial views of the Tetons! I reserved a window seat (as always) and had my camera ready, but was disappointed when I realized that I was on the wrong side of the plane to see the mountains during takeoff. Soon, however, my hopes rose from the dead as the plane banked a hard left, turned around, and flew right alongside the Tetons as it gained altitude – giving me a perfect view of all the big peaks of the Teton Range. Needless to say, I was snapping photos as quickly as possible!

I could hear several other passengers gaping and wowing at the views, but what struck me as odd is how many fellow passengers I noticed seated at windows in front of me who barely glanced up from their magazines/books to look at the incredible views! I couldn’t believe it! Here we are airborne, flying right past some of the most amazing peaks in the United States, and these people hardly bother to turn their necks??!!! Do they have no souls? What were they doing in Jackson anyways? Maybe they live here and are just soooo bored of looking at the Tetons. Or on the other hand perhaps there were some killer pictures of the Tetons in the in-flight magazine…

But I digress… check out the rest of my aerial photos from the flight here.

Carving the Turkey

Buck Mountain view

Today Ann and I skinned up a 3,300 foot slope in Grand Teton National Park, and rode down an aesthetic cliff-walled couloir called the “Turkey Chute”. Though the center of the chute was pretty tracked up from previous skiers, the sides were full of untouched old powder which we happily sliced and diced. Just as sweet as the line itself was the spectacular scenery of Avalanche Canyon, with its surrounding ramparts of Buck Mountain (above), Mount Wister, the South Teton, and Nez Perce.

Snowboarder: Jack Brauer
That’s me laying out a savory carve on a steep powdery wall. Photo by Ann Driggers.

Skiing the Turkey Chute
Ann Driggers skis down the Turkey Chute, with Avalanche Canyon below.

Skiing powder under Buck Mountain
Ann Driggers skis the powder with Buck Mountain looming overhead.

Special thanks to Ann for visiting this week and motivating me to get off my ass and into the mountains for some surprisingly good riding!

Down the Martini

Hiking a steep snowy mountain

Ski hiking in the Tetons

Another great day in the mountains today. After a quick 4,000 foot ascent courtesy of the Jackson Hole tram, we exited the backcountry gates and hiked south along the ridgelines past several peaks until we got to our destination: the so called “Martini Chutes”, named for their appearance of humungous martini glasses – triangular bowls narrowing into tight chutes.

Snowboarding the Martinis
Jason King rides into the big bowl. The warm weather today made for some great springlike snow conditions on this southeastern slope; the snow was pretty much just like spring corn – smooth and just soft enough to lay out some nice big carves.

Snowboarding into a chute
Jason makes his way into the “stem” of the Martini chute – a narrow steep slot through the cliffs.

backcountry skiing
Skier: Ann Driggers.

Jason, pumped on the 4,000 foot descent into Jensen Canyon.

Powder Surprise

Skinning up

This morning I went out for a backcountry hike with my GJ ski buddy Ann Driggers, aka “The Annimal”, who is visiting Jackson with some friends for the weekend. Since it hasn’t really snowed much here in over three weeks, I had very low expectations for the snow quality today. Even so, I was still not enjoying the hike up the ridgeline on the crusty sun-baked old snow, with prospects of a terrible ride back down. The wind was cranking pretty hard out of the east, blowing the fresh 1 inch of snow over the ridgeline onto the western side of the mountain. With that in mind, we decided to drop in the unknown (to us) western face, to maybe get some semi-decent snow.

Skiing powder
Much to our surprise and delight, the slope was smooth and powdery! The wind must have really worked its magic, blowing in maybe four or five inches of smooth firm powder. Not only that, but the line we dropped into turned out to be a great wide open 3,000 foot descent!

backcountry snowboarding
I was hooping and hollering like a little girl on the way down, so stoked to score such a sweet unexpected line. (That’s me; photo by Ann).

snowboarding powder
Me again, enjoying the powder carves.

Skiing backcountry powder
Ann, with the endless Snake River Range in the background.

hauling ass on a splitboard
Here I am going fast.

Powder turns
Ann and our powder turns. What’s that? Preserve the powder? No way!

So, on a day that by any prediction should have been mediocre at best, we ended up scoring great snow and great descent. I tend to be such a powder snob that when it hasn’t snowed in a while I usually just forget about riding and work at the computer for days on end. Today made me realize that perhaps I should work a little less, and ride a bit more, regardless of my weather predictions!

Check out Ann’s blog for more photos and a better write-up.