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Jackson Hole, Grand Targhee, Wyoming

Date: March 3-8, 2010
Trip Leader: Steven Krapes
Trip Assistant: Eric Oberer
 

(Pictures are clickable for high-res images)

Jackson Hole - one huge ski areaJH airport - ski area in backgroundOur intrepid and sleepy Holmdel Ski Club group departed by bus from the Telecordia parking lot in Piscataway by 4 AM on a wet Wednesday morning.  We picked up a few folks driving separately to Newark Airport and were on our way to Jackson Hole via Chicago with an on-time departure on United Airlines at 7 AM.  All together there were 26 of us on the trip which was the original planned size (although from the time of original sign-up a few more joined, but an equal number dropped out). Our flight change in Chicago was uneventful as our Newark flight got in ahead of schedule, so we had plenty of time to catch the connecting flight and even time to grab a snack. We arrived in Jackson Hole on-time (around Noon) and picked up our luggage and were on the bus to our lodging at the Parkway Inn in downtown Jackson without delay. All-in-all the trip out was flawless, with no misplaced luggage, ticketing issues or the like (we did have to pay for our luggage, but then we expected that). By the time we checked in at the Parkway most of the group was famished and a number headed off to Bubba’s Barbeque for a western style (read BIG) repast. The lodgings at the Parkway were great, an easy walk to almost everything in town and a short block to the Jackson Hole ski bus stop. Simon in Jackson Town SquareThe Parkway Inn also had outstanding amenities, two hot tubs, sauna, and an exercise room (not that we would make much use of that on top of skiing), but the hot tubs got plenty of use. In addition the lobby and adjoining breakfast room were large enough to accommodate our group for eating and après-ski meeting. The group concurred that the lodging choice was outstanding. On our arrival evening we had a welcome reception with refreshments and an overview of skiing conditions and what to expect for those of us new to Jackson Hole. Although Jackson Hole had plenty of snow, there had not been much recent powder and no significant dumps were forecast for the period of our stay. While this might have disappointed the powder hounds among the group, the weather conditions were ideal with on-slope temperatures right around freezing throughout our stay and sunny skies most days. After picking up our 3 day Jackson Hole lift Tickets from Steve early that evening, some headed out for an early dinner, and most were in bed by nightfall after a very long, but perfect trip out.

A calm lunch at JHBoys lunch at JHOur first day began (like all days) with a great buffet breakfast (included) at the Parkway Inn, and the short walk to the ski bus (bus tickets also included) to Jackson Hole.  The bus trip was about 30 minutes with several stops along the route and the busses ran frequently and on schedule. Once we arrived at Jackson Hole, we got a look at the huge new 100 person tram starting practically at the bus stop. Most of the group took the group mountain host tour which started at 9:30 AM and completed by Noon. The tour covered most of the non-expert areas of the mountain (sans the tram) including most of the other lifts.  Jackson Hole is BIG (this seemed to be the operant word in reference to most things in Wyoming).  Even without the expert terrain, there was more than enough skiing for anyone at Jackson Hole for many days. Most of the group spent that first day skiing the non-tram served trails (mostly groomed), but some ungroomed trails which tended to be well moguled. Virtually everyone ate lunch on the mountain as Jackson Hole has several excellent on mountain restaurants with great views. Neither snow nor challenge was found to be lacking. At the end of the ski day, the group drifted back on different bus runs to the Parkway and many headed directly for the hot tub followed by dinner.  The only real question was whether to hot tub before dinner or after dinner. To my knowledge only a few hearty souls headed out to the bars and entertainment in Jackson that first night (but more the subsequent nights made it to the Cowboy Bar or the Silver Dollar Saloon ).

Steve and Bogdon @ top of Rendezvous BowlView from top of Jackson HoleBy the second day most had gotten the lay of the mountain and made their choices of terrain to ski, with the experts headed for the tram and their first trip down Rendezvous Bowl.  Rendezvous Bowl begins at the top of the tram and is the only initial route down from the tram station.  The bowl is rated expert and this is why the tram is clearly labeled for experts only. You could ride up the tram and look at the bowl and if you decided not to ski it, you could ride the tram back down, an option which some of the group elected.  But in either case the view from the top was awesome and not to be missed whether you chose to ski the bowl or not. In actuality the bowl was not that difficult, as it is very broad and although relatively steep, readily traversable down if all else failed.  The greatest challenge, since the bowl is too steep to groom and all skiers must take it, were the moguls; if moguls weren’t your thing, Rendezvous Bowl wasn’t your thing either. By the end of the second day most had come to the realization of what their limits were. Fortunately (at least for most of us mortals), Corbet’s Couloir was not open (and hadn’t been this season). Corbet’s Couloir is reached from the bottom left of Rendezvous Bowl, it was worth a look over the edge to see why you didn’t want to ski it (at least unless there is an unbelievable amount of fresh snow). I don’t believe anyone of our group who was temped to ignore the closed sign.

Grand Targhee - Great Snow conditionstop of TargheeThe third day (Saturday) was Grand Targhee day (again the bus and lift ticket was included). Although Grand Targhee is not that far from Jackson as the crow flies, we were not crows and there is no direct route, so the trip was an hour and a half and goes from Wyoming into Idaho and back into Wyoming.  But what a trip. Saturday was beautiful, bright and sunny and the bus trip over Teton pass was breathtaking. Once we arrived at Grand Targhee, it was clear that the area was much more compact and not as obviously difficult as Jackson Hole.  Again most of the group availed themselves of the free mountain tour which The 2 "Tetons"for our group turned out to be conducted by their ski school director, Mark Hanson. He announced that his would be the “fast” group, and since no one wanted to be in the slow group, the group ended up to be large and include both boarders and skiers.  In the main it turned out to be a “who can keep up with Mark contest” and for those who did, it was a fabulous experience, but for those who didn’t, it was an uncomfortable zoo. Again it ran through Noon, after which virtually all the group broke for lunch at the area base restaurant which turned out to be unreal.  It was a beautiful sit-down restaurant with a great menu and service, and most unbelievable for a ski area, reasonable prices. After lunch everyone found the trails they liked, many still covered with real powder (the area gets little traffic and with only a few lifts serving a lot of trails, so it doesn’t get skied off). On the bus ride back Steve asked how everyone liked the day and the group roared with approval.  If Targhee wasn’t one of your all time great ski days, you needed a new sport.

Our third and final day Sunday back at Jackson Hole was outstanding. The weather was sunny and bright and even the moguled trails which tended to have hard snow earlier in the week had softened up including Rendezvous Bowl.  For most of us, it turned out to be the best day at Jackson Hole; they saved the best for last.

Ready to fly home - still smilingMonday morning came all too soon and it was hard to believe that our four great days of skiing were history. We had a leisurely final buffet breakfast before our 10 AM bus departure from the Parkway Inn.  The flights back again through Chicago started off well, except that when we boarded our last leg to Newark on time, it turned out that the plane had a mechanical problem (a water leak, which didn’t sound all that serious, until the pilot told us it had soaked the flight electronics). Bye bye from Jackson HoleBut amazingly United Airlines found a new identical model plane (without a leak) and we were on our way only an hour and a quarter later. Other than the delay all went without a hitch and after loading our luggage on the bus at Newark, we were back at Piscataway a little after Midnight.  Again we were tired, but not too tired to say our goodbyes and agree that it was a fabulous trip.

Steve and Eric would like to thank everyone for being such a great group and making it a memorable trip for all.

 

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