After almost 15 years of living in Jackson, WY, I’ve gained some … well I’ve gained something. I don’t know you can assign the term “wisdom” to somebody who dedicated his life to sliding downhill rapidly on snow. But after numerous emails over the years with people asking about the skiing and riding in Jackson Hole, I figured it was time to set the record straight about the trials and tribulations of visiting America’s ski mountaineering Mecca.
It Snows Too Much
Why on earth would anyone want to vacation in a place that makes driving on the roads a pain in the ass? And with deep snow, it’s really hard to find your lost skis. Don’t even get me started about trying to push yourself up out of the snow on a powder day. Over and over again. For like a week straight. You think you’re in shape with your once-a-week video yoga class? Think again
It’s colder than a Siberian gulag
Humans and automobiles alike really don’t like to get started when temperatures go well below zero, and if you plan to vacation to Jackson in later December or early January (or February, let’s be real) it’s going to be cold. The sort of cold that reminds you that you forgot your extra layer, the kind that makes you feel every single nose hair you failed to trim, (pro tip: cut your nose hair before your JH trip). Don’t be surprised when your eyelids want to stick shut too. Though frozen eyelashes do look cool on the Insta.
There are Obstacles Everywhere
Maybe you’re a ripping Warren Miller fan or a TGR film-fan powder maggot. The problem is the pros make sending airs and straight-lining chutes and couloirs inbounds at Jackson Hole look easy. In reality the resort is peppered with rocks and snow sharks, and you also have to keep an eye for the odd flying grom.
There Are Way Too Many Pro’s
The first few times your in line and you see Travis Rice, and Mark Carter, Blake Paul, Lyndsay Dyer, Tommy Moe, Kai Jones or any other Olympians, TGR Athletes or Red Bull crushers your stoked, then you realize you actually suck at skiing and riding when compared to the locals. Even the photographers here would be considered pro’s at any other mountain. So unless you rip, do you really want to compete for first tracks here? Bragging about your day at the bar will only get you so far.
It’s Too Steep
Most people won’t enjoy the steep, fast, fall line skiing that the majority of the mountain offers. Half of the mountain is for experts, let that sink in a bit. You’ll wear down your edges on your brand new skis if you try to side slip everything, not to mention get some dirty looks from crusty locals since you just ground whatever snow can stick on steeps like this.
You Might Die or Get Seriouslly Hurt
Every single season someone dies skiing or riding at the ski resort. Now the ski industry of America doesn’t really like sharing these stats, but skiing is incredibly dangerous and Jackson Hole is where the word Extreme originates from (fun fact, for you ski movie fans the Powder Eights from “Aspen Extreme” actually came from Jackson). But yeah, tree wells, rocks, steep lines through trees, they’re all fun until they aren’t.
The Lift Lines Are Long
Just like most destination ski resorts the lift lines at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort are too long, especially first thing in the morning. If you want “First Tram” you’ll need to be in line while it’s dark around 6:00am. For the gondola, lining up around 7:00am usually helps beat the crowd that shows up at 9:00am when the mountain officially opens. For the rest of the day, get ready to catch your breath, then enjoy the ambience of hundreds of people shuffling towards the life gates.
Lift Tickets Cost Too Much
It will cost you well over $200 a day per person to ski Jackson Hole, a resort that doesn’t even offer heated seats or bubble chairs to help you stay warm and dry while riding the chairlifts. Add in a couple lunch meat sandwiches for 20 bucks a pop and let’s hope you saved all that overtime from whatever job you escaped to play in the Tetons.
The Mountain is Too Big
You’ll get lost thanks to 13 chair lifts spread out over 2,500 acres. So make sure you have cell service or walkie talkie radios to stay in touch with your group. Make some meeting places and times. Memorize the trail maps. Maybe swallow some Apple Air Tags, just in case.
Not a Great Party Destination
Part of what’s fun about ski trips with the homies and homettes are late nights at ski town bars. And sure, Jackson’s got a sick apres scene, from the spots at the Village to the legendary watering holes in town. But try skiing one of the most challenging resorts in America bell to bell, or even 2 to 4 with a raging hangover. And you’ll wanna stop at Casper for a few mid-day drinks but if you try skiing deep pow tree runs and video-worthy steeps a few beers deep, especially when that high altitude kicks your BAC up a few notches, you just might go home with a few new broken bones.