Longtime Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patroller Mark (Big Wally) Wolling was caught and buried in an avalanche while doing snow control work in Cheyenne Bowl. Sadly, Wally was buried only a short time but the lack of oxygen ended up being fatal. www.jhnewsandguide.com/article.php
January 27, 2010:
Just a little excursion into Rock Springs canyon in the JH sidecountry. I'm trying out my new little toy, a Vholdr Contour HD 1080P helmet cam. It's kind of fun to play with and hopefully I'll learn to not tip my head when I'm skiing with it.
The skiing was, ummm, excellent:
January 28, 2010:
I got out for one of my favorite little tours today. Blacktail Butte is small mountain just to the east and north of the Jackson Hole airport. The butte sticks up out of the valley and offers 360-degree views of the whole JH valley.
There's nothing death-defying or super-gnar about this tour, it's just a beautiful place to visit and a fun place to ski if the conditions are good, which they were today. One other thing I like about it is that no one ever skis there, so you have this great feeling of solitude.
It was just a fun day with a few good friends under glorious sunny skies.
Pepi and Steve skinning up with the Grand Teton in the background:
Laura enjoying the sun and snow:
Laura again (cause she's such a great skier to watch):
Pepi showing he can still pour on the gas when he wants to:
Steve thinking that sunshine, soft snow, and blue skies are a fun combination:
January 30, 2010:
Okay, it hasn't snowed here for about four days. All of the inbounds is pretty skied out and all the powder-hungry locals are staying home again. I sure wish those of you who say you hate groomers could have been with me this morning (on second thought, never mind). I think that skiing is just incredible.
As a demonstration of how empty our mountain gets when it hasn't snowed for a few days, check out the "lift line" in the video. That footage was taken at 9:03am on a sunny Saturday morning.
I'm still experimenting with my new Vholdr POV cam. Today I was able to go up the early gondola, so I was on the hill before anyone else was there to get in the way. The skis are 203cm Head iSG RD's, which are current World Cup Super G skis. Here's the link to the video:
I still have a lot of work to do on adjusting the camera for tilt and direction and such, but it's kind of fun going through the learning process. I'll be adding more videos to this blog as they come available.
February 1, 2010:
Huge overnight snowfall of 18" of very light and fluffy powder. I was booked for a morning private ski lesson with a first-time visitor to Jackson Hole, so we were able to ride up the 8:40am aerial tram. That means we were on top of the mountain when the ski patrol opened the mountain after morning avalanche control. Our skiing was just fantastic all morning.
February 15, 2010
I'm entering a contest to win a three-day snowcat-skiing trip with the Mustang Powder cat operation in the Monashee Mountains near Chase, British Columbia. I've gone cat skiing several times in Wyoming at Jackson Hole (Togwotee Pass) and at Grand Targhee, but the trip in this contest sounds fantastic. Anyone reading this should enter the contest as well, although the entry deadline is tomorrow, Feb 16, 2010. Here's the link with the entry info: http://www.mustangpowder.com/contest.htm
Cat skiing is tremendous fun. You get all of the QUALITY of a heli-skiing trip but you don't have to worry so much about the weather. I've done a fair amount of heli skiing both in Jackson Hole with High Mountain Heli but also in Alaska at Alaska Rendezvous Lodge (here's a trip report I did on that operation). In all cases, the skiing has been spectacular, but weather can always be a problem. If it's cloudy (which it almost always is when new powder is falling), the helicopters can be grounded entirely or limited to areas of terrain that aren't as exciting as what might be available when the weather is good.
With cat skiing, you're almost never shut down because of weather. The cats can run in almost any kind of snow or poor visibility, and those are often the times when the skiing is the absolute best.
February 16, 2010:
I spent the morning skiing with the 14-year-old son of some friends. He loves to ski off jumps of any kind and I'm trying to learn to use my Vholdr helmet video camera better. We skied all over the mountain, part of the time in some horrendous fog. It was a good time and here's some video:
February 27, 2009
Today we hiked up Four Shadows Couloir off Cody Peak, outside the ski area boundaries just to the south of the top of the Jackson Hole aerial tram. The new snow from this past Thursday is pretty much skied out, so we were looking for a little excitement by skiing the couloir.
The snow was fairly dense in the less-skied areas and nice, firm and chalky in the spots in the couloir where people had made quite a few turns in the last few days. Four Shadows is quite steep for the first several turns, generally about 48 degrees. That makes it an exhilerating destination no matter what the conditions. We hiked up the ridge toward Cody Peak and started skiing the couloir about an hour after leaving the top of the tram.
Here's what Cody Peak looks like from the top of the tram on a sunny day (which today was definitely not). Four Shadows is outlined in red:
And another shot with a bit more of a close-up. You can make out a skier midway down the left side (looking at the photo) of the couloir and another standing at the upper left corner:
In this photo, we're at the top of the entrance to the main part of the couloir poised to drop in:
And here he is lower down in the chute:
Four Shadows is one of Jackson Hole's classic out-of-bounds tours.
March 1, 2001
I got to ski a whole bunch of 2011-model Head skis today. It was a sunny and warm day at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and we skied a huge range of conditions ranging from hard, smooth groomed runs all the way through slushy moguls on the Lower Faces. I was able to ski next year's model of the Head iSL ski, which is a ski I've never had the chance to ride.
It's a very quick, precise, stable ski. It was an absolute dream in the hard moguls and on the groomers. I felt it was amazingly stable with great edge grip. The 2011 model has Head's new KERS (kinetic energy release system) that builds energy through the turn and then just slingshots you out of the tail of the turn. It was great fun.
I also skied next year's Peak 82 and Peak 88, as well as the new fat ski model, the Jerry. All of them are great skis and you should give them a try if you can find a shop that demos them.
No photos or movies from the last few days, but the skiing has become rather "interesting". I've skied Rock Springs canyon out of bounds the last two days and it's been pretty good. The snow is warming when the sun comes out and then freezing again when the clouds come over. Aspect and elevation are very important to how good the skiing is. Anyone visiting Jackson Hole Mountain Resort might want to consider hiring one of the backcountry ski guides to get the best possible experience.
Speaking of the guides, I stopped on my way out of Rock Springs yesterday to talk for a moment with longtime guide Dave Miller. He and his clients were gathered near the Rock Springs Yurt enjoying the day. Dave told me that in the last couple of days the guides have noticed black bear tracks in lower Rock Springs.
THAT is a first! I've never given any thought to bears while skiing out of bounds at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort during the time the ski resort has been open in the winter. Topsy-turvy weather this year.
Speaking of which, I saw several drift boats carrying anglers on the Snake River over the weekend. The reports I've heard are that the fishing is actually pretty good.
I'm sorry, but I'm just NOT willing to write off the ski season yet. It's only MARCH 8. I'm hoping for multiple big snowstorms before our area closes on April 4.
March 14, 2010:
Daylight Savings Day - which I normally hate. I don't like to spring forward.
Nevertheless, I had one of my most glorious days of spring skiing ever. I was skiing with a couple of friends. The sun finally started working on the snow (an hour late thanks to daylight savings) and the skiing just got better and better. We skied groomers off the Thunder and Sublette chairs until the snow started to soften.
Then, we just went everywhere.
Tensleep Bowl, Cirque, Upper Casper Bowl, Study Plots, Ranger, South Colter Ridge, South Hoback. It was all great. What a day!
March 17, 2010: St. Patty's Day!
This is always a big day in the Peters household. This is my wife's birthday and it's a non-stop party from morning on.
She's dealing with some battered toes this winter (frostbite, bruises, infections, etc) and couldn't ski on her birthday but that didn't keep her off the hill. She dressed up in all kinds of green paraphernalia and went to to top of the gondola. She started handing out green beads and leis and stuff. People wanted to have their pictures taken with her. It was great.
Photos to follow.
March 23, 2010: "Powder" Surprise
In a year with barely over half the total snowfall that we had two seasons ago, any sort of snowfall at all is cause for celebration. That's how it was today. We had 6" of new snow in 24 four hours and the sun was out first thing in the morning. It was actually great skiing, even off the groomers. We made some runs on Study Plots, Broken Goggle, Grannett Woods, etc. and it was fun.
March 26, 2010: PPP Prep
I've been in the office all morning but I'm leaving soon to go out to Teton Village. Tomorrow is the annual Pole Pedal Paddle, a benefit for the Jackson Hole Ski Club, and I'm on my to the Village to check out the race course.
The PPP is a Jackson Hole institution. Teams or individuals do four legs of a race; leg one is an Alpine downhill ski race (LeMans Start) down Rendezvous Mountain to the base of the ski area at Teton Village, the second leg is a Nordic ski/skate 10k race through the meadows at the Village, the third leg is a 19.6-mile bike race from Teton Village to the South Park bridge over the Snake River south of Jackson, and the final leg is a 6-mile kayak race down to the Snake River to Astoria Hot Springs.
My team competes in the Masters (Old Farts) division and I do the Alpine leg. So, I'm on my way up to watch as the JH Ski Club coaches set the course. It's a modified Super G race with some pretty high speeds in the Amphitheater section of the mountain below the Thunder chairlift, then switches over to sort of a fast GS down Lower Gros Ventre to the bottom. My time is usually about three and a half minutes but the vast guys (and girls) will beat me by 20 or 30 seconds (I suck).
I'm thinking of wearing my helmet cam during the race to get some video of the course. If I do, I'll post it.
Wish me luck!
March 27, 2010: PPP Day!
It was a great Pole Pedal Paddle. The alpine course was smooth, fast, sunny, and FUN. I finished 11th out of about 80 recreational racers, so that's about as good as I'm capable of doing. I might have finished a bit better but I got totally cut off at the second gate by my own representative in the Wyoming legislature. While I'm sure it cost me a little time, it was a GREAT move on his part and I give him all kinds of credit. This is gang ski racing, after all. :-)
Our Masters team finished second after winning the last 5 out of 6 years. A new team with some guys who just turned 50 (the cutoff for Masters) beat us out. I guess it sucks to get older. Nevertheless, we had a great time and we're all looking forward to next year.
March 30, 2010: Back to Winter!
The wind started howling last night and it rained (RAINED) for hours in the valley early this morning. It started snowing around midnight at about the 8,000 foot elevation and we'd had about 8 inches of new snow by the time I left the top of the gondola at 9:00am this morning. The new snow was dense but not slabby and it made for excellent skiing. I had to work in the office this morning, so I only skied 5 runs off the gondola and Thunder chair, but it was good. It was blowing hard and snowing hard when I left, so I've got great hopes for tomorrow morning.
Here's an afternoon photo from the web cam at the top of Teton Pass:
The skiing was great today. The storm dropped a total of 16" of snow and REALLY smoothed out the mountain from all the frozen moguls we've had for the last couple of weeks. Today's snow was that "creamy" variety that had a little substance to it. It supported you well and really cushioned the old surface.
I think half the ski bums in Jackson decided to come out for a last fling before the end of the season this coming Sunday. The line for the tram was already out of the dock at 7:45am and everybody had their giant rockered skis. The gondola was late in opening so a group of us went up Apres Vous and worked our way over to Casper. They went on to Thunder but I stayed on Casper because there was no one there and I only had 45 minutes before I had to go down and head for my office.
I skied three runs in the trees on Moran Woods and Moran Face. All the giant old moguls were transformed into fun, fluffy bumps. I had a great time before I had to break off and go to town.
I love these spring days when we get powder surprises. It seems like knowing that the season at the Village is almost over just makes those turns that much better.
April Fool's Day - April 1, 2010:
Today was my first skiing/fishing day of 2010. I went skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in the morning, worked at my office until 3:30 in the afternoon, and then went fishing in a snowstorm. The main tributaries of the Snake River opened for trout season today and I couldn't resist going to my favorite spot on Fish Creek near Wilson.
Despite a fair amount of wind, 34-degree temps, and a steady snowfall, there were bugs on the water and the fish were rising. Midges were hatching and there were even a few early-season bluewing olive mayflies hatching, and the fish were all over them. I had to shoo off about a hundred mallards and Canada geese, but once I had the water to myself the fishing was very good.
I caught nine Snake River cutthroat trout in an hour before my hands got too cold to continue. I was fishing with a size 18 CDC bluewing olive dun as an "indicator" fly and then a size 20 Parachute Adams as a dropper on 6x tippet. The water was low and slow and the fish were lazily taking. Two of the fish took the dun and the rest took the Adams. All of them were healthy-looking fine-spotted Snake River cutts and it was a wonderful way to start out my fishing season.
Now I'm home in front of a warm fire. Jackson Hole is great.
April 7, 2010: Late Season Powder Skiing at Grand Targhee
What a fantastic day!
A group of us from Jackson drove over the hill early this morning to ski at Grand Targhee. Targhee has had 63"of snow in the last week and today was some of the best skiing we've had all season. Sunshine, cold temps, and deep, soft snow. These April snowstorms are so much fun because just about the time you think the season is done and it's time to start thinking about warm-weather sports, here comes a few feet of powder skiing to remind you how much you love skiing.
Here are some photos:
The base area at Grand Targhee:
My wife, Ruthie, having a little fun:
Dave likes it:
Peter is getting a bonus day because he's supposed to be on his way back East right now:
And Karen practically disappears:
Wow! April 8, 2010 - Returning Birds
I've been fascinated with the schedule that many of our birds of prey seem to follow every year. Since I love to fish, I often see ospreys near our creeks and rivers and I watch for their arrival in the spring.
When I drive from my home in the Jackson Hole Racquet Club to my office in town, I pass five different osprey nests along the way. Three days agao, there were no ospreys to be seen in Jackson Hole. By yesterday, every single nest was occupied by a nesting pair. Every year, they seem to show up between April 1 and April 7. Doesn't matter how much (or this year, how little) snow there is, they always come back on those dates.
Here's a photo of a pair on the nest along in Puzzleface Ranch along Hwy 22 about three miles west of Jackson:
And here's one of them bringing nest materials:
It's great to have them back.
April 13, 2010: Returning WINTER!
As my wife and I were walking out to the car on our way to the gym this morning, we came upon a large moose about thirty feet away. He (she? - it's hard to tell this time of year) seemed to be kind of annoyed about the new snow covering the grass and bushes. Just about the time all the critters start getting used to spring, winter comes back. The ospreys were all hunched up on their nests looking cold and wet and miserable.
Well, it's snowing right now in Jackson Hole. We're forecasted to get another 6-12" of snow in the mountains tonight, along with a lot of wind. We have about two inches in the valley as of 11:00am this morning.
I ran into a friend at the market this morning. He's a ski patroller at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and we got to talking about the snow. He's going skiing at Grand Targhee this weekend (closing weekend for them).
He got me to thinking... if the snow keeps up today and into tonight, I might have to go ski powder again at Targhee tomorrow.
Oh - the tough choices we have to make living in Jackson Hole.
April 14, 2010: Blue Wing Olives and Rising Trout on Fish Creek
Well, I had to actually work today so I didn't make it over to Targhee. My wife did and she said the new snow was pretty wind-affected and kind of tricky. It looks like I didn't miss TOO much by having to hang out here in Jackson.
Late this afternoon, I was able to visit a property on Fish Creek just outside Wilson, WY. This property has nearly a mile of creek and is just a fantastic place to fish. I wasn't fishing today, I was just visiting and happened to have my camera with me (no fly rod).
I walked the stream for awhile, just checking out the rising cutthroat trout. They seemed to be mostly going after midges, but there were a few blue wing olive mayflies on the water. I managed to stand on the bank a few feet away from this cutthroat as he gobbled flies to his heart's content. I'm trying to learn to take better fish photos, so while these aren't great, it was good practice.
And this beautiful fox wandered by while looking for mice in the meadow:
April 22, 2010: Earth Day
We finally had a good, hard rain last night. Things had actually started to get a little dry here in the valley, so it was fun to see some rain. Our tulips and daffodils looked about a hundred times happier this morning and there were earthworms crawling all over everywhere.
As of late morning, it's still raining in town but it's snowing up on Teton Pass. If the weather forecast pans out, we could have quite a bit of new snow in the mountains by the end of this week.
Here's a photo from the web cam at the top of Teton Pass:
I love this time of year.
April 25, 2010: Moose in the Garden
My wife and I life in a condo in the JH Racquet Club. We came out of the place this morning and this yearling moose was hanging out right next to a neighboring building, chewing on a pine tree:
Here are our first flowers of the year. A little yellow crocus:
And here are a couple of mallard drakes swimming around in the little stream:
June 13, 2010 - Fishing Near Ashton, Idaho:
Ruthie and I took a little mini-vacation over the weekend and went to Three Rivers Ranch at Warm River, Idaho. Three Rivers Ranch is a fourth-generation lodge that offers flyfishing on some of the most famous trout streams in America. The lodge is located right on the confluence of the Warm River and Robinson Creek, about a quarter of a mile from where Warm River runs into the Henry's Fork of the Snake.
They guide fishing trips on all of these legendary waters all the way from the Madison River in Montana through the Firehole and Yellowstone Rivers in Yellowstone National Park to the Henry's Fork and South Fork in Idaho. The fishing choices are almost limitless and much of the time you're fishing dry flies.
We spent the night at the Ranch in one of their beautiful cabins right alongside Robinson Creek. The lodge has a very well-appointed dining hall. We relaxed before dinner with cocktails and talked with anglers who are visiting the lodge from such faraway places as Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, Melbourne, Australia, and both coasts of the US. Dinner was an outstanding lamb dish and the fishing talk after dinner went well into the night.
I fished for about three hours on Sunday on Robinson Creek right outside the cabin door and upstream. Our part of the world has had nearly nonstop rain for the last four weeks, with many streams and rivers around Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming going over flood stage. The flows in Robinson Creek had just dropped about three feet the day before, so the creek was just starting to be fishable again. I waded upstream for a total of about a mile, catching rainbow trout steadily all along the way.
Three Rivers Ranch owns six miles of Robinson Creek running upstream from the lodge, so I had lots of water all to myself. Because of the still-high streamflow, the current was sailing along pretty quickly and I'm sure the fishing will do nothing but improve as our weather dries out a little bit. I fished a combination of two dry flies, the first one being a big salmonfly imitation and the back fly a size 14 yellow Stimulator. The creek - patricularly at this flow level - involves lots of boulder-and-pocket water. It was fairly hard to get good, consistent drifts with all that current, but many fish would hit on the swing anyway. There were some bugs hatching, including a few giant stonflies, quite a few little yellow stoneflies, and a large mayfly that might have been a green or gray drake but I never got a good look at them.
I landed about 20 fish during the three hours I fished, lost several, and missed many more strikes. All but two of the fish I landed were rainbow trout ranging between 9" and 15". The other two were brook trout. Several of the rainbows jumped more than once. Here's what Robinson Creek looks like from the cabins:
And here's why a giant stonefly imitation was working. This guy fluttered over and landed on my knee:
My time was limited, but I would love to go back and fish a long ways upstream on Robinson Creek. It was a delightful stream and I'm betting you could get into a lot of fish there when the water level comes down a little.
June 15, 2010 - Snake River receding in Jackson Hole:
Just a week ago, the flows in the Snake River through Jackson Hole quadrupled in about 48 hours as rain and snowmelt caused a huge influx of water. The rains quit last weekend and we've had two sunny days in a row. That has meant the water levels have dropped dramatically in just the last couple of days. Here's an early-moning shot of what the river looked like this morning about two miles south of the Wilson bridge:
The water level is not only coming down quickly, the water clarity has already improved a great deal.
We might be able to start fishing the Snake again by early July.
June 19, 2010: No Left Turn Time... ;-)
The Jackson Hole economy lives and dies on tourism. We want and need all the visitors who come here in the summer and winter. We're happy to see them show up but the annual summer thru-migration of all the giant rv's, the outrageously noisy Harley's, the tiny rental cars packed to the ceiling with people and luggage, and the countless mini-vans does require one very big change for us locals.
My little real estate office is right downtown on Broadway (our main street) and just a half-block from the Town Square (the center of the Jackson Hole universe). That means that when I drive back and forth to the office (I'm trying to ride my bike more often), I have to remember one very important thing... no left turns.
Jackson only has maybe ten stoplights in town, and the main highway (Broadway) carries literally tens of thousands of cars a day during the summer. That means that if you want to get anywhere in this town during the summer, you want to ONLY make right turns. Turning left from a stop sign onto one of our main streets is essentially impossible during the summer. So we'll go to the stop sign, turn right, go to the next intersection, turn right, and then go to the NEXT intersection and turn right. We've thus turned 270 degrees to the right in order to end up heading 90 degrees to the left, but it works.
So, if you come visit Jackson this summer, keep this in mind. You'll get where you're going in a lot less time and with a lot less hassle.
Also, I've noticed a very interesting trend this summer. I'm seeing more and more drivers creeping along the main streets not paying ANY attention at all to our relatively well-marked (compared to other places I've been) street signs. instead, they're staring at the GPS screen on their dashboards, trying to tell where the sweet little voice in the gizmo is telling them to turn.
Has the GPS screen now made it utterly unnecessary for vacation drivers to ever look outside the car? We've got some pretty things to see here in Jackson Hole, so I hope not.
June 20, 2010: Summer Skiing in the Tetons
I invited 14 people to join me yesterday - and the only one who showed up was my wife.
I'm not sure what that says about me, my wife, or my so-called friends, but it was their loss. We've finally had a few days of sunshine after what has seemed like weeks of unending rain. It was a beautiful day to be up on the mountain and the skiing was as nice as the day.
Our target for the day was the east flank of Cody Peak, which is known as "Powder 8 Face" because the US National Powder 8's used to be held there years ago. It's a total of about an hour of skiing, skinning, and booting to get to the top of Powder 8 Face from the top of the tram at the JH Mountain Resort, but it's really worth it once you're there.
Here's Ruthie skiing a small bowl on our way to the main destination. Powder 8 is the wide snowfield in the upper left-hand corner of this photo, and we skied right below that cliff band where the rocks start on that snowy ridgeline:
Here's Ruthie booting up the east side of Powder 8:
Here I am right at the top of the snowfield we're going to ski:
Cranking up the corn harvester:
This is what we came for:
June 24, 2010: Attack of the Lupines
We took a walk along the banks of the Snake River. I'm sure it's due mostly to the buckets of rain we had this spring, but the riverbanks are literally covered with perennial lupines. These flowers smell wonderful and look great, too:
Due to website space constraints, that's it for the blog for January to June, 2010. Here are July to December, 2010 blog entries.