Jackson Hole has a reputation as the last ski stronghold for those who dare to let it ride. What many don’t know, however, is that it is also a haven for intermediates and groomer lovers. This is largely due to 40 percent of the terrain being blue and recent intermediate-friendly terrain upgrades. Don’t believe us? Forbes thinks so, too.
“That Jackson is strictly the province of experts, huckers and powder fiends is a myth whose day is fading, but still perseveres in some corners. The bottom of the mountain is mild and inviting for beginners; and last year was the first season for Jackson’s new Casper high-speed lift that services expanded intermediate terrain, giving skiers a bastion of blue runs higher up on the mountain.”—Forbes, 2014
In addition to regrading the terrain in the Casper area in 2012-13, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR) has also improved their grooming fleet by replacing two cats and adding one more for the 2015-16 season. Also, recent investment in winch cats ensure slopes that were previously the territory of expert skiers are now in tip-top cruisin’ shape. One important facet that intermediates and advanced intermediates should consider on a Jackson Hole ski vacation is that there’s no better place to quickly progress. You can come a blue skier and leave with black-diamond accolades.
To help you make the most of Jackson Hole’s manicured goods, we compiled a tour-de-groomers with the help of Patrick Nelson, JHMR sales manager and Ski.com’s main point of contact.
Get up early for the freshest corduroy
There is never as much competition for first chair on a groomer day as there is on a powder day, but it is definitely worth it to be an early bird nonetheless. There’s nothing like laying down some tracks on a freshly groomed slope, especially when it’s combined with morning views of the Tetons. Start your day from the top of the Bridger Gondola by heading over to Amphitheater, which is a treat first thing in the morning while everyone is still in bed. Be warned, it’s “not my favorite groomer once people are out and about,” says Patrick. So ski it early.
Carve up Grand and head to the groomed steeps of Laramie Bowl
Take the Thunder Quad Chair and B-line it to Grand, which is unbeatable when the corduroy is still fresh. If you want to take a shot at one of Jackson Hole’s more aggressive groomers, ski Laramie Bowl, which is known for its steep, fall-line skiing. Just check the grooming reports before committing to it—sometimes it isn’t groomed. Whichever you skipped, do on your next lap. “Significant investment in winch cats at Jackson Hole means you can enjoy smooth as butter groomers,” says Patrick.
Explore the many cruisers off the Casper chair
Next, take the Marmot chair up to Rendezvous Lodge, at the top of Gondola. Grab a coffee or snack at the new Off Piste restaurant. Once you’ve had your fill, head to Sundance and hit the traverse over to the Casper chair. “Open one up right under the chair on Sundog, and then work your way looker’s right to Sleeping Indian, followed by a run on Wide Open, which is true to its name,” says Patrick. Take Wide Open to Ashley Ridge for some bonus ‘roy, which “always seems to be extra smooth,” says Patrick. From there, hop on South Pass Traverse to the new Teton lift.
Schuss the zippy cruisers from the new Teton Lift
Thanks to the new Teton Lift, you can carve up the entire length of Wide Open top-to-bottom, which is one of s the longest and widest runs on the mountain. Another trip up the Teton Lift and you should be good and warmed up and ready to ski Kemmerer. Featuring sweeping valley views and rock star carving territory, Kemmerer is about as good as groomer skiing gets—when it’s groomed. So check the reports. “It’s a black diamond, but nothing severe,” says Patrick. You’ll probably be ready for lunch at this point, so stop in at Casper Restaurant (via Togwotee Pass Traverse) for some hearty made-to-order burritos.
Check out Apres Vous, the original Jackson Hole groomer zone
Take one more lap on the new Teton Lift and hang a right off the top of the chair to ski the new Crags run, a cruiser following the ridge line. From here, enjoy some of the best north-facing views of Grand Teton National Park that you’ll see anywhere on the mountain. “Crags run takes you over to the Apres Vous area, a staple of intermediate skiing in Jackson Hole since it opened in 1965,” says Patrick. Runs like Upper Teewinot, Werner and Hanna consistently have awesome groomed conditions. Intermediates can spend days exploring the nooks and crannies of the Casper/Teton/Apres Vous areas, so stick around on the looker’s right side of the mountain.
Experience Jackson Hole’s groomers this winter while they’re still a secret. Start planning your Jackson Hole ski trip today! Our Mountain Travel Experts can help you customize and book your flights, rental cars, lodging and more. They’re standing by at 800-610-8911. You can also get started by filling out a form for a free custom quote.
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com managing the website and blog content, I couldn't be happier. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.