I figured that conditions the day after an 11″ powder day would be a mixed bag and planned to spend the day on the groomers, just as Allison and I did at Vail a few days earlier. I rode the Bridger Gondola up a few minutes after it opened, headed down Ranger, a groomed black run with a decent pitch, and cut over to the Apres Vous chair to access some long groomers. I made a couple of nice runs on Werner and St Johns, and then noticed a suspiciously good looking stretch of relatively untracked powder up the mountain to the left of the Apres Vous lift (see right side of trail map).
I skied down to a gate at the base of it, saw a few people hiking up, and figured I may as well give it a shot, for the views and exercise if nothing else. I strapped my skis to my new pack, an Osprey Kode 32 — I had been using a Camelbak PitBoss, which is a well-designed pack but didn’t fit my torso well — that the excellent pack-fitter at Teton Mountaineering set up for me, and started climbing up. The lower altitude meant that hike wasn’t as lung busting as the climb to North Pole at A-Basin, but it was long enough to develop a nice burn in my legs.
At the top, some nice folks from North Carolina took a picture of me playing in the deep snow and we all set off in search of fresh tracks and good lines.
The snow was excellent up top, became progressively heavier, and then turned into an icy death-cookie field at the bottom, just before hitting the groomers. The quality of the snow for the first two dozen turns made it worth the walk.
I skied down to the tram and was the 101st person in line, which meant I had to wait for the second tram before returning to the summit. After watching some carnage at Corbet’s Couloir (check out this video to get an idea), I skied down Rendezvous Bowl, and then traversed over to the Cirque where I again noticed some people hiking up to access some fresh snow. I deferred my lunch plans, downed some Honey Stingers, strapped my skis and helmet to my pack, shed a couple of layers, and started climbing with them.
The total walk was shorter than my first hike of the day, but it was steeper going and the views were more impressive.
At the top, a few people dropped into Headwall, but I kept traversing along the ridge all the way over to Crags.
A couple of snowboarders were hanging out at the top contemplating their lines and were kind enough to snap a photo of me.
I headed down through some good, deep powder that again became progressively heavier as I made my way down.
My quads were seriously burning by the time I emerged near the top of the non-operational Casper chair. Since that lift wasn’t running, I had that part of the mountain to myself as I made my way down to the base of the gondola.
It was after 130PM and I was starving, so I headed to Headwall Deli and had the delicious chicken curry sandwich and baby kale salad. The guy sitting next to me was astounded at the amount of food I had ordered and was equally surprised when I put it all away. I had definitely earned my late lunch! I cruised back to the base on my tired legs and headed back to Jackson with an even better appreciation for why people love this place.