Jackson Hole — Snowboarding, Parks and pipes
If you’re a strong intermediate snowboarder or better, you’ll drool when you get a load of Jackson Hole’s terrain and massive proportions. Fully half of Jackson Hole’s 2,500 acres is marked with one or two black diamonds, and with the mountain’s no-rope-out-of-bounds clause, you can add the best off-resort backcountry riding available anywhere in the continental U.S. The terrain out there is for real, and if you’re not prepared, or experienced, there is an enormous probability of getting seriously hurt or killed, so be careful.
At Rendezvous Mountain, chutes, bowls and steeps await you, but there is often a groomed alternative way down. For jumpers, there’s Corbet’s Couloir, a narrow, rocky passage that requires a 5- to 20-foot airborne entry into a usually tracked, steep mogul field. No way? Then consider the even more infamous S & S Chute (check out the video, “Subjekt Haakenson,” to see Terje drop this line) or take the “easier” way down—Rendezvous Bowl, a huge face littered with gigantic moguls, bushes, rocks and, if you’re lucky, powder. Follow that down to the Sublette chair and continue on to Dick’s Ditch, or go to The Hobacks, where the local throng chases powder after every snowstorm. If you’ve made it down on your first run without any fear, burning legs or slough slides, then move to Jackson Hole now. You’ll never be happy riding anywhere else—except maybe Alaska.
Most of the tough stuff is completely separate from the easier runs—intermediates seldom have to worry about getting in over their heads, which in this case is a very, very good thing. Intermediate riders will want to ride Apres Vous. You’ll find plenty of “let it rip” terrain here, and lots to stretch your abilities. Keep in mind that the mountain has aspects that provide a variety of conditions with weathered sunny sides and protected sides serving up completely different riding. Two weeks of no snow and pretty-boy, soft untracked snow could be found below the Secret Slope in the lower Saratoga Bowl area. Apres Vous—or, as the locals refer to it, AV—is definitely easier terrain both on the groomed slopes and off-piste.
Under the mountain’s slowest chair, the Casper Bowl triple, the runs are exceedingly spacious and most of the ungroomed terrain is forgiving. The next stop for intermediates will be the terrain off the gondola, where you’ll find jaw-dropping views of the valley below.
One surprise at Jackson Hole is its excellent learning terrain. The base of Apres Vous has a fenced-in area, called Fort Wyoming, below the East’s Rest Cutoff and the base area. It’s served by a moving carpet. Faster boarders can’t get in, so those just learning won’t get nervous.
The mountain is swathed in traverses that allow a snowboarder with any momentum an easy way down. And riders have the advantage over skiers when it comes to hoofing up to the hike-to terrain. That said, in Saratoga Bowl veer rider’s right as you head down or you’ll have an awful traverse, perhaps even a hike, out.
Parks and pipes
Apres Vous on it’s own could hold itself as a very strong freeriding mountain, and this is where the superpipe is, along with various hits and kickers built by the locals. We don’t recommend building your own kickers; if you’re busted, they’ll pull your ticket. Luckily there are natural booters and kickers all over the place; try following some local riders around for the inside line. And don’t miss Upper Dick’s Ditch, where you’ll find a natural quarterpipe and halfpipe.
The superpipe has a surface lift, so it’s easy to get back to the top. The terrain park, served by the Apres Vous Quad, is next to the superpipe and has 10 components including jumps, rails, bumps and a small quarterpipe. Just like Jackson Hole’s natural terrain, the park features are intended for those with some experience and are not really designed for first-timers. Take care and pay attention to the signs. There is a dedicated park and pipe staff always on hand to give advice, so make sure to check out conditions with them before you launch any air.