I have a photo of Cody Peak framed on the wall of my office. Whenever I need some inspiration I take a moment and ponder the mountain. It is so iconically Jackson and the terrain on it will challenge every fiber of your being. If you have ever skied off of the tram or Sublette chair at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort you have most likely notice the jagged peak to the South. Cody Peak is an extreme skier’s dream. With access just outside of the ski area boundary and a short boot pack, average joes can access terrain that is seen in extreme skiing movies. The peak is not for the faint of heart and I would recommend only for expert skier with extensive backcountry experience. There have been countless avalanches on Cody Peak as well as avalanche-related deaths on the peak. It is out of bounds, therefore you will need to have appropriate avalanche training and gear in order to ski the peak.
Cody Peak has numerous aesthetically pleasing lines. From the open powder field known as the Powder 8s to the extremely steep Pucker Face and narrow couloirs and chutes with names like “Once is Enough”, Cody has tons of skiable terrain. To reach Cody you leave the resort through the upper gate in Rendezvous Bowl and follow a mellow trail along the ridge to the bottom of the boot pack.
The Cody Peak boot pack is the scariest boot pack in the Jackson Hole sidecountry area. Depending on how much snow there is the first part of the boot pack can be more like a rock scramble.. with ski boots on. It’s a heart pounding experience. Plastic soles with no tread on icy rock is not a good combination. This, coupled with the fact that the peak is avalanches-prone means that it isn’t a good choice for early season skiing. The peak is best skied with a lot of snow, when the boot pack is more than likely to be filled in – with the exception of a few spots where you will need to scramble over rock outcroppings. Additionally, the peak is very susceptible to wind. If it is blowing more than 15MPH you most likely will not want to hike Cody, where you will be pummeled by wind during your entire hike.
Once you are above the scramble the hike becomes very mellow. You will hike down the ridge and around the back side of Cody Peak. Once you get to the top of the ridge you will have to make your decision on what you want to ski.
There are 6 lines that you can ski off of the bootpack on Cody Peak. The first line that you will approach is called Pucker Face. It is an extremely steep face with a cliff ban in the middle. From the top all you can see is a roll over, right where the cliff ban is. It’s rather nerve wracking, not particularly knowing where the cliffs are. This face is also very prone to avalanches, so if you are the first one to ski it make sure you do a proper risk assessment.
The next line that you will reach is a bowl called No Shadows. It’s popular entrance is on the skier’s right of the bowl. Next up the ridge is Four Shadows, another steep bowl which is typically plagued by a large cornice on the top. The best way to enter Four Shadows is at the highest part of the bowl on the right hand side. Four Shadows and No Shadows are north facing, which means that they are good options during a drought when all of the southern aspects are baked or frozen. Up past Four Shadows is a north facing chute. Central is a hair raising, narrow no-fall chute with a mandatory air at the bottom. If you can ski it you most likely are a pro skier or should consider changing your career.
From the top of Four Shadows there is a bootpack traverse over to the south side of the peak. The first couloir that you reach is called “Once Is Enough.” With a sketchy entrance, this steep no-fall couloir is one of the most well known lines in the Tetons. You can see the line from the road, it’s the line in the notch of Cody Peak when viewed from the South. It’s a popular line to ski in the spring when the sun warms the snow and creates edgeable corn. If you look into Once and decide that it’s a little much for you, head up the peak further (to the East) and take a look at “Twice Is Nice.” As you can gather from the name of the line, it’s a more mellow option to Once with a nice hanging powder field that narrows into a choke. This steep line is equally fun during the springtime. These lines drop you into No Name Canyon. If you are looking to extend your day, keep right at the exit of both of the couloirs and take the traverse over to No Name.
Last, but not least, are the Powder 8s. This open powder field can be access by either skiing the North facing lines on Cody (Pucker Face, No Shadows, Four Shadows or Central), and then traversing over to the bottom of the bootpack, or by hiking the bottom of the bowl at the base of Cody Peak. The Powder 8 bootpack is relatively short and steep.. I mean, sweet. From the top of the Powder 8s you can ski the powder field or traverse over to No Name Peak or drop into No Name Canyon. The Powder 8’s are popular to lap.
So there you have it. I have skied all of the lines on Cody Peak except for Central and Once. The terrain is heart pumping and exhilarating. It is really amazing to have such challenging terrain just steps outside of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort boundary. If you are a serious backcountry skier I definitely recommend fitting a hike up Cody Peak into your trip!
Skiing. That’s the reason that I moved to this valley in 2009. Not for a job, not for a boy, not for my family or friends. Skiing. Skiing was the sole factor in my decision making when I chose Jackson Hole. Which is great until you start getting the itch to do more with your life than just ski and wait tables. But a career – that means giving up skiing, right? Not necessarily. You have to be a little more crafty but you can absolutely still ski on a powder day. You just have to be up at 6AM to do so.
Over the past few years I have become a master of the “dawn patrol.” Dawn patrol is when you ski in the early morning. It means hiking in the dark with a headlamp, seeing sunrises from the bootpack and skiing down in the early morning light. It really is the most gorgeous time of the day. There is also the added benefit that you get first turns on a powder day, when everyone else is still in bed. For those who argue that you can’t be a ski bum and have a career I beg to disagree. I may not be a “bum” because I collect a regular pay check, but I probably get close to the same amount of days a ski bum skis each season. I believe that last year I skied upwards of 70 days. Of course, no lift is turning at 6AM, so all of my morning runs before work are done under my own power, by hiking or skinning to the top of the run.
A local favorite for dawn patrollers is Glory. Located at the top of Teton Pass a steep bootpack takes you to the top of Mount Glory. From the false peak there are a variety of options to ski back to your car which is parked at the top of the pass. The hike to the false peak typically takes about an hour if you are in good shape. Since it is backcountry skiing I always ski with a partner and avalanche gear. I also have taken the Avalanche 1 Safety class. Thankfully, I have some friends who work 9 to 5 and are as crazy as me. We carpool to Teton Pass and then hike and ski Glory or Chivers Ridge, or we drop a car at the bottom and skin out to Avalanche Bowl.
I have had mornings when I can’t feel my fingers or toes because the temperature is below zero. Mornings where I’ve thought that I was going to get blown off of the mountain and no one would find me in the dark. Mornings where I have had to break the bootpack or skin track by post-holing through deep wind drifts and fresh powder. I have had turns so deep that I can’t see where I am going. Turns that make me giggle like a school girl all of the way back to work. It’s mornings like those that can help me get through a particularly challenging day.
In order to be a dawn patroller you have to be motivated. When that alarm goes off at 5:45AM you need to be able to jump out of bed, throw on your ski clothes and go start the car. It probably helps that I am a morning person, but I have never once regretted getting out of bed in the morning. Because if the snow isn’t good, the sunrise is typically spectacular. Or vice versa – with no sunrise it usually means that the skiing is going to be amazing.
When I first moved to Jackson I didn’t think that there could be such a balance between work and play. I thought that I would have to sacrifice what I love doing during the week and just live for the weekends. However, the quality of life in Jackson Hole is incredible. How many people get to say that they skied powder in the early morning and then brought home a decent pay check and progressed their career while doing what they love? All of the early mornings I have spent on Teton Pass or Snow King in town are worth it. The beautiful sunrises, the friendships that I have created with my fellow dawn patrollers, the fresh tracks in deep snow after a storm, all worth it. Then I come and sit at my desk and when things get tough, I think about the morning – the deep snow or sun rays cresting over the Gros Ventres Mountains and how all is right in the world.
Are you looking for some fresh powder days after the storm? Or maybe you are looking to burn off that breakfast burrito that you had this morning. Either way, hiking the Headwall at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is easy and it can be very rewarding! I say easy due to the fact that it is a ski patrolled area, so you aren’t required to have any avalanche awareness and the bookpack(s) are easy to find. Yeah, did you notice that I said bootpacks, plural? There are two ways to hike the Headwall. The first that I am going to describe is the mellow, traditional Headwall hike. The second is the lung crushing, thigh burning “White Spider” hike.
You can reach the traditional bootpack off of the Sublette chairlift or the Tram – so you need to be high up on the mountain. In order to access it you ski down through Tensleep Bowl and take the traverse to the top of the Cirque. The start of the bootpack lies where the traverse ends and the bowl begins. At this point you should take off your skis and either put them over your shoulder or strap them to a backpack. A backpack isn’t necessary and I don’t necessarily recommend one – the hike is short so I don’t mind shouldering my skis but it’s based on personal preference. Both bootpacks close promptly at 2PM so make sure you are on the bootpack before then.
There are some unwritten rules about how to conduct yourself on a bootpack. Actually, there is just one rule. If someone comes up behind you and is clearly hiking faster than you are, step off of the bootpack. You can wait until you find a spot that’s easy to step off onto – a flatter spot or a spot where someone has stepped off before – just don’t wait too long to find a spot (more than 2 minutes). It is common courtesy, so don’t be offended if someone behind you asks you to step off so that they can pass you.
The Headwall hike will take you anywhere from 8 minutes to 20 minutes, depending on what kind of shape you are in and whether you are acclimated to the altitude or not. It is straightforward and gradual. At the top of the bootpack you have a few options on what you can ski. You can either drop right off the nose directly onto the Headwall or into some chutes on the right hand side, or you can traverse over into Casper Bowl or the Crags. The Headwall is a great ski run but it is relatively short. Before you know it you are at the top of the Gondola. If you want a longer run I would suggest heading over into Casper Bowl. A word of caution – cliff bands and hazards are not well marked in hike-to areas such as the Headwall and Casper Bowl. I would suggest that you study the trail map and decide on what to ski instead of blindly following someone’s tracks. There are a fair amount of skiers at JHMR that are comfortable with a 5 or 10 foot drop. Just because there are a fair amount of tracks does not mean that you won’t get “cliffed out,” or stuck above a cliff ban resulting in you having to take off your skis and hike back up the trail a little bit in order to avoid the drop.
If you want some more exercise you can traverse all the way into the Crags with some duck walking. It takes a fair amount of shuffling to get over to the Crags or the far side of Casper Bowl but there are some fun lines over there and it’s a good spot to find powder days after a storm. But once again, study the trail map – it’s hard to get oriented from above.
The White Spider
Do actually enjoy suffering? Do you want to earn two beers at apres? Are you a fan of steep hikes? Are you at the top of the Gondola and don’t have time to make it over to Sublette before the Headwall hike closes at 2PM? If you answered yes to any of these questions then the White Spider is the hike for you. To find the bootpack head to the far end of the lodge at the top of the gondola (away from the gondola). Wrap around the building and head straight back towards the Headwall. You will see a sign that will indicate whether the Headwall, Casper Bowl and Crags are open. This is where the torture begins. The bootpack is straight up, steep and relentless. It does, however, show some mercy about 2/3rds of the way up – you can bail out into Casper Bowl (if it’s open) through a gate. Here you can ski a nice shot down into Casper Bowl. If you continue hiking you will reach the top of the Headwall at it’s intersection with Casper Bowl. You made it! Take a deep breath and enjoy the view and enjoy the anticipation of your hard earned turns.
Hiking the Headwall or White Spider can be very rewarding. The views are breathtaking and oftentimes the skiing is better than the lift access skiing. It’s a fun place to explore and there is some great, challenging terrain that’s accessible in-bounds. Just be sure to bring a bottle of water, a snack and to take your time. Since it isn’t accessible by a lift it takes ski patrol longer to reach you in case something happens. Also, the Headwall, Casper Bowl and Crags aren’t always open, so be sure to check their status by looking at one of the status boards or by asking a mountain host before heading over to the bootpack. Have fun and enjoy the fresh snow!
Like most years, 2014 flew by for us. We had a wonderful time meeting and hosting guests from all over the world. We love Jackson Hole and we enjoy nothing more than being able to share our little piece of heaven with anyone who visits. We have put together a selection of our favorite photos from 2014. Check out what we were up to! Oh, and by the way, “we” is really what our Sales & Marketing Director, Alex, has been up to ;)
One of my favorite sidecountry adventures at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is Cody Peak. The iconic peak, which is located just south of the JHMR boundary, offers some of the most alluring backcountry lines and boasts loads of steep terrain that will make you want to crap your pants. Here, my friend Sarah ascends the bootpack, which is scary in its own right. The goal, Cody Peak, is framed by a bluebird sky in the background.
Every year I live in Jackson I spread my wings a little bit more. I push a little farther, get a little deeper into the backcountry and I change my perspective on what is really “out there”. This past winter a friend and I toured deep into the Tetons to the Delta Lake Shots. This is the view from the approach to our ski line. It was an amazing feeling, being so up close and personal to the mountains that I know so well from afar. To cap it off, the deep blue sky made me fall in love with the Jackson area all over again.
I think that every year a photo from the Snake River Overlook makes it into our top photos of 2014. And I’m not ashamed of that fact. For years I drove by the overlook, not thinking much of it. One day a few years back I stopped by it to see the spot where Ansel Adams took the famed “Tetons and the Snake River” photo back in 1942. I couldn’t believe the sight that I saw. It was so breathtaking that I had to run back to the car to grab my camera and my tripod. Years later it still remains one of my favorite spots to photograph the Tetons from.
Another one of my favorite spots to photograph is Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park. The best time to photograph the river is early in the morning before the wind picks up. For this photo I arrived shortly after sunrise. Mount Moran was shrouded by clouds but the surrounding mountains were visible, which made for a nice perspective.
The Teton Range at first light is always a magnificent sight. It always reminds me of the “purple mountains majesty” part of the “America, the Beautiful” song. Just outside the frame of this photo there was a herd of 100 bison grazing. The beauty and uniqueness of the Jackson Hole area never ceases to amaze me.
6. Aspens Aglow
Oftentimes, I miss the colors of Fall on the East Coast. We don’t get the beautiful deep reds and oranges that they do, but we do get golden aspen trees. I love wandering and biking through aspen groves during the fall for this reason. On one particularly clear blue day I looked up and was rewarded by the bright contrast of yellow and a brilliant blue sky. The white bark of the aspen trees make the sight even more gorgeous (if that’s possible!). The photo below shows some of my friends mountain biking through and aspen grove. It’s hard to stay on the trail during the fall because the gorgeous trees distract me.
7. Our New Mural in the Pool
Steve, our GM’s father, paints beautiful murals. All of the painted buffaloes that you see on site(except for the statues) are painted by him. This spring we asked him to paint a Teton and bison mural on the wall of our pool. We think that he did a spectacular job! We hope that you got a chance to see it this past year – if not, we hope that a trip to Jackson Hole is in your future. Whether it is your first time to Jackson or your fiftieth, we would love to have the chance to host you. We hope that you had as good of a year as us and we hope to see you in 2015!
Every Tuesday there is a bar in downtown Jackson that is packed with flannel and dusty cowboy boots and the plucking of a mandolin. Young and old flock to the Silver Dollar Bar at the Wort Hotel every Tuesday night for bluegrass night. Packed tight like sardines, ski bums and cowboys alike crowd the small round tables, tapping their feet to the music. The dance floor, like the bar, is packed to the gills with swing dancers, twirling and dipping.
The Wort is a beautiful historic hotel located in downtown Jackson. The Silver Dollar Bar is located inside the hotel and it boasts an elaborate bar top with 2,032 uncirculated 1921 Morgan Silver Dollars inlaid in it. The bar is decorated with western oil paintings and western themed bronze statues. The bar is filled with small round tables which makes it the ideal place to gather with friends or significant other for an intimate drink.
The live music, including bluegrass on Tuesdays, always starts at 7:30PM. The nice thing about the Silver Dollar Bar is that they never charge a cover. Additionally, on Tuesday nights the bar is 21+ only. Bluegrass night is always popular so if you are hoping to get a table I would advise arriving early (around 7PM) to secure a spot. There isn’t much, if any, standing room available in the bar so arriving early and getting a table means that you will be able to enjoy your night without having to worry about being in the way of the waitress or other patrons.
The bar does have a bar menu so you can have dinner or snacks in the bar if you want to go before dinner to secure your table. They also concoct a delicious bartender’s Margarita. As well as being a fully stocked bar, they have an array of local and domestic beers on draft and glasses of wine on the menu. If you are in town on a Tuesday definitely make a point to stop by the Silver Dollar Bar for Bluegrass Tuesday. You won’t regret it!
When I first moved to Jackson 5 years ago I was told that the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar was a tourist trap, so I avoided it for the first year under the assumption that only tourists went there. What a fool I was! Since my first time at the Cowboy Bar 4 years ago it has become one of my favorite night life spots. It has a very unique atmosphere, complete with saddles for bar stools, silver dollars inlaid in the bar, pillars of knobbled pine and trophy animals on the wall and in showcases. It also has 4 pool tables for those who like to play bar games. Since 1937 the Cowboy Bar has been a fixture of the town square. Though it has undergone a few changes in ownership, the bar remains similar to its original condition – a piece of history that has outlasted years of change on the town square.
I believe that the Cowboy Bar offers some of the best nightlife in the valley. It is the only bar that has a built in stage and dance floor and it regularly has live music. The bar itself can accommodate a crowd. It has 3 bars and a multitude of tables with waitstaff. The bands who play at the Cowboy Bar play country western music. When they have live music (see the schedule on their website) the dance floor will be packed with swing dancers ranging from amateur to experienced. If you aren’t much of a dancer it’s fun to watch others on the dance floor and enjoy the live music.
From young to old, tourist to local, skier to cowboy, you will find a wide range of people at the Cowboy Bar. Everyone goes to the Cowboy Bar for the same thing – they are looking to have a great time. So don’t be surprised if you get asked to dance by a stranger, or if someone at the bar asks to buy you a drink.
The Cowboy will often have a cover on nights that they have live music. Be prepared to pay up to $10 for entry. Drinks are reasonable and not overpriced. It is also one of the last bars to close at night – on a weekend night the bar closes at 1AM. So be sure to pack your dancing shoes or cowboy boots and stop in at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar when you are in town.
Table Mountain is located just outside of the western boundary of Grand Teton National Park. The trail head is in Alta, Wyoming, but you must drive over Teton Pass, into Idaho and then back into Wyoming to reach it. The drive is approximately an hour long, but it is worth it. This dog-friendly hike offers some of the most breath-taking views of the Teton Range. The vista offers a new perspective on the range, as you view the Tetons from the west, as opposed to the common eastern view. From the summit of Table Mountain you feel like you can reach out and touch the Grand Teton.
There are two trails up to the summit of Table – Huckleberry trail and the Face. The Huckleberry Trail is 7 miles one way, while the Face is 4 miles of sheer uphill grunt work. To access the trail head drive from Jackson to Driggs, Idaho. At the stop light in downtown Driggs take a right and head towards Grand Targhee Ski Resort. After you pass the small town of Alta you will go over a cattle grate. A little bit after the cattle grate there will be a dirt road on your right. Take the right onto Teton Canyon Road, go a little more than 4 miles, where you will cross two bridges that are close together and are single lane, just before you get to the trail head. The first parking lot that you pass is the for the Huckleberry Trail trail head. The second parking lot is the best place to park for the Face Trail.
Whenever I hike Table Mountain I hike up the Face trail and down the Huckleberry Trail. The Face Trail is very steep and relentless. The elevation difference between the parking lot and the summit of Table Mountain is around 4,000 feet and on the Face trail you gain most of the elevation within the first 3 miles. The Face trail head is in the woods just past the pit toilets in the second parking lot (to the left if you are looking directly at the toilets). It is not marked until you have hiked about 100 feet on the trail.
My friends packed our dogs in the car and took the drive over to Idaho last weekend to hike Table Mountain. I couldn’t tell who was more excited for the hike – me or my dog. Canyon sat patiently in the trunk with Chula, my friends retriever mix. Both took turns crying and doing circles in the back. The moment we hit the dirt road before the trail head it was on. Both of them knew that we were getting close and they increased their cries to hoots and hollers. I couldn’t wait to open up the tailgate and let them run around.
Once we got our packs settled – bear spray? Check! Snacks and lunch? Check! Plenty of water? Check! Water filter (I don’t leave home without mine!)? Check! Extra clothes and first aid kit? Check! We were good to go. We headed to the Face Trail. My girlfriends were visibly nervous as we headed up the steep trail – “I haven’t been hiking at all this summer!” “I feel so out of shape” “Can we stop for a moment so I can catch my breath?” Yep, it was as steep as I had remembered. Despite all of their nervousness we made good time. Within an hour we had sweeping views of the valley below, a patchwork of fields and long paved roads creating a grid-like divide across the landscape. Looking directly across the valley we saw a patch of Aspen trees, yellowed by the recent cool weather.
After another hour of hiking we merged with the Huckleberry Trail. At this point the trail turned us out onto a high alpine meadow. The ascent mellowed out and we got our first glimpse of the summit of Table. The mountain is aptly named because jagged cliff bands rise from the high alpine meadow and create a circle around the flat summit. A mile of nearly flat terrain brings you to the cliff band, where you must scramble up to the summit.
Once on the summit there is plenty of space to spread out and enjoy the incredible view. To the left you can see mount Moran and Paintbrush Divide. Straight ahead you have a front row seat to the spectacle that is Mt. Owen, Grand Teton, Middle Teton and South Teton. Below, you can appreciate the South Fork of Cascade Canyon and to your right you can see Hurricane Pass and Alaska Basin.
The wind picked up as we ate our lunch on the summit and we found ourselves bundling up and talking about cutting our time on the summit short so that we didn’t freeze. We took some photos and then scrambled down from the summit. One of my friends has a bad knee, so we opted for the long, more mellow descent. As we merged onto the Huckleberry Trail we met a girl with her dog. She asked if we had any water to spare. I said that I had a water filter so I was happy to give her the rest of my water and then fill up once I reached the creek in half a mile. She was very grateful. I cannot stress enough that you should bring extra water for this hike. It’s a long one!
The views on the Huckleberry Trail differed from the face trail because now we were in the valley, as opposed to on the face. The trail meandered through Aspen groves and followed the creek back to the trail head. Fall was in full swing and we couldn’t take enough photos. It was absolutely breath taking. As we neared the end of the trail I noticed Canyon walking off the trail with his nose in the air. I called him back and grabbed his collar. I looked off into the woods where Canyon was sniffing and spotted a bull moose among the Aspens. Then I spotted a second moose walking through the sage brush. We said hello and kept moving down the trail, giving them a wide berth.
Once back at the car we started talking about getting a beer and some appetizers. We settled on heading to West Side Yard, which just opened in Driggs. We were very impressed by the extensive beer list and appetizers. After absolutely crushing some nachos, fried portobellos and french fries and savoring our beers in a unladylike fashion, we headed over Teton Pass back to Jackson. Everyone raved about the hike and we joked about how our dogs were going to sleep well.
Table Mountain is a great hike and is family friendly – as long as your kids aren’t too young and are physically fit. The Face trail isn’t for the faint of heart, but the Huckleberry Trail is very manageable. If you are planning on spending a few days in Jackson or spending a night over in Idaho I would highly recommend checking out this classic hike.