Posts tagged ‘Jackson Hole’
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!
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.
The day was a Saturday in early July of last year when our friend Charles came over to pick up some climbing gear for his trip up the Grand Teton. After discussing his trip, who he was taking with him and the route he was going to take he said “you guys should come with us!” My soon to be husband and I looked at each other for a moment. We had been talking about crossing the Grand Teton off of our bucket list before getting married. We had already crossed almost all of the surrounding peaks off of our list – South Teton, Middle Teton and Teewinot. After a quick exchange of glances I said “that sounds like fun, count us in!” It was 4PM and we agreed to meet him on the lower saddle of the Grand Teton at 7AM the next day, less than 24 hours later. 4 hours later we were packed and in bed. It was difficult to fall asleep when the sun was still up, but knowing that we were to be getting up and hiking in 5 hours kept me in bed. At 1AM the alarm sounded. Our dog looked at us like we were crazy as I prepared some oatmeal and we packed up the car with our packs.
An hour later we were on trail. It was a pitch black and a beautiful clear night as we made our way up the mountain from the Lupin Meadows Trailhead. By dawn we were in Garnet Canyon, watching the first light hit the high peaks. We refilled our water and had a quick snack break before the last push up to the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton.
As we neared the saddle we had to cross a snow field. A hard, icy boot pack stood between us and our friends on the saddle. As we neared the top I heard a shout from Charles welcoming us to the Lower Saddle. But I was so focused on not slipping on the steep boot pack that I couldn’t even acknowledge his cry until I was on dry ground, away from icy peril. I gave him a big hug and followed him up to the camp that they had made the night before. I downed a granola bar, some beef jerky and a snickers. I have to say, a Snickers at 7AM never fails to hit the spot.
After a some brief introductions, our crew of 6 started up the saddle to the Owen-Spaulding route and the Upper Saddle. The OS is primarily on the west and north side of the Grand Teton, which means it rarely sees the sun. I stayed in my puffy jacket for most of the ascent, despite it being early July. As we reached the first climbing pitch we stashed our shoes by a boulder and put on our harnesses and climbing shoes. The first pitch is called the Belly Crawl, and it is more of a traverse than a vertical pitch. Charles started off by leading the climb, scaling a large rock out cropping and then dropping out of sight. Then he paused so that the next climber, me, could tie in. We tied 8s on a bite so we were all connected on one rope.
I thought that I was well prepared for the exposure of the belly crawl, but nothing can prepare you for the 18″ ledge with an overhanging rock above you and sheer 2,000 foot drop off on the other side that you experience in the middle of the pitch. As I was shuffling my way onto the belly crawl all of a sudden movement stopped. They were tying another climber onto the line. So there I sat, in purgatory, not in danger but not quite safe either, exposed on the belly crawl. I decided to sit on top the ledge as opposed to crawling through the small shelf on my belly. The view down to Vallahala Canyon and up Cascade Canyon was stunning, so of course, I whipped out my camera and gave the view a thumbs up. As long as you didn’t acknowledge the fact that there was thousands of feet of open area directly below you, you were fine! Finally, we started moving again and I scrambled to the safety of Owen’s Chimney. One of Charles’ friends rounded the corner with a sour look on his face. I thought the he was just shaken up by the belly crawl, but when he reached us he told me that he had mounted a Go Pro to his climbing helmet and as he started the Belly Crawl he bumped his head on a ledge and it sent the Go Pro sailing into thin air. He watched it disappear out of sight to the bottom of Vallahala Canyon. The Go Pro was still filming. I always thought that it would be really cool footage if the camera survived the fall.
After everyone made it across the Belly Crawl we eased our way up Owen’s Chimney to Sergeant’s Chimney. It was a very easy climb to the top of the chimney (though we stayed roped up). At the top we ditched the rope and scrambled up to the summit. It was a gorgeous blue bird day when we summitted around 11AM, 9 hours after we had left our car. We only had to share the summit with two other climbers. We stayed on the large summit block for about half an hour, fueling up and taking in the breathtaking view. After taking the mandatory photos, touching the USGS summit marker, we reluctantly left the summit and started the long trudge back to the car.
We did two rappels – the first was an easy rappel, the second was easy in technicality but included a terrifying 120 foot free fall over a ledge. Some of the people in our party were more comfortable with the rappel than others. Slowly one of the members of our party made his way down to the ground, collapsing on it when he finally was off of the rappel. You could tell that he wasn’t a fan of heights. We found out boots stashed by a nearby boulder. After 3 hours in our climbing shoes, everyone was very excited to change back into our hiking boots.
We made our way down from the upper saddle to the lower saddle, scrambling between loose rocks and scree. At one point I kicked off a big rock, right above Charles. “ROCK, CHARLES, ROCK!!” I screamed. I will never forget seeing him look up at me and the rock and duck, as it coasted 4″ away from his head. In that moment, I remembered that what we were doing was very dangerous and we were not out of the woods yet. I could have killed one of my good friends in an instant. That thought was sobering. When we reached the Lower Saddle Jared and I bid goodbye to our friends, who still had to pack up their camp. We scrambled down the rocky pitch that defines the Lower Saddle and coasted to Garnet Canyon. Surprisingly, both of us had a lot of energy even though we were going on hour 12 of hiking. We finally reached the car after 14 hours of hiking. Exhausted but happy we talked about our trip and schemed about what our dinner would be. I find that a juicy burger always hits the spot after a long hike in the park. Finally, with the Grand Teton crossed off of our bucket list we could get married with no regrets!
If you are interested in climbing the Grand Teton I would suggest that you do it in two days, unless you are in incredible shape and adjusted to the altitude. There are two guiding companies that I would recommend you go up the Grand with – either Exum Mountain Guides or Jackson Hole Mountain Guides. Both provide stellar service and have high camps set up on or near the Upper Saddle. None of the guiding services do the Grand Teton in one day. A two day ascent is recommended. If you are an experienced climber or mountaineer and want to do it on your own I would highly recommend purchasing “A Climber’s Guide to the Teton Range” by Ortenburger & Jackson, which can be found locally at Teton Mountaineering just off the town square. Either way, no feeling compares to standing on top of the Grand Teton and seeing the world laid out below you. It’s worth the effort, I promise you that.
There is a trail up on Teton Pass that’s pitch isn’t too steep, it takes you through fields and wanders through the pine and aspen trees until you reach a small lake in a basin. The best part about this mellow hike is that your dog can come along! The trail I’m talking about is the hike to Ski Lake. It’s 4.6 miles round-trip from the parking area with an elevation gain of 850 feet. The trail is perfect for families and dog owners alike.
To reach the trail, drive 2/3rds of the way up Teton Pass from the Jackson side until you see a large parking lot on the left hand side and a sign and a small dirt road on the right hand side of the road indicating “Phillips Canyon.” Park either in the parking lot or on the dirt road and then take the dirt road up until you see a trail split off on your left hand side. There will be a sign for Ski Lake and Phillips Pass Trail. Follow the Phillips Pass Trail up into the large open meadow where you’ll cross a small bridge. The junction for Ski Lake is just past the bridge on the edge of the meadow.
The trail slowly gains elevation as it heads west. The views are beautiful from the trail and even better when the wildflowers are in bloom in July and August. This is a very popular hike with the locals (and their furry friends) so expect to see a fair amount of other people. You will know when you reach the lake because the trail will dead end at the lake. Make sure to bring bear spray, water and some snacks, especially if you are hiking with children. Also, since the hike is starting at such a high elevation, 8,211 feet, you may want to bring some extra layers because it will be cooler than the hikes that you may have taken in the valley. Once you are done with your visit at the lake, retrace your steps back to your car. Additionally, since the hike is at a high elevation it may be snow covered or muddy until mid-June depending on the snow year.
One of the best things about being located in downtown Jackson is that you can walk to a myriad of shops, restaurants and bars. Whether you are looking for a souvenir t-shirt for your kids or for an authentic western hat, cowboy boots or belt buckle, there is a shop that fits your needs on the town square. Here’s a list of some of my favorite shops:
MADE – Located in Gaselight Alley, this shop features goods made by local artists. The owner, John, makes all of the glass items in the store. His belt buckles are very trendy and I love his Teton themed coasters for the coffee table. There are also plenty of other Wyoming themed knick knacks including bucking bronco accent pillows, antler necklaces and bronco coffee mugs, pint glasses and wine glasses. Also be sure to head across the street to their sister store “Mountain Dandy.”
Wyoming Outfitters – For a good quality pair of cowboy boots or a Western button down shirt head over to Wyoming Outfitters. They have a good selection of quality boots and western attire. It’s the perfect place to stop and splurge on a western outfit to wear to the rodeo.
Jackson Hole Trading Company – Located at the main intersection of Broadway and Cache, this store has quality souvenirs including local goods – huckleberry jam, elk jerky or huckleberry chocolate bars. Additionally, they have some Jackson themed home goods and your standard souvenirs such as postcards, magnets and key chains.
Lees Tees – For good quality souvenir t-shirts head diagonally across the street to Lees Tees. Here you will find a variety of t-shirts and sweatshirts all with different designs and sayings about the Jackson Hole area.
Teton Mountaineering and Skinny Skis – If you are looking to pick up some last minute supplies for a hiking or backpacking trip head on over to Teton Mountaineering or Skinny Skis. Both carry a great selection of outdoor apparel, shoes and gear. Teton Mountaineering will have a broader selection and has a better variety for climbers while Skinny Skis has a larger selection of children’s clothing. Both also carry bear spray and rent outdoor gear.
High County Outfitters – For the fly fisherman, this is your go-to store. Additionally, they have a large selection of guns upstairs for the sportsman. They also have a large selection of outdoor clothing and shoes.
Jackson Hole Resort Store – Don’t have time to make it to Teton Village, the base of the famed ski resort Jackson Hole Mountain Resort? Don’t worry! If you are looking to purchase any ski-themed gifts head over to the Jackson Hole Resort Store. They also have a small selection of outdoor clothing.
Those are a few of my favorite stores on the Jackson Hole Town Square. There are plenty of other stores that are worth a stop in, notably The Hide Out (for belt buckles and leather), Vom Fass (for artisanal oils, vinegars, spices and spirits), Accentuate (for the ladies) as well as plenty of art galleries. Either way, a stroll on the Town Square is always a good idea. If it’s a hot day, be sure to stop at Moo’s Ice Cream and take a break to get a cone or milk shake and eat it in the small park on the town square. Oh and don’t forget to take your photo in front of the iconic elk antler arches!