Postcard from Jackson Hole

January 14th, 2023
Max Bardas enjoying the fruits of 45cms intwo days,

Mountainwatch | Words and photos Tony Harrington

The continuous parade of storms moving out of the North Pacific this winter have relentlessly pounded the Sierras, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming over the past month leaving big snow totals in their wake.

However, the tropical origins of the moisture have been playing havoc with the snow consistency as temperatures fluctuate, providing rain to wet snow to warm snow to cold snow and then back again. Even in Utah, where temps this warm during storms are usually unheard of, on a few occasions they have received denser snow than usual.

Jackson Hole, located in Wyoming, is a little further north and renowned for its colder environment and “cowboy” powder. Although the “cold smoke” snow has been a little elusive this winter, Jackson is enjoying an above-average snow pack and the snow has been falling in decent quality throughout the season. In the past few days there has been a continual supply of snow feeding in from the Pacific, topping up the resort each day.

Max making the most of Harro’s Jackson discovery tour.

The forecast this week was only calling for a couple of inches, but on Wednesday another 25cms fell throughout the day on top of the 20cms that fell on Tuesday. It was a nice surprise to find the mountain covered in fresh snow with little crowds and ski-on lifts – January is definitely a good month to visit Jackson.

Max Bardas, a freeski coach from Mt Buller is based in Jackson for the winter and I caught up with him on Thursday morning to show him around the mountain. Jackson is huge and when you don’t know you’re around it can be a little overwhelming.

Finn Bilous, another international skier who loves Jackson. At the top of the tram and ready to go.

Our first run from the top of the tram down to the base – the biggest ski vertical in the US and a classic leg-burner – was in over boot-deep cold snow sitting on top of the groomed runs. You could feel the corduroy ripples below the pow as we arced big powder carves down the mountain. The inbounds skiing was awesome and in the afternoon we ventured into the side country where it was even deeper again.  It was a good to give Max a taste of the Jackson experience.

Local shredder Kai Jones dropped by

I have been coming to Jackson every year for 25 years and it is like a second home and this mountain never, ever disappoints. Jackson has incredible terrain and offers some of the most consistent, quality and quantity of snow of any North American destination.  Jackson is certainly my favourite North American resort but having said that there are others that are not far behind.

I usually chase the storms when I’m in North America and I have had the opportunity to ski and photograph all of the best resorts – the resorts with big terrain, a solid crew of local skiers and snowboarders and quality snow. Iconic resorts like Aspen, Palisades Tahoe, Mammoth, Sun Valley, Solitude, Brighton, Snowbird and Alta to name a few.

Max playing in Jackson’s varied terrain

Given that iconic status it is not surprising that these resorts are all part of the Ikon Pass. Ikon’s list of international resort partners is also the best of the best and includes Chamonix in France, Zermatt in Switzerland, the Dolomites in Italy, Kitzbuhel in Austria, Niseko in Japan and, of course, Mt Buller and Thredbo in Australia.

While I won’t be hitting all of them this winter, my time in Jackson is the start of a long three-month trip across the US and Europe, where the snow will decide where the next Ikon postcard is from.

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