Anatomy: Jackson Hole's Casper Bowl

Casper Bowl, a 180-degree cirque of 1,200- vertical-foot cliff-littered chutes, opened in the winter of 1997. Since then, it’s become one of Jackson Hole’s many proving grounds and the venue for numerous freeskiing comps.
Anatomy Casper

Shot 12 (Beartooth)

Patrollers began referring to these chutes by number for
accurate shooting with the 105-millimeter Howitzer, and savvy locals followed. The marketing department uses other names, but ask any old-timer where Beartooth is, and you’ll get a blank stare. Shot 12, a north-facing gully, is the most accessible. Behind the Bridger gondola, hike two thirds up the White Spider, pass through the lower gate, and traverse into its toothy entrance.

Shot 10 (Greybull)

Finding Shot 10—a sheer, 40-degree chute flanked by craggy walls and spotty trees—requires some snooping. From below, look skier’s left of the large buttress called Lunchbox, just off-center in Casper Bowl. Hike the White Spider, cross 100 yards into the bowl, and ski the fall line into the trees. Poke around until you see the line that goes through.

Shot 14 (Moccasin)

Shot 14 skirts left of Kathryn’s Ridge, a long, precipitous crest that offers some of the best south-facing views on the mountain. The chute features bulbous, stairstepping drops and rollovers, and begins with a 40-plus-degree pitch. Traverse the ridge to the center of the bowl, cut right, and ski into it. It’s easy to catch air unintentionally, so take it slow.

C1 (Fremont)

Visible from the top of the bootpack, C1 has obvious allure: a 1,000-foot, boomerang-shaped classic that just might be your best line of the day. To get there, shuffle all the way across the ridge. If it’s a deep day, tag it in the morning. C1 gets tracked out quickly.

Filthy McNasty

Named by Callum Mackay, the famed Scottish-American former JH patroller who led storied singsongs at patrol gatherings, Filthy’s is a bent, south-facing sliver on the far northern corner of Casper Bowl. Conditions are suitable only a few times each season, so shoot down this tree-spotted drain right after a storm. And nail it first or don’t bother.


Patrolman Greg Miles helped open Casper Bowl to the public, a task that required figuring out toboggan placements, rescue protocols, and avalanche mitigation. Says Miles, “While our patrol director was initially opposed to it, he let us experiment.”

Although ski patrol reduces avalanche hazard and caches rescue gear in Casper Bowl, don’t head into this terrain alone. Bring a shovel, beacon, and probe, and know how to use them. And consider hiring a guide (from $370;

Just past Filthy McNasty is Liar’s Slide, named for a local skier who triggered a slide while poaching this closed area. Patrol found only a ski in the debris. At first, the guy denied involvement. But he later confessed in order to get his ski back.

Beyond Casper Bowl lie the Crags, another inbounds playground full of cliffs, chutes, and glades. But tread carefully. This terrain is for serious skiers and requires route finding, steeps skills, and think-on-your-feet turns.


Bridger Bowl's Schlasman's Lift

Anatomy: Bridger Bowl's Schlasman's Lift

Schlasman’s (pronounced Slushman’s) lift opened in December 2008 and accesses 300 acres and 1,700 feet of steep terrain. It’s more skier-friendly (translation: fewer places to get cliffed out) than the rest of Bridger Bowl’s gnarly Ridge, but beacons are required and nothing is marked. Case in point? Last season, patrol regularly performed rope rescues here.

Fernie Polar Peak

Anatomy: Fernie's Polar Peak

With the installation of the Polar Peak chair this fall, Fernie Alpine Resort opens up new cliff- and chute-studded terrain in a zone that, until now, saw only occasional action as bootpack-accessed spring skiing.

Alpine Meadows' Estelle Bowl

Anatomy: Alpine Meadows' Estelle Bowl

While technically inbounds, Estelle Bowl feels as close to backcountry as you can get at a ski resort. Ride the Summit Six chair, then take the ridgeline traverse to the north past two other bowls to reach Estelle, which offers sheltered north-facing trees, wide-open powder shots, and 45-degree spines.

Crested Butte's North Face

Anatomy: Crested Butte's North Face

Don’t be fooled by the T-bar that accesses this terrain: This is no bunny slope. The North Face, a massive back bowl that slants as much as 50 degrees, is the site of big-mountain competitions and gladed, fluff-filled stashes. If it’s a powder day, get here quickly.

Now is the right time to go to Jackson Hole. As in, this weekend. Read on for why and how.  Also, don't forget to enter to win a four-day trip for two to Jackson just by telling us your ski-related New Year's resolution.

Stop What You're Doing And Go to Jackson Hole, Now

Finally, winter is descending on Jackson Hole. It snowed 8 inches on Tuesday, another 3 the day after, a skiff on Thursday morning, and now the forecast calls for a foot by the weekend. In short, it's utterly, totally ON. And it's empty. According to a local patroller who asked not to be named, many Jackson locals were so impatient with the slow start that they've "given up." The mountain's marketing team is killing themselves to sell tickets and they're basically giving them away. Read on for more.

best bc access: jackson hole

Resort Awards-Best Backcountry Access: Jackson Hole, Wyoming

With the exception of Whistler Blackcomb, no other resort comes close to matching Jackson for easy access to back- and sidecountry lines.

Squaw Palisades Map thumb

Anatomy: Squaw Valley's Palisades

Locals have a mantra for the Palisades: “When in doubt, air it out.” This granite block has cameoed so many times in ski-porn that its 60-footers and vise-grip couloirs are as familiar as Glen Plake’s mohawk.

Zone 5 Snowbird Anatomy

Anatomy: Snowbird Zone Five

When the good people at Snowbird make a “resort improvement,” they don’t just glade an intermediate run or groom a black-diamond pitch. They open 500-acre Mineral Basin. They blast a ski tunnel through 600 feet of rock. And now they’ve opened up Zone 5, a new hairball section of 40-degree terrain off Mount Baldy.