Jackson, WY, Jan. 22, 2002--I awoke in Jackson Hole, having slept for fourteen hours straight--the mountain won, it wore me out. The previous Friday, I had left Colorado confident I could tame Jackson since I'd been tearing up Vail since November. Instead of dominating the hill, Jackson reminded me of its special trait: the ability to humble any skier.
This trip was my first to Jackson in five seasons. The addition of the Bridger Gondola is clearly the best improvement to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort since December 1996. It has opened up new advanced and intermediate terrain and made the trip to the upper chairs easier for intermediate and advanced skiers. And now the tram line is not as clogged as it used to be. A full maze at the dock is a two-to-three car wait, but full mazes are rare these days. I never waited more than ten minutes for a ride on this trip.
The Tram takes 55 skiers on an 8 minute and 45 second climb from the base area to the 10,450-foot summit of Rendezvous Mountain. The upper mountain (Rendezvous Bowl and the terrain serviced by Thunder and Sublette chairs) is an expert skier's paradise and an advanced skier's classroom.
From Thunder you can access Tower Three Chute and Laramie Bowl, and from Sublette (know simply as "The Quad" by locals) you can reach much of the terrain below Rendezvous Bowl including Cheyenne Bowl for advanced skiers, and the Alta Chutes for experts. However, when the snow is right, it is hard to beat the 2,300 vertical feet of terrain on the Hobacks.
Although Jackson is famous for its challenging terrain and 4,139 foot vertical drop, the resort is not just for expert skiers. It is a great place for intermediates and advanced skiers to hone their skills and test their limits. If you are a beginner the terrain is limited to what is serviced by the Eagles Rest and Teewinot chairs, but an intermediate can find much more skiable terrain: groomed runs, gentle glades, and shallow bumps await on Apres Vous Mountain and off the Casper Bowl Chair.
If you're not as tuckered out as I was, here are a few places where you can refuel and reinvigorate:
The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar At first glance "The Cowboy" looks like a tourist trap on Jackson's town square. However, once inside, the bar has an authentic Old West feel. The drinks are expensive, but how often do you get to sit on a saddle when drinking a brew? Cowboys and ski bums get along here; people wearing cowboy hats and Burton beanies surround the pool tables and fill the dance floor. Musical acts come for two weeks at a time. There is a steakhouse downstairs and Philly Phinest Grill upstairs.
The Bistro at The Alpenhof Lodge Try the Bird in Hand Chicken Sandwich or the Mexicali Pizza at this lunchtime skiers hangout in Teton Village or down a few beers at the end of the day during apres ski.
The Mangy Moose Saloon Known to locals as "The Moose," the Mangy Moose Saloon is a classic apres ski bar that heats up after dinner. Tourists staying at Teton Village and locals who make the trip from town come to The Moose to enjoy live music throughout the week. Try a Snake River Lager from the Snake River Brewing Company in Jackson or The Moose's own Moose Brew.
The Bunnery (307.733.5474) Go to this bakery for fresh bread and other breakfast foods. A hot spot in the summer, this breakfast joint located on North Cache Drive is usually slower in the winter so it is a great place to stop on your way to the hill if you're staying in Jackson. If you become a frequent customer pick up "The Regular Card" and get your eleventh meal free.
Nora's Fish Creek Inn (307.733.8288) Nora's is a common meeting place for locals before skiing in the backcountry or at Jackson Hole. It is in Wilson, WY at the base oof Teton Pass and well worth the detour on your way out of Jackson to Teton Village. They serve lunch and dinner, too.
The Snake River Grill The best restaurant in Jackson. Aside from the gourmet menu, it is well known for its pizza appetizers and bagel-sized onion rings. Every dish here is good and the wine list is extensive.
The Log Cabin Saloon Located at the end of North Cache, "The Cabin" is a typical ski bum's bar. No waitress service here. There's tons of beer flowing and babes looking for attention. Pool tables and a large bar bring the party upstairs and there is a small bar by the downstairs entrance. The specials sign says it all: "I am not as think as you drunk I am."
The Silver Dollar Bar and Grill at the Wort Hotel The 2,032 silver dollars inlaid along the length of the bar are the namesake of this North Glenwood Street establishment. This winter the place has been packed every Thursday through Saturday night because Steam Powered Airplane has generated quite a local following. The local bluegrass band plays everything from the Grateful Dead to the Osborne Brothers' "Rocky Top." This bar/band combination is a must see in Jackson.
The Snake River Lodge The Snake River Lodge reopened their Gamefish Restaurant this season. The Gamefish uses native Wyoming game, beef, and fish to complement their local-flavored fare. Fashioned after the Lodge at Vail, the restaurant offers a ski valet and slippers to their patrons. Breakfasts and lunches are served buffet style and dinner is a la carte.
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