As is often the case, the most reasonable flights occurred on Christmas Eve day. Not everyone in the family was thrilled about us leaving in the morning!
Our 7am flight had a quick connection in MSP and had us on the ground in Jackson Hole by 11am!
The Jackson Hole airport is the only commercial airport in the US located within a National Park - Grand Teton. It was snowing on the way in so we were not able to get the breathtaking view of the "hole" within the mountains where Jackson sits, that would have to wait until the return flight.
We made the quick 20 minute drive from the airport into town and had lunch at Big Hole BBQ. In honor of our Uncle Jeff we ordered one of his Christmas favorites - Pirogies.
We checked out the quaint downtown and got our pic under one of the 4 iconic antlered entrances at each corner of Town Square park.
Streamed Mass it is. Certainly a much different Christmas eve celebration than we'd hoped for, but we were thankful to be together, healthy, and celebrate Christ's birth.
That evening we walked the 1/2 mile from the condo to the base to see the lights and ice rink.
We were excited to get skiing the next morning. We decided as part of our Christmas gifts, we were going to hire a private ski instructor. Besides the obvious benefit that getting coaching from a pro is always helpful, this also gave us a fast track to learn the mountain and ability to by-pass the lines for the lifts on Christmas day. We met our instructor Chris at the base and made introductions (fail, no pics).
Chris had been an instructor for many years and we lucked into getting him due to the fact it was Christmas. His 'regular' customers were not skiing, including one family who 'books' him for an entire month each year! When not instructing, he is an environmental engineer by trade and he is certified to train and certify other ski instructors across the west. Chris is a modest, soft spoken guy - we found out late in the day he placed first in Mens Masters division in the 2021 Dicks Ditch Classic race at Jackson Hole the year before.
Due to the 12" of snow received in the last 24 hours, the mountain staff was opening runs as fast as they could. On our 3rd run of the day, we hopped off the lift and Chris said to Dad "Look they opened Tower Three Chute! You and and JAK need to go ski it, that's an iconic Jackson Hole run". Dad's immediate thought was "Wait, we've skied 2 runs with you and now you want to send me down the first double black run since my college days......gulp.....I'm paying for this....I guess you are the pro!" We split up and Dad survived and enjoyed the chute which is full of deep powder and the Pro was correct.
Next it was time to head up "Big Red". Big Red holds 100 skiers and travels 12,463 feet gaining 4139 vertical feet in 11 minutes!!!
At the top of Big Red, on Rendezvous Mountain is Corbet's Cabin. It was near whiteout conditions on top and we early piled inside to try a famous Top of The World Waffle. We tried the Italian (nutella) and the Gateway (peanut butter and bacon). Both outstanding....well, according to the kids, Mom and Dad didn't get to try them:)
Mom headed back down on Big Red due to the fact she was not ready for the black runs from the top, and Chris guided the rest of us through the whiteout into the deepest powder runs we've every had. We're pretty sure he might have taken us down Dog Face, which may or may not have been officially open, but either way, it was epic powder and something we would have never attempted on our own.
The next two days were filled with the same amazing fresh snow.
On one run Mom lost a ski in the powder and it took us over 15 minutes of digging to find it.
This is out of order, but later in the trip we were skiing the Hobacks the day after they opened the run and Dad found a $500 ski buried next to this pine tree.
Because our IKON pass only allowed for 7 days of skiing in Jackson Hole, we had planned to drive up through Idaho to Big Sky Resort in Montana for two days of skiing on the 26th and 27th. After consulting with multiple locals, we decided to follow their advice and bail on that trip due to the continuous snow and wind. Instead we opted to head into town and hit Liberty Burger and then ski local "Snow King" resort that ends its run into Jackson Hole proper.
A view from Snow King or "The Town Hill" as the locals call it.
There were no lines and the powder here was untouched. Katie managed to find one of the deepest areas to take a fall.
That evening as we left town the snow was really coming down!
The next morning the snow had slowed and we were confident we could make the drive over the pass to Driggs Idaho and Grand Targhee resort.
Outside of seeing a recently hit dead cow moose the drive was uneventful and no challenge thanks to our beefy Nissan truck.
The snow at Grand Targhee was equally amazing and we truly felt like the luckiest skiers of the season with all the powder!
That evening the Clorans arrived and we enjoyed our final days of 2021 skiing from start to finish together (although we split up more so Dad doesn't have very good pictures!).
The night before New Years Eve we met up with another great family from Indy and enjoyed a great dinner in Jackson Hole. We also saw many elk on the drive.
And for New Years Eve we all met at the bases to celebrate the introduction of 2022.
Some days we would walk/ski to the base and on others Dad would drive our gear the 1/2 mile in the truck and watch the wild life.
The snow continued to fall and the new runs continued to open. In all, they claimed over 6' of snow at the top of the mountain during our 10 day visit and likely over 36" at the base. We enjoyed it as if it was a once-in-a-life time experience...which it very well may have been!
On the way up Big Red you can see the most famous run in Jackson Hole - Cobert's Couloir. It has not yet opened so we didn't ski it;). (This pic was later in the trip)
It was an amazing trip and we were so fortune just to be there much less receive the deepest snow of the '21/'22 ski season!