How to Survive the Jackson Hole Tram

Dec 28, 2010
Outside Magazine

Early season conditions have been brutal across the west. But none are more so than at Jackson Hole, WY, where the locals are just ruined, and have been for weeks.  The fault lies with the lift system…also known as the tram.  Four thousand foot laps of powder on an empty mountain, right off the bat…it’s a tough way to kick off the season.  The snow is amazing, the mountain is filled in, and muscles are splintering. All the ski fitness classes you could possibly take are not enough to prepare for a month of this…yet no one would even think of complaining.

JHMR pow
 Julie Weinberger/JHMR

Exhausted local skiers and visitors hobble about, doing whatever it takes to recover enough for another day of pounding. With snowfall already over 230” and more predications of ‘significant weather systems’ on the way from meteorologists, the situation looks like it is going to continue shaping up quite nicely for the next week or so.

If you are heading out to 4000’ lap land, here are a few quick tips:

1. Make sure you have an ample supply of your favorite NSAIDs.

2. Ski on big, fat skis to ease the workload. Seriously. Leave anything else at home.

3. Drop into a yoga class in town or your hotel for a couple of evenings to stretch out.

4. Remember to hydrate thoroughly, but also remember that beer is not actually water…

5. Give yourself a break from the tram, and hit up the upper mountain’s stellar Thunder and Sublette quad chairs.

6. Switch up your quad muscle use and hire a backcountry guide for new terrain and a little uphill action on the way to the powder.

7.  If all else fails, there’s plenty of whiskey to dull the pain at the town bars (or at least replace it with distracting pain in your head).  Now train harder next year!

With that said, here’s a little footage from athlete and freeskiing competitor Tanner Flanagan, lapping Jackson Hole’s Alta chutes on just another day, and showing how its done when things start to come together.  Sure, it’s a little grey, but that is how it goes when the sun hardly shines…it's part of the incessant accumulation of powder nearly every day. 

alta chutes from tanner Flanagan on Vimeo.



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