THE LAB: When it comes to extreme terrain, there’s everywhere else, and then there’s Jackson Hole. With the new tram, Jackson once again boasts the longest single-lift-accessed continuous vertical drop in the U.S.: 4,139 feet. Five hundred of those sit atop Rendezvous Mountain on a 40- to 50-degree chute that’s 50 feet across at its widest point and arguably the most notorious trail in North America: Corbet’s Couloir.
THE CURRICULUM: On the final day of camp, which is open only to expert skiers, participants deemed ready by their coaches are invited to ski Corbet’s...or just peek over its edge. For the first three days, the couloir is fixed in many students’ cross hairs. Each day begins at 8 a.m., when groups (no more than six athletes per coach) gather at the tram for a coveted early upload. Coaches guide students around the mountain, reviewing basic steep-skiing techniques and how to read fall lines and safety zones. Video analysis and on-mountain lunches are included, but they’re kept brief. The goal is to log as much vertical as possible. This is Jackson, after all, and Corbet’s is calling.
THE INSTRUCTORS: Steep & Deep coaches—most of whom have Level III PSIA certifications—are a handpicked crew of the mountain’s best skiers and instructors. And that’s saying something when you consider the caliber of Jackson’s ski school. Most coaches spend their season teaching private lessons and guiding regular clients.
THE VIBE: It only takes one look at the duct-taped and Gore-Tex-clad crew awaiting the 8 a.m. tram to know that Steep & Deep athletes don’t come for the après cocktails or luxury accommodations. They don’t sign up for this clinic on a whim during a family ski vacation. They don’t need help adjusting their equipment, and their form is already darn good. These folks come to Jackson Hole to go big—with a little guidance from its seasoned pros. To be sure, there’s a fair amount of sizing up among campers on the first morning. But once you scratch the ego-coated surface, you see the camaraderie and support that run through all the groups.
DATES: Jan. 13-16, Jan. 27-30, Feb. 10-13 and March 3-6, 2010
PRICE: $1100 (clinic and lift tickets); $900 (clinic only)
INFO: jacksonhole.com; 800-450-0477. For lodging packages, call Jackson Hole Resort Lodging: 800-443-8613.