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Best Backcountry Access 2009: Jackson Hole

You don’t need to leave the resort boundary at Jackson Hole to get good snow or steeps. But if you do, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
posted: 08/11/2009

Last week, a major newspaper forgot that Jackson has an airport. (Oops.) It does, and there are flights from 7 major metro areas: LA, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Minneapolis. As of now, the patrol is calling for 14 inches to fall by Sunday. If you're driving, the road rarely closes, if ever.

It snowed 18 inches in the last 24 hours. The lift lines buzzed with locals wearing packs and beacons. On our first lap, we dropped out of the gate and hiked the double booter to Four Pines, where we laid first tracks through nipple-high fluff. Second lap, we hiked the Headwall, left the gate, and dropped off the back side to Granite Canyon, which was deep enough to give Yao Ming a mouthful of blower. You don’t need to leave the resort boundary at Jackson Hole to get good snow or steeps. But if you do, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Three Things You Need to Know:
>> It’s big and wild out there. Hire a backcountry guide from the resort—he’ll provide beacons as well. [From $370; jacksonhole.com]
>> This winter, a new 100-person tram will carry you to the top of 10,450-foot Rendezvous Mountain in just nine minutes. Grab a coffee and wait in the tramline.
>> Buy Jackson’s best breakfast burrito from the D.O.G., a window in a wall on South Glenwood Street.

BEST OF THE REST:

2. Jay Peak, VT
3. Powder Mountain, UT
4. Telluride, CO
5. Whistler Blackcomb, BC
6. Mt. Baker, WA
7. Alta/Snowbird, UT
8. Solitude, UT
9. Crystal Mountain, WA
10. Alpine Meadows, CA

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