Teton Pass is one of the coolest and most convenient backcountry skiing destinations in the West. Steeped in history, and deep in snowfall, this place can provide a lifetime of fun. It’s taken me four seasons to get my bearings of the place, but here are some introductory tips and common spots to ski.
One —Dial in your morning.
Head over to Pearl Street Bagels in Wilson for breakfast with your morning avalanche forecast readings. It’s next door to Wilson Backcountry if you need any last minute ski related things, or area maps!
Read the morning avalanche from the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center, and better yet, the more informative Western Wyoming Avalanche Advisory from the evening before. If you’re new to the area, you can find snowpack summaries here.
I learned the most about the local snowpack by taking an AIARE II from Jackson Hole Outdoor Leadership Institute. As if you could need any more of a reason to spend a week in Jackson...
Two — Dial in your gear.
Living in my van for two months there this winter, I toured in temperatures ranging from –20ºF to 32ºF. With wild valley inversions, you can experience a pretty huge range on your tours, let alone extreme winds on peaks such as Mount Glory. My everyday kit looks something like this:
- Light and breathable active jacket, like the OR Deviator Hoody or Uberlayer Hooded Jacket
- Down Jacket for descending, like the Transcendent Hoody or Sonata Hooded Down Jacket
- Emergency shell for windy or snowy days Realm or Skyward Jackets
- Warm mittens and thin gloves
- Hat and buff
- Transceiver, probe, shovel, saw
- Snow study kit
- Reflective bivvy
- 1L med kit and SAM splint
- 3-4 ski straps
- Bailing wire, tape, binding screws, multi tool, compass, fire starter
- Fully charged cell phone (there’s service!) and a SPOT
Three — Dial in your zone.
Before you head up the pass, you can check the webcams to see how blown out the parking lot is, or isn’t. It is common to park beside the Stagecoach Bar and carpool up—for a convenient aprés destination afterwards.
If you’re not into long tours, perhaps park along Old Pass Road. You can hitchhike up Highway 22 to the top parking lot. From there, many follow the access road south along the power lines and be dropping in on Telemark Bowl, Chivers Ridge or Tittymouse Ridge within half an hour. Most everything on this east aspect provides an easy drop back onto Old Pass Road (the closed part) that will cruise you back out to your car.
Mount Glory has to be the most iconic and popular thing up there. Most days you will see dozens ahead and behind you on the bootpack—which takes 45 minutes to an hour. Please note the signs around posted by Teton Pass Ambassador Jay Pistono. The slide paths are not cool to ski, and can result in avalanches on the highway.
Some of the easier terrain to manage on Glory might be dropping towards the West/Southwest. Aptly named, runs “1st Turn” and “2nd Turn” funnel you down to their respective turns up the other side of Highway 22, with a brief walk back up to the parking lot. I like to avoid the gullies on these runs, enjoying the trees and searching for fresh pockets.
Skiingthebackcountry.com is a good resource for lots of the classic Teton Pass South lines.
Roots Rated has a great Teton Pass overview as well.
You could also hire Jessica Baker, Exum Guide and O.R. athlete, to show you off the beaten path!
You’ll have cell service in most areas of Teton Pass, but sometimes lacking in valleys. Download your MtnHub or Gaia topo maps in advance on your phone for help navigating when you’re up there.
Four — Dial in the locals
A few easy ways to be accepted and get some beta along the way:
Thank the Pass Ambassador if he’s out there keeping an eye on things. Ask if there is anything he wants everyone to avoid that day.
Pick up hitchhikers for karma! They’ll provide condition reports.
Be polite and don’t hesitate to ask. I just told you some pretty popular zones. If you’re a competent backcountry traveler, nobody will frown upon you asking for directions.
Five — Dial in your aprés
Did you carpool up from the Stagecoach? Perfect. They describe themselves as “a Jackson Hole favorite since 1942. The 70-year-old institution is where locals go, and where tourists are told they must stop.”The street food is excellent, as are their local beers on draft. If it’s Sunday, you can hear the legendary Bill Briggs play “Sunday Church” with his bluegrass band.
Roadhouse is somewhat on your way back to town (up Village Rd) with an endless draft selection and free peanuts for all you similar vandwellers. If you’re crashing on a couch over in Idaho, Grand Teton Brewing is an excellent stop on your way back west.
Shop Outdoor Research ski gear here.