Backcountry February Newsletter

JHSC Backcountry Program January Newsletter

January has been a great month for the Backcountry Program. There has been a lot of great
learning and progression at our Tuesday and Thursday practices including the first session of
the Avalanche Level 1 course and a visit to the Search and Rescue hanger.  We also had a visit

from the backcountry program at Telluride Mountain School.

 We had a great first
weekend of touring on Teton Pass and a second in Grand Teton National Park, and a successful
trip to Downing Mountain Lodge in the Bitterroot Mountains in Montana.



Update from Weekly Practices:

Tuesday practices have been a fun way to have kids working on their aerobic fitness, core
strength, and speed. We have already seen huge improvements from the start of the season
and have had a great time picking up the tempo. Additionally, we have been working on
transition times which will help anyone interested in the Powderkeg race at Snowbird in March,
but also with efficiency transitioning in the backcountry. More efficient transitions help us stay
warm and do more skiing!
Thursday practices have been jam-packed with classroom time for the Avalanche Level 1 course
as well as a first aid session at the Search and Rescue hanger. Kids have been learning about the
different ingredients necessary for an avalanche to occur, red flags for unstable snow
conditions, how to check a more thorough weather forecast, and how to dissect the avalanche
forecast. Those that were on the Montana hut trip were able to experience some of these
things in the field!



Update from our first touring days:

We began our first weekend of touring by skiing out of Mail Cabin drainage on the west side of
Teton Pass. It was a great place for kids who had their first ever tour as well as for the more
seasoned backcountry travelers who were able to work on their navigation, tour planning, and
leading the groups to good snow.

Our second weekend of touring had us back in Grand Teton National Park.  Touring in "the park" as we call it can feel like quite a bit of a larger undertaking than on Teton Pass.  The approach is longer, and we have more vertical feet to gain the summit.  The hard work is paid off with a long gladed powder run down to the valley bottom.  Think of skiing JHMR with no lifts, from the bowl to the valley in fresh powder.  For a couple of athletes, like Otto, Case, and Skylar it was their first time ever skiing in the park and they crushed it with summits of Mavericks, and 25 Short!

All things considered, the snow quality in the backcountry has been pretty decent.  Lets hope February and March are big snow months!



Update from Downing Mountain Lodge hut trip:

Despite less snow than we would have liked, there were some great learning outcomes and
really fun times from the trip. We were able to experience a complex and unstable snowpack
with red flags for avalanche hazard (whoomphing) in a safe place. This helped clarify much of
what we talk about as theory and makes it more concrete and understandable. We were able
to have great discussions about route planning, backcountry travel and mitigating hazards when
there are a lot of variables such as cold temperatures, a complicated snowpack, and thin skiing
conditions. Additionally, everyone learned how wax and tune skis, to put chains on a truck and
change a tire!

The mountains are messy and always provide different conditions for us to navigate, but that is
part of what keeps us coming back.

Thanks for a great month of backcountry skiing! We look forward to more adventures in February!