Backcountry February Newsletter

With a rough start to the winter in much of the west we are super lucky to live in Jackson.  Although we have had below average snow pack for this time of year, we have still had plenty of snow and some awesome storm cycles with deep powder skiing.  The coaches have all been super excited with all of the athletes performances so far.  Everyone has had great team ethic, awesome fitness, and high motivation.   Here are some of our note worthy accomplishments over the last month, and a note on the Mini Mountaineers program.

We had the first summit of the season for the backcountry program on Wimpies Knob (10,050') in GTNP!  This was done by the older kids group on a very stormy day in early January.  The team had to travel through high winds, snow that would ice over as it hit your jacket, and whiteouts so white that at times a GPS was needed to stay on track.  Its not always a good plan to go for a summit with conditions like this but our group put our heads together and decided it was OK to continue through.  We decided to continue up with special terrain considerations, avoidance of wind slabs, and dedication to stay on our planned route.  The down track yielded deep powder skiing.  By time we were through with one lap our group was pretty exhausted and cold from the conditions and called it a day.  Meanwhile, the younger kids group also made a great plan to stick lower in the trees and skied over 4000 vertical feet and multiple laps on Mavericks.  Staying in more sheltered terrain allowed their team to stay dry and ski for longer.  This was the most vertical feet skied by either group yet. Nice work both teams!!

We also kicked off our first field day of avalanche training with the American Avalanche Institute.  The team has an online course they must complete and two full field days to earn their rec level 1 avalanche cert.  What a cool opportunity.  More info as this wraps up next month!

The new plethora of snow this week also brings the start of the Mini Mountaineers Program, a new backcountry ski group for ages 10-12 beginning this Thursday! This will feature six weeks of after school Snow King sessions and two guided backcountry weekend days. This group focuses on teaching participants the basics of backcountry travel including navigating backcountry equipment, transitioning from uphill to downhill and general ins and outs of skinning and backcountry skiing. In partnership with Dynafit, the DesLauries family, the Kilgrow family, and Rendezvous Mountain Rentals, full ski touring set ups are available for the team to check out for the program! This is in hopes that we will eventually have a quiver of equipment to fit individuals needs in the Mini Mountaineers as they grow without having to buy new gear every season.  A huge thank you to our sponsors and donors for making this happen. Although spots are full for this year, we look forward to offering more opportunities for those interested to sign up next season.