“In the nineteenth century, Fritjof Nansen wrote that skiing washes civilization clean from our minds by dint of its exhilarating physicality. By extension, I believe that snow helps strip away the things that don’t matter. It leaves us thinking of little else but the greatness of nature, the place of our souls within it, and the dazzling whiteness that lies ahead.”

Charlie English, Author of The Snow Tourist

Making a High Traverse at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Jackson Hole is starting the New Year the way we like best: blanketed in 264 inches of fresh snow (and counting). Visitors are stepping off planes with their expression pre-dialed to “Wow!” while locals are hustling to get out on the slopes as much as possible…whether that means carving new tracks deep in the backcountry pow or slicing down groomers at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

While there are plenty of options for kiddos on the bunny hill, as well as a slick new gondola serving more intermediate skiers and boarders, today’s conditions are particularly enticing and challenging for advanced shredders and those looking to make the jump from blue to black diamond runs.

Before you stock your own roof rack with gear and get out there on the hill, however, it’s good to consider Jackson Hole’s unique terrain and your own skiing goals.

Ask a Pro

Marc Titre helped found Door 2 Door Ski & Snowboard Rental Delivery in Steamboat Springs before bringing the franchise to Jackson Hole in 2007. The business’ premise is simple: a ski concierge service requiring no lines, no hassle, and no wait to be fitted for rental gear in the privacy of your home, vacation rental, or hotel room. Simply sign up 24 hours in advance and D2D will dispatch an expert fitter from its team to meet with you 7 days a week, morning through evening.

While many new or returning skiers enjoy the privacy of being fitted for the year’s latest gear at home, Titre really likes to emphasize the deep expertise of the fitters themselves. He sticks to hiring year-long residents of the valley, sweetening the pot with generous compensation and a complimentary ski pass for all employees. “90% of the guys are fishing guides in the summer,” he explains, “so service is in their mentality.” This attitude also ensures that every pro is out frequently on the slopes him or herself and thus ready to bring that specialized knowledge to customers.

“Matching the ski or board to the ability [of the client] is the most important part of our job,” Titre elaborates. For instance, if a novice skier is matched with skis that are too long, he’s likely to have difficulty controlling his skis, especially in our current powdery conditions. On the other hand, advanced skiers are ready to tackle moguls and quick turns. If their skis are too short, they’re going to complain of unresponsive skis and more vibration at higher speeds. The moral of the story? Know thyself…or at least work with someone who knows your needs and can advise you on the right model and size for your height, weight, and ability.

The Right Stuff

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort really does offer the creme de la creme when it comes to an all-around mountain experience (and that’s Forbes talking, not us): steeps, intermediate terrain, and the opportunity for guided skiing out of bounds. The pressure to own the latest and greatest in gear in order to make the most of it all can certainly feel daunting.

That’s why renting–whether you’re planning on skiing for a weekend or a month–is often a smart way to go. Just like TV’s, phones, and cars, there is always a lighter, more cutting edge, or just plain more beautiful ski coming down the pipeline. Unlike a gadget, however, a ski is personal, tuned to you, connecting you to the feel of the snow under your boot. Sometimes the sound of your ski sifting through powder is the only sound you’ll hear, turn after turn on a silent, socked-in winter’s day. When you think of it that way, a ski is really more like a samurai sword: an instrument balanced perfectly to the grip and physicality of its bearer. Clean. Elegant. Classic.

Local company Igneous honors this credo with their handmade custom skis of richly whorled hardwood. Begin the process of building your skis or snowboard, made to order, right on their website. Maiden Skis, also local, similarly work simpatico with their customers to craft something one-of-a-kind, right down to the graphics. If snowboard is your preferred ride of choice, the custom wooden dovetails of  Franco Snowshapes are certain to satisfy your inner powder-hound. One gander through the galleries of either company and some serious gear envy settles in. Their craftsmanship proves that skis and boards can be works of functional art, too.

It’s funny, in a way, to think of a garage full of old skis as a collection of heirlooms, but that’s precisely what they are: mementoes of great days in the thick of it all. If snow helps strip away what doesn’t matter, clearing our minds and strengthening our muscles, then our skis are what get us out there in the first place. Prepare for your own adventure with the help of Jackson’s deep bench of professional experts. They might love skiing even more than you do.

Check in with our own bench of experts at The Clear Creek Group for more advice about all things ski and snowboard. We can be reached at (877) 427-3400 or info@tccgjh.com.