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A Day with Mountain Sports School

A Day with Mountain Sports School
20 Feb 2020
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By now, everyone knows what a record-setting season we’ve had here at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. With over 400" having fallen this year, the skiing and snowboarding is some of the best I’ve experienced in the 13+ years of living in the valley. With that amount of fresh powder, hero snow, you feel like you’re the star of a Teton Gravity Research or Warren Miller ski flick. 

So, after being absolutely spoiled by all of that, what do you do when you wake up and find that it has only snowed three inches overnight? You take a lesson with the phenomenal crew at the Jackson Hole Mountain Sports School! 

9am: I drop my year and a half old son off at the Jackson Hole Kids Ranch, right next to the Bridger Gondola. As much fun as I have snowboarding, I’m pretty sure the little guy has even more fun with the staff at the Kids Ranch. 

9:20am: After tightening my boots and grabbing my snowboard from the back of the truck, I head up the Sweetwater Gondola to Solitude Station. If you don’t have gear, it’s easy enough to walk on the Gondola with street clothes and get ready at Solitude Station itself (though I’d go a little earlier than 9:20).  

Once I get off at Solitude Station, I head through the double doors up to the front desk. I’ve snowboarded for most of the time I’ve lived in the valley but have never actually taken a lesson. The front desk helps me identify what level of rider I am (I took an expert lesson, though that is being slightly generous) and then sends me across the Station to the designated snowboard lesson meeting place. 

9:45am: There’s an instructor and support staff waiting to greet me as I walk over. I set my snowboard down and size up the other four riders in my group; we’ve all got that first-day-of-school-esque giddiness as we exchange handshakes and the usual introductions. We go over our individual goals for the day: carve better, explore more terrain, crush off-piste riding, etc. 

After the formalities are out of the way, our instructor Carvin’ Arvin has us all ride down from Solitude Station to the bottom of the Gondola, giving us a quick once over to make sure we’re all about the same skill level. 

10:15am: We head through the Mountain Sports School gate to the Bridger Gondola and load up--a nice bonus perk of taking a lesson is getting to skip the lift lines! After a few minutes of excited conversation about the mountain, we unload and strap in.

              The first real run took us through Upper Dick’s Ditch, a fun little gully just off of Amphitheater. Arvin watched our turns and wallrides and started his assessment. Over the next hour and change, we worked on the mechanics of riding-- how to improve our alignment to ride more efficiently, directional flex of a snowboard, optimal lines to take when riding through moguls, etc. Though I’ve been able to notch 20+ days this season, the pointers given to myself and our group were huge! There was a great emphasis on how to ride more efficiently and consume less energy when making our turns (five hours later of riding pretty aggressively, my legs still felt fantastic-- funny how little tips like keeping your shoulder blades back make an impact. It’s almost like we were riding with a professional guide or something!). 

12pm: After a solid morning of tweaking our riding, on the Bridger Gondola and Thunder chairlift, we headed down to the base area. Part of the group went to lunch to refuel and the rest of us headed back up for another couple of runs with our instructor. I suggested the rest of the group check out RPK3 under the Tram, one of my favorite haunts.  Pro tip: keep a Nature Valley bar or a fat bomb in your ski jacket to munch on the lift ride up if you don’t want to stop! 

Our instructor showed us a couple of secret stashes through the trees around the Bridger Gondola and then we rendezvoused with the rest of our group who was just finishing up lunch -- time to move to a more literal rendezvous, up the Aerial Tram to the top of Rendezvous Mountain, elevation: 10,450’.

12:45pm: Just the process of riding up Big Red, the 100 person, double reversible tram, is something that unquestionably elicits stoke: everyone in line either has their game face on mentally preparing to charge through Rendezvous Bowl or just has the biggest smile plastered across their face as they are about to experience the superstar lift of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort--there seems to be no in between. Climbing 4,139 vertical feet in about 9 minutes, you get the best views in the valley (in the world?) and a birds eye view of the terrain that you have skied, will ski or hope to ski. Pro tip: try to get yourself to the window so you can scope out your lines! 

3:15pm: Once myself and 99 of my fellow skiers and boarders unload at the top of the Tram, Arvin leads us to his favorite line down, to get there head to: just kidding, take a lesson! Can’t give away all of their secrets. Once we rode out of the bottom of Rendezvous Bowl we found some pretty phenomenal pockets of powder through the trees on our way down to Sublette lift. After a couple more hours of hard charging laps on Sublette, Thunder and everything in between, we took the Marmot lift back to the top of Rendezvous Lodge for some hydration and to review everything we just rode and more pointers on our technique (or in my case, lack thereof). Pro tip: take the Marmot lift located next to the bottom of the Thunder chairlift to get back to the top of the Bridger Gondola without having to ride all the way back to the base of the Mountain. 

As our group was getting ready to go back out, I decided to take one more solitary run through the trees back to the base area and pick up my kiddo from the Kids Ranch and make my way back home. After a brief round of goodbyes and many, many thanks to our fearless leader Carvin’ Arvin (don’t forget to tip your guide!) I savored my last solo turns through the powder, fully satiated by my day riding Jackson Hole Mountain Resort with the Mountain Sports School. 

To book a group or private lesson, click here or call 1-888-DEEP-SNO (fitting, right?)

--Rob Weinstein, JHRL Guest Relations Coordinator