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Posts Tagged ‘jackson hole mountain resort’

Yea living in a ski town is awesome, but there are some definite downsides.

First off, this is the only mountain I’ve ever lived at, so I can’t really speak to what it would be like to live in other places like Colorado, Utah, etc. I can say that beer in Utah is shitty though.

Jackson is interesting. “Jackson Hole” is the geographical area in which the town of Jackson, the airport, the mountain resort, and a few other random little towns reside. I always thought people were trying to be cool and abbreviate the name of where they live, but the town is actually just called Jackson. Also, the words “town” and “village” here are not synonymous – “Town” refers to the town of Jackson, and “Village” refers to Teton Village, which is the base area for Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Just something to know beforehand to avoid any confusion.

JH Mountain Resort employs a few hundred people, but those jobs are pretty hard to come by — after about 2007-08, people at the resort started hanging onto those jobs for a lot longer because it’s kind of hard to find work doing anything else around here. Every year in August (I think) they have a job fair (you can check out the details on their website) that several hundred people attend, each hoping for one of the probably only 50-60 jobs that are actually available. Those range from front and back-of-the-house restaurant work to liftie jobs and everything in between, and experience always helps. Your other options are a) find a service industry position somewhere in town or the village (don’t bother trying to get a bartending gig, those are reserved for people who know people), or b) get lucky and find some random job other than working for the resort or in a restaurant. That’s the work situation.

Housing is pretty straightforward: get here at the end of the “off-season.” The off-season is the time between summer and winter when everybody moves away or leaves town to go do something cooler than sit here and watch it rain. At that time, housing is pretty easy to come by, but if you happen to show up anytime later than Nov 1, you’ll probably be living in a cheap motel for the winter – places get snapped up pretty quickly around here. Check out the Jackson Hole Radio Classifieds (online) or the Jackson Hole Daily classifieds (dunno if they’re online or not, but if they are it’s a good resource) for the going rates around here.

There are two other resorts around here where you could potentially work as well: Snow King and Grand Targhee. Snow King is a sad little hill that’s actually right on the edge of town. I say “sad” not because it’s only got a couple of little chairlifts, but because the word on the street is that if they don’t find an investor before next season, they’re declaring bankruptcy and shutting down. On the flip side, their hotel is pretty nice for how cheap the rates are, and that bit of their operation will undoubtedly stay open, regardless of what the resort does next year, so you working there is an option.

Targhee is the other option – it’s a ski resort in “Wydaho,” which means that while the resort is actually in Wyoming (just barely), you have to drive through Idaho to get there, and I’d guess 99% of the people who work there also live in Idaho. Their resort has a little bit more laid back feel to it compared to Jackson – there aren’t as many crazy “aggro” skiers over there – but the terrain is a bit of a let-down if you’ve started to take Jackson’s terrain for granted. Now that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with Targhee or Idaho, but the closest towns are (in order) Alta, Driggs, Tetonia, and Victor, and I’d estimate their combined population is still less than Jackson’s. Jackson is a small enough town as it is, so if you decide to live over on the other side in Idaho, you’re in for a little bit more of a rural lifestyle. Especially if you’re coming from Seattle (or any big city), I would probably not recommend this unless it’s something you know you’re into.

Other than that I’d just say to get ready, because everything you bought on a regular basis when you were living in Seattle is more expensive here, rent is usually more expensive, jobs pay a lot less, and things can get difficult. Also, if you *don’t* get a job at the mountain and you do want to ski/snowboard all winter, you’ll probably want to buy a season pass, which cost $1250 last year if you bought it in August, and $1500 normally.

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Step 1: Wake up with both of Amy’s alarms that get her out of bed early enough to get on the bus for work.

Step 2: Go back to sleep as quickly as possible.

Step 3: Finally wake up, hopefully early enough to get to the mountain before 9:30. Drag self from bed. Put on pajama pants. And Socks. Shirt optional.

Step 4: Drink leftover french pressed coffee left in thermos on the counter. Check weather on NOAA, Mountain Weather, The Weather Channel and whatever other sites I happen across. Believe the most optimistic forecast.

Step 5: Make breakfast. If making bacon, fashion a makeshift grease-deflector out of foil to put around frying pan. Potential invention idea.

Step 6: Struggle to find randomly strewn snowboarding clothes around the apartment. Vow to put things away in normal places from now on.

Step 7: Check clock to see if there’s enough time to tie snowboard boots at home before the bus comes. Be grumpy if not.

Step 8: Get out the door (hopefully) in time to catch the bus.

Step 9: Stare open-mouthed at the bus as it drives up, somehow completely packed to gills with tourists already, even though this is only the third stop on the line.

Step 10: Try to balance in the aisle while: holding a snowboard, drinking coffee from a thermos, taking off layers because the bus is full of sweaty bodies, holding onto a handle, looking for a seat, wondering where the F all these people come from every day.

Step 11: Squish further to the back in the aisle because 30 more people are getting on at the Stilson Park and Ride.

Step 12: Arrive at the Village. Get off bus and trudge toward mountain.

Step 13. Assess line/snow situation. Run random errands for forgetful girlfriend who can’t leave her post all day because her job is shit.

Step 14: Try not to talk to people on lifts too much.

Step 15: Ride for +/-  2 hours.

Step 16: Catch 11:15 Red Line back to Jackson, to make it in time for 12:00 work start time.

Step 17: Arrive at home roughly 10 minutes before work starts.

Step 18: Take off all snowboarding clothes. Strew around randomly. Think to self, “I’ll remember where I put that.”

Step 19: Log in to work emails. Turn on work phone. Check for new orders.

Step 20: Read people’s order info. Then take all of that info and buy the stuff they ordered from us for less off of a different web site. Enter our billing information; their shipping information. Ah, capitalism.

Step 21: Get back to people who emailed. Thank you for not calling and leaving messages.

Step 22: Check all other work related avenues of communication, other than voice messages.

Step 23: Change out of long johns that are making my desk chair wet.

Step 24: Check facebook.

Step 25: Check voicemail. Take notes down with numbers to call back.

Step 26: Play iTouch games.

Step 27: Transfer SKU data for product items on the website to Excel files. Steal all important specifications for each item off of a different website that uses the same drop-shipper/has the exact same stock.

Step 28: Download new music/movies/etc. Quasi-legally.

Step 29: Check facebook.

Step 30: Look around room at posters. Read the final monologue from Trainspotting off of one of them.

Step 31: Wonder what the hell Recco is, and how it works if its not battery-powered.

Step 32: Get into a huff about how awful my Pieps DSP is. That was a nice way to waste almost $500.

Step 33: Look at recent snowboarding pictures. Look through photos of Crags, Casper Bowl, Alta Zero, and lots of backcountry shots to scout for potential lines.

Step 34: Make powdered Gatorade as a “snack.”

Step 35: Check Facebook, Hotmail, WordPress and Flickr to see if there are any updates or whatever.

Step 36: Check all work emails and orders. Process anything new. Get back to gapers with silly questions. Forward things I don’t know about to Buck.

Step 37: Watch clock closely. Nope, time is still moving.

Step 38: Think about returning voicemails.

Step 39: Log more website product specs into Excel. Wonder if I could pay someone else a little less than I make to do this.

Step 40: Look at old map of Europe hanging above my desk. It reminds me of playing Risk.

Step 41: Think about playing Risk on the computer. Decide not to because I know I will win, considering how idiotic the AI is.

Step 42: Finally return calls. Hope people don’t pick up so I can leave a message encouraging them to get back to me via one of the support@ email accounts.

Step 43: Get an email from skate distributor with recently shipped items. Send emails with tracking numbers to eager customers. The highlight of my work day.

Step 44: Make grilled cheese and turkey sandwich. Or eat a lot of chips. Or both.

Step 45: Check Facebook, Hotmail, WordPress and Flickr again. Maybe someone posted something in the last two hours.

Step 46: Bring snowboard into the office. Try to de-burr edges without ruining wax job.

Step 47: Watch some snowboarding trick tips on youtube.

Step 48: While I’m there, watch “Grape Stomp Fail” because it’s fucking hilarious. Click around in “related videos” for remixes and other people wrecking themselves on camera

Step 49: Google “grape stomp fail lady” to see where she is now.

Step 50: Type in random things on google to see what they will suggest to finish my search phrase.

Step 51: Amy comes home. I’m definitely still “at work” though.

Step 52: Yay, less then 60 minutes left. Check order stuff again. Process the stragglers.

Step 53: Write silly/stupid email to my boss explaining what I did during the day.

Step 54: Eat something really nice for dinner that Amy made.

Step 55: Watch something: hulu.com shows, snowboarding videos, anything but actual TV because we’re too poor to afford that.

Step 56: Write a stupid post on wordpress in an effort to salvage the fact that no one reads this blog anymore.

Step 57: Think about summer and how cool it will be to take more pictures on backpacking trips out here.

Step 58: Hang wet gloves (had been stuffed in my helmet since noon) on makeshift coat-hanger-rack-thing over wall heater in kitchen.

Step 59: Brush teeth.

Step 60: Crawl into freezing cold bed.

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Today was good:

powDay
Anna lays down a slash.

Amy had been coming home telling me all about how great her day was for the last three days, while I had to shove off at 11:00 to make it back home in time for work. So today I worked out a late start with my boss, met up with a friend of Amy’s that had the morning off too, and got down to business. On the web site, the JHMR reported a total of 4″ of fresh had fallen overnight. I don’t exactly know if they’re trying to keep people from coming to the mountain with these mediocre snow reports, or if there is any strategy at all to them underselling the hell out of their snowfall estimations, but that number was short. Way short.

For most of the day, there wasn’t a way to really pick a bad line. Finally, enough snow has fallen to fill in and cover some of the major rocks that have plagued the resort since opening day, and it’s getting good. Our first few runs were off of the Thunder chairlift, down through Paintbrush, Toilet Bowl, under Tower 3, off Surveyor’s Drop, and the untracked pow underneath it. It was a damn shame they didn’t open the Tower 3 Chute until we were already lapping the tram. The idea of hitting the Hobacks was tossed around, but deep down I don’t think either of us wanted to stay on a cat track/blue run when there was powder waiting to be shredded in the bowl just below it.

(click to see the runs I’m talking about – upper left corner under Sublette)
JHMR Trail Map

We hit everything but Pepi’s Run off of the Upper Sublette Ridge, and then dropped into the lower. Because the Hobacks were open, I think that drew a lot of the would-be traffic off of that area, because it was epic. The snow there made up for all the days I spend at JHMR this year slicing off chunks of base and blowing out edges. At the end of the second trip through that same section, I got a little carried away and dropped past the “easy traverse” back to the lift, into what can only be described as a dense thicket. Hmm…

Make no mistake, it’s obvious that Jackson is rocking less than 65% of it’s normal snow pack. In a lot of areas, there is still plenty of exposed brush, rock jibs, and the occasional baby tree. But we’re getting there. And “getting there” has never seemed like the promised land any more than it does right now.

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I enjoy photography, there is no doubt about it. Happily, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort sponsors one specific local photographer to take a new photo every 24 hours that they post on their site as the photo of the day. I like the idea that the mountain sponsors creativity; however, in looking at these photos, I believe I have found a pretty reasonable indication of the level of contempt even the mountain shows to snowboarders. Their photographer, Chris Figenshau, who has been taking the photo of the day for the resort for years, has amassed the following statistics in the first 49 photos of the year. Telling, in my opinion:

Out of all of the photos taken this year, 81% of them feature either a snowboarder or a skier. Since these are the photos that I am interested in, we’ll leave the other 9 photos out.

Out of the photos that feature a skier or snowboarder, 82% feature a skier as the main subject in the frame. By comparison, a paltry 5% of the photos of this kind taken so far this year feature a snowboarder as the solitary subject of the photo. Interestingly, both (of which there are only two) of those photos are of well-known professional snowboarders, although a huge number of totally unknown skiers litter the rest of the year’s collection.

The remaining 13% of the photos have a snowboarder somewhere in the frame, although generally behind and obscured by a more prominently featured skier.

Before I got a job out here, I was not able to buy the ridiculously expensive season pass, so I paid $12 a day for a “beginner” lift ticket that gave me access to the Teewinot lift, one of only two that were open at the beginning of the year. My casual observation of the scene that played out on the bunny slopes demonstrated to me that there are about the same number of beginning snowboarders as there are skiers. It seems to me that these are the people the resort should be targeting, aiming to provide the best possible experience; this way, the beginners would continue to learn to either ski or snowboard, and eventually become repeat customers. From the bias of their photo collection, I don’t get the feeling that Jackson Hole Mountain Resort cares as much about it’s snowboarder following as it does of the skiers.

Perhaps this Chris Figenshau is just a relic from the bygone days when skiers didn’t have to share the mountain with snowboarders, and therefore can’t be bothered to take pictures of snowboarders, simply because he doesn’t like them. If this is the case, hopefully his engagement with the JHMR “photo of the day” program is drawing to a speedy close. If he is not in fact the previously described jackass, he should recognize the ridiculously obvious bias towards skiers in his collection, and perhaps make some much-needed adjustments.

* * *

See For Yourself: the photo of the day is available for 24 hours on the JHMR website, but you can see the year-to-date collection in full on their Flickr account, which is here.

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This week hasn’t been that bad, I have to say.

It all started with me finally buying a season pass for JHMR. It was costly in a way I never before knew was possible, but I imagine that with daily lift tickets hovering around the $100 dollar range, it’s gonna pay major dividends to have bought a pass for the whole season. I’ve already ridden 25% of the amount of times I will need to before it’s payed for itself!

The Gondola opened on Thursday, although it was receiving mixed reviews from the lift line before anyone had gone up. Most were saying that it was just gonna be bulletproof man-made crap and that we’d all be hating live. Some out-of-towners that didn’t really know the forecast were spouting sonnets about how much powder there would be. One of the ski school instructors heard that comment and turned to his friend and said, “YEA! It’s gonna be BLOWER! The only thing that’s gonna be blower is your knee, dude.”

He turned out to be monumentally wrong. The first few laps I took on the Gandi that day were a huge pick-me-up from the horse shit groomed runs I’d been taking the last few days on Teewinot and Apres Vous. Thank God for powder.

And while we’re on the subject, God damn that powder. It makes you think you should get back into the groove from last year, and charge over drops and through random areas where unmarked obstacles of death may be lurking. Today I was hitting a little drop and hammered a turn right underneath it to scrub some speed, and lo, a behemouth reared it’s head from under the icy blanket it was wearing only moments before. I haven’t ever felt such a blow to the base of my board. That type of shit rattles you.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, I should start from the beginning. I got to the village right before the lifts opened for the day. I didn’t expect to be in the first box, but guess what??

tramOpens-1

I wasn’t.

But I was pretty close to the front of the line, so I made it up in the third box of the day. Not bad.

tramOpens-2

In the cabin, you get packed in like a can of sardines. It’s “up close and personal” time with [all of] your neighbor[s], absolutely no apologies. The ride takes about 15 minutes, and once you’re at the top it’s game time.

tramOpens-3

The Tram ends at the top of Rendezvous Bowl, which a) isn’t really a bowl, it’s more of a face, and b) was pretty goddamn awful today, considering 200+ people had been through it before I got there. But beneath the bowl lay the lands of Bivouac, and Woods. And that’s where I spent the first part of my day.

tramOpens-4

I ran into a few people on a Sublette chair that I had ridden up the tram with — a skier named Kyle from Eastern Washington, and a snowboarder named Helena from California. Kyle was totally familiar with all the old Stevens Pass runs that I lived on, so we had a few good laughs about old times. I eventually found out that he lives right across the street from me too, which probably means he’s riding buddy status for the season. They were both fucking good, and I was glad to have some company during the day. Riding by yourself is incredibly sucky.

So that’s pretty much it, I went and visited Amy, who was working on AV for the day, and I took a lap through the kiddie terrain park on Teewee, and after that I headed on home. Life isn’t so bad after all. I’m starting to like this place.. hah.

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It’s basically the exact same story that I have posted just below, but here’s a link to my article on yobeat.com

Czech it out.

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I’ve been waking up at three or four in the morning recently, with thoughts of not having a job until late December or (God forbid) not having one at all and simply running out of money. There’s something about that partially-conscious state of mind that you’re in while you’re trying to get back to sleep that’s particularly conducive to horrible thoughts. So I’ve started getting up and working on YoBeat.com doing intern duties. I’m sure having done a good job with them will pay dividends in the future.

I have gone in for two interviews so far, both ended in tears. The first was at the photo place that Amy will be working for this winter, no-call. The second was at a bar that was hiring bartenders, and I did get a call back, but it was to tell me that I didn’t get the position. Still, that’s better than not knowing.

I headed over to the resort that’s in East Jackson — Snow King is what it’s called. They are hiring a few people for snowmaker staff, and apparently for bartender as well. Now, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience, it’s to not put more than one egg in any given basket, much less all of them in the same one. I’m hopeful for that, but I’m going to be making the rounds back through town in case anyone else is hiring at the moment.

Wish me luck.

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