Rappelling into Once is Enough
I got an email with some photos from Jackson snowboarder, Randy Shacket, from a summer adventure riding the OB at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in July. Some folks just never give up!
As I stood on the service road, a bead of sweat dripped into my eye. Down to my left was the bottom terminal of the East Ridge chairlift at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, and up to my right, was a mostly dry Cody Peak. The naked rock seemed to breathe with dominance and power, as the snow below and to either side of the crouching giant begged for some tracks.
Looking down Once is Enough.
Four hours into the hike, we finally made it to the point where a chairlift would have taken us only months prior. Down at the base, people played disc golf and drank beer, doing whatever they could to not let the scorching summer heat slow them down. At the top of Cody Peak, we struggled to keep warm from the bone chilling high winds. My hawaiian shirt fluttered in front of me as I watched Travis set up the rappel into Once is Enough.
Looking down into it was not inviting. The narrow strip of snow was sun cupped and still frozen from the night before. We threw rocks onto the snow from above and watched them zip down as though they were bouncy balls going down a slide. We knew it wouldn’t be pretty, but this was what we had set out to ride.
As soon as I attached my ATC to the rope and ducked behind the rocky crest above the snow, the wind stopped, and I could feel the sun on my back. It was like plunging into a hot tub after getting dared to roll in the snow. Ahhhhhhhh! We threw a few more rocks, and we still didn’t like what we heard, so we decided to rappel another pitch. We built an anchor out of some solidified snow and stood behind it. Rocks were falling to either side of us as we nervously enjoyed our shelter. Rappelling with a snowboard on your feet is a sure way to make you feel like a bad ass. I took my time because I was a little apprehensive about our anchor. I rappelled off the end of the rope, and while gripping my ice axe tightly, I timidly made it to the bottom of the choppy, hard couloir. Once we got closer to the bottom, the snow was soft. Survival was the reward for riding the line. We celebrated at the bottom for only a few minutes because we still had more snowboarding to do, and we had to be at work by three.
We zipped up a steep mix of snow and dirt to the top of the Powder Eight Face. Yee haw, it was time to celebrate with some soul turns. It was a little choppy, but the sun softened the chunky snow into some very pleasant corn. From the basin at the bottom, we marveled at our perfect tracks laid side by side. There was high-fiving followed by hightailing because we had to get to work.
Tracks on Powder 8 Face.
After a restless sprint back to the service road, I knew the best part of the day was yet to come. I looked to my left at the upper terminal of the East Ridge chairlift, to my right, I saw the little tourist ants walking around at the top of the Bridger Gondola. I knew this would be our Hollywood run because of the constant photos being snapped of that aspect of the mountain. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s claim to fame, Corbet’s Couloir is a common fascination to all visitors in the area. So as they gaped, we rappelled, and as they pointed their fingers and ate their salmon club sandwiches, we proceeded to make some of the best turns of the summer. The snow was smooth and soft. The rock walls towered over us on either side, and for 5 minutes or so, we were inside the mountain. As Terminator Matt would say, we were “digging trenches”.
We walked the red carpet to the top of the gondola, where the tourists greeted us with envy, shock, and astonishment. To us, it was just one of those silly things you do to get through the summer in one piece (mentally). The scenic ride down the gondola was very relaxing, and it got us stoked for winter. Luckily, our daytime antics did not make us late for work.