20 Miles from Victor
Teton Valley's Best Nordic Skiing
Five groomed Nordic Trails provided by Teton Valley Trails and Pathways
Backcountry Ski Teton Pass, Wyoming
Picture by Randy Barnes, Aurora Photos
By Doug Schnitzspahn
When it comes to terrain, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort claims some of the best on the planet—famed chutes like Corbet’s Couloir and backcountry gates that access stuff straight out of ski movies are the norm here. But the resort is, after all, still a resort. To take it to the next level, head to Teton Pass, where a quick hike from the apex of Wyoming Highway 22/Idaho 33 (which runs between Wilson, Wyoming, and Victor, Idaho) will reward you with myriad adventurous backcountry lines and practically guaranteed powder. The most popular route, up to the top of 10,086-foot (3,074-meter) Mount Glory and down Glory Bowl, delivers 2,000 vertical feet (610 meters) of wide-open lines, trees, and secret stashes.
Teton Pass is no secret. In fact, on powder days it feels as if it’s a resort itself since many of the locals ski here exclusively. But it is a rite of passage for any backcountry skier or snowboarder visiting the Tetons. It’s also a fantastic way to experience powder skiing in the high, dry northern Rockies without committing to a long skin slog. The true beauty of the pass is that the hike is so fast and the ride down dumps you onto the highway so that you can rack up lap after lap of fresh white goodness. Plus, you can escape the crowds by heading across the highway to Avalanche Bowl or pack the skins and head farther north from Glory into Unskiabowl and the Great White Hump.
Just be very careful: This is true backcountry and it can be deadly. Carry avalanche gear and know how to use it. If you are unsure of your backcountry skills, hire a guide.
Need to Know: Get prepared with a 24-hour basic avalanche course with Exum Mountain Guides, starting at $235 (www.exumguides.com).
THE VICTOR SKI HILL
In the early 1930’s after losing out on a ski area being sponsored by Union Pacific Railroad, Teton Valley residents, with the aid of $5000 in Works Progress Administration (WPA) funds, cleared a protected slope about 1 mile south of Victor in the Allen Creek Drainage during the Depression-era winter of 1936-37. The U.S. Forest Service donated a log cabin located at Mike Harris Flat for a warming hut. This had to be taken apart and transported to the new ski area site and put back together. The hill itself was on public land with the level area at the bottom of the slope being owned by James Ingram. Harold Holmes stated, “Jim let us put the cabin there and we gave him the payment from the food in exchange.” The ski hill, known as the Victor Ski Slide, was three quarters of a mile long and 300 feet wide, with a vertical drop of 782 feet and a grade of 17 to 22 percent.
The laborious task of clearing the hill was rewarded the following winter when the Victor Ski Hill opened with great fanfare. The first special snow train brought skiers from as far away as Pocatello. They were greeted at the train station by the Victor High School band and whisked to the Hill on horse-drawn sleighs; where bobsleds were also employed to transport skiers to the run’s summit.
The locals thrived on the excitement of their new ski hill, holding their first community ski meet less than a month after the grand opening. There were downhill, slalom and short cross country races into town. A group of Teton Valley skiers formed the Teton Ski Club to promote these local events and also to travel to other area ski hills, such as the rope tow off Teton Pass where the Dartmouth Ski Team trained during the early season. They also attended a meet at a little ski hill south of Pocatello.
The winter of 1940-41 was the area’s heyday, when it unveiled an improved access road and a new power line that furnished electricity to run a high-speed electric rope tow and lights for night skiing. Only a month after the start of the ski season, the rope tow was so popular it reduced the number of spectators and converted them into skiers. Perhaps the only thing that could dampen the enthusiasm was a war. When the United States entered World War II, a lot of Teton Valley’s young men – the core group of avid skiers – bundled off to serve their country. The ski hill did operate for a few years after that but with sharply reduced participation, enthusiasm for its support dwindled.
Taken from “Teton Valley Top to Bottom”