Saturday, November 28, 2009

Opening Day of Jackson Hole

11.28.2009 - More from opening day.
Opening Day fun. Photo by Tristan Grezko.

Opening day is an interesting phenomenon here in Jackson Hole. I actually had my first day of work with Elevation Imaging (yay!). I hopped on the bus at 7:45 am and arrived at the Village around 8:10. The only people around were employees. There were no people waiting in line, no tourists. It was hard to even tell that the chairs would be running. After grabbing my photo gear and getting started in the shop, I could see the local color trickling onto the Teewinot chairlift.

11.28.2009 -  First chair of the season!
First chair of the season! Photo by Tristan Grezko.

The only two lifts open today were Teewinot (the beginner chair) and Apres Vous (AV). AV is usually a pretty awesome chair. It accesses Saratoga bowl and the northern part of the Crags. It also provides backcountry access to Granite Canyon. Today's ride up AV was over rocks. I even saw a deer frolicking through the brush. Rumors told me that there was a moose hanging around as well. It felt like spring. Luckily, the mountain has been making snow all week, so what the locals call "The Ribbon of Death" was perfectly groomed up for some early season turns. They even had a jump, a box, and a rail. But veer from that one run and you'd be tumbling through rocks and dirt. To give you some perspective, check out the grooming map below.

JHMR Opening Day
That dark black line represents the runs that are open. Ha!

Onto my experience. My job consists of taking action photographs of people while they're skiing and also taking their portraits in front of some of the beautiful backdrops that Jackson Hole provides. Since there are only two lifts open, there are definitely limited options to choose from. I'm talking about people. Today was no special day for tourists (I mean, why the hell would you come to Jackson for the amount of terrain that they offered today??). Tourists tend to be the main source of clients that my company gets...and there were none. Let's just say that it was a little bit tough to get the crowds to stop and take a snapshot. Luckily I got moved down to take some action shots midway through the day. That was fun, and I didn't feel like I was pestering people so much.

Oh well. Like I said, opening day was really nothing special here. No 60" base, no powder, just a sunny day with one groomed run and a lot of familiar faces. Give it two weeks though, and this place will be a totally different scene...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Trip to Targhee

With only two days and counting until official opening day at the J-Hole, I'm still getting antsy about riding. Plus I have to work on opening day, so I won't be able to take full advantage of the two lame lifts that will be open. Snow King has been fun, but after hearing stories about the epicness of Stevens Pass and Baker up in Washington, I decided I needed to go get myself some powder.

For those who aren't familiar, there's a lovely little resort called Grand Targhee just on the west side of Teton Pass about an hour and a half from Jackson. This resort actually gets more snow than Jackson Hole, believe it or not. The only reason it's not as popular is because it's not as steep. The locals here prefer hucking themselves off of cliffs, and Targhee just doesn't have that steep, scary terrain. Anyway, David and I threw our snowboards into the truck and off we went over Teton Pass.

The pass usually scares me with its 10% grades, but the roads were really clear. It hasn't snowed the past couple of days, so the driving was easy and the sun was shining. Many of the backcountry stashes at the pass had clearly been taken advantage of. Looked like someone even attempted Glory Bowl. Not enough cover for me. The south side looked pretty good but I think you need skins for that. Just another $1,000 for a split board, no big deal.

Chivers' / Titty Mouse
Chivers Ridge, Titty Mouse Ridge, and Olympic Bowl on Teton Pass. Photo David Duffy.

After passing through the lovely towns of Victor and Driggs in Idaho, we headed up a winding road, through Alta, WY and after a few more turns arrived at Grand Targhee Resort. Not really knowing where to go, we looked straight up at where the powder was, and started hiking up a groomer. The lifts don't open at Targhee until tomorrow, so only the hardcores were there "earning their turns" as most would say. After about an hour and a half of serious hiking (2,000 feet to the top of Fred's Mountain), we made it. I was relieved to take my pack off (I had all of my photo gear and my snowboard attached to it, probably about 35-40 lbs.) for a bit and scope out the beautiful powder lying below us. From the looks of the trail map, we descended down "The Face" and then through the trees of "Ladies Waist". It was beautiful, knee deep, sunshine powder. Believe me, it was worth every second of the hike.

Amy plodding up the track
I'm way down there. Photo David Duffy.

Long Hike from the Bottom
We hiked all the way up from those little buildings.

Cat Track at the top of Targhee
Beautiful day for this.

Grand Targhee Pow
David, taking full advantage of pre-season powder.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Snow King Jump Session #2

Checking in from another icy night here in Jackson Hole. Current temperature: 21 degrees. Forecast for this evening: Lows of 2 to 7 with a 20% chance of snow. Brrrrr!!!!

Icicles on My Truck
Icicles on my truck.

David Duffy
Today's rider. He's a hottie, I know.

After walking around with friends "downtown" last night and realizing that it was snowing about an inch an hour, David and I figured that another jump session at Snow King would be in store. Giddy with the fact that the snow cats hadn't yet plowed down all of the big mounds of snow, we got our gear together and hiked up.

Jump Construction
Jump construction.

Today's jump turned out way better than yesterday's. David was able to cut into one of the big mounds of snow and form a nice little lip. The landing was also good, as it was the opposite side of the snow mound. It wasn't long before David was sessioning. Luckily, my flash decided to fire today! Maybe it was because I put the batteries in my jacket for as long as possible. On the flip side however, my 1D's battery was loosing momentum fast. I couldn't even take advantage of the 8 frames per second sequence shots because the battery was just drained. Looks like I'm going to need to invest in another one of those. Lame. Luckily I had my 20D with me so I did get some decent pics.

David, stalefish.
Yep, I got sprayed with snow in this one. David, stalefish.

David on the Snow King jump
The last shot from the 1D. It was the second frame in what should have been a sequence.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Snow King Jump Session

Snow King lifts.

It's snowing. I mean, it's really snowing. We've been getting dumped on all day. Being Sunday, and that there is really nothing else to do other than make a big breakfast and sit around, we thought it was the perfect day to go snowboarding. Snow King, the little resort just a few blocks from us, has had their snowmakers going strong all week. Now that we've got some real snow, it's actually starting to get fun over there. The lifts aren't open yet, but it gives us a chance to work off that beer we've been consuming all week by hiking to the top instead. Seeing all of my fellow photog friends unveiling winter 09-10 snowboarding photos, on Flickr and Facebook I thought it was time for me to get shooting.

We hiked up to this big mound of snow where David had discovered a "jump" yesterday, or at least a wind lip that could easily be converted into a jump. As we were hiking up, these two other dudes, Toby and Jason, were hiking up the other side. They ended up having the same idea we did and decided to help build up the lip. David and the two of them hiked up to an area that seemed like it would provide enough speed for the jump. After a few hits and the ice finally wore off their boards, they were able to catch a little bit of air. Before I show off these lovely photographs, let me just justify a few things...

1: It is really hard to shoot photos when it's dumping snow. It's cloudy, my LCD screen is covered in water droplets, and I can barely focus on the point that I want some are a little bit out of focus.

2: My flash is a work in progress. Right now, the only flash system I can afford is one Vivitar 285HV and two Pocket Wizards. The Vivitar is powerful, yet has a really slow recycle time. About 10 seconds. Oh yah, and the battery power reduces to about 60% in the cold. That means it only fires when it wants to. It probably didn't even fire 50% of the time. I don't know. I couldn't see. That also means that when the flash didn't fire, photos were only taken at 1/250th of a second, making the rider blur.

So, here's what I got from today. Notice the huge amount of snow puking out of the sky.

David BS 180
David BS 180.

This is Toby. A rare moment with flash.

Jason method.

Building up the "MONSTER."
Building up the "MONSTER."

David, best photo of the day probably.

No, the flash isn't working.
Testing the, it's not firing.

So yah, that's it. I guess they turned out okay considering the size of the feature and the conditions, but let's just say, it was good practice. And it was fun. I can't wait to get out there tomorrow when there is even MORE snow! Oh and also, David is going to make me a battery pack for my flash so that it recycles faster and lasts longer. Then I won't have to carry around 2 lbs. of AA's. Yay!

P.S. It's 23 degrees and still snowing!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


This is so awesome. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort had a contest to see who could get the most votes or "likes" in Facebook language on their photo with the prize being two 5-day passes to Jackson Hole! After an intense three days of spamming all 900+ contacts that I have on Facebook (I think that's a result of being the twirler for the UW marching band for five years), I received over 300 likes and won. It was pretty awesome. The contest was really in no way a photography contest (you should have seen some of those...) but more of a popularity/see-if-you-can-get-your-friends-to-vote contest. I feel special. In case you're interested, this was the photo I used:


I know, I have better, but I think this one's pretty sweet anyway. Thanks to all who voted.

On another note, I've decided to start selling my photographs to any and all who are interested. My website allows me to do such things and make profit, so it only makes sense. As of right now I only have a Seattle gallery available, but I promise there are more to come. Check it out on Powder Photo Prints. Guess that's all for now!

Space Needle 001
You could own this photo! Think of the gift ideas....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Just another day in Paradise.

Good Morning.

Good morning! As you can see I have brewed myself a French press full of delicious bold coffee. The perfect start to a beautiful day. What am I doing today? Oh yeah, nothing. I still haven't started my job yet (that will change on Saturday) so I'm continually taking advantage of all of this free time, or at least trying to. The day is young though so I can justify sitting around for a while.

Yesterday David and I went on a little photo drive. It was sort of stemming from the disappointment that occurred after we tried to go snowboard on Snow King and then watched as the cat plowed down all of the "fresh" fake snow. There wasn't much going on there anyway.

Cold as ...
The fake snowmaker. Photo by David Duffy.

Our drive took us out onto the highway that goes to the airport and then into the Gros Ventre campground. We really wanted to see some wildlife but that didn't happen. The closest we came were some elk tracks that were scattered on the ice of a frozen pond.

Elk Tracks on Ice

We kind of just milled around for a while shooting photos and exploring this foreign land that is Wyoming.

Stark Contrast.
Gros Ventre campgrond. Not bad.


On the way back to the car, David found a bamboo stick on the side of the road and decided it would be a good idea to practice his javelin skills.

Bamboo Javelin Throw

Our next destination was a straight-on view of the Tetons. Pretty stereotypical, yes, but pretty much essential. It's funny how people are always in awe of these shots. Maybe I get annoyed by the fact that people are obsessed with this view because it's practically in my backyard. Life is tough, I know.

I'm a tourist today.
I am a tourist for taking this photograph. But oh well, it's lovely.

We stopped by the Elk Refuge on the way home hoping to get some shots of the elk but could only see one lonely guy with a huge set of antlers way out in the middle of the field. He was a little too far away to get a decent picture. We did see a fox running through the field though.

Nothing too exciting happened last night besides yoga class and making a delicious dinner of Chicken Marsala. Cooking makes me happy :)

On another note, the Herbst Whiskey is a-brewing. This is David's holiday creation. It should be done by next week!

The Herbst
Herbst Whiskey. Photo by David Duffy.

Tah-tah for now!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday Night Fun

David & Me
David and me at the show.

It's been a while since David and I have legitimately gone out on a Friday night. We've always been the ones with the work schedules opposite of everyone else. Last night, we hung out for a bit with friends at the Cadillac, migrated over to the Townhouse Tavern for some pizza and pool, then ended up at the Storm Show movie "Magic Moments" that was playing at the Snow King lodge.

Great turnout for the premiere!

It was quite a turnout. Packed, actually. We ended up standing the whole time. The movie was awesome though. Almost the entire thing was filmed in Jackson Hole which made it that much more exciting since pretty much every one here knows where the lines are. One of my favorite parts of the flick was watching a few different skiers hitting lines off of Cody Peak including "Talk is Cheap", "Central", and "Igneous Rock". "Talk is Cheap" begins with a descent down a steep slope, a mandatory 20-30 foot drop into a no-fall zone because after the drop you have to hit another smaller drop, and then thread-the-needle through a skinny little couloir so that you don't go tumbling over the cliffs around you. It's pretty gnarly. Nothing I would ever even dream of doing, but it's definitely fun to watch people scaring themselves. Here's the trailer if you want to see some freaky stuff.

Afterward, instead of paying another $12 to go to the after party we made our own at the Cadillac. Apparently we weren't the only ones thinking that the Cadillac was a good place to go. It seemed like the whole town was there. Meeting up with old friends, getting introduced to new friends, what a great night in Jackson.

Oh and P.S., I got a job! I'm going to be a photographer for Elevation Imaging. They take shots of people at the top of the mountain and skiing at Jackson Hole. Then you can go to the bottom and buy the photos. Should be interesting to say the least.

P.S.S. It's still snowing!!

Sunny & Snowing

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Deep Freeze Begins...

The Deep Freeze Begins.

I almost forgot what Jackson was supposed to look like in the winter. I've really enjoyed staying warm (sort of) while hiking and biking around, and I've totally taken advantage of the fact that I can wear adorable little flats instead of unfeminine winter boots. That was until today. I met my friend Laura for some coffee at the Hard Drive Café, and by the end of our little catch-up session we were staring out the window at the giant white flakes falling from the sky. Finally.

A Light Dusting.
Our apartment! David's peeking his head out of the door.

The snow didn't really cause much of a hazard driving around town, but I did hear that Teton Pass was closed for a bit. By the end of the day the LED displays were updated with messages such as "No Trailers" and "Chain Law". I'm sure tomorrow I'll be slipping and sliding when I go outside. That's the pass for you.

Tomorrow I think I will head over to the local designers' holiday trunk show. I met one of the girls who grew up in Jackson and is now a designer of For Love & Lemons. Her name is Laura Hall. I was happy to find out that there is a little bit of fashion here in Jackson Hole. I thought it was all about Pata-gucci and Arcteryx. Thank god there is a chance for girls to be girls. Props to Laura Hall and the other women showing off their stuff in the trunk show.

For night life, Storm Show Productions, a local video production studio run by Darrell Miller, is having a world premiere for it's newest film "Magic Moments". I have a feeling that it's going to be mostly skiers in the video, but that's okay. Skiing is cool sometimes too. Should be a good chance to go out and meet some local folks as well.

I've also spent a good deal of time doing my duties for YoBeat. If you are interested, you should check out some of the old posts I've been going through and re-posting on their WordPress site. Let's just say, snowboarding has come a long way since 1999. Here's what I've re-posted...and just to reiterate, none of these postings were written by me. I'm just the poster. Old Stuff on YoBeat.

Lastly, I've been dreaming about snowboarding. Not like that is anything new, but seeing the snow falling only gets me more excited. I'll leave you with this photo I came across of me taking a turn in the Rock Springs area, just outside of the JHMR ski boundary. Cheers!

Rock Springs III
Hell yeah that's me! Photo by David Duffy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Unemployment has its Advantages

Yes, not having a job does suck. When I think about it though, I've only been in Jackson for a week and that's not very long when it comes to a job search. On the plus side though, there are some positives to having a ridiculous amount of time on your side:

1) Time to stay in shape. David and I have really gotten into the whole biking and hiking thing again since it doesn't rain here like it does in Seattle. Unfortunately for us, I feel the end is near for that streak of fun as I woke up to a pretty substantial ice crust on my windshield yesterday. Oh yeah, and the night time temperature forecast for Saturday is 8 degrees. Sweet. I also started taking yoga classes when I got here. I'm starting to feel like my old Gumby self all over again. Anyway, here's a photo from our hike yesterday. Like I mentioned before - not missing the rain at all.

David Enjoying the View

2) Time to perform intern duties. Intern, you may ask? Yes, David and I are the new interns for the snowboarding website YoBeat. It's pretty awesome considering they were the first to publish my photos. For now, we are taking on the daunting task of organizing YoBeat's archives all the way back from 1999. I won't go into detail, but let's just say unemployment runs in our favor on this one. We'll probably have it done before the mountain even opens at this rate. We are also semi in charge of doing some coverage of the snowboard scene here in Jackson Hole. It is a one-of-a-kind scene. Cowboys and stuff...weird.

3) I'm getting really good at Amped 2 Snowboarding on David's XBox. I can't say that I'm a big fan of video games, but I love a good ass-kicking in the King of the Mountain battle against David. He doesn't really appreciate my gloating, although victories only happen about one out of every ten tries for me. Plus, virtual snowboarding is totally like real snowboarding right? I shouldn't even try to get a pass this year. I can get riding done all over the world done right here on my couch.

4) Time to shop around town for giant glass infusion jars. Now that sounds fun right? Actually, it's pretty awesome. David had the idea to make Herbst Whiskey for the holiday season. It's the most delicious alcoholic beverage you could have. When you sip it, it feels like your waking up on Christmas morning to the warmth of a homey fireplace where you will sit drinking coffee next to a sparkling tree with presents littered beneath it. Like I said, best beverage ever. Try it in a hot toddy too. Sorry but I can't tell you what's in it. You will either have to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, or maybe part of the winter with us to experience it...or go to Feierabend in Seattle. Needless to say, it's hard to find a giant glass jar that's air tight and also has a spigot for easy removal of it's contents...and it has to hold a gallon of whiskey. Luckily, I found a nifty little website called Infusion Jars that actually sells these glorious jugs. It's already on the way.

5) Taking advantage of happy hour. Now, I'm not usually one that cares to have a drink at 5 pm usually (I don't work the 9-5 therefore, happy hour doesn't have as much of a draw for me), but I will partake in a cheap beer when I have no income. Gone are the days of froofy martinis from Tini Bigs. Now I go for the PBR when it's two-for-one at the Cadillac...every day from 5-7. Oh yah, and late night starting at ten. Actually, I can't exactly allow myself to drink PBR yet when the delicious Snake River Lager only costs 50 cents more. Who knows though. After I live in Wyoming for long enough I'm sure I won't give a damn anymore. But for now, two beers for $3.50 is something I can afford!

So between becoming a yoga queen, rewriting 12 years of snowboarding history, being champion at Amped, shopping for exotic kitchenware, and enjoying the company of the local color at the Caddy, I don't think I even have time for a job. My life is just way too busy. Oh, and the mountain's going to open soon? There's just no way. Sorry employers, you're going to have to stop fighting over my resume now.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another Beautiful Bike Ride...

Still without job, I'm trying to make the best of this nice sunny weather and get in shape before the winter begins. I gotta get used to the altitude before I start all of that backcountry hiking. Here are some of the shots from yesterday's bike ride on South Park Loop Road.

The Great Beyond
Gorgeous Teton Views.

Fenced In

Friendly Neighbors

Full View
A view from the highway looking west.

Lonely Ride

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Live in Wyoming! Weird...

The Town of Jackson
I live here!!

Here I am writing from my sunny little kitchen in my new apartment in Jackson, Wyoming. Yes, it's weird living in Wyoming, but hey, I've done this before. It's actually amazing how much I've forgotten since I last lived here. I feel like I don't know where anything is! Anyway, I finally got internet today (so I can be connected again) and I'm ready to tell you all about my adventures from the past week.

On Our Way
Off we go!

The last time I wrote I was in Bellevue at David's parents' house. We drove 4 hours to Spokane, Washington the next day to spend a few days with David's cousin Keegan. Keegan just bought a house for him, his girlfriend, and his 8-month-old darling little boy, Jaxon. It was fun getting to meet more of David's gi-normous family. I feel as if I've only scratched the surface. Five cousins in one family? Crazy. I have three total. Anyway, after spending a few nights in Spokane, we headed out for the 10 hour drive to Jackson Hole. The drive took us over a mountain pass which was littered with beautiful larch trees. If you're not familiar, they are pine trees that actually turn bright yellow in the fall and lose their needles. Weird concept, but it was a gorgeous site. We then crossed over the panhandle of Idaho and were dumped into the vast land of Montana. Snow covered peaks surrounded us in the distance, but other than that we were on open road underneath an enormous sky. And you wonder why they call it Big Sky...

Why Would they Call it Big Sky?

Montana Mountains

Lucky Moose
Mendall, my lucky moose, kept us safe :)

We arrived in Idaho Falls around 6 or so, and ate "dinner" at Wendy's. Fast food isn't necessarily my first choice, but it gets the job done when you're really really hungry and don't have a lot of time. I wanted to get to our place sooner than later. An hour and a half later after driving over a thankfully snow-free Teton Pass, we could see the city lights of Jackson, and before we knew it we were pulling up to our apartment on Pearl Street.

I actually hadn't seen the place before we got there, which made it that much more exciting. I trusted the opinion of my friend Laura when she said it was livable, haha. It's a cute little two bedroom place only a few blocks away from the Town Square. We ended up unpacking everything that night just to get it all done. We needed a bed anyway.

The next day we woke up to sunshine streaming through the windows and a beautiful bluebird day. We tried to turn in resumes at restaurants and bars, but apparently it's the "dead season" right now until about Thanksgiving. I guess we'll be jobless for a little bit, but I'm pretty confident things will pick up soon.

So what do you do when you don't have a job? Well, bike and hike of course! I thought it would be fun to ride our bikes out to Teton Village where Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is located. It's thirteen miles from our place, which makes for a pretty nice ride. Unlike Seattle, the terrain is very flat here, so it was even easier to ride a long way. We picked up a bike path when the highway turned onto Teton Village Road. Let me just say this is the most beautiful bike path ever. It lines a long open road with big grass fields and creeks on either side, and the Tetons provide a stunning backdrop.

Best Bike Trail Ever

Even though there's no snow on the ground yet, the wind made for a pretty chilly ride. Just because the ground is bare doesn't mean it's not f-ing freezing! The few nights we've spent here have gotten well into the 20s...brrrrr!! Time to break out the heavy coats and scarves! We met Anne and her boyfriend Mike at the Cadillac that night for their awesome happy hour specials. I'm glad we have friends here already :)

The next day (yesterday) we decided to check out a hiking path that David had noticed along Snow King. Snow King is a different ski resort located in the town of Jackson. We actually live a couple of blocks away from it. Sure enough, a trail existed, and we ended up hiking all the way to the top of Snow King. Dog walkers, trail runners, and mountain bikers littered the path. It seems like a popular place to get your exercise on.

Snow King Trail
The hiking path.

Mt. Glory and Snow King Lift
Mt. Glory (on Teton Pass) and a Snow King lift.

The Valley
The valley beyond the town of Jackson.

Wyoming Sunshine
The trees are all ready for winter!

The view from the top had some pretty amazing sights. We could see the resort, the pass, and the huge valley that stretches beyond the town of Jackson. Overall, we had a pretty great day and we're super stoked to be here. As soon as the job situation works out it will be perfect! For now though, we're just going to enjoy the nice weather while we can.

Oh yeah one more thing...David and I did some snowboard testing for a new website being launched this year called Board Insiders. His video footage and review for the GNU Rider's Choice snowboard (one that he actually ended up buying!) recently got published on YouTube. Check it out!!