There are two sorts of lists of the ‘Greatest Ski Resorts in the World’. There are those places that have established a reputation over many years even though they may or may not be the best places to ski in the modern era – names like Davos or St Moritz in Switzerland, Garmisch in Germany, St Anton or Kitzbühel in Austria, Aspen, Stowe or Vail in the US. Then there is the second list – this time of places that attract skiers from all over the world who just live to ski and don’t care much for resort size, status or reputation. Some of the names from list one are still on it – Chamonix and St Anton for example, but little places like Alagna in Italy, La Grave in France or Red Mountain in Canada are also there, right at the top. This second list is as hard, in its way, to get on to as the first, and for many skiers Jackson Hole is one of those that qualifies for both, but especially the latter.
“Skiers who love skiing” from all over the world are drawn to this snow mecca every season, and former Olympic champions like Tommy Moe and Pepi Steigler now call it home. Apart from its skiing, the resort’s appeal is its authentic (rather than hyped…) Old West spirit and sense of hospitality. The choice is between staying by the slopes in increasingly expansive and sophisticated lodging, or, as many do, 12 miles (19km) away in the town of Jackson where some of the sidewalks are still wooden, bars are still called saloons, and the doors on them swing open.
The scenery is stunning too – in a country of huge but rolling mountains, the Teton range in which Jackson Hole is located would look very much at home in Switzerland – with classic and spectacular triangular peaks. The recent $50 million dollar millenium refit has not changed that much – just made the infrastructure rather more cutting edge, for the best of both worlds. The money has been spent on the Bridger gondola, to serve the biggest single lift- served vertical in the US; the Après Vous Quad, expanding access to intermediate terrain; and plenty of other features liked doubled snow-making (although the resort also has a reputation for 10 metre / 33 feet plus of natural snow each season). The resort’s famous original red tram (cable car) finally went in to retirement at the end of the 2006 ski season after may decades of faithful service but it was replaced by a state-of-the-art new version a few seasons later.