What a time for the 2019 Arc’teryx academy in Jackson Hole! With 80cm of fresh blower pow falling 3 days before the event, we knew it was on! We learned, skied, and laughed a lot. I can’t think of a better way to gather a group of skiers and boarders. The friends made during our time there will be future ski partners for life. It’s a full community experience, and one that cannot be found elsewhere. Getting the chance to not only ski along side your favourite pros, but receive tips from them, shoot with them or shoot them is quite the experience. To cap it all off, it snowed over a foot the night of the last day! Really sealing the deal on a great trip!
Shortly after arriving, the first clinic started. An interactive clinic on how too safely/ efficiently climb and ski a new line. By using Google Earth Pro and a smartphone app called Gaia, Exum Guides Zee and Adam showed us how to find your route up and down. By using Google Earth Pro you can set multiple pins. A route for the way up and down. This allows you to map out your day with plans A, B and C. Once your route is set, you can download the file. After downloading the file, you can transfer it onto your phone. Using Gaia on your phone to open the file, you can find where you are in relation to the pins. This ensures you are on the safe and desired route. Using this tool, it makes it far easier to get the most out of your day with the least amount of messing around.
Day 1 and the first day of skiing was up on Snow King resort. We were immersed in a steep skiing/ basic ski mountaineering course. Our guide Brenton showed the participants the safe way to ski a steep line. Focusing on how to handle variable snow conditions such as avalanche debris (which most big lines are). We learned when and how to side slip, hop turn and then rip it. The amount of progression throughout the day was incredible to see. He had his hands full with back seat riders, arms behind the waist and bizarre looking turn shapes. But by the end of the day everyone was charging. Hands forward, pressure on the front of the boot and linking smooth C shaped turns. It was really cool to witness and to be apart of.
Day 2 was when it really kicked off with an advanced ski touring clinic featuring Arc’Teryx athlete Austin Ross and our guide Tim. We skinned up to an area called Wimpy, which was far from wimpy. Dropping into the North couloir provided the perfect run to practice the steep terrain handling skills learned on day 1. Following this couloir we skinned back up and hit another one. This next couloir being deeper and wider than the last. Everyone had ear to ear smiles all day. Along the skin track we each told a bit about ourselves. Everyone coming from a different background with the same shared joy of skiing, and shredding pow with good people. Hugs and high fives were warmly exchanged, along with contact information to stay in touch and invitations to ski across the globe.
The icing on the cake was Day 3, and the final day of the Arc’teryx academy. Fat flakes of blower powder fell that night and we awoke to a foot of fresh! We knew we were in for a treat. Guides Adam and Murph, along with Arc’Teryx athlete Chad Sayers, navigated the crew to some of the best couloir skiing we’ve ever done. The first run began with spicy billy goat maneuver into a straight line, which opened up into some of the deepest snow of the season. Entering the white room happened often and was expressed with hooting and hollering the whole way down. There wasn’t a moment where we stopped smiling and laughing. Lucky for us, our guides were animals with thighs of steel, breaking trail through waist deep pow all the way back up for more. The next line was one for the books. A small spine leading perfectly into a walled couloir, allowing us to charge, slash and laugh the whole way down. After a charging day we were greeted with snacks and cold adult beverages in the parking lot.
Everyday there was a social event/ apres after skiing, with beer, tea and s’mores provided. The evenings had amazing dinners, presentations and awesome live local music. Everyone, including the athletes, hung out and introduced their new friends each day taking the time to get to know each and every person involved. If you haven’t attended before we highly recommend joining for 3 days of learning from the industry’s best. Making friends from around the world, future ski partners or even a new relationship. A massive bonus is skiing with the athletes you admire. There’s a lot to learn and the chance to shred with the pros doesn’t come very often. Thanks to the sponsors Atomic, Gore-Tex, Suunto, MSR, Scarpa, Giro, Yeti, Camp, Melvin Brewing, Exum Guides, POW, F-stop and especially Arc’Teryx. Who all had a tent setup showcasing new gear, prizes and even demos. Without them this one of a kind experience wouldn’t be possible.