Saturday, February 5, 2011

Jackson Hole, Wyoming 2011

View from Fritz's house
Our group in Rock Springs Bowl with Cody Peak (10,118 feet ) in background

This post will focus on our 7 day trip to Jackson Hole to see and ski with my childhood friend who I reunited with through facebook two years ago, Fritz Wieters and his boys. Connor and I went for the second year in a row. It was much more comfortable this year as we knew Fritz again and the routine. His boys were really looking forward to it as well as they don't get to spend 4 days with their dad that much let alone ski from 9 to 4 every day and miss two days of school. Connor missed 4 days of school but he earned it with nearly straight A's for two marking periods. One B and he made the high honor roll.

Connor and I had an amazing trip. We arrived on Thursday at noon and Fritz picked us and our 6 checked bags (free on Continental as were the tickets due to miles) in his crew cab pick up. Fritz and his goatee covered bottom lip looks the Jackson part. We went to lunch at the Snake River Brewing Company and then we dropped him at his office and we went and picked up the three boys from their respective schools. Otto (15), Cameron (11) and Quinn (6). It did not take long til we picked up back where we left off last year and did some shopping around the famous elk antlered arches of downtown Jackson.

Suffice to say that the skiing was great with temps from 22 to 31 degrees above zero (that will be important to remember later in the trip) but only a total of one new inch of snow fell on top of the 27 feet they have already received. We skiied everything but the expert chutes on the mountain and even went beyond the ski area boundary on one day for two runs through an adjacent valley where you leave through a gate at the top of the resort and ski back in at the bottom for an amazingly empty and peaceful trip thorugh Rock Springs Bowl. This is legal but you should carry an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe which our group did. The avalanche hazzard was rated low due to no recent snowfall and all went well.

Did that for four straight days and even caught the first tram on two days where you stuff 100 skiers in a big red box (our family rode the previous edition of this tram which held about 55-60 people) and zip to the top of the mountain in 9 minutes gaining 4,139 feet of vertical feet for the longest descent in the lower 48 states of skiing. It is all black and double black diamond skiing off the top but actually very managable even when Connor was on his snowboard (1 day out of 4).

That all went well and when it was time to go home, all that midwest weather just shut down any of our connecting flights if we had left Jackson and gotten to either Chicago or Denver. So we did not even go to the airport, I just rebooked us for the next day. Fritz gave us his truck and Connor and I drove up into Grand Teton National Park for a look around. The temps were in the -20 and it was blowing 30 at the summit of the ski area making for a -81 with the windchill. Saw Moose, Fox, Big Horn Sheep and Elk on the national refuge. On our departure day, we woke up to -31 and had to hope it would warm to -20 or better for the planes to run. By 1:39 p.m. when we departed it had warmed to -10 with full sunshine. There were windchill advisories for the ski area and I counted about 6 skiers on the hill with the spotting scope at Fritz' house. So all in all, we got lucky on the conditions considering what we could have faced. Even though we came home a day late, Connor did not miss any more school because Hudson had a snow day on Wed.

Thanks to my amazing wife, Heidi, who made this trip guilt free for us and suffered a gall bladder attack while we were gone and now has confirmed stones via ultra sound and will likely need surgery to remove her gall bladder shortly. This is a typical side affect of the chemo therapy Heidi has been undergoing which has delivered up to a 10% reduction in the tumors in her liver. But this has really sapped her energy this January so I guess it is nice to have answers. Heidi will suspend her Sandostatin injections until the gall bladder is addressed.

Michael & Heidi's Info

What is going on in our lives and occassional updates on Heidi's fight with Carcinoid Cancer.