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Home Road Trip I Finally Took a Mountain Collective Road Trip and it was Incredible

I Finally Took a Mountain Collective Road Trip and it was Incredible

by Staff

I love ski trips. Over the years I have been on many throughout the western U.S. and Canada, including Colorado, California, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and British Columbia. The trips were typically to a single destination, however, for years I had always wanted to get the multi-resort Mountain Collective Pass and go on an epic road trip. Thanks to a friend’s milestone birthday, this was the year that finally happened.

As I was packing up at 5 a.m. to leave my home in Oregon, it started snowing. This would be a precursor to how the trip would go. Twelve hours later we settled into our first home base in Utah with a promising forecast on the horizon.

Our first day brought nine inches of fresh powder to Snowbasin, Utah. It was snowing with strong winds and much of the mountain was on wind hold and avalanche control. We spent the majority of the morning on the Wildcat and Middle Bowl lifts seeking out the best powder.

Eventually, the Strawberry Canyon side of the mountain opened. The best run of the day was a short hike to access the run White Room. I dropped in through the dynamite debris and couldn’t believe how soft and deep it was. It was the best run of my season to date.

On the Strawberry Gondola. Credit: C. Miller

After a late lunch, we were able to get more fresh tracks thanks to the snow and blowing wind. At about 3 p.m. we got to the top of the John Paul Express and saw they surprisingly opened the Allen Peak Tram. We rode the tram up to be treated with another powder run and continued down the course of the 2002 Olympic men’s downhill course. We took another run that took us to the closing of the mountain. What a first day.

Day 2: Snowbird, Utah

Credit: SnowBrains

We decided to go to Snowbird due to reports that the Mineral Basin area had not opened the day prior. We jumped on the Gadzoom chair followed by the Little Cloud lift to get to the top of the mountain. About 40 people were waiting for the rope to drop in Mineral Basin. Our timing was impeccable because while we were still tightening our boots, they dropped the ropes, and we were treated to an even better powder run than at Snowbasin the day before.

After three trips through the basin, it was all skied out. The rest of the day we spent on the front getting great wind-blown, buffed snow in the Cirque, around the Gad 2 chair, and off the tram. It was snowing and windy all day again. Another great day.

The gang at Snowbird. Credit: SnowBrains

Day 3: Alta, Utah

Casey getting after it. Credit: SnowBrains

There was about five inches of new snow at Alta when we got to the ski area, and I could tell it was the lightest and driest snow of the trip so far. The new snow was just enough to refresh the mountain and it continued to snow up until lunch. We spent the entire morning on the Collins Chair taking the high traverse and hitting runs like Alf’s High Rustler and Eddie’s High To Nowhere.

After lunch, the skies cleared for the first time on the trip, and we were treated to great visibility and more powder seeking off the Supreme and Sugarloaf lifts. We had to call it a day by 3 p.m. since we were moving on to our next destination of the trip.

Credit: SnowBrains

I couldn’t believe our luck because the snow forecast had left Utah and was headed for the Tetons. After some serious winter driving, we made it to Driggs, Idaho by 9:30 p.m. and started planning our next couple of days and drooling over the forecast. We were inadvertently storm chasing.

Day 4: Grand Targhee, Wyoming  

Powder through gate 4. Credit: SnowBrains

Our good luck continued with 10 inches of new snow at Grand Targhee with seven of them falling overnight. It was still snowing lightly and there were thick clouds and poor visibility. We started the day by taking the Shoshone lift to get over to the Blackfoot chair. We spent the first part of the morning taking the Blackfoot Traverse and dropping into the trees wherever we pleased. The powder was a little heavy with occasional wind lips, but it was still crazy fun and the trees helped with visibility.

We decided to check out the main Dreamcatcher chair despite the continued thick fog. The snow was even better and soon the clouds began to lift to reveal that a majority of the terrain hadn’t even been touched. We ripped the soft snow down perfect fall lines until lunch.

Credit: SnowBrains

In the afternoon we explored the terrain on the Sacajawea and Colter lifts. It was now partly sunny, and we were treated to a decent view of The Grand Teton. The highlight of the afternoon was entering a backcountry gate we found and getting fresh tracks three times through it. It may have been the best day of the trip and après at The Trap Bar and Grill had an amazing vibe.

The Grand Teton in all its glory. Credit: SnowBrains

Day 5: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming

Credit: SnowBrains

We woke up to fog and a dusting of snow on the west side of the Tetons. As we made our way over Teton Pass to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR), the sun made a full appearance. JHMR had received 20 inches of snow in the last 48 hours, including one inch overnight, but this would be the first time on our trip it was not a full-on powder day.

One of our early runs down would prove that, as we had to navigate hard, chunky moguls. We spent the rest of the day navigating and exploring the entire mountain. The upper third of the mountain still held some decent packed powder.

The famous Corbet’s Couloir. Credit: SnowBrains

For our last run of the day, we took the Aerial Tram to the top of Rendezvous Mountain and peaked into Corbet’s Couloir. It wasn’t open and I likely would not have tried to ski it if it was, but it was cool to see the iconic run up close.

We had originally planned an option to drive to Big Sky, Montana, next, but with no new snow there either, we booked a last-minute hotel in the town of Jackson to hit JHMR again the next day.

Day 6: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming

Credit: SnowBrains

Day two at JHMR was nothing short of amazing. We booked a private lesson, and it exceeded all expectations.

We met our instructor, Ricardo, at 8:15 a.m. and had the privilege of riding one of the first Aerial Tram rides of the day to the top of the mountain before the resort even opened. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and amazingly there was zero wind. We relaxed at the top, admired the view, and checked out Corbett’s Cabin and smelled the freshly cooked waffles. Once the mountain opened at 9 a.m. we had the green light to start skiing.

We told Ricardo our goal was to learn the mountain and get some tips to improve our skiing along the way. He certainly delivered as he led us to the best snow and gave helpful and applicable instructions along the way.

Learning from Ricardo. Credit: SnowBrains

The highlight of the day was hiking the Headwall to earn some turns. I thought our powder turns for the week had come to an end, but we traversed past Cody Bowl and found untracked lines down what I think was a run called Shot 9. Throughout the day we mixed it up between impeccable groomers and more technical off-piste runs. Around 2:30 p.m. we had to call it a day because we were driving to Hailey, Idaho for our last stop of the trip.

Made it to the top of the Headwall. Credit: SnowBrains

Day 7: Sun Valley, Idaho

On top of Bald Mountain. Credit: SnowBrains

It was cold and clear for our final day at Sun Valley and we knew it would primarily be a groomer day. I’m not sure our legs could have handled much else. We started the day by taking the Roundhouse Gondola to the Christmas chair and hitting the runs on the front that led back to Lookout Express and Christmas Chair.

We then took the Lookout lift to see if the bowls off of the top of Bald Mountain had softened up. They had not, so we explored the Seattle Ridge area of the mountain and continued to take in the 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains.

Sun Valley Gondola. Credit: SnowBrains

From there we went to the Warm Springs side of the mountain for some long, sustained groomers with an occasional dip in the trees. There was some decent chalky buffed snow on the north-facing slopes. We had explored every region of the mountain by the time we took a late lunch at the outdoor tables in the River Run Plaza at the base of the mountain. In the late afternoon, as the sun was getting lower and the runs started to get icy, I decided it was time to call it a day.

This trip exceeded all of my expectations. We got incredibly lucky with fresh snow and sunny conditions at some of the country’s best resorts. Each resort we visited was amazing and unique in its own way and offered something different. It would be hard to even say which one was my favorite. Ideally, we would have made the trip twice as long to be able to ski multiple days at each resort, but with jobs and families to get back to, we squeezed it all into nine days.

It was immensely fun, with a ton of skiing, a lot of driving, and we got to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Epic would be appropriate to describe it as it will not be soon forgotten, if ever.

Forecast for the week. Credit: Open Snow
road triproad trip
Abbreviated route of our road trip. Credit: Google Maps

More videos courtesy of Casey Miller: Snowbasin, Snowbird, Alta, Grand Targhee, Jackson Hole, Sun Valley

Tim is knee-deep. Credit: SnowBrains
Me with the Snowbasin moose. Credit: SnowBrains
Credit: SnowBrains
View of Little Cottonwood Canyon on the Snowbird Tram. Credit: SnowBrains
Alta. Credit: SnowBrains
Alta. Credit: SnowBrains
Clouds clearing at Alta. Credit: SnowBrains
Afternoon powder at Alta. Credit: SnowBrains
A little clearing at Alta. Credit: SnowBrains
Leaving Alta. Credit: SnowBrains
Steve throwing snow at Grand Targhee. Credit: SnowBrains
View from Grand Targhee. Credit: SnowBrains
The ridge at Grand Targhee. Credit: SnowBrains
Gated access powder. Credit: SnowBrains
Credit: Steve R.
Driving into Teton Village. Credit: SnowBrains
Credit: SnowBrains
Crazy on the Tram. Credit: SnowBrains
Below Corbet’s Couloir. Credit: SnowBrains
View of Cody Peak. Credit: SnowBrains
Waiting for the Tram. Credit: SnowBrains
Fine accommodations in the town of Jackson. Credit: SnowBrains
Private lesson on day two at JHMR. Credit: SnowBrains
Perfect corduroy. Credit: C. Miller
Credit: SnowBrains
Getting instruction. Credit: SnowBrains
Hiking the Headwall. Credit: SnowBrains
Almost to the top of the Headwall. Credit: Steve R.
Fresh tracks days after the storm. Credit: SnowBrains
Credit: SnowBrains
Credit: SnowBrains
Credit: SnowBrains
Credit: SnowBrains
Sun Valley. Credit: SnowBrains
Credit: SnowBrains
Ready to head home. Credit: SnowBrains 

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