Words by Madison Ostergren
With large flakes pouring down upon us, I clicked my poles together and pushed off. As powder began flying in every direction, I floated down the slope – with a large grin plastered across my face. After joining the guide at the bottom of the pitch, I looked up at the rest of the crew and watched with pleasure as each of them skied down, enjoying every deep turn.
It was a cold and blustery February morning as I drove into Grand Teton National Park to meet up with my fellow DPS crew members (Mike Cannon and Thomas Laakso), The Mountain Guides, and the Backcountry Riders – a group of DPS devotees who traveled from far and wide to join us for the weekend. Day two of DPS’ annual Backcountry Riders Camp was already lining up to be a memorable one. The previous week Jackson Hole had gotten completely hammered with pow, and boy-oh-boy I knew our crew would be in for a treat.
Legs sore from skiing copious amounts of powder the week prior, I drove Jade (my trusty Subaru) into Grand Teton National Park to meet up with the whole crew gathered at the Taggart Trailhead. Upon arrival, I saw that all of the riders were dialed, each with avalanche equipment and proper backcountry gear, a pair of Pagoda Tour 112s with fresh skins, warm clothing, and stoke shining on their faces. I swapped my Pagoda Tour 100s for a pair of Pagoda Tour 112s (great decision for the day) as these fatter skis would surely be greatly appreciated. Without saying anything, I smiled to myself as I knew we were going to get the goods.
The Mountain Guides briefly talked about our plan and route for the day, a few helpful tips and tricks, a brief history of the snowpack, the day’s potential avalanche dangers, what we planned to avoid, and what we were going to shred. It quickly became clear that having an experienced guide lead us through the day would result in a plentiful powder harvest. With large grin-inducing snowflakes landing on my eyelids, we made our way up the skin track. As I introduced myself to the other riders that were part of the camp, I was surprised that a few of them hailed from the Midwest, one fellow in particular had lived only 30 minutes from the small town in Northern Michigan where I was born and raised.
Onward and upward. One Twix bar and sandwich later, we approached the top of our line at 9,975 ft., the excitement of the entire group seemed to be on par with mine. We ripped our skins, donned our helmets, and circled up to discuss our descent before dropping in. We planned to ski ‘25 Short’, a fun, powdery line. Then, with what felt like a football field of lanes and options to make turns down, there was zero problem finding untracked powder as we all took turns skiing.
“Dropping...Yahoo!” hollered one of The Mountain Guides as he plunged in and out of the ocean of fluffy white. We could see his head bob up and down as he submerged and re-submerged into the deep powder. We all looked at each other at the top and it wasn’t hard to tell that everyone was psyched to make fresh turns.
We continued skiing, making our way down 3000+ vertical feet of untouched pow as a photographer snapped photos. When we would stop to check in, we all had the chance to watch and admire each other's deep turns, which only added to the overflowing stoke. After cruising down the mountain it was time to reconvene and head back to the cars in the lot where the adventure had started that morning. We skated back to the trailhead, cracked open a cold one, reminisced about our powdery adventure, and cheers-ed an epic day in the mountains together.
Standing in the frosty parking lot at the end of the day, a sense of appreciation rushed through me. I felt a strong sense of connection with the guides, the beautiful mountains, and the riders with whom I shared the skintrack. How beautiful it is to be able to share something so special with people you met only hours before, this is the type of feeling that can only be achieved after a great day of skiing together. From complete strangers when I pulled into the snowy lot in the beginning of the day to new found friends, this feeling of community was built while sharing an unwavering passion for the outdoors, for the mountains, and for skiing.
This season, DPS Skis and The Mountain Guides held successful Backcountry Riders Camps in Grand Teton National Park and the Wasatch Mountains. With plans for more Riders Camps in the future, keep your eyes peeled for announcements about future trips that might be up your alley.