Snowboarding News | Monday July 10, 2017 | Shared By: Jackson Hole
Back this summer is the “Get Local” blog series, where we are going to take turns sharing our favorite Jackson Hole summer adventures, events and more. The goal of this inside look at summer in Jackson Hole is to be equal parts fun and motivation and to get you out on an adventure of your own.
This week we are happy to welcome Jess Baker, a former JHMR Ambassador and Ski Guide/Instructor to write about her experience helping the Via Ferrata open.
Connie Kemmerer and I ski together in the winter. She is a fantastic skier, owner of the business, and an advocate for nearly every good thing that is Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. A few years ago Connie spoke of a grand idea to build a Via Ferrata at Jackson Hole. At the time it was a dream, a vision, a twinkle in her eye.
Blog author, Jess Baker, seen here on the Via Ferrata.
Today Connie’s vision comes true. Jackson Hole has officially opened the first Via Ferrata on forest service leased land in America. This is the first of its kind. The few other Via Ferratas that exist in the USA are built on private land in just a handful of states. What is so impressive about this Via Ferrata is that it is a new chapter in Teton climbing. Prior to the opening of the Via Ferrata, to experience a taste of the Teton alpine climbing environment, one had to train and gain a bigger skill set in order to experience the alpine in this way. The Via Ferrata has just made it easier to do so.
For the past few weeks, I came on board to help the Via Ferrata operation get up and running. Along with fellow Exum Mountain Guide Jim Williams, I was in charge of training the new route guides and getting familiar with the routes in order to help with operations.
Looking across the Shot 12 Bridge. A @gopro photo.
The first week of exploration on the routes proved that we had a big snow year, and getting to the base of the routes in Casper Bowl proved to be a bit of a snow, boots, crampons, and ice ax endeavor. As the sun’s power did its work, the snow slowly but surely has melted away to provide easy access to the base of all the routes.
The JHMR Via Ferrata offers two practice areas, four main routes (two intermediate and two advanced), and a suspension bridge over the ski line referred to as “Shot 12” by ski patrol. It was built by retired Exum Guides and the company Adventures Partners run by Mike Friedman, also a long time Exum Guide. In short, the routes were built by some of the Tetons brightest pioneering climbers and guides, including Wes Bunch, Jim Nigro, and Dave Carmen. These guys have an eye for good rock and a classic line, so you can rest assured this Via Ferrata is a classic.
My first full day out on the Via Ferrata with fellow lead guide Jim Williams was a blast! We climbed up Ranger Ridge and crossed the suspension bridge for the first time. I kept saying “this is so cool!” I really enjoyed the position and the views. The next few days we spent organizing all the gear and going through the engineering specs of the Via Ferrata. A few days later Mike Friedman came in to help with our new route guide training.
Guides crossing the Shot 12 Bridge for the first time a few weeks back.
Our eager new guides joined us for a week of training. As I got to know the group, I really enjoyed their energy and excitement for the job they were taking on. We covered a lot of technical skills including knots, belay systems, rope management, vertical rescue, and more. And then, of course, we got to explore the routes. On the final day of training, I spent some time with Mike Friedman over at the advanced Shot 10 buttress routes, which really are the cream of the crop. He told me stories from their time building the routes and the vision put into each section. I was impressed with all the energy and infrastructure put into it all!
The next week JHMR opened for the Via Ferrata for the first time. Every customer coming back with a smile on their face. So if you are considering checking out the Via Ferrata, I highly recommend it. You too will become part of a new chapter in Teton climbing.
Jessica Baker is a professional skier, mountain guide and former athlete ambassador for JHMR. Along with sightings at the Via Ferrata, you can find Jessica guiding for Exum Guides in the summer and Jackson Hole Alpine Guides in the winter. To follow her adventures at JHMR and beyond follow her Instagram account: @skidiva
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