Photo By: Jana Rogers
I got a call from Greg, a photographer based out of Jackson saying Julian Carr was headed to Targhee and asked if I wanted to join. I've never skied Targhee while the lifts were running, only early season before they opened. In five winters in Jackson I never got to explore the famous cliff hucking zone of the Targhee backcountry. I had the next 5 days off work so I was in for sure!
The first day was overcast with 10” of new snow, Greg and I met Julian up on the hill. He was already stomping out the takeoff on the infamous "diving board" that had been featured in many early ski films when we arrived. I stood on top of the cliff and it looked like a long way to the landing. I helped Julian stomp out the perfect takeoff, wondering to myself whether I would hit it or not.
Skier: Julian Carr
I watched Julian set up to send this 60-foot cliff into the flat light and mostly invisible landing. We threw tree branches off the cliff for some depth perception. Julian sent the air, a massive front flip and stuck deep into the landing. He climbed out of his bomb hole and said it was good to go. I lined up and hit it just next to where he landed, I too front flipped and landed safely in deep snow, I climbed out ready for more.
We hit a couple more smaller airs that day, mainly just scoping out the lines we wanted to ski the next day. The following morning the resort reported 9" of new snow. As we made the drive from Jackson, it was apparent that there was at least 9" in the parking lot and it was going to be much deeper up high. We rode up the lift and made our first run down in at least 25" of new snow! The gate to Mary's Nipple was not open the day before, so after skiing a few insanely deep runs inbounds, Julian, his girlfriend Jana, Greg and I made our way up. We traversed to the gate, coming up on a patroller trenching through waist deep snow. We offered to punch in the trail if she let us through the gate before she closed it for the day. It took us probably 35 minutes to make it up the normally 10-minute hike. At the top, I was standing in snow up to my waist and we could barely move. We traversed to steeper terrain and I grabbed my gopro stick to film. The snow instantly covered my head as I skied, it was the deepest turns of my life about and I had to stop halfway down to see where I was going. Julian and Greg skied down barely visible under the snow. It was literally 50" of blower powder, the deepest snow I've ever skied. After our amazing day we grabbed a few drinks at the base and headed home.
Skier: Owen Leeper Photo: Jana Rogers
Thinking it wouldn't be as good the next day for snow and weather, we took a day off from shooting, so I skied at Jackson Hole. The wind had affected all the snow and was not nearly as good. I checked the weather for the next couple days and saw it was going to be sunny. I talked to Julian and he said we should try again at Targhee. The fog was rolling in and out of the cliff zone which made it hard to get the shots we wanted in good light.
We got a couple clear moments and sent the diving board again, but his time with more speed. I brought my laser rangefinder to check the height. I measured the distance from the landing to the cliff and the angles with my inclinometer, using trigonometry to calculate the height of the cliff to our landing at roughly 90 vertical feet! As a secondary measurement I took a screen grab of my video taken from the side and used my body as the scale. It too showed it was about 15 times my height and about 90 feet.
We scoped a couple more airs and waited for light as the clouds kept blocking our shots, we hit a couple more but knew we had to come back the next day for more.
The next day was perfectly clear. We started on the upper cliffs with early morning light and shot some photos there. One thing Julian and I had talked about for a couple years was a simultaneous air. Julian found a great spot to do it and we got Greg in position for the shot under the cliff as we both aired together off a 40-foot cliff over him.
Stoked on getting the simul air, we decided to go hit the diving board again with blue skies and try a few different angles. Julian hit it first again and said it was still soft so I sent it too.
Skier: Julian Carr Photo: Jana Rogers
We had been eying this air we called "corner pocket" because it was tucked away at the end of the bowl with a perfect triangular rock with a good takeoff. We headed that way for our last air of the day with afternoon sun on it. Julian offered it to me to hit first, but I said it was his idea and he could have it first. He dropped in and sent a massive 70-foot front flip, taking most the snow with him off the take off and setting a small slide in the landing that I though took out my landing. He radioed up saying to aim far right and I’ll hit fresh snow. So, I too sent the big front flip off the cliff. I landed in soft snow, but right after I hit, I started falling upside down, further into the hill, not knowing what was happening I threw both my arms out, stopping my fall. My skis were still on the surface and I was able to climb out of my bomb hole. I looked down at what had happened and I had landed right over a deep cave next to the rock that went down at least another 15 feet. I don't know if I would have been able to get out of that one, feeling very lucky to have missed falling upside down into it. Julian and I high fived on an epic week with huge airs and everyone skiing away safely. We met up with Greg and Jana for some celebratory beers at the base. It was the best week of the year and will hard to beat!
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