Recieved this letter in December 2003 from Rich Shiffrin:
As an occasional (one-two weeks/year) Jackson backcountry skier usually during a conference held each January), I'm hesitant to post anything on a site read by locals who ski more per month than I ski in a lifetime, and have forgotten more about Jackson backcountry skiing than I will ever know.
Yet I have skied the Jackson backcountry for some 25 years, and this encourages me to post a few comments. Last year I had an opportunity to ski with Tom (as guide) for the first time (previously I had used Jay Pistono, and will continue to do so--I have only terrific things to say about Jay--he is a great person and great guide).
I decided to try Tom because he had mentioned the possibility of skiing some lesser known areas. The experience was indescribable--skiing mountains the size of the Jackson Hole ski resort that have been skiied perhaps three or four times in the history of mankind (mostly by Tom and his friends).
If anyone reading this is interested in this prospect, I'd strongly recommend hiring Tom to show the way: many hours (or days) can be spent scoping out suitable mountains, approaches and route finding. Just as important, Tom is a great person, not just a great guide. Sure there is a danger suggesting such a thing--some of these mountains might receive two or even three visits a year, raising spectres of overcrowding, tracked powder, moguls, and environmental degradation. Better get in soon, before these crowds ruin everything.
Rich Shiffrin, Bloomington, Indiana
Questions and comments about my ski and climbing guiding.
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