Jackson Hole Wyoming (US)

Corbet's Couloir

Top of Corbet's Couloir

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Jackson Hole WY: Corbets Couloir
Corbet's Couloir

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Jackson Hole Corbet's Couloir:

Corbet's Couloir is marked on the Jackson Hole trail map as an advanced ski run. This may be stretching the truth a little as it is not ski-able by most, your skis will leave the ground (are you jumping or skiing at this point?) and "advanced" is an understatement. It is worth heading over to the top of the couloir to take a look as it is both magnificent and deathly intimidating (justifiably). There are plenty of other ways to get down the mountain and I would encourage alternatives routes.

Corbet's Couloir was named after Barry Corbet who first spotted the couloir in 1960, but it was not skied until 1967 when ski patrol Lonnie Ball made the first attempt. Since then, it has become a skiing legend.

No matter what their initial intentions may have been, most of those who arrive at Corbet's are there to watch. One will have a good view all along the Couloir from the entrance. The only blind spot may be near the very top on the skier's right side where the cornice will mask one's view. The area may get crowded with skiers trying to psyche themselves up to ski the couloir, but odds are they won't. Another favorite viewing location is the rock plateau on the skiers right where there is a clear view of the entrance but not of the run through the couloir itself. This area often has bare rock and requires that one remove their skis. Whether you have the intention to ski Corbet's or not, Corbet's Couloir is definitely worth a visit.

Panoramic view of Corbet's (tour of five spherical panoramic images best viewed in full screen mode)
Conditions and terrain shown are indicative of the time these photos were taken and not for any other given time.

Skiing Corbet's Couloir:

My advice to those who want to "ski" Corbet's and have never "skied" the couloir before, is to watch at least one person descend before attempting it. The entrance is the most challenging part. Most advanced skiers are fine after they navigate the entrance. The entrance changes week to week and from year to year. Viewing the photos on this site or watching a video only tells you about the conditions at the time the photos or video were taken. Conditions are almost guaranteed to have changed. Admittedly, the year these photos were taken was one of the easiest approaches in its history. This article would not exist if it had been otherwise.

A second note of advice is to have a friend observe you just in case something goes horribly wrong. You may need an advocate to call in for medical help. Also note that deep powder allows people to be brave as it brakes your speed and makes falls softer.

Jackson Hole Tram

The journey begins with a tram ride to the top

Entrance to Corbet's Couloir

Entrance to Corbet's Couloir: When you get there, study the entrance and plan your approach. It changes dramatically from year to year or even month to month, depending on the snowfall.

Corbet's Couloir runout

Inside the Couloir, the run is ski-able by most advanced skiers

Inside the Couloir

Looking up from inside the couloir

At the bottom of the Couloir

Looking up from the bottom of the couloir

Trail map for Corbet's Couloir at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Trail map view

Tips for stalling:

  • Get food (waffles) at the top of the tram. Then get more food. Beware that it may complicate surgery if you later have internal injuries.
  • "I want to watch a few more attempt this before I settle on which line to take."
  • "I don't like the lighting. Perhaps tomorrow."
  • "My mom would miss me. I had better not."
  • "I find the crowd of onlookers intimidating" (clearly not the couloir itself)
  • "It looked so much easier when viewed online."
  • "My testicles just shrunk. I don't feel so brave right now."

King and Queen of Corbet's competition:

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort hosts a King and Queen of Corbet's freeride competition to find the best male and female big mountain skiers and snowboarders. The event is held on the best days in a five day period and there is a large monetary reward for the winners and for those who place 2nd and 3rd. Judging is based on the degree of difficulty, innovation and control.

S & S Couloir:

If Corbet's is too easy for you, there is S & S Couloir right next to Corbet's. It is usually roped off because one must sign the Jackson Hole release of liability forms to enter. This entrance requires a precise leap into the couloir with a simultaneous landing and turn to avoid a rock face which could easily ruin your day. It's no contest between rocks and humans, rocks win every time.

S & S Couloir ski video:
Skiing "S & S Couloir" at Jackson Hole WY.

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