Get Out: Hiking JHMR’s Headwall

By on February 13, 2013
Kristi Onzik, Allie Knetzger, Ainsley Cooper and Galen Strasen atop the Headwall at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Photo Credit: Kristi Onzik

Kristi Onzik, Allie Knetzger, Ainsley Cooper and Galen Strasen atop the
Headwall at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Photo Credit: Kristi Onzik

Writing my first “Get Out” column is a little intimidating. I’m in advertising sales and haven’t written anything longer than an e-mail since I graduated college a year and a half ago.

My biggest challenge was choosing a topic. I racked my brain for four days trying to find some outdoor activity to write about and came up short until last Saturday when a surge of inspiration hit me.

While riding the Sublette lift at the Village, my friend suggested we hike up the Headwall. I hadn’t done it yet this season, so I agreed, figuring I could use the workout. Plus I did not want to get separated from my friends for the rest of the day. But it wasn’t until I reached the top that I remembered why I love doing it so much. To put it simply, it makes me feel good.

The hike up is a bitch, but it gets easier every time. It probably takes the average person somewhere between 10 to 15 minutes to get to the top, but once you get up there you’re going to want to ski down and do it all over again. People are typically congregated at the top of the bootpack catching their breath, taking pictures and just smiling. Why? It might have something to do with the endorphins pumping through their veins, but it could also be due to the panoramic views of the majestic Tetons that surround them. These sights take effort to achieve – and knowing you earned them makes them look that much better.

You may be wondering why I haven’t started to talk about the ski down. Well that’s probably because it was mediocre at best – at least where I skied. The snow was hard and crunchy, and if you don’t know what you’re doing it could be a cause for a torn ACL. But for some reason, by the time I got to the bottom, I didn’t care. I guess I’m realizing that it’s not just the skiing that I love about hiking the Headwall, but the calm sense of achievement I get from doing it. A natural high, if you will.

I’m sure many Jacksonites will read this and think of me as an amateur skier. And in comparison to them, they’re probably right. This is only my second winter here, and I’m not going to pretend I’m the extreme skier that I’m not.

But it turns out, I’m not the only person who feels this way about hiking the headwall. It was one of my friend’s first time up there on Saturday, and when we got to the bottom she shared that doing it made her feel like “the most accomplished girl on the mountain.” I’m not sure whether or not this is true, but part of me always feels the same way.


About Allie Knetzger

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