Photography by: Justin Mayers
In below freezing weather, Ranyon d’Arge and his crew hang on ropes over the edge of Corbet’s Couloir, one of the most admired and feared ski features in the world. Towering over the rest of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and the valley below, Corbet’s is spectacular, daunting and, for those who are daring enough to take the leap, the thrill of a lifetime. Ranyon and his team hover hundreds of feet above flat ground, roped into the side of the cliff with a standard harness, steel rungs, a cable system and a DMOS Shovel carabinered to their hips. The men, who have lots of rope confidence, have spent hours digging, sculpting and shaping Corbet’s in an attempt to enhance the natural features that this formidable giant has to offer. All of this is in preparation for the first ever Kings and Queens of Corbet’s.
The competition, to be held on the most optimal of the five days between January 31st and February 4th, will feature some of the world’s greatest skiers and snowboarders, including Hana Beaman, Rob Kingwill and Griffin Post. According to Ranyon, working with the athletes while sculpting Corbet’s has been a key factor in building a safe feature and ensuring their success for the competition. Ranyon worked one on one with professional riders, taking into consideration their desired lines of descent.
"This has all become possible, thanks to the DMOS Alpha Shovel. These shovels are game changers for many reasons”, says Ranyon, thrilled by their extendable shafts. “It’s been great”, he says. “We’ll even take two DMOS Shovels and marry them together to get a longer handle, which has just been outstanding”. The team uses techniques like this to build kickers, shave off cornices and cut out snow to make the terrain more skiable.
Ranyon also says the shovels provide great mobility. “Throw a carabiner on it and clip it to your belt. They ride great. They’re easy to snowboard with, they compact down and they’re light-weight, which makes a huge difference in difficult terrain”. The DMOS shovels played a key role in making this competition successful and safe, especially in the mouth of something as prodigious as Corbet’s Couloir.
In fact, though for many locals Corbet’s is a part of the daily routine, hosting a competition in a feature this powerful is truly spectacular. “We’re so thankful for our mountain”, says Ranyon. “Corbet’s has this energy and it’s pretty special. You can just feel it when you climb up there. Grown men stand at the top with white knuckles and shaking legs. It really gives you a wonderful feeling in your heart when you do accomplish it”.
Photo: Bob Woodall
The thrill of conquering Corbet’s and its optimal conditions are why men and women alike are venturing to Jackson Hole to participate in this rider-judged competition. Ranyon and his crew have a big responsibility, shaping the cornices and perfecting the runs for more speed. “We’re trying to make it more like it is when you roll up on an early morning and it’s perfect, with an 8-foot vert ramp”, says Ranyon. “For three years of my life I would scare myself before sleep about what I wanted to do into Corbet’s. It’s so big and scary, but you just have to do it. You have to stop thinking about it at night because it just keeps you awake”. Now, Ranyon hangs over the edge of the monster he once feared, using DMOS’ tools to perfectly mold the legendary run.