It’s a sunny day in Late February. Teems of tourists and locals alike lounge around the revamped Jackson Hole base area. A local cover band cranks out yacht rock. It’s the ski world’s ideal. Amongst it all sits Hadley Hammer, professional skier and Jackson local, taking in the scene.Jackson has long been at the center of Hadley’s life, and the ease with which she navigates it is apparent.
But it wasn’t always the case. For years, Hadley lived on the east coast, first for college in New Hampshire, and later in Washington, DC. A far cry from rallying classic Teton lines and pushing the frontier of women’s freeskiing, that’s for sure. Skiing was put on the backburner. But like many, that siren song rings loud, and Hadley headed home – and shifted focus towards skiing.
After a stint chasing pow across Europe on the Freeride World Tour, Hadley returned home – and promptly started shooting with Teton Gravity Research. Since then,it’s been game on. Between knocking lines off the ever-expanding tick list, rallying human-powered expeditions in Alaska, and even producing a syndicated podcast, Hadley has carved out a niche for herself within the evolving landscape of skiing.
I feel like I have two lives. I grew up in Jackson, so I still have a few friends from highschool, and my family is still here. But I live in a cabin at the base of TetonVillage. I’ve got my life at the mountain, and then my life in town.
The Community aspect is still here, but it definitely feels like a different place. There’s a new kind of wealth – a different kinds of families are moving in.
But my hobbies are the same as they’ve always been. Climbing, hiking, skiing, camping – I’ve always loved those activities and will continue to. Jackson has all of those things right in our backyard.
I think it’s the best skiing in the US by far. I can’t imagine skiing anywhere else betweentrips. It’s got the best terrain, amazing snow, and the proximity to Teton National Park is insane. You can’t get that in Salt Lake.
Here, it’s just…Game on. There are so many shredders. You’ve essentially got to sprint to the top of the line, and block others from skiing it while cameras line up. It’s hard to keep the logistics of setting up a shot overshadow the actual skiing.
And this year, it’s like a different mountain. There’s just so much snow. I had to take about two weeks off, and then a crazy storm came through and knocked out power for almost a week.
I got gnarly frostbite on my toes while I was taking an Avalanche II/III course. My feet are always cold, so I didn’t think much of it. But by the time I took my boot off, my toes were black. It definitely set me back for a bit.
By the time I could ski again, I was blown away. Expert Chutes were practically a groomer. All the hits I always go to first to get by jumping legs back that are mellow don’t even exist. It’s been crazy.
The kids around here are so fun to ski with, too. I’m not coaching or anything; I just randomly link up with the kids from the program every now and then.
They remind you it’s really not that serious. It’s just about having fun in the mountains. Plus, they make me jump off of stuff I wouldn’t otherwise. They’ll look at hits, and all I’m thinking is, “the landing looks a little flat, and I’m a little older.” But it’s good to tap into that feeling.
I have been focusing on filming around Jackson. We filmed almost every day for a month and a half straight. A lot of those days were super productive.
But we haven’t seen the sun in so long. It keeps everyone out of the higher alpine zones. There are a couple of lines that I still want to get on, but I’ll have to wait for the sun to come back.
I’m splitting my time filming for TGR and the ESPN Real Resort Contest. I had hoped to travel more, but since everything has been so good in Wyoming this year, it’s kind of hard to leave.
There’s this small moment where you stand on top of a face, knowing that you have two minutes to show just how good you really can be on skis. I can’t really swing competing on the Freeride World Tour anymore, but covering the event for Powder allows me to tap into the scene that was so instrumental in my career.
I had 14 hours to make the trip to Alaska happen. I was at the LINE Sring Break 2016, and I got a call from The North Face asking if I could get to AK in two days.
They Just sent me a photo of the face. It’s called Corrugated. I’d never seen anything like it before. It looked insane, but I was down. I didn’t even know if I’d be able to ski ia spine, but I figured there was only one way to find out.
Oh, and we were going to approach by snowmobile and by foot, so there was that, too.
We sat in the RV for 25 days. The weather was awful. But finally, we got a three-day weather window. So we set out on the snowmobiles until we got the point where we had to start touring.
I was straddling a generator in this plastic sled trying to ski across this glacier to set up camp. It was the hardest workout I’ve ever had.
The next day, we got on top of the line, and skied it. If it wasn’t for Sam Anthematten, I don’t think it would have happened.
It was a struggle just to get onto the face. Sam had to dig through this massive cornice. The runnels were super icy, and there was a massive crevasse towards the bottom.
You could see the bottom of the line from the drop-in point. So steep. And I’d never even skied a spine before.
I had been standing up there for almost eight hours before I dropped. I almost backed out. But after all of that effort to get there, I wasn’t going to back off.
You feel the gravity as it pulls you down the face; I’ve never experienced that before. Plus, it was waist deep snow, so it was this really heady experience.
I just tried to survive it. I knew I wasn’t going to rip it. I focused on descending.
It looks so easy to ski spines. You see guys like Ian McIntosh and Sage just rip these fluted spines, but it’s so hard. There’s no way to learn that style of skiing besides actually going to Alaska.
And I’m hooked. It’s all I want to do. Go back to Alaska and really learn what they’re all about.
That process it what skiing is all about: constantly learning. There will always be skills that I want to learn and develop so I can keep doing this.
I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I didn’t come back to Jackson. I did my two years in a city, staring at a computer screen all day.
I lived in Adams Morgan in Washington, D.C. I had studied hotel management, and I was offered a job in D.C.
I was so poor — my rent was 1,500 a month — and we got by. We didn’t have AC, we kept the lights off; you know, typical dirtbag existence. I just happened to be in a major city.
Having a business background has helped so much. I know how to navigate discussions; I’ve made a spreadsheet before. It sound silly, but that’s half of it.
Especially to make it in a place like Jackson. It’s so expensive, and I know I can’t ride it out solely off of skiing.
I wanted to have something that was stimulating outside of skiing, so I started the podcast about women in non-traditional sports.
It’s called Nasicaa Cast. Powder picked it up, and now I’m focusing on Women within skiing. There are all of these women crushing it in all aspects of skiing, and I’d like to tell their stories.
Creating that back and forth is pretty difficult without losing that storytelling aspect. I think it’s important to develop these mediums, because you get more of the actual stories.
The Podcast has led to other opportunities, too. I’m going to Europe to cover the Freeride World Tour Finals in Verbier for Powder Magazine.
I’ll head to Chamonix after the competition, which I’m excited about. I love travelling around Europe.The terrain is so fun, and culturally, it’s pretty special.
And I’d like to head south to Argentina or Chile again in the summer time. I’ve gone the past two years for essentially their entire winter.
I feel so thankful that this is my life now, especially since I’veseen the other side. I’ve lived the career track lifestyle. Now, My job is to go skiing, and I live in Jackson. How cool is that?! I couldn’t think of anything better.