Q: You reached 100,359 vertical feet for the GU Mountain Challenge!! What was your favorite single adventure you took?
A: That feels like asking “so what was your favorite drink” following a guy’s bachelor party. Ha! The month felt like a blur. The one lap that stands out the most was skiing off the SE ridge of Taylor late in the day after the temps had fallen to single digits. Out of 10 years in the Tetons, this might be the one deepest lap I’ve ever had. If I was any shorter, I’d legit need to stop for air.
Q: Do you have a vertical goal for next year’s mountain challenge?
A: I finished the month and said “I had more in the tank”. I don’t know how much more, especially with a full-time job, being ‘required’ to ride a snowmobile a fair amount on the weekends and all the other responsibilities of life, but I knew I had something more. Maybe 150K? I thought that, then March hit. It seems clear to me how much of my success in February was conditions driven. While we may not have had perfect stability through the month, which really did limit where I could go, we did have the best quality of snow a skier could ask for. Literally, nearly record breaking. Its easy to motivate for a second (or sometimes third) lap sitting at your desk when you know it’ll be fun. It’s much (much) harder to motivate to go do some survival skiing.
One of the big drivers to my success is ease of access. I did the entire month on Teton Pass, mostly split between State Line and Coal Creek. Those areas are great with respect to quick access, but can get skied out more quickly and get hit with more sun than some of the shady parts of the park. So in short, without good snow quality, I won’t back up my performance in February. But the goal lingers…
Q: How long have you been training with Wright Training? And how much do you feel your efforts in the gym have attributed to the vertical MILES you’ve gained?
A: I’ve been coming to Wright Training since the gym opened in Jackson (or there about). The gym has grown to be a cornerstone of my fitness & overall ability to enjoy the things we’re so lucky to do in the mountains. While I could write an entire dissertation about the “value add” of going to the gym, with respect to vertical ascending specifically I think the biggest thing it helps me with is injury prevention. Skinning & hiking (with a heavy pack) is not a natural human movement and creates large muscle imbalances. The gym has proven instrumental in preventing nagging lower back, hip flexor and knee issues driven by these imbalances. I’m also over 200 pounds, so the impacts to the joints & body can be a bit bigger, making all this even more important. As a testament to the gym, at the end of the month I didn’t even take a day off (after skiing 28 days straight). I felt fine. I’m 100% positive the gym is what allows me to stay out there, day after day, month after month.
Q: Do you have any trail snacks or lucky charms you HAVE to take with you each time?
A: Lucky charm was my dog Tucker. He came with me almost every time. Pretty good for an 8 year old! As far as food goes, this was something I realized I had to be smarter about than I usually am. I’m kind of a camel when it comes to water and foot on the mountain, especially in the winter. There were a number of days I’d be going for my second lap, trying to make up for lost vertical, battling darkness and I’d bonk. Having something, literally anything, in my pack proved crucial to getting through those shaky awful terrible moments. As weird as this is, I found putting food I *didn’t* like into my pack was best. This way I kept it as an emergency snack, not something I’d eat cause I was bored. (I’m perpetually hungry)
Q: What else should we know about Jeff Brines?
A: I’m not as mean as I seem on the internet 😉 – That was a joke, but it’s also true. If you see me around say hi! One of my favorite things to do in life is buy a beer for a stranger. That goes for anyone reading this who doesn’t know me (or does know me). Cheers!