‘The shrine of the pass’: Backcountry skiers say farewell to Mount Glory billboard in Wyoming
The backcountry skiing community in Jackson, Wyoming, is bidding adieu to a cultural relic: the big, green billboard that sits atop Mount Glory on the top of Teton Pass.
The heavily stickered board was originally used to help connect landlines, bouncing off microwave signals, but it became obsolete in the 2000s with satellites and other technologies.
The Teton Basin Ranger District announced last week that that board – referred to by some as a “green screen” – will be dismantled and flown away in a helicopter later this year, since nobody’s maintaining it.
According to local snowboarder Evan Flach, this is “absolutely devastating” news.
“I think I might come up and handcuff myself to it when they’re trying to take it down to try and stop them — it’s a horrible thing,” Flach said somewhat sarcastically on a sunny afternoon.
He was the only one in the parking lot at the top of the pass at the beginning of shoulder season, gearing up for one of his daily Glory laps.
A true die-hard, Flach hikes up and rides down a couple times a week, sometimes doing multiple laps.
“I still remember the first time that I snowboarded down it,” he said, attaching his snowboard to his pack.
“I think it’s a big reason why a lot of people choose to spend their winters out here.”
Other than Snow King in downtown Jackson, Mount Glory is arguably the easiest way for locals to get in their uphill steps during the winter.
Hikers pass the reflective green billboard just before reaching the summit.
On clear days, passersby can even see the shiny board from the parking lot.
“I think the best way to describe the billboard is it’s kind of like the shrine of the pass,” another avid backcountry skier, Sam Neirman, said while halfway up the steep hike.
“They used to be prayer flags at the summit, and they took those down,” he said. “So, the last thing we were left with was the billboard.”
According to Nierman, the billboard is a landmark on the 1,600-foot hike.
“I think each moment you pass it, you feel like you’ve made it,” he said.
Nierman’s friend, Ben Rossetter, has been hiking the mountain since he was 11 years old.
In that time, the stickers on the board have multiplied, many of which embody the culture in the Tetons.
One reads, “Respect your local skier.” Another says, “Save a cowboy, ride the mountain.”
Still, Rossetter said he’s not as nostalgic about the billboard as others.
“Apart from being a cool sticker holder, it doesn’t phase me,” he said.
Although locals lap Glory before and after work (sometimes multiple times a day), for many, the steep hike is still grueling.
“My head’s usually down,” Rossetter said. “I’m usually huffing and puffing. It’s hard to look up and see the damn thing.”
But Rossester was with a group of skiers on that sunny day who had a different take.
“Once you hike Glory with someone, you become friends,” one said.
But, “not until you go under the billboard,” another shouted.
The forest service initially announced the billboard would come down in late April, but issues scheduling a helicopter are throwing that timeline into flux.
Still, Teton Basin District Ranger Jay Pence said it’s likely to be removed this spring or fall, meaning skiers may need to find a new way to bond come next winter.
Snowboarder Evan Flach is reporter Hanna Merzbach’s roommate.
This story was shared with KSUT via Rocky Mountain Community Radio, a network of public media stations in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico including KSUT.
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