‘The shrine of the pass’: Backcountry skiers say farewell to Mount Glory billboard

The green, stickered board, which hovers above Teton Pass, is slated to be flown away by helicopter this week.
The reflective billboard lets hikers know they've almost reached the Mount Glory summit after the 1,600-foot trek. (Emily Cohen/KHOL)

by | Jun 5, 2023 | Recreation

UPDATE Monday, June 5, 2023: The Mount Glory billboard will be flown away tomorrow — Tuesday, June 6 — starting at 7:30 a.m.

Jay Pence with the Teton Basin Ranger District tells KHOL that commuters should expect up to 20- to 30-minute delays in the morning. The Glory trail will be closed to hikers tonight, June 5, and tomorrow morning.

Locals are welcome to take pictures of the flyaway from the pass.

The backcountry skiing community 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. 

A Teton Pass landmark

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. 

“There 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.

Bringing the community together

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.”

Stickers cover the green billboard that’s planted on Mount Glory. (Emily Cohen/KHOL)

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.

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About Hanna Merzbach

Hanna is KHOL's senior reporter and managing editor. A lot of her work focuses on housing and local politics, but also women's health — and whatever else she finds interesting. You can hear her reporting around the country and region on NPR, Wyoming Public Radio and community radio stations around the west. She hails from Bend, Oregon, where she reported for outlets such as the Atlantic, High Country News and Oregon Public Broadcasting. In her free time, you can find Hanna scaling rock walls or adventuring in the mountains.

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