What is a “gaper”?

Glitter, neon, JORTS! The resort filled under blue skies for the annual Gaper Day party, celebrated at Jackson Hole and ski areas across the nation.

by | Apr 3, 2024 | Recreation

Skiers and non-skiers alike attended an annual event on Monday: Gaper Day at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Many see the all-day party as celebrating amateur skiers and snowboarders on the mountain, while others see it as, well, possibly poking fun at them. 

The resort filled with costumed skiers and snowboarders taking their best stab at impersonating a gaper, with costumes ranging from Scooby-Doo to nuns and everything in between — which poses the question, what really is a gaper?

“Usually they have a helmet and a big gap between their goggles, that’s the gaper gap,” one floral shirt-wearing gaper added.

“It’s hard to explain but you know them when you see them,” a grounded gaper said near the tram.

“I believe the actual term is somebody who just doesn’t know how to ski,” a waffle-carrying gaper said outside Corbet’s Cabin.

Some neon gapers outside Corbet’s Cabin, at the top of the tram. (Dante Filpula Ankney/KHOL)

“Gapers are just the embodiment of ignorant love,” a whole gaggle of gapers chimed in, “and funny sunglasses.”

“To love is to gape, to gape is to love,” some brightly neon-clad skiers added.

“I’m a little bit confused about what a gaper is. People keep describing it. It kind of sounds a little bit like me,” a fuzzy outfit-wearing gaper admitted just underneath the tram.

Resort employees Reed Mattison and Tim Woods attempted to put the debate to rest.

“It’s a trademark look of a very brand new skier, so April 1st is just a holiday to celebrate the gaper and dress up in fun costumes,” Mattison said.

“Yeah, if I were to describe Gaper Day in one word, I’d say hilarity,” Woods added.

The mountain hosts stood beneath the tram — Mattison with a black fedora, Woods with a frayed blonde wig — guiding guests through the slush from lift to lift, bar to bar.

Reed Mattison and Tim Woods both said it’s their first year working for the resort. (Dante Filpula Ankney/KHOL)

“It goes downhill very quickly, no pun intended. It starts off fresh and everyone’s excited,” Mattison said, “but then as you consume your substances of choices — yeah — the skiing gets looser and faster.”

And although it’s a party for some, Mattison says, it does seem to come at the expense of others.

“It’s hard enough to get into this sport,” Mattison said. “So they have a holiday dedicated to how bad you are as a skier, it’s kind of a slap in the face.”

The mountain extended its season by one week for the first time this year, making it the longest ski season at the resort ever, but it’s still not enough for some.  

“Yeah, I wish we had a couple of more months,” Woods said.

“It was fun,” Mattison added. “Glad we got it done with what snow we did have, but ready for summertime.”

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort stops running lifts for the year on April 14.

Two skiers and a snowboarder overlook a ridge at the top of the tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. (Dante Filpula Ankney/KHOL)

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