Historically, during the final push to send Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine to press, art director Olaus Linn and I sporadically peer sideways at each other. Our faces reflecting a diabolic computer glow, we take stock of the narratives that comprise this annual journal; this scrolling love letter to Jackson Hole. Typically, just before insanity sets in (when the coffee flows like water yet we yearn for something stronger), we like to discern the magazine’s overarching annual theme.
Following one of our grueling nights of work this year, the revelation arrived via a 2 a.m. text message. Still glued to my laptop editing, I refrained from throwing my phone across the room and instead picked it up to see what pressing thoughts Linn had for me.
“It’s the journey issue,” his message read. “Seriously—think about how that applies to every piece in the magazine.”
Dammit Linn, you’ve done it again.
Indeed, in JHSM’s twelfth issue many of our snow-obsessed contributors eulogize the far-flung places, both geographic and internal, where snowboarding has taken them.
These locales include the Arctic Circle for a precarious sail-to-snowboard quest; a sled dog powered Greenland expedition; a treacherous multi-day trek to snowboard Wyoming’s highest peak; a day in the Tetons that afforded one grieving rider the chance for closure, and a Wyoming road trip that traced a path into the past, long before steeze and tall Ts.
While many of us have sated our desire for alpine exploration by way of travel, there is one place in particular snowboarding has taken me that I am most grateful: the place that, if you’re lucky, you join me in calling home: Jackson Hole. But let’s be honest—luck has nothing to do with it.
Old timers will be the first to admit, “Living in Jackson has traditionally been a trial by survivor,” as longtime resident Mark Nowlin recently told me.
While at one time Jackson Hole was a daunting place to plant roots because of its sheer remoteness and long, harsh winters, today residents confront a different set of challenges. As climate change tightens its grip here—and across the globe—milder, shorter winters are becoming the norm. This, of course, is a grave concern among residents and snowboarders alike, as Jackson Hole’s economy, flora, fauna and legendary cowboy powder hinge on a legacy of seemingly endless, unforgiving winters.
A historic housing crisis also adds to the stressors of living in Jackson Hole. Today, it is a regrettable rite of passage for residents to live in their cars or camp for months at a time because they cannot find a place to live. Though many apparently have the resolve to embrace this unglamorous lifestyle because no matter what mountain range you’ve traipsed and lollygagged through, nothing compares to having the Tetons in your backyard.
Yes, living in Jackson is still trial by survivor. And this issue of Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine encapsulates that unnerving resilience of our local populace. Yet people who spend their time in this area’s mountains are also softened by their stunningly harsh surroundings—they are socially and environmentally conscious, introspective, resolute fun-seekers armed with a fierce sense of stewardship. They relish in fighting to protect this place because they realize one immaculate truth: Life in Jackson Hole is the ultimate journey.
See you in the snow.
Robyn Vincent is a Jackson Hole journalist and the sleep-deprived, travel-obsessed editor of Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine.