Teton Pass Ambassador

Teton Pass Ambassador Jay Pistono chats with backcountry skiers on Teton Pass in this News&Guide file image.

Desmond Tutu, antiapartheid activist and priest, once said: “Do your little bit of good where you are.”

Now’s your chance to do some good on Teton Pass. The Bridger-Teton National Forest and the Teton Backcountry Alliance are on the hunt for volunteer Teton Pass ambassadors, who would assist Ambassador Jay Pistono.

Pistono’s role is to interact with skiers on the pass, giving them advice on how to comport themselves. That might include teaching them about parking, describing how the Wyoming Department of Transportation keeps the roadway clear, or telling people to leash their dogs.

It’s an exhausting job, and Pistono is up there nearly every day in winter. However, he can’t talk with everyone, and he can’t be there every minute of the day, so the Forest Service and the Backcountry Alliance are looking for some help.

A press release from the Backcountry Alliance said volunteers “will work at key locations, such as the Teton Pass Corridor, to convey responsible recreation and safety information to users, provide basic area orientation, and assist visitors where needed.”

In a 2019 survey of 1,020 people conducted by the Alliance, 87% of respondents said it was somewhat or very necessary to expand the ambassador program to provide more education for pass users. With COVID-19 potentially pushing more people into the backcountry, that need could be even greater.

“We’re predicting a huge increase in backcountry use this ski season, including people who are new to the Tetons and new to backcountry skiing,” Pistono said in the press release. “Boots-on-the-ground volunteers willing to help users by providing information will help ensure more responsible use and greater safety by our backcountry community.”

The Alliance said volunteers should be experienced backcountry skiers with excellent communication skills, and they must have their own backcountry gear and a Level I avalanche certification. If selected, they must be available for a one-day training session in December, volunteer once a week until April and meet with other ambassadors over the course of the winter.

Applications are due Dec. 6. Email info@tetonbackcountryalliance.org for information or to apply.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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