Pursuit of The Mountain Life: Beyond the Classroom with Garrick Hart

By Stio Mountain on

Locals We Love: A Series

From their outdoor activities to their professional means, these locals are fueled by their passion of pursuit and place. It's not always easy living in a mountain town, but from powder mornings to post-work projects, it’s this shared love that creates a community and connects us all. Through drive, sacrifice and creative determination, these locals have chosen passion first. This season, we bring you their stories - stories that continue to inspire us in our ever-evolving pursuit of the mountain life.

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Garrick Hart, Physics Teacher & Mountaineering Instructor

Growing up in Eugene, Oregon, Garrick developed a connection to the mountains on weekend micro-adventures in the Cascades. After he secured his graduate degree in education he set out in pursuit of a job where he could fully immerse himself in mountain life. Garrick landed in Jackson Hole, Wyoming as the physics teacher at Jackson Hole High School. Outside of the classroom Garrick is the leader of the High School Mountaineering Club, an Exum Mountain Guide, a father, a husband, an outdoor enthusiast and an active community member. The mountains called him early in his life and he constructed his career path so that he could live amongst them. This is how he's made his passion a reality...

How did you choose to live in the mountains?

Once I got my Graduate degree in education, it occurred to me that I could teach anywhere. I cold called the principal of schools from a handful of mountain towns to see if they needed a physics teacher. Turns out Jackson Hole High School did.

    What do you do there and how did you make it work?

    I have been teaching at Jackson Hole High School since the fall of 2003. We feel fortunate to have been able to obtain a lot from the housing authority in 2005, and had the flexibility with summer break to build our own house on it. 

      When it comes to living the mountain town life, what are some of the challenges?

      Housing is the largest challenge to life in Jackson. We were lucky enough to come in at the right time and have a great situation, but it is hard to see talented friends leave so they can provide reasonable housing for their young families. It is our loss as a community when they go.

      What about it makes it feel like home to you?

      To us, “home” is the place where we raised our kids. Fortunately for us we got to raise them with the Tetons as our backyard.

      Is there anything unique about your mountain town community that you wouldn’t find other places?

      We have incredible outdoor professional organizations in Jackson that are dedicated to giving back to our community. Exum Mountain Guides, the American Avalanche Institute, Jackson Hole Mountain Guides… I’ve yet to propose an idea to these organizations about how we can better serve the local kids without getting an enthusiastic response, even when there would be no financial gain for the companies. 

        What is the importance of the Mountaineering Club?

        Kids that grow up in Jackson ought to grow up in the mountains. Kids that grow up climbing and skiing in our park, will grow into leaders that are equipped to make good decisions about the future of our parks and wild places.

          What do you hope kids will take away from their experiences with the mountaineering club?

          We want kids to graduate and move on from high school with the skills to travel and recreate safely in the mountains on their own.

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