Tom Turiano was never interested in pushing himself to the technical limits of a sport. As a kid growing up near Rochester, New York, what interested him most was problem-solving aspect of how to get from point A to point B, whether it was on the water or climbing a mountain.
In school he collected ski area trail maps and knew one day he wanted to live near a big Western ski hill. He came to Jackson on a spring break trip from Colorado in 1985 and moved to town the following fall.
His love of skiing led him to write “Teton Skiing: A History and a Guide” in 1995. He planned to follow it with a guidebook to peaks throughout the Rocky Mountains, but on a climb of Montana’s Granite Peak, he looked out from the summit and marveled at how many mountains he could see.
“From the summit, I could see the Grand Teton on the distant horizon and realized the interconnectedness of the landscape,” he says. “It was then that I decided to climb all of the most prominent peaks so that I might come to know this amazing place.”
The resulting book, “Select Peaks of the Greater Yellowstone: A Mountaineering History and Guide,” quickly became a coveted classic after he published the 512-page guide in 2003 following seven years of labor on it.
During the last few years he was working on the book, packrafts arrived on the Jackson scene. These inflatable boats were tough enough
to run whitewater but compact enough to carry in a backpack. “Packrafts totally changed the way we looked at maps,” Turiano says.
Alongside his own outdoor expeditions, Turiano worked for Exum Mountain Guides for more than 25 years and as a ski instructor and backcountry ski guide at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for almost 30 years.
He also wrote and published two backcountry ski guidebooks to the area. He plans on writing more in the series, and eventually updating his Selected Peaks book, which he hasn’t reprinted since the original 5,000 copies sold out in 2011.
Turiano co-founded the American Packrafting Association and serves as vice president of its board of directors. He’s passionate about access and conservation issues that impact the landscapes where he loves to play and explore. “If you are going to be out there recreating, you also have to be a conservationist,” he says.
It is the landscape, after all, that allows him to do what he loves most: continue to explore. “It always comes back to the landscape,” he says.