Awed by the imposing Teton Range when he first landed in Jackson, outdoor enthusiast Anthony Niro immediately knew it was the place for him. “I had to be as close to these mountains as I could to appreciate and respect them,” he says.
He was looking for work when one of his friends asked, “Wouldn’t it be nice to sit by a pool all day?” Niro took it to heart, and became the pool manager at Sundance Tennis and Swim Club in 2008, where he has worked for a decade. “I get 100 days in board shorts,” he says.
Originally from Milford, Massachusetts, Niro spent his formative years frequenting Cape Cod. His grandmother had a pool, and it wasn’t long before he trained to be a lifeguard and became skilled in pool maintenance. “I know pools in and out,” he says.
The youngest in his family, Niro considers himself a “wild child,” and is known for drinking tequila out of fresh peppers instead of glasses. He is also known around town as “Tony Two Boots” after breaking his leg in a glissading accident on Cache Peak in 2011 that left him wearing two very different ski boots for a winter. Unable to get his foot into a normal ski boot that winter, he improvised, using one old modified ski boot for a season, along with a new boot on his good foot. After surgery to get the plates and screws removed from his leg, he started wearing a matching pair again, but the nickname remains.
Niro skis an average of 100 days a year, and often in creative costumes. “It’s fun to get a rise out of people and make them laugh,” he says.
It is not in Niro’s nature to take the easy road. For seven summers, he lived in his 2002 Ford Explorer from April to October, camping on national forest land. Living off the grid eventually allowed him to buy a home and become a permanent Teton Village resident. “My home is in paradise,” he says. “I never had to think twice.”
When he attends a music festival on the other side of Teton Pass, Niro doesn’t just drive. He stretches out one arm, sticks out his thumb, and hoofs it to the trailhead. Three years ago, he decided to walk to Music on Main in Victor, Idaho. He set off at sunrise from Death Canyon at Phelps Lake with a friend, and the duo traversed 23 miles up to Fox Creek Pass, and down into Teton Valley, where they hitched a ride for the last few miles to the show in Victor. He has also hiked to the Targhee Bluegrass Festival in Alta, Wyoming.
When he has time off, Niro takes his adventurous spirit to trails all over the map. He traversed the 500-mile Camino de Santiago in 2013. Crossing from France into Spain, the hike took him one month. “I stayed at monasteries and churches along the way,” he says. “It was like a pilgrimage which felt very spiritual.” In 2014, he ascended Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, and last year he bagged the Colorado Trail in seven days from Breckenridge to Denver.
Niro also does hot tub maintenance around town and works as a part-time artisan making handbags for Copper Dot. He believes he was built for life by the pool and on the mountain.
“My birthday is on April 1st, known as ‘Gaper Day’ in the ski world,” he laughs. “I was born to be a ski bum.”