Ski/snowboard mountains to work on?
November 11, 2008 1:32 PM   Subscribe

I want to snowboard/ski everyday, all winter. Where should I get a job?

Short version: Where would you go work for the season if you were able to pick up and go anywhere?

Long version: I did the seasonal job thing last year and had a great time... got to ride all but maybe 10 days! So I want to do it again, but would like to go somewhere that I can work nights and have my days open to ride. I'm not concerned about night life, I only plan on riding & working. I'm not concerned about location either, as long as it's in the USA (though the Rockies are ideal).

Here are things I DO want to consider though:

* public transportation, I don't want to rely on a car
* a job market able to provide a seasonal job (not necessarily at the resort)
* GREAT snow! I don't really want to work at an Iowa hill, hah.
* variety. some good long runs, some terrain parks, some trees, etc.

I'd also love to hear some experiences if you've worked at a mountain somewhere!
posted by GrubbyUtter to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Vail, CO. The community's so spread out there's a free bus service, not sure about the job market, snow out the wazoo, and too many skiing routes to count.

I lived there during the summer though, so all of this is secondhand.
posted by Ndwright at 1:39 PM on November 11, 2008

Check out the job listings at Cool Works. They also have forums where seasonal workers trade advice on things like this.
posted by Roman Graves at 1:43 PM on November 11, 2008

Tahoe, CA was awesome when I was there. My sis-in-law worked dispatch for the mountain (Squaw Valley), and we had a blast visiting for a week. Not great public transport, but I think it's doable. We took the bus to the grocery store and stuff... though many restaurants (where I guess you'll be working if you don't want to work days) are kinda distributed throughout the area. I'm assuming you're young and can/will live in a hovel of a shared apartment or something else that trades amenities for location (i.e., close to work, close to the mountain), because there's a good bit of that. Also, in Truckee/Tahoe/?, there are lot of houses that roommates share. Though I doubt they are all on convenient bus routes...
posted by zpousman at 1:49 PM on November 11, 2008

You can do it all year round, if you like. A friend of mine worked as an instructor at Smuggler's Notch, Vermont in the US winter and then Perisher Blue in New South Wales during the Australian winter for years, and loved it.
posted by goo at 2:14 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Valdez, AK. I have a friend who went up there three years ago for one season of sea kayaking and he hasn't been back to the lower 48 since. Kayak guide in summer, tour guide for helicopter skiing/boarding in winter.
posted by headnsouth at 2:30 PM on November 11, 2008

Whistler, Big White, Sun Peaks all in Beautiful British Columbia.
posted by aeighty at 2:37 PM on November 11, 2008

Breckenridge, CO-- it's a real town with a free transit system and much more down-to-earth than Vail or Aspen and your lift ticket is good at Arapahoe Basin and Keystone as well.

Alta, UT-- for the best powder, although you have to go Snowbird to snowboard (Alta is for skiiers only).
posted by carmicha at 2:44 PM on November 11, 2008

Get a job at Burton Snowboards. When I was there, you could ride every morning in the winter from 7:30am - 10:30am. 3 good hours of riding. Then you work from 11am - 9 or 10pm.

Your life becomes a constant cycle of Riding and Working with not much other than sleeping in between, but it's a fun way to spend the winter!

Plus you get a corporate discount on gear, and you can "demo" any board/boot/binding combo that they make for 3 days at a time at zero cost (unless you break it)

Now, the snow on the east coast isn't as good as it is out west, but you also get a free season pass at Stowe if you work at Burton. There aren't many other ways I know of that you can be a full time "snowboard bum" while working on a professional career that comes with free acess to gear and a season pass.
posted by xotis at 2:47 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

My brother-in-law has this life right now in the Vail area, and I know it's really hard to get work at the moment. None of the hotels have the bookings this year that they expect, and they just aren't hiring as much as they have. He got a second job pretty easily last year, but hasn't been able to get one yet this year. Other relatives who live out there and depend on tourism-related work report that it's really slow right now.

Just an FYI as it relates to your second point of might be a good idea not to pick up and move expecting you can easily find something, at least around there. My brother-in-law actually moved out last year, and had done a preliminary trip to look for housing and do enough of a job hunt to feel confident about moving and being able to find a seasonal position.
posted by handful of rain at 2:53 PM on November 11, 2008

Best answer: UTAH. You can live in Salt Lake City with an ample job market (or work at the resorts), we have insane amounts of snow, and you'll have 11 resorts within an hour and unlimited amount of backcountry opportunities. Looking for a resort job check out this site (I'm affilliated with this site for the sake of full disclosure.)

I worked at the resorts for a long time. I always felt that the best bang for the buck was working in the ticket office. The pay is okay and the schedule is really flexible. I usually worked the closing shift, so, I'd show up get through the rush and then be the first out on break. I could usually ride from about 10 am - 2 pm or so.
posted by trbrts at 3:18 PM on November 11, 2008

Oh yeah, the busses in Salt Lake run regularly to Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, and Solitude where the get on average 500" a year. Last year was closer to 700 though.
posted by trbrts at 3:26 PM on November 11, 2008

Xotis is correct - for some jobs you could ride every morning. In my job I never could and in my SO's job, this only occurred about once a year. I found that most of the other skilled-based jobs were under too much pressure to ride that often. Very few people had the flexibility to go in the AM unless they already lived at Stowe (where the pass is) and came up to work at 9:30 or 10am instead of 9am.

In customer service and at the factory store, however, they have strict shifts, but I think that most of those kids (generally dedicated but looking to get the free pass) did find time to ride at least part of the day pretty often.
posted by k8t at 3:41 PM on November 11, 2008

Best answer: I lived in worked in South Lake Tahoe for a number of years, but I would recommend Colorado or another of the Rockies states instead. Whistler can be fantastic when the conditions are good, but the lower mountain tends to be very wet and their conditions are not as consistent as Colorado or Utah. As far as jobs with max riding time go, I do have some suggestions. Generally, try to stay as far away from the main lodge as possible. This is the epicenter of the pandemonium (crying babies, lost tickets, etc) and corporate home base. You want to work somewhere either on the mountain itself during the day or in town in the afternoon/evening.

Rental returns - Work ~2pm- 10pm at a resort or rental store in town. One of my personal favorites that I worked for years. If you get one in town, you can frequently get access to "shop passes" good at any local resort.

Food Service, Bartender, Valet (In Town) - You might not get the free pass but many resorts (almost every resort in Tahoe, not sure about Rockies) offer passes for around ~$300 if you buy early enough and you generally make more money and have less problems getting hours in the fall and spring, when the resort start to cut people.

Parking - Busy parking times are opening and closing time, during the afternoon you can often get a few hours in.

Instructor - This varies from resort to resort but if you don't need a ton of money many instructor postions are flexible, that is you only get paid if you show up to line-up.

Patrol/Park Crew - Good luck getting these jobs, but if you do you ride a lot and get paid for it.

Snowmaking - Snowmaking happens mostly at night and that means you can ride all day. Be warned, this is one of the most demanding jobs on the mountain (night shift, cold, heavy lifting, gruff personalities) but you also get to ride around on snowmobiles all night with the mountain to yourself.

Ticket Sales - I did this and hated it. You are working with sales people and dealing with angry customers. If you work at a small or chill resort, it might be ok, but I would not recommend it at a large, corporate resort.

Random Resort Jobs - ( Uniform Office, Guest Services, Etc ) These vary widely from resort to resort but if you find the right one they can often be some of the very best jobs. Spend some serious time at the local bars when you get to town and talk to the locals. They know where the good jobs are and what not to touch with a ten foot pole.
posted by sophist at 6:57 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend Banff or Lake Louise AB, but your a month late of the hiring spree for all the hills in the area, so unless you want to turn beds...
posted by furtive at 9:04 PM on November 11, 2008

At Canadian ski resorts you'll have to fight for work against the hordes of Aussie ski bums willing to be paid almost nothing just to shell out $1000 a month for some space on a couch, especially at Whistler/Blackcomb, and they snap up all the "working holiday" visas before anyone else has a chance. It'll be much easier for you to find work at a resort States-side.
posted by randomstriker at 11:30 PM on November 11, 2008

You could also try Niseko, Japan.

See for more info.
posted by quidividi at 4:42 AM on November 12, 2008

Park City, Utah! There are mounds of great restaurants you could work at as well as retail. Plus the resorts are great (not my fav in Utah but still great). Like trbrts mentioned, you can live in SLC and have an easy commute to the mountains. I moved to Utah from British Columbia (for snowboarding and work) and have had the privilege to ride all across North America. Utah is hands down the best place to ride, imho. The snow is light and fluffy and we get a lot of snow. In fact, Snowbird opened up a week ago for the second earliest opening in the resorts history.

Get your ass to Utah, and yes, you can drink beer here.
posted by birdlips at 7:32 AM on November 12, 2008

Response by poster: Initial Question Asker Here:
Wow, I'm amazed at all the Utah fanatics. I'm definitely going to have to ride there sometime. Thank you to everybody who has offered their help. My original plan was Vail, but the job market comment from 'handful of rain' is somewhat discouraging. I'm looking into what I can do around Salt Lake City, but also have developed some interests in Jackson Hole in Wyoming (600 inches of snow last winter - are you kidding me?!) and Telluride in southern Colorado.

I've done a bit of looking into these places, but would love to see this thread continue. Please tell me about Telluride & Jackson Hole if you can, but it's great to hear about anywhere really. I think maybe I'm just really anxious to go anywhere.
posted by GrubbyUtter at 1:40 AM on November 13, 2008

Jackson Hole is great! It is easily one of my fav places in North America. The town is awesome and the riding is epic. However, some of the resorts in Utah had more snow last year. The only knock I can say about Jackson Hole is that it is not the easiest city to get in and out of during the winter. Driving can be harsh and the airport, although great for a small town, is pricey to fly out of. SLC is Delta's headquarters and you can pretty much fly directly out of SLC to any destination. I should also mention that housing is not very affordable in Jackson Hole any more. You might have troubles finding a flat at a reasonable price.

In Jackson Hole you are pretty much limited to two resorts. In Utah you have 11 within an hour or so drive.

Oh and Vegas is a 4.5 hour drive from SLC, just in case that interests you...
posted by birdlips at 6:56 AM on November 13, 2008

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