Ski season is the ultimate life experience and you’ll be addicted before you know it. Find out if you’re in it for the long haul.
For some, ski season is the absolute, best time of their lives. For others, they realise it’s not for them and they either endure it or quickly make an exit.
Ski season is a hedonistic bubble, focused on adventure and the worship of snow. When you’re not partying or nursing a hangover, you’ll spend your days working a menial job and cruising the mountains with friends.
You’ll crash your comfort zone through new territories, chasing adrenaline and euphoric highs. It’s the stuff of golden-hued memories. But, like all those curated images on social media, the reality is a little less shiny. You will get SAD (seasonal affective disorder), worn-out, sick, lonely, homesick, broke, and existential questions of your life’s purpose can plague you.
Ski season is totally what you make it — it’s your experience after all. Who you are and the people you surround yourself with will determine your experience. At many resorts, ski season is known for its massive party culture, so if you don’t really enjoy parties or losing your inhibitions regularly, you’re going to be in the minority. Because of this, it’s heaven for the 18 to early twenty-year-olds who are finding themselves. For those in the older demographic, it’s a second chance to relive that recklessness.
Ski season is a vacation from the real world and it’s not a surprise people decide to stay. Summer beckons and before you know it winter is right around the corner. Rinse and repeat.
What’s a typical day during ski season like?
Ski season equals epic days, spontaneous adventures mixed with everyday blues and low-paying jobs. Once you’ve sorted your overpriced shoebox accommodation, and made it through the quiet shoulder season, it’s finally what you’ve been waiting for — winter!
You wake up on your floor mattress each morning and check the snow report to see if there’s any freshies. Then you get on your group message and see who is going up. You spend the day skiing/snowboarding. If you work at 12, that’s gonna suck on a powder day.
Otherwise, you get home in time for a quick shower and push away the urge to nap. Perhaps you start your dinner shift serving at the local restaurant for $11 an hour. Close to finish you get a message from your friends saying they’re heading out to the local bar. You meet up with them and party till the early morning. Rinse and repeat.
Do a ski season or a vacation?
So you like snow huh? Enough to bury yourself in it for a good four to six months?
If you have the time, ease yourself into the decision and book a trip. This will help you work out if it aligns with your lifestyle and values. You’ll get a real feel for life as a seasonaire and you can get information on the ground from other ski bums.
It’s also great way to make contacts for next ski season and potential jobs and accommodation. If you find that you are homesick or glad to head back to reality at the end of your trip maybe, while you love ski culture, you prefer it in shorter stints.
A six-month break from reality?
You may think ski season is a short time-out from your normal routine but don’t be surprised if you end up staying longer. When you make the effort to move somewhere far and new, it’s going to take a lot more than some ambiguous “return to real life” plan to bring you back.
You might find you love your new home so much that you don’t want to go home. You might meet somebody special! Or the time-creep happens where you keep postponing booking a flight home to see more of your surroundings (that kinda thing ends up taking years).
When deciding to make any huge change to your life that involves moving somewhere completely new, you need to understand your energy levels and motivations. Does ski season represent a life goal to you? Does it make you excited?
If you’re doing something that makes you excited then you’re generally on the right path because you’re likely to put in the effort. It takes a lot of energy to set up a new life plus time for the adjustment period.
They say it takes about six-months to two years to settle somewhere new. Fortunately ski season is full of other transients but there’s still some truth to this concept.
If it’s your absolute first time doing a ski season then you’ll be at the bottom of the food chain. Be prepared for a few weeks at the start doing the hard work of getting everything sorted (job and accommodation) while you live out of a suitcase. You’ll be entering a rat race aiming for the best experience, the best friends, the best accommodation, and the best job.
And you will face cold weather, potentially long months of only cloud, low pay, tedious jobs, and expensive housing.
Other ways to do it
How you plan your experience comes down to who you are as a person. If you only want to take a six-month break, having a job or something exciting to move onto at the end will ease the changeover.
A great way to do a ski season without investing too much time is to not get a job and rely on your savings. You get all the pow days and partying you want without having to worry about making your dishwashing shift. You also are committed to making it a fun experience and with extra money you can pay more for accommodation and activities and ensure you really have the best experience.
If ski season is something you want to do, but let’s say you’re not 100% amped on it, then look at what would make it work better for you. If you love skiing but you also like having a job/purpose in life, try to secure a more professional type job that uses your skills. Make that the aim of your time with ski culture on the side. This might mean you live in a town further away from the main action, but it may be a more culturally immersed experience.
Or you could set a single goal or project to achieve during your time, like a video documentary, that you can add to your skill set.
Do it alone or with friends?
Personally, I tend to jump into things headfirst and alone, but, like the famous Beatles song, we get by with a little help from our friends. Out of my ski seasons, the one I did with friends I knew from back home was hands-down the best.
Ski season is like high school and if you have your clique you’re set. Having people that know you — that you can moan to about the hardships of ski life — will make your experience easier and more fun. Together you’ll push each other’s skills on the mountain and you have an instant group to party and let loose with.
They’re also a support network, which is super important when you’re miles away from family and friends or in another time zone/country. That’s not to say you can’t find this if you go alone.
The essential thing is to find a house with like-minded people and a friendly workplace because this is where you’ll meet most of your crew.
Going alone is not something to be scared of. It may just be, initially, a more muted experience than the one you ideally envision. The friends you meet during ski season come from all over the world and you’ll hold those bonds for many years to come.
Make ski season yours
In the end there is a bunch of warnings and advice that can be given before doing a doing ski season. But there are also a million external factors, good and bad, that will impact your personal experience.
Know yourself and what makes you happy and work that into your experience. You’ll grow and change and get lost and hopefully find yourself and new perspectives.
You’ll have ups and downs but an amazing time regardless and that will make it worthwhile.