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On the Wire
Great Ski Bum Jobs
By Steve Hoenisch
Last updated on January 3, 2005
Copyright 1996-2008 www.Criticism.Com
This article was published in the October 1993 issue of Snow Country magazine.
Table of Contents
2 Live Ski Reporter, Killington
3 Snowboard Patrol, Snowbird
4 Snowmaker, Sunday River
5 Ski Instructor, Deer Valley or Park City
6 Ski Patrol, Squaw Valley
7 Lift Operator, Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood
8 Night Crew, Mammoth Mountain
9 Children's Instructor, Crested Butte
10 On-Mountain Restaurant Worker, Alta
11 Skier Services, Vail
12 Waitress or Waiter, Just About Anywhere
13 More Information
Here's a list of eleven great jobs that are reasonably obtainable for the well-prepared, well-seasoned or enterprising ski bum. Reasonably obtainable, however, means that the list ignores such great but scarce or specialized jobs as full-time freestyle coach, snowboard operations coordinator and helicopter skiing guide.
Reporters ski Killington's terrain and then staff the resort's 900 number--the Live Ski Connection--answering skiers' questions about the best runs for their ability level and where the best conditions can be found.
These patrollers board all day while making sure their single-planking comrades are ripping with a conscience. But you'd probably have to work at the 'Bird for at least a season or two to land one of these newly formed, coveted jobs.
Some hate it, others love it. If you don't like hard work, snowmaking won't strike you as a great job. But those who don't mind physical work will reap this job's fine rewards: independence, a lot of ski time, an abundance of early season work and plenty of miles spent riding snowmobiles. Sunday River has three shifts for its 50 snowmakers, day, night and swing. Of course, snowmaking jobs, like many others, are available at various resorts and are not all that hard to get. Last winter, I landed one at Park City, Utah, with a single phone call.
The town of Park City is rife with rumors of ski instructors being tipped very generously--word has it one instructor received a new four-wheel-drive vehicle after teaching a client for a season. Solid skiers with the potential to teach well may obtain ski instructor jobs at Deer Valley or Park City Ski Area by going through the ski schools' clinics, both of which are usually held in November. Although the job doesn't pay well the first year, good money and rewarding times await those willing to stick around.
What better job tha n throwing bombs over the edge of the Palisades and then skiing down after a storm dumped two feet of Sierra powder. The job has special requirements, such as EMT or advanced life-saving certification, but the positions are obtainable for the persistent, especially if you have experience.
OK, so lift operator isn't the best job in ski country. But what if it offered the possibility of year-round employment, year-round skiing and plenty of ski time. Some Timberline lifties work night-skiing shifts during the winter so they can ski days, but if you have to work days, you can always ski nights. And the Cascades deliver a season-end bonus: killer backcountry skiing in spring and summer.
There's about 50 positions available at Mammoth Mountain performing janitorial duties from 4 or 5 pm till midnight, giving night crew workers all day--everyday--for skiing.
This ski area seeks skiers who have an understanding of children to teach them how to ski. The job does not require certification; Crested Butte provides training. A great job in a great place for skiers who like working with kids.
Food service jobs at the independently owned Watson Cafe come with a built-in perk: You can live on the mountain, giving you an advantage on getting first tracks after the storms that dump more than 400 inches annually at Alta. Watson Cafe--formerly called Watson Shelter--hires 32 people, 16 of whom live on the mountain, to work as waiters, waitresses, bussers, cooks, dishwashers and food servers. However, if you want one of these jobs, which include a ski pass, you'll need to apply early.
Aspiring flacks will be attracted to this on-the-mountain public relations job in which the workers wear ski clothes instead of dress suits. The position entails answering questions for skiers, helping set up for special events and helping the ski patrol. Vail, which has a Skier Services staff of 30, usually hires several new people for the job each year.
For many ski bums, waiting tables nights at a ski resort or town epitomizes the ultimate job. Having just quit their real jobs to work at a resort for a season, many skiers image themselves as waiters or waitresses during their preseason daydreams. And for good reason: What ski bum could ask for more than good tips, free food at night and days free for skiing.
For more information about working at North American and European ski resorts, purchase the following book, which can serve as an excellent job-hunting guide: Working in Ski Resorts: Europe & North America
See also Ski Bummin' in the Rockies: A Profile of Twenty Western Resorts and the Ski Bum Lifestyle, by Gary J. Peterson.