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20 years old

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I'm 20 years old, a sophomore in college back East, and I've been planning for a while to take next year off to do some skiing. I know it's the height of Gen X slackerdom, but I think that now's the best time to get it out of my system, while I'm still young and lacking responsibility (hah!).

I'm looking for some advice on where to head next year to get the most out of my year-long interlude. I'm definitely going some place out West, having done all of my skiing there over the past 8 years. I'm an advanced intermediate, so I'm not necessarily looking for the best place to hurl myself off cliffs, plunge down rock-lined chutes, or otherwise risk life and limb for an extreme adrenaline high. I love powder skiing and tight carving, but I want a place that's diverse and challenging enough so that at the season's end, my abilities will be improved substantially. Not a huge partier, so a perpetual spring break atmosphere isn't a priority, but a nice town with interesting stuff going on and is a major plus. Basically, I just want a place with good skiing, good weather (I'm sick of the East coast gloom), and a very nice atmosphere, where I can have a good time and get some writing done in the evenings.

I'm currently thinking about Vail, Snowbird/Alta, or Whistler. Vail's the ideal mountain, but it might be too crowded for my tastes, and too expensive for my budget. Snowbird and Alta have the best snow around, but sometimes I get the impression that they're niche mountains, and only someone with a real fetish for deep powder and extreme skiing could stay there for a season. Whistler looks great, with a perfect base village, and the Canadian exchange rate is favorable, but I'm not too keen on getting rained out all the time. Any thoughts? Where else should I be looking at? Oh, and it doesn't look like I'll have a car, so being able to live somewhere in town is important.

Also, if anyone could give me some tips on financing this trip, it would be helpful. My plan is to work from June until the end of November, probably saving up somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 or so. With this, I'll have to buy boots/skis/misc gear, plane tickets, lift tickets, and food and rent for the season, hopefully so that I won't have to work while I'm there. Is this feasible? I think it may be cutting it too close, I'm not sure.

Anyway, thanks for any info or advice.
post #2 of 22
Summit County, Colorado. Others FROM there can tell you much more about living costs but as a skier pretty much at your level, I'd recommend it for that. Big mountains and a handful of 'em. You could hit Vail when you want. Good luck and good for you.
post #3 of 22
Ah Superplexity! You're giving me flashbacks! When I was a sophomore in college back east, I had the same inspiration. The following summer, I bought an old Ford van and converted it so I could live in it. I drove it to Breckenridge, arriving in an enormous blizzard on Thanksgiving Day, 1979. I didn't have any money to speak of, and had planned all along to find a job as an instructor. I got hired at Breckenridge and spent the whole winter living in my van, teaching skiing and skiing a lot in one of the best snow years in memory.

If you can put $10,000 in the bank by the end of summer, I would think you could survive a winter in Colorado, if you're frugal. Expect to share a condo or ski house with several others, and to avoid the 5-star restaurants! Better, though, why not get a real ski-bum job, at a restaurant or a rental shop or something, which will pay for your lift ticket and give you your days to ski!

Anyway, watch out. It's a lifestyle that get's in your blood!

Take care. Have a great winter and stay in touch.

Welcome to EpicSki, by-the-way!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #4 of 22
superplexity, welcome to EpicSki!

Overall suggestion, work at the mountain on weekends to make some money and get a season pass. Ski/write on weekdays. I think you'll be cutting it vey tight with 10k. it's common in these places for a bunch of people to live in a rented house.

Here's some info regarding the places you listed as well as some others I suggest considering:

Whistler -- perhaps the beast all around option in terms of mountain and town. There is some rain and fog, but it's not as bad as you seem to suggest and, more importantly, it is just about the most reliable in terms of getting a lot of snow. One of the best "scenes" for people your age (as in there is a big, vibrant community of people your age). Relatively cheap b/c of exchange rate. Good public transportation (for people w/o cars).

Snowbird/Alta -- Fantastic mountains for anyone (not just extreme). Alta is also really cheap. But there is NOTHING at all to do there other than ski. Therefore, you'd probably live in Salt Lake. If it weren't for the Olympics this year, I'd steer you toward Park City -- which is a great small ski town. But this probably isn't the year for that. Probably need a car. Moderately expensive.

Vail -- a good mountain, but I have never gotten the sense (from ten or so visits) that there is a strong coherent community of young people like there are at Whistler, North Tahoe, or Jackson Hole. (others who have lived there may correct me on this). Good quality snow, but unreliable in my experience. Good public transportation (for people w/o cars). Very expensive -- look in Eagle for cheaper housing.

Tahoe City / Truckee (Lake Tahoe, CA) -- I live here and there is a very strong community of people your age. One of the biggest selections of terrain and resorts anywhere. Little nightlife. Need a car. Moderately expensive. Exceptionally good weather (it's either dumping snow or its sunny with blue skis). Warm by ski town standards. Heavier (in quality and quantity) snow than UT/CO, more like Whistler -- so longer spring ski season.

If writing and skiing, not partying, are your priorities, you might also look at some of the more low key mountains towns that still have awesome skiing, but are less touristy than the high-profile places on your list. Such places include Fernie B.C., Nelson B.C., Taos NM, Telluride CO.

That's my take.
post #5 of 22
I did the same thing lasst year. I flew out to Banff (not knowing anyone there) and spent a fantastic 6 months there. I paid too much to share a room with one other person, and the rest of a small house with 4-5 others.. but it's all part of the experience. I had a job lined up (ski instructing) before i even got there. I ate pasta with my roomies on Christmas. I got the locals rate at bars. I loved every moment of it. I agree with Bob though that you should get some sort of job, just to get a free pass, and to meet some great people. I met some of the most interesting people from all over the world; many whom i will never forget.
I'm sure you'll have fun at any ski town you move to. Banff was really fun; there's USUALLY decent snow and you have a choice of 3 areas within 1 hr, theres a good bus system, it's one of the 10 most beautiful places on earth, there's a huge arts community with its own international centre / college, and there's plenty of housing options. (if you look hard enough) Sure, there can be a lot of tourists but they are the ones who paid my wages so i won't complain. Once you become a "local", it's a whole different experience.
Alas, now I am back in the east, praying for snow to spice up my winter, and *trying* to concentrate on studying, very jealous of anyone who gets to spend their winter as carefree as they choose, skiing every day! Enjoy it while it lasts, it doesn't get much better than that!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 30, 2001 06:15 PM: Message edited 1 time, by rossi9irl ]</font>
post #6 of 22


1981 … I did the old man proud and finished my apprenticeship. (bored the crap out of me) $250 + new K2 720s and I hitched a ride with the big brother of a friend to Thredbo Australia. All the way down I was told that I should not have quit, needed to stay in a “real” job etc. etc. Anyway I scored a job in the first two days cleaning toilets on the mountain. Crap job (pun intended) BUT I got to ski 70% of the day between restaurants. I lived in a snowed in caravan at the bottom of the hill. Also did freelance snow shoveling for the “Porsche set”. As luck would have it this was the biggest snow year ever in Oz and I went from plough to parallel in three short months. From this humble beginning I garnered a new career as an instructor and have since been paid to travel the world. I still have good friends from that year in many parts of the world.

Best advice given is to grab a part time job, as this is the best way to become a “local”.

Banff, Breckenridge, Tahoe (try Northstar for a job), Big Sky, Red Mountain and many others. I would say avoid Vail as it is not really ski bum territory.

Why not try Europe. Your US$ will go further and there are many "bums" on the circuit. Chamoinx, Verbier, St Anton. Go the whole deal and go offshore. Brillaint experience just a little out of the "comfort zone" which is the way to live.

Follow your heart. You will never regret the year "off"..... You may never be "on" again.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #7 of 22

Maybe the best topic that's been posted here. Problem is you're going to get a lot of answers from old farts who have comitted their lives to skiing (that's anyone over 23). From your location and description it seems that you are pretty much a serious student who may be thinking way to much. I mean that's hard to help it in Cambridge - a former home of mine. Be warned, even the most culturally advanced ski town will seem a step down from Sommerville, if you have visions of intellectual conversation and deep writing in mind.

Your ambitions of accumulating a sum of money are admirable, but if you are going to live the life of a 20 year old in a ski town, you need about 1/5 of that to start and plenty of people have made it on 1/100 th of that. The worst thing you can do is think at your age. Just do it.

If you really accumulate that much cash and you intend to ski all day and not work, you will be an expert before you know it, so don't be afraid of any mountain. Secondly, if you accumulate that much money and don't work all the friends you make may start to sponge off of you.

As much fun as skiing is there are some other things out there that are just as much fun - if you get my drift - and you don't want to sell yourself short there. So in that respect I think you have to seriously look at Colorado. Aspen has been good to me.
post #8 of 22
Good advice, Fudman, but I don't agree that intellectual stimulation is that hard to come by at a big ski resort. Summit and Pitkin Counties of Colorado (Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper, and A-Basin, and Aspen et al) both vie for the counties with the highest average education level in the country. And, of course, for the counties with the highest level of "under-employment." It never ceases to amaze me what sorts of advanced education you'll find in the people loading lifts, turning screws, flipping burgers, and driving buses at ski resorts--if you look for it!

While there are plenty of worthy distractions, opportunities for intellectual pursuit also abound in most ski-resort towns. Most of these people have made a concscious life-style decision to live and work in the mountains, in relative economic poverty. Their perspective and insight is often pretty interesting!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #9 of 22
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by fudman:

... The worst thing you can do is think at your age. Just do it ...


All advice aside, thinking can never be bad at any age!
post #10 of 22

One of the things I regret not doing is spending a year or two (or twenty) in a ski town. I grew up in Colorado, so I guess I didn’t focus on the need to move to a ski town (why move when you can go anytime you want, I thought). Now that I live in Boston, I know that was a mistake. I encourage you to follow your dream (I know I will be back west sometime soon).

Everything that has been said in this thread is true. Alta and Snowbird are amazing, but there is nothing to do except ski. Salt Lake is ok, but it is not the same as a ski town, and having a commute to the hill takes something away from the experience. Whistler is an amazing place too. The mountains are unreal, the snow deep, and the village super-fun. In my opinion, the weather is an issue though. I lived in Seattle for awhile and went to Whistler regularly, and I encountered rain, fog, and gloominess more than anything else. Vail is a good mountain, and there is a ski bum culture, but it isn’t the same as some other places. The Valley is too expensive for most ski bums, so people find themselves living down valley in Edwards or Eagle. That is ok in many ways, but having a car would make it better.

In my opinion, the total experience is important. The skiing has to be first rate of course, but there is more. The town has to be truly great. A real ski town has vibe and soul that a fabricated village like Vail will never have. There is a local culture, a group of peers, and central location to bond people together. Things like “walking from your house to breakfast at the bakery on Main Street before walking to the lift for first chair” are simply better than “fighting traffic on your drive to the resort parking lot.” Another thing to consider is the surrounding mountains and activities available. Most ski towns will have an endless array of outdoor activities, but some places are better than others. If there is something you like to do besides ski, take that into account. Also, think about whether you will want to stay through the summer – some resorts have little going on over the summer, while others are rocking. Ski towns generally have interesting people with interesting experiences. If writing is part of the goal, tapping into that “interestingness” may be helpful.

In addition to some of the other suggestions already made, I would recommend Telluride and Crested Butte. Both have incredible skiing in truly spectacular settings. Both towns are incredible, with good food, great people, amazing surroundings, and killer weather. Both have a ski bum culture that is accepted and encouraged. Both are far enough away from a big city that you will have uncrowded skiing all of the time, and both mountains are so damn fun.

Steamboat is another good option. Although it is not the steepest mountain around, the skiing is quite exceptional (especially if you like tree skiing). The snow is light, dry, and deep. The town is real, and the people are great.

I have friends that live and work in all three of these towns. Drop me a line if you want any additional information – I may be able to give you some ideas or contacts if you are interested.

Welcome to EpicSki. As many before me have said, this decision may change your life. A lot of people move to the mountains for a winter, decide to stay for the summer, and end up staying forever. If you ask me, there is nothing wrong with that.

post #11 of 22

When I was your age (don't you just love any sentence that starts that way?), I took a winter off from college and lived in Aspen. It's still among the most exciting, educational, eye-opening, downright fun experiences of my life.

You've already received a lot of great advice. I definitely agree with the suggestion about picking a challenging mountain. If you're in love enough with skiing to do this thing, you'll end up figuring out a way to ski every day of the season. If you do that - and particularly if you hook up with a group of people who push your abilities - your skills will increase exponentially. Pick a mountain that will demand everything you can give it.

I'd go with the suggestions about picking an actual ski town. It will be much easier to find a community of people who share your interests than if you move someplace like Salt Lake City. It's amazing how people in ski towns just move from one seasonal mountain sport to the next (skiing, climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, fishing, etc etc) all through the year.

Finding a place to live will be your biggest challenge. Once you settle on a town, do some research through websites and the local paper. Find classifieds and look on newsgroups and discussion boards. Good places to live are out there, it just usually takes some inside info to find them.

Definitely get a job, even if only for a couple of days (or evenings) a week. You'll become more a part of the community and you'll meet people much more easily. Once you've got a place to live, jobs in ski resorts are easy to come by. It will also help stretch that $10k.

You talked about buying your gear. I assume you're familiar with ski swaps? Every fall, most big resort towns have at least one swap. You can always buy great gear for ridiculous prices if you've done a little homework before the swap.

Last but not least, go do it and have a great time. Be prepared, though. As many have already said - that lifestyle will be addictive.


In no particular order: Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Telluride, Truckee, Jackson Hole, Bend, Whistler, Fernie.
post #12 of 22
[sigh] [yearn] [wish]
post #13 of 22
post #14 of 22
Well my name says it all. If you like it Steep, Deep,& Cheap you will like ALTA. On a powder day if you look up on the Devil's Castle you might see God cutting ribbons. Once I've put in a good day at ALTA, I'm not worried about night life. But, if you want it, SLC is less then a 1/2 hour away. I can leave ALTA and be in my front door in less then 20 minutes. And the "Bird" is only 1 mile downhill. Some night life there. [img]smile.gif[/img] [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #15 of 22
I'll back up Ryan and say Summit County. Although I now live in the PNW, when I was around that age I lived in Breck. I had a blast and that mountain will match your ability quite well.

Another good place would be Sun Valley, however the cost of living and the price of a seasons pass is pretty outlandish.
post #16 of 22
Go to Europe! Every time I ski in Austria or France I don't want to leave. They have alot of english speaking employees, and Au is cheap so you should be able to very well there. Where else in the world can you find a country the size of some US states but having 280+ ski areas?

Another nugget to consider: Les Trois Vallees in france which consists of five major interlinked resorts has more lift served ski terrain thatn Colorado and Utah combined.
post #17 of 22
you know what, Superplexity, you're throwin' a big ol' wrench into my life here. ( ) I'm twice your age and I'm following this thread and I'm REALLY thinkin' Los Angeles is looking worse every day.

Hmmm, Denver....
post #18 of 22
Do not steer our friend wrong.
You can not spell SUN Valley with our T, R, U, S, T - F, U, N, D!
post #19 of 22
I took a little time off after I graduated high school. Then got responsible and went to college. Was going to do the same after college and my brother talked me into working for him for a year. I quit thirteen years later and moved to Washington State to be a stay at home dad. Now, I get to ski every weekend. You're going to start with $10,000 that seems like plenty especially if you get a job. Hide some of that or give a grand to someone you can trust in case of emergency. You never know what can happen, and if you need to get home for something you'll have it. Enjoy and take lots of pictures.
post #20 of 22
Super, I'm your age and did exactly what you are thinking about doing. I only took a semester off last year, but I skied way too much (wait, thats not possible [img]smile.gif[/img]) and decided that I better get done with school, so I moved to the middle of nowwhere where mountains are like 800 miles away. I miss the mountains, but I will never regret taking time off to be a ski bum. If you love to ski I'd go for it. I personnaly have spent most my time in Bozeman, but I have some friends who have been bummin' in the Tahoe area who just love it. I also know people in Alta who love it there too. It depends on what you are looking for I guess. There are so many places with great skiing and each has their own unique character. I've had friends who have bummed at Vail and loved it, and then gone to Steamboat and loved that too. I think you'll be happy no matter where you choose.
post #21 of 22
I would only move to a ski town if I was 21 - don't bother until then. But hell then go for it... there isn't a better life!
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
I'll be 21 by the time next season rolls around, so the timing works out well. It would certainly suck to have to confine apres ski to grabbing junk food at the local gas station.

If anyone is still following this thread, two questions. Firstly, how's the long-term housing at Whistler? All I've been able to find online have been tons and tons of listings for vacation rentals, whereas I'll need something for the whole season, preferably within walking distance of a lift, or alternatively, serviced by a shuttle. I don't know much about the base village setup there, like whether or not there are loads of condos and apartments scattered about, or what. Is it possible to find such a place for a fairly reasonable price (i.e. longterm rental prices, not paying by the week) if I begin looking early enough? Any places to look online?

Secondly, how's Telluride for an extended stay? I was there several years ago with my family, and I really liked the place -- great town, awesome scenery, and beautiful weather. The entire place just had a wonderful vibe to it, and I'd love to spend a year there. I wasn't doing the kind of skiing that I'll be doing now, though, and I'm not sure if the mountain's rather smallish size might lead to some boredom after some 150 straight days of skiing. Would this be a problem?

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