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Suggestions for an aspiring ski bum?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Hi there


I'm planning on moving out to BC for the winter, planing on staying somewhere in the interior. I am a level 1 CSIA ski instructor, and my money situation at the moment is not enough for me to not work all winter (unfortunately). From what I hear, the resorts out west aren't all that thrilled hiring level 1's, I would have no issues doing a regular joe job. I would like to hear everybody's experiences so I can come up with a better estimate of how much this is going to cost, and the go-to places out there.


Housing- How much should I expect to pay for the tiniest room ever with internet access? My shortlist of hills I want to stay at are Kicking Horse and Revelstoke, but if there's a better option with good expert terrain and good-sized, I'm open to it. I will have my car out there, so it can be within half an hour or something from the hill. It's really hard to get a housing price now because all the rates are very seasonal.


Anyways, that's all I can think of for now, doubtless, there will be more questions later 

post #2 of 29

In my humble ski bum experience, the best jobs are at night, or the majority of your work time is on the weekend days.  I would stay away from instructing as the day is chewed up and the money is not grand.  I always lean to the restaurant jobs.  Make more money, work less days and of course ski more.  Suppliment your habit with a ski shop job on the weekends to get the "pro forms" ans shop time needed to maintain your quiver etc.


Ski more, work less is the best approach. 

post #3 of 29

If you have a cert, a mountain will almost certainly hire you. Certified ski instructors do not sprout up from the ground full grown, and Western resorts don't just cull all of their instructors from the East. Your best bet is to land a part time instructing gig. If you're worried about getting hired, apply for the children's program. Going for a part time job will do a few things for you. First, the standards for hiring part time instructors are generally lower than full timers. Most SSD's are not going to expect all of their part timers to put in the hundreds of dollars a year to maintain a certification, so having one is a bonus, not a basic requirement. Second, a part time job instructing will leave you much more time to put the 'ski' into 'ski bum'. And of course, if you have the mountain job, that takes care of your pass. That's at least a thousand dollars which can be better spent on Ramen, Natty Lite (although being in Canada I'd imagine it's probably Labatt or something of the like), and whatever other frivolous expenses you come across (those sweet new Anon's on the shelf ain't free). And the mountain job also saves on expenses with your discount. Saving about 50% on mountain food isn't pennies. And now those Anon's cost $85 instead of $115. On top of an instructing job, try to find a night job that's 3 or 4 nights a week. Bartender is ideal, waiting tables works too. That way, you have 4 or 5 days to ski when you're not teaching, and you have 3 or 4 nights to party when you're not working.

post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 

I teach kids at mt.st. louis, I don't mind it one bit. Problem is, I doubt that Kicking Horse (being known as an expert mountain) and Revelstoke (being new) would really have much business in the way of kids. Working restaurant/ski shop seems pretty ideal, I would have to pay for a pass but I would get more days in. And the work would be more constant than teaching kids. And I would be able to repair all my close encounters with the abrasive side of the mountain. On the other hand, it's good to be in a ski school with a bunch of other people who are all interested in the same thing.. hmmm... This requires more pontification



edit: I'm getting some new skis as well. I've always been a fan of the 1-ski quiver, but something tells me it isn't going to cut it anymore. My current skis are '07 Salomon Foils, ones before that were '04 (iirc) Salomon 1080's. They were great skis because they carved pretty decently, and did powder alright and then you could fool around on them. Last year I went into some trees at Le Massif (best quebec skiing btw) and there was so much damn powder that no matter how far back I leaned or how fast I tried to go, they wouldn't stay up. And they're pretty much spent with all the rock they've hit


So I'm thinking about getting Salomon Shoguns for this year. I am a big fan of Salomon twins, but I'm just wondering how much pow they can do comfortably. I like that they are a pretty good pow ski that does the rest of the mountain good too, but if I am going to have issues in the pow on them I'm wondering if it would be better to get a set of ~105-110 underfoot skis and a set of carvers. I am wondering if the compromises the ski makes for its two strengths just makes it kinda mediocre in everything instead.


I am 6'4", 160 lbs (yeah, scrawny) and am a very aggressive skiier.

Edited by angrysasquatch - 7/23/10 at 11:07am
post #5 of 29

Hi there!

If you're willing to travel abroad for a Ski job, I just wanted to let you know that we have lots of Ski Instructor Job openings in Japan (Hokkaido) for this season. In case you're interested, I've put up details on our website at http://www.boobooski.com/ski-instructor-jobs.html

Hope this helps! Good luck getting a job, whether it's in Canada or elsewhere - I'm sure it will be a great experience - so many fringe benefits! wink.gif

Let me know if you have any questions, cheers.



post #6 of 29

I would definitely try to get a night job at a restaurant/bar and the weekend ski shop gig like graceski recommended. Teaching at a place like KH or RMR is going to really suck on good pow days when you are leading people around who can't make it more than a few feet without falling. KH has the big mountain centre which leads advanced groups, that would be a fun gig but I doubt they will let you in that unless you have proven experience (I think some of them are from patrol, filming or cert guides, very strong big mtn skiers).


Of the two resorts, I prefer KH (to be fair I've only done 5 days at RMR and that was during their first season). Sick terrain from all the ridgelines, easy access slackcountry. RMR might get a bit more snow and more stable snowpack though. Not sure what rent is like in Golden or Revelstoke these days, check craigslist and other renter sites, I know it ain't cheap.

post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 

The problem with looking up rent now is that the rates are probably very seasonal. I have no intentions of teaching big mountain, if anything I would be the recipient of such training.


On another note, probably should've mentioned this from the beginning. I have an American citizenship as well, are the opprotunities in the western US better or worse than western Canada?


Anyone else skiied Japan? It looks a bit too like small-mountain eastern Canada/US stuff to me.

post #8 of 29

A few points:


1: If you are an American, you have no chance of getting a job in Canada unless you arrange your own visa. 

2: Forget finding the tiniest room ever...you cant afford it.  You will need to get a small bedroom, AND a room-mate.  The other 2-4 bedrooms, plus den etc will also have 1-2 people per room...so plan for 6 or so "house-mates"....work off $350-$700/month (your share) depending on how nice it is, and you will be pretty close.

3:  As for rates, Golden and Revy are both pretty much in the middle of no-where, so no real option to "live outside of town" and commute in like you can in Whistler.

4: Restraunt jobs in Revy especially are tuff to come by.  The town existed long before the ski-hill and most restraunts have year round staff, that have been there for years, they will be looking for bus boys and the like thou.

5:  CSIA L1 will get you a job at Revy or Golden, and there is likley enough work to keep you going.  Sure snow-plowing on a powder day sucks, but it beats busing tables at the cafeteria in town....plus the training, ski friends, etc make up for a lot.

6:  Work is largley none existant for new comers until Christmas, but you will need to show up around early November to get a job/place etc.  The earlier the better. So plan on 2 months or so of no income.  Xmas is busy, January is also light on work, Feb and March pick up again into mid April, then nothing.

7:  Beer/food etc is expensive.

8: Go.  You wont regret it.


Japan is powder heaven, not steep...but DEEP!  Sick really, as most of the locals stick to the groomers.

post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 



1) I've got a dual citizenship, no worries there

2) Good to finally have an idea what housing will cost. As long as I have enough space to set up my computer, I'm content.

4) I'm hoping that maybe there are new restaraunts that just opened up to cater to the new influx of winter business, they will probably be looking for people if they exist.

5) Good to know, most people here were saying that they were really looking for level 2's and up.

6) I'm not sure why it is imperative I get there so early. Sure, it will help getting a job if I can interview face to face, but I can make a whole lot more money here and then if I move out later, I will have a whole lot more saved up, which should more than offset the slightly better job I might be able to land from being local. Basically, I've got a couple grand in the bank right now and have a good reliable car. Everything else for going out west I'm gonna have to make between the end of August and when I head out. A couple extra weeks of work is a lot of gravy on top.

post #10 of 29

KH and RMR are black diamond mountains with very little intermediate terrain and most black diamond skiers don't take lessons or if they do it won't be from a level 1 instructor. Makes more sense to live and work elsewhere and just visit KH and RMR.


Most of the bigger resorts in western Canada have job fairs in October so check the web sites of Fernie, Silver Star, Big White, Sun Peaks, Lake Louise, Sunshine, Red etc. BTW even the smaller resorts like Whitewater, Kimberly, Castle and Apex are huge compared to Mount St, Louie.


I don't have much knowledge of the US ski areas but If you have the ability to work in the US my guess is that these resorts are busier than the Canadian ones and would offer more employment opportunities. OTOH getting your CSIA level 2 in Canada this winter would open up a lot more opportunities next year in the US.


Whistler might be an option for you but there is competition and high prices there for everything. Personally I don't like all the rain and wet snow that they get there but that is just me.

post #11 of 29

If you can swing it without working by working @ home and not coming out until Dec 1 or Jan 1 whenver you are planning, that would get you the most skiing, and usually the skiing in Nov/Dec at KH/Revy isn't the best (although they can have epic early seasons). Just make sure you do a realistic budget, and buy your season pass in the early sales (some might be over already).

post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 

Gram- I've been looking at the cost of ski passes, and seeing deadlines pass. The problem with getting one too early is that it limits me to that resort, I haven't really made up my mind where I'd like to be yet and don't want to have a poor decision made prematurely to make me have to turn down jobs, be forced into more expensive housing, etc.


Right now, the budget I've made up in excel comes to about 10,000, for 4 months of staying out there and skiing. Anybody want to speculate on that figure? If my guesstimating is about right, any job I get out west can just be beer money if I play my cards right.


Dano, if I live elsewhere, I won't get nearly as much skiing in. And if I don't get much skiing in, I may as well just work here over the winter and fly out to ski for a couple weeks.


The reason I'm not all that thrilled about Whistler is it's too damn expensive and too damn touristey.


I'll be sure to keep an eye on those websites later on


Anybody have an idea of US resorts I should look into? I basically want a cheap mountain that has good snow and terrain. The less touristy and the more awesomer, the better.

post #13 of 29

10k can work as long as you aren't partying all the time. What is your timeline like? Are you doing 4 or 5mo?




Rent/utils = 4k (guesstimate, 800/mo? Maybe this is high I dunno)

Pass = 1k

Food/beer = 1.5k (you can get by on nothing if you just eat rice of course)

Gear costs = 500? (assume something will break or you want to buy something, touring gear maybe?)

Gas = ?

Travel costs = ? (probably want to drive around to see other ski areas, Rogers pass etc)


Even if you have to pay another few hundred on a pass it's not a huge deal since you have cash in the bank.  Whistler is awesome, I will be skiing there this year a lot, but it is busy, even midweek there are lines if the snow is good, and there are so many good skiers that the good lines get hit really fast. At KH and especially Revy, midweek it is dead unless it snows for the first time in a month. Both will be fun, good luck.


Good luck.

post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 

Any further ideas? It looks like the budget is going to be significantly less than previously thought, any ideas on any corners I can cut to make it work?


Oh, and thanks for the input gramboh, it was quite useful

post #15 of 29

Really helpful thread, thanks all.

im heading over from Australia for 7-8 months to lake loiuise/banff


this thread has made me a little worried about cash though,

what are people thoughts about working for the mountain? im willing to do anything, free pass and accomo assistance is pretty tempting.

post #16 of 29

While we're at it, let's be realistic about what it means to be a first year, CSIA level 1 at most resorts: you will be babysitting kids.  You'll also show up every day for lineup and you may or may not have a class, in which case you probably won't get paid for the day.  


However, I think you should still go.  You'll find a way to make it work and if you like to ski you'll enjoy it.  After you run out of money you'll figure out how to sleep on couches and just how far you can stretch $50.  I've seen a lot of grand illusions people have from watching too many movies that ski instructor jobs are glamorous and well paid - they're neither.  The kid in the rental shop is laughing at you on the powder day when you're picking the kids up out of the snow and he's on a two hour ski break.  If you genuinely enjoy teaching, then definitely go for it.

post #17 of 29
Originally Posted by vinn View Post

While we're at it, let's be realistic about what it means to be a first year, CSIA level 1 at most resorts: you will be babysitting kids.  You'll also show up every day for lineup and you may or may not have a class, in which case you probably won't get paid for the day.  

Great, someone else to tell me that I don't have any class. 

post #18 of 29


Originally Posted by Philpug View Post

Great, someone else to tell me that I don't have any class. 


Didn't you bring some K2 skis with PBR graphics on them out here?  That's pretty classy in it's own ski bum sort of way.

post #19 of 29
post #20 of 29


my advice:


enjoy.  this is a great idea and you won't regret it.


do not work as a ski instructor (unless you actually enjoy it).  that's a great way to spend time watching other people ski.


don't work before 4:00 pm.  you want every day all day to be available for free skiing.  this will make you very happy.


i've paid anywhere from $300 - $900 per month for studio apartments and/or small houses in lake tahoe.  i'd expect cheaper lodging where you're headed.

Edited by jahroy - 9/28/10 at 3:39pm
post #21 of 29
Thread Starter 

So I'm heading out January 2nd or 3rd, but I haven't found a place to rent. I've only been trying the past week or so because nobody seemed to care to discuss renting a room when it would be months before I actually got there. I've been looking on Craigslist and Kijiji, emailed one guy who hasn't got back to me yet. What other options should I be exploring to find a place? How grim do you think my chances would be if worst comes to worst, I head out without finding a place to stay first?

post #22 of 29
Thread Starter 

So, I made it. Still haven't found a place, but hopefully I can snag one before sundown.

post #23 of 29

Well, damn!  I'm on the edge of my seat.  Best of luck to you, and keep us updated. 

post #24 of 29

It only takes a litte luck. Go into the skis shops & restaraunts and ask around. Maybe somebody else has had enough of the ski bum life after a month or two and is ready to leave & you can pick their room. Although, we couldn't find housing in Aspen. So we went to Vail. We coundn't find any housing in Vail. So we went to Breckenridge. We were happy ski bums in Breck biggrin.gif

post #25 of 29

ALL RIGHT good for you.

post #26 of 29

Well until you find somewhere, check out hostels in your area, ski hostels can be decent and reasonable. Also, go check out the ski schools where you want to teach. I get quite a bit of time to ski, though it's not paid, each day before and after lessons.  You'll find you can get hired on as a level 1 and you will find with the excellent instruction you get out here you will be able to advance your skiing and levels to get better positions and lessons.You might be able to find a ski school that would still hire you part time to help with the cost of skiing.  Part time would get you a pass and you could teach weekends, get to know the ski school, and ski on days off.  Staff accomodation at many  hills is suitable and can be had for a reasonable cost so you can look to do this next year , applying while you are out here you could get all set for next year.  Keep looking for a room for rent or room to share and see what you can come up with for this year.  I have two friends renting a two bedroom condo in Banff splitting it three ways for 1300 all included, that's just over $400.00 / month each so reasonable accomodation can be found through sharing expenses.


Good luck, have fun, and do please, keep us posted.  Let us know how you  make out.





post #27 of 29
Thread Starter 

So I found a room, was able to pick between 3 in the end. I skiied yesterday and today, what a welcome carpet cool.gif 25 cm at base in the last few days, I can tell you it was a lot more at altitude. Looks like there'll be a bit more before the weather moves on, and more towards the end of next week. Shooting for the good old 1m vertical feet for the season, should be feasible.


Ski videos will be on my youtube channel, later on. Seems I can shoot video a whole lot faster than I can upload it on youtube, it needs about a hour of upload time to put up a minute of video.


edit: forgot the link


Edited by angrysasquatch - 1/9/11 at 1:27pm
post #28 of 29

Nice! Enjoy your bumming :) 

post #29 of 29

Awesome stuff!  Glad you found somewhere.  I probably can't watch the video, my Ski Resort internet is slower then dial up ) but glad to hear you got somewhere.  Keep us posted on the season for youl.

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