Spending a Season as a Ski Bum

Those of you new to this blog (a.k.a. almost all of you) may not know that I started this project while I was living in a ski town for a year. That’s why you’ll see chairlifts in the header. I never ended up writing much about my experiences as a ski bum, after I discovered my passion for travel, but I still have friends chasing that lifestyle. Here’s my friend Jazzmin’s take on her attempt to live an interesting life in a ski town. She found, as I did, that it’s more about the people than about the place.

You can find Jazzmin on Instagram

Read on for her thoughts:

Ski Bum

ski town chair

I don’t think anyone becomes a ski bum by accident. There is a conscious decision to put one’s life on hold for freezing temperatures, isolation, and a minimum wage job. And for what? Endless powder days? Empty lift lines on a weekday? Freedom bound only by a work schedule?

The answer is yes. Of Course.

I made my decision to forgo a career after college graduation for a shot at the mountain life. There is no better time to abandon responsibility than in the year after graduating. For four years my life had been dictated by my pursuit of a degree from Colorado State University. During those years, every spring semester, I focused on my studies, if only to grant myself one day a week to escape to the mountains and ski. By the spring of my junior year I had come to the conclusion that the day after graduation I was going to move to Winter Park to live out my ski-bum dream.

Not much could have deterred me from my plan. That was until I met Carson. We met at the beginning of our senior year, and fell into a mutual weirdness that we eventually called love. I remember coming to the realization that I wanted to be wherever Carson was, so I postponed my move to Winter Park by at least six months while he finished school. And I was perfectly fine with that. I was going to move to my dream town, with the man that I loved, and live out my ski bum fantasy.

Every good fantasy needs a plot twist though, right?

Plot Twist A: Carson needed open heart surgery.

carson hospital

In October of 2016 we found out that Carson had an atrial septal defect in his heart nearly the size of an egg. All winter there was a looming knowledge that he would need surgery at some point. On March 1st he had his operation. Everything went perfectly, and he’s been recovering in Denver while I’ve continued to live in Winter Park. Which leads me to…

Plot Twist B: Living by myself in a ski town isn’t as much fun as I had thought it would be.

ski twon share

My greatest challenge has been getting over the fantasy I had spent so long creating in my head.

I had spent the better part of a year looking forward to a winter of skiing, working, and playing with Carson. After he relocated to Denver, I was left with lofty expectations that I hadn’t been prepared to abandon.

Not to say that I haven’t skied, or that I haven’t enjoyed my winter as a ski bum. I did exactly what I had planned on doing; I skied, I worked, and I enjoyed the two months I had with Carson before he had his surgery. However, the month and a half since his operation has been extremely difficult on Carson, our relationship, and myself. I’ve struggled to be comfortable being by myself in Winter Park; I still rely heavily on Carson to be my emotional crutch. It has been in this time of solitude that I have done a lot of reflecting on what this winter has meant for me.

At one point I had been so sure that being a ski bum was what I wanted, but after spending a winter doing exactly that, I’m not so sure any more. In the middle of winter when it snows everyday, living in a ski town is great. You can ski from first chair until last chair, and everyone is stoked on the powder days that don’t seem to stop. All everyone wants to do is ski. Then March rolls around, and the stoke levels start to dwindle. The drop in stoke can attributed to many things; spring breakers taking over the town, warmer temperatures, less snowfall, or simply an exhaustion of winter and a yearning for the warmer seasons ahead.

By this point in the season, there are only two weeks left until Winter Park Resort stops turning its lifts and winter can be deemed officially over. There is still a decent covering of snow and the temperatures still drop below freezing at night, but the anticipation of summer is gnawing at my patience. I’m counting down the days until Carson and I get to be together again in the summer sunshine, and we can put the stress of this winter behind us.

jazz ski bum chairlift


You can find Jazzmin and Carson on Instagram at @Wanderlust_7267  and @carsonmagoon

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