What’s it like to work for Vail Resorts (2018)

[Around this time of year, my site gets a lot of search traffic from people who are considering working for Vail Resorts at either Vail or another ski resort in Colorado. November and December are when Colorado’s ski resorts staff up for seasonal work. Thousands of temporary workers flow in for a taste of “the good life”, skiing every day, drinking every night, and working every minute in between. 

The ski town content that people tend to find via Google is a few years old, so I asked a friend to contribute something a bit more up-to-date. Rachel worked at Keystone for the final six weeks of the 2017-2018 season. Here is her advice about working for Vail, living in the mountains, and which Colorado ski resort you should choose.

You can find Rachel on Instagram at @rv_warner.]

The snow arrived early this year and gave some mountains a head start on the 2018/2019 ski season, but don’t worry, you haven’t missed out on your chance to spend a winter in the Colorado Rockies. If you aren’t receiving the same daily emails from Vail about their “talent acquisitions” that I am, listen up, Vail Resorts is hiring. I speculate Vail is always hiring, maybe not in the exact job you had in mind, but if you don’t completely suck I bet you can find a job. If you have already looked into working for them but are on the fence, let me encourage you to take the plunge.

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Vail’s Ski Patrol Doggos

Recently, a woman I met in Chefchaouen messaged me a link to my article: “Should You Work For Vail Resorts?  “Fourth result on Google! You’re all over the place,” she wrote.

How funny to think that three years ago, when I started this blog, it was about living in a ski town.

Life will change a lot, if you let it.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I certainly don’t yearn for the ski town. And I’m excited to see where the newest changes in my life will lead me. But sometimes, a reminder of the past can be sweet.

So today, we look back at Vail for a bit.

Here’s a video about Henry, one of the ski-patrol avalanche dogs from Vail. Snatching a few scratches from one of these puppers at PHQ atop Chir 4, or seeing one load or unload the chairlifts across the mountain was always a highlight of my season at Vail.

Hope you all enjoyed the video as much as I enjoyed the glimpse at the past! And hope everyone in Colorado enjoyed this weekend’s fresh snowfall! I’m jealous of everyone that got to catch some powder turns!

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:

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Should You Work For Vail Resorts?

Vail's Blue Sky Basin

UPDATE: Here is an updated 2018 version of this post.

Or: Why I Worked for Vail (and Why You Should Work For Vail Resorts Too)

guest contribution from a ski town friend. They wanted to remain anonymous. But for those of you considering a season as a ski bum, with Vail Resorts in Vail or elsewhere, I hope the perspective’s helpful!

Although there seems to be a lack of snow nationwide, the 2016-2017 Ski season is about to kick off. Some resorts, such as Arapahoe Basin, are unbelievably already in full swing. People, just like you and me, from all over the world are therefore looking for ways to get their very own taste of some champagne powder – without paying $1000 for a season pass. Or maybe you’re like I was and have never skied or boarded before but are ready to give it your best shot. Either way, there’s an alternative to buying a pass.

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A Day in the Life

[ed. note: ski town content is finally resuming, courtesy of a friend in Vail. He’s a great writer and a better ski bum than I. His writing will run alongside my travel content as we move towards a more diverse magazine. Hope you all are enjoying your winters!]

Wham!  A slap of the snooze button and a groan, I’m awake at 5am.  Time to video chat with the now ex-girlfriend in Bulgaria, it’s already 2pm there.  After a shower and a quick breakfast I’m out the door by 6, just enough time to walk to work for my 6:15 shift.

I breath in the crisp Rocky Mountain air and start walking through 6 inches of fresh snow, thinking to myself – ‘Damn, too bad I’m not cruising this fresh powder instead of serving breakfast to tourists. . .’

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Soon after I get to work I devise a plan to get out early. Sure enough, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Working fast and talking faster, I’m out the door by 8.  Smell ya later, it’s time for some much needed snowboarding.  I’m heading back home and a friend, let’s call him T, excitedly calls me and asks if I’m going to shred the gnar.  Fuck ya.  Back home by 8:30.  A quick snack and the addition of some very warm socks later and it’s time to head to the village.  We meet up at Gondola One and by the looks of things, we’re among the first skiers on the mountain.  Hells Yes.

Excitement builds as we are comfortably lifted up the mountain in the padded and heated gondola.  Gloves, goggles, face mask, powder skirt and a pounding heart.  The trees are laden with fresh snow, and in some places, ice; a real winter wonderland.  The doors open, we strap in and off we go.  Cruising thick stacks of fresh snow, running my fingers through it as I’m rocketing down the mountain parallel to the ground.  I catch air and boom! A shot of cold champagne powder slams into my face, nearly choking me. In the ski world this is called a face shot.  In this town if you’re not taking fresh snow to the dome, it’s not a powder day.

If you’ve ever surfed before, riding fresh powder is very similar, however, I ironically think that snowboarding is much more fluid.  The waves are moving and pushing beneath you, exerting their force on you, but with snowboarding everything just flows.  It doesn’t matter how you move your board, it’s like sliding down whipped cream.  And the best part is that wiping out is fun.  Ever jumped into a pile of waist deep snow?  Might as well be falling onto a pile of feathers.  These are the days when you drop cliffs and try crazy tricks.

The deep snow also has a very surreal calming effect.  Sound is dampened and being surrounded by an entire world of white allows you to drift into a totally different plane of reality.  It’s just you, the mountain, and your board.  In some ways snowboarding has been one of the most spiritual experiences of my life (the exception, by far, being DMT).

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T and I meet up at the bottom of the lift, giant, stupid grins spread across our faces.  A fist bump later and we’re traveling up the mountain again, this time on an open chair lift, cold air on our faces, shouting playful encouragement at the skiers below us.  T looks over at me; ‘safety meeting?’  ‘You know it.’  We cruise into the trees, find a nice smoke shack to post up in and spark a bowl.  Taking full advantage of legal marijuana has been one of my favorite parts about living in Colorado.  At times I smoke too much – Ha!  But blazing up on the mountain (among other things) is always recommended.  I always feel a bit more connected to my board and the mountain after inhaling a bit of ganja and usually end up pushing myself just because I’ll get into sketchier situations, say ‘fuck it, let’s do this’ and flow through them.

T and I do a few more runs, zipping through the trees and traversing most of the front side of the mountain.  But soon enough, the munchies kick in and it’s time for the classic chicken & bean burrito at La Cantina, a very ski bum budget friendly Mexican bar not far from the slopes.

Then it’s time for the 10 minute walk home, a game of zombies with the roommate and a freshly cooked meal before getting ready to wake up and do it all over again.

 

This is my life.

I’m very excited to share it with you.  Stories of adventure, drugs, danger, love and life decisions.  Battles with depression and coming of age.  The joys and turmoils of a fast paced life.  The behind the scenes of what it really means to be a ski bum.  Of letting go and allowing life to take you where you need to go – whether it’s dropping out of college to follow your dreams or opening your heart to another human being.

I live, work and play in the resort town of Vail, Colorado, where everything revolves around the snow.  Whether it’s good or bad drastically affects the tourism business and can mean the difference between a lucrative season or going out of business.  For example, I-70 – the interstate that connects Vail to the rest of the world – causes millions of dollars in losses every time it is shut down.  That being said, living in a resort town allows you to make amazing money with very little experience; really, only the skill of being able to talk to people is required.  It also means 5 star meals and fresh seafood in the middle of the Rockies.  And, working for the company Vail Resorts means that you have the opportunity to snowboard 7 days a week for FREE.  Really can’t beat that.  Stay tuned.

 

– C

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Like it, love it, hate it? Tell me what to write about next in the comments below.