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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Should You Work For Vail Resorts?

Vail's Blue Sky Basin

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.

14 years later, “Powder Burn” Still an Accurate Depiction of Vail

Daniel Glick Powder Burn Review 2015

A longtime Vail Valley resident recently lent me a copy of Daniel Glick’s 2001 book “Powder Burn: Arson, Money and Mystery on Vail Mountain.” This eighty-year-old woman and I had just finished up a dinner at the Northside Kitchen, a local favorite in Avon, CO, just down the road from Vail.

This woman had built one of the very first houses in Avon. In the beginning, she stood alone on a plain, a modest house with a huge yard, next to the scenic Eagle River. A highway ran past, a few hundred yards away, but that was a small price to pay for the unique mix of solitude and accessibility.

Now her house is almost impossible to find, if you do not know where to look for it. It sits squashed between huge apartment complexes and hotels, shrouded by a wall of shrubbery. Beaver Creek ski resort looms above, a ski resort even more exclusive and boutique than Vail. People come and go all around. Most of them probably do not even notice her house— assume it is simply another luxury rental with an absent owner. Vail Resorts has built its empire around her, suffocating her views and her community in order to house as many impressionable young workers and incredibly rich tourists and as they can. The idea of a private plat existing in between all that artifice is laughable. I’m sure, if they could, Vail Resorts would buy her out for an exorbitant sum of money, and call it a win.

But she was there first; and she has no plans to leave.

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Chair 10 — Highline Express

Vail Double Black Highline Moguls

Vail’s Chair 10 is a perennial favorite with locals. Located to at the Eastern border of Vail’s frontside (far-left on the trail map), Chair 10 services black and double-black mogul runs. (It is also the quickest way to Two Elk Lodge and China Bowl; a little-known secret).

Chair 10 Trail sign Vail

For the dedicated mogul skier, there is no better terrain on Vail Mountain than Chair 10. There is rarely a line at the base, allowing for endless laps on endless bumps. If you opt to follow the liftline down the double-black Highline run, prepare for cheers (or jeers) from spectators on the lift evaluating your performance.

Gore Mountains in Vail, ColoradoChair 10 also provides some of the best views of the Gore Range which can be found anywhere on Vail mountain.

On a powder day, Chair 10 can provide a mellow and empty alternative to the always-too-crowded Back Bowls.