So, you’ve decided you really like snowboarding. You’ve been riding at your local resort/hill every chance you get and you want to take it to the next level. You may have just finished school or be in between jobs, whatever the case, you have the winter off and you want to snowboard everyday. Here’s how you do it.
Where to go?
One of the major decisions you’re going to have to make right off the bat is, if you don’t already live in the mountains, where you will move to. This article is assuming you are moving to a ski hill as there are several other options for snowboarding everyday but that is a topic for another for another time.
First off you are going to have to decide if you will be travelling to another country. If you are in a place like Australia, which happens to be host to a lot of travelling snowboarders, you will likely be travelling. That’s not to say there are not ski resorts in Australia. Here’s a list of a few popular countries for snowboarding and what they have to offer.
Arguably, the best snowboarding in the world. Canada’s cold temperatures and typically wet climate make it a winter wonderland. The peaks of western Canada boast some of the deepest powder on earth and you have lots of great resorts to choose from, all which receive annual snowfall over twelve meters!. The mountain communities of Canada are used to travellers from abroad coming to work and play at their homes so you will find it easy to make friends and meet fellow snowboarders. If you are into going where the action is you might choose to live and work at a resort like Whistler, or Big White. However, if you like things a bit more quiet where the powder stays fresh a little longer you may want to try Whitewater, or Kicking Horse. If you want to go riding in Canada make sure you bundle up because it can get chilly at first but once you are used to the cold you start to crave it, it means better snow conditions!
The US has many great resorts similar to Canada as they exist in what could be called the same mountain ranges (some mountain ranges run through both countries). Being a bit further south, the climate is warmer, although, can be comparable at elevation. There are some big mountains in the western United States that receive annual snowfall also in the 12 meter range. Some of the resorts here see a lot of action due to tourists and a large local population. Jackson Hole is a great place to ride with huge annual snowfall and lots of night life. The resort usually sees over half a million skiers per year! Alta ski resort in Wyoming is a high elevation resort that receives big snowfall and is one of the oldest resorts in the US! There are many great resorts to pick from in the United States if that’s where you choose to ride.
There’s lots of other countries you can move to if you want to snowboard all winter but we won’t get into them in this article, just do a quick Google search of an area that interests you.
Okay so you’ve picked the resort you want to live at now lets talk about some of the other choices you are going to have to make.
How much money will you need?
Ski resorts are expensive places to live, they’re resorts so they have to charge a premium on everything in order to extract as much money as possible from all the tourists and families that visit every year. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be a smart snowboard bum and live on a budget that enables you to ride more fresh powder than most people can dream of. The lifestyle that you choose will ultimately determine how much riding you do. Let’s look at some of the essentials.
This is the whole reason you are going. If you want to ride lots, you’re going to need a season pass, you have a couple of options. You can buy one for between $750 – $2200, depending on the resort you choose and ride until your heart’s content. You’re other option is to work for the resort. Most places will give you a seasons pass and take payment for it from your paycheque gradually over the course of the season. This is sort of like a payment plan for people who can’t put up the cash and are planning on working while there. The only problem with this option is that if it snows 30 cm and you call in sick to go slash pow, they will suspend your pass for the day and you will be stuck at home while your friends have the time of their lives.
Season Pass = $1000 (common smaller resort pass price)
You will likely be renting a room in a large chalet or mountain house with a bunch of other travelling snowboarders. This is the only way most people can afford to live full time at a resort as renting your own place can cost several thousand per month. Typical rent for a room in one of these shared houses is around $500 US per month. Some places you will be paying another $50 in utilities so let’s call it $550. Assuming you will staying an entire season you will probably be showing up Mid November and staying until Mid April.
5 months x $550 per month = $2750
Another annoying thing essential to human survival. Food on the mountain is overpriced just like everything else. There are usually small grocery stores but they will set you back about double what you would pay for the same product in the city. If you find a ride down to the city that is close to your mountain you can buy food cheaper there but typically you will be paying resort prices for groceries and if you are eating out much you can say good bye to your funds rather quickly. If you live off cases of instant noodles you can save a lot of money but let’s assume you want to eat a balanced diet while you are breaking down your body, snowboarding everyday. Groceries for a single person will typically run you about $75 per week.
20 weeks x $75 per week = $1500
Although it doesn’t seem like it, this is likely going to be your biggest expense. You’re living at a resort, people are there to party, not to mention, everyone is transient so people are more willing to step outside their comfort zones. You will be living in a house full of new friends and there will always be something going on. You will have to choose your nights out wisely because this one factor can be the deciding one in how much you have to work to get by instead of slashing fresh pow. A typical night out will cost you about $100 if you do some pre drinking at home and don’t get too fired up. Some weeks you might have two of these nights some weeks, one. Let’s average it out and say 1.5 nights out per week.
30 nights out x $100 per night = $3000
These are just essentials, there are always unexpected costs but this will give you a good idea of what it takes to live at a mountain resort and snowboard everyday.
Total for 5 month season = $8250
Now that we know the numbers we should talk about your two most obvious lifestyle choices since they will be the biggest factor effecting your season. Although not available to everyone, the thing to do that will afford you the most fun and freedom is to save up $10000 to cover all of your expenses and have all the free time to do what you want. That means riding when you want, going out whenever you feel like it and most of all never missing a pow day! When you live at a mountain, it’s all about the powder days. Things can get tracked out quick and it really sucks when it snows and you have to go to work. Watching friends and all the other random people have the time of their lives, while you can’t participate, will give you a burning feeling like no other.
That brings us to your other option, the one most people in your shoes take. Get a temporary job at the resort your moving to. This has it’s perks as well such as meeting people, earning money and perhaps getting to learn a new skill. Not all businesses on the resort land will be part of the resort itself. Although, if you go to work for the resort you won’t have to worry about buying a pass as the resort will provide you with one. Typically this will be on a payment plan that they will automatically take off of your paycheck. Just remember, if you are getting a “free” pass through your job, they will be in complete control. Any powder days that you decide to call in sick will see your pass suspended for the day rendering you unable to ride anyways.
Many of you can’t save up that much money and will be forced to take a job if you want to do something like this. In that case, the job you choose will also play a major roll in how much you get to ride. Night jobs are great because you can ride during the day, if you can get up. You could take a cheap course and become a ski/snowboard instructor; then you would get paid to be on the snow. Only, you wouldn’t be doing what you want to do and hitting the spots you want to hit, you would be teaching mostly beginners the basics all day. Just make sure you choose wisely, some of the best jobs are the least sought after.
Many people spend a large portion, or even their entire lives living and working at ski hills. This is just a short guide and peak into this lifestyle, there is much more to write on this topic. If you do this, even for just one season, you won’t regret it. It’s something you’ll remember for the rest of your life. You will meet tons of amazing people and make great friends, party like a rock star and snowboard everyday. If that sounds like one of your dreams then what are you waiting for?