Welcome to part 1 of a guide to working a ski season.
Each job on the mountain has unique benefits and drawbacks which you can learn about in part 2.
The following benefits and drawbacks of a ski season are generic and loosely applied to every job.
All in all, I, and many other people believe that the benefits greatly outweigh the negatives. In short, you live on a mountain and get to ride it almost every day. I have worked a ski season before and all of these points are made from experience.
What are the typical benefits of working a ski season?
You get to ski almost everyday. Never in your life will you get this much time on the mountain. In one season, you will have ample time to become decent at both skiing and snowboarding. A typical season in the northern hemisphere lasts over 20 weeks. For most people, that could be 20 years of skiing (assuming they ski for a week, every single year). Maybe you could even perfect that backflip.
You get a free lift pass and ski / snowboard rental. These things aren’t cheap and are a huge part of why people choose to do a ski season. If you have your own equipment, you can bring that along too. That way, you can choose which equipment you want to use on each day that you’re on the mountain.
You get free food and accommodation. Your only expense needs to be luxuries, which for most people, invariably turns out to be alcohol. As long as you don’t overspend your earnings, you are guaranteed months of skiing / snowboarding without losing any money.
In Europe, you live on the mountain. Although not unique to Europe, most chalets and hotels in Europe are on the mountain. This means that you should be able to ski in and ski out of the resort, not wasting any time on transport. In other locations, check whether your resort is on the mountain, at the bottom of it, or a bus ride away before accepting a position.
You live with people all day every day. These people who you never knew before your ski season started will become your best friends and worst enemies. You get to work, play, and party together, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a half a year.
Amazing parties. Après-ski is synonymous around the world for great parties. Millions of people go skiing every year and want to go out every night. You can meet these people, party with them, and then say goodbye as you greet the new group of guests coming to stay in your resort. Most big companies have a ‘staff day off’ so that staff can spend time together and party at the same time on their day off.
Staff benefits. This depends on the company you are working for, but often your company will be able to arrange free / discounted excursions and ski lessons. If your particular resort has unique features such as hot tubs, you may also be permitted to use them as well.
You live on a mountain. The views are beautiful, the air is fresh, and people are happy. What more could you ask for? Mountain barbecues, staff races, and beach wear ski days may soon follow. Look around the mountain at where you are living as you have this fun and it’s hard not to have your breath taken away, every single day.
What are the typical negatives of working a ski season?
Hours are long and pay is bad. Although pay varies between positions, assume that you will receive low pay for the number of hours that you work. However, this is somewhat compensated for by the fact that you will receive free board, food, lift pass, and equipment rental during your time on the mountain.
The lifestyle is tiring. The continual work, ski, party lifestyle can be quite tiring. You have to learn to balance it out a little so that you can get the best of everything during your time on the mountain.
Cabin fever. When stuck on the mountain for so long, some people suffer from cabin fever. The weaker skiers who are less able to explore other areas of the resort are more prone to this. Compensate this by trying to spend time outside and moving around the mountain as much as possible. Occasionally there might be supply runs off the mountain and if you volunteer to help, you might get taken along.
One day off a week. Typically, you work six days and only get one full day off a week. Some days might not be as busy as other days and if working in a large resort, days off may be synchronised with other staff.
Shared rooms. Unless in a managerial position, most staff share rooms meaning that you will experience a lack of privacy for several months.
Temporary. It only lasts 4-6 months a year. You have to find something else to do for the rest of the year, or head high up the mountain to the year round resorts.
This is the end of part 1 of a guide to working a ski season. You can also read:
Part 4: Where Can I Find a Ski Job?
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