Bumming it! How to be a 'Ski Bum'

By adamrowden, 11 Dec '12 at 09:27

Ok, so this is not strictly a job description, but it sort of falls under that category because, let’s face it: who really, honestly, wants to work during their season?

If you're seriously into your boarding/skiing, the last thing you want when it's a great powder day is to be rudely interrupted by having to go to work!

So, if you can't shake the cravings for the white stuff, there is only one real option: Commit to the cause, swear allegiance to the credit card, devote your soul to powder, sell everything and BECOME A BUM.

The Ultimate Ski Bum Experience:


Be Lucky
Rock up at the start of the season and get a cheap deal on a great flat in the centre of resort. Alternatively, meet a wealthy chalet owner and get paid to house-sit while he's not there (honest, it happened to a friend of mine). Make good use of his top of the range 4x4 (you need to keep cars running or they freeze up, right?) and become the most popular bum in town.

Make Friends with Chalet Staff
Make friends with all the chalet girls/boys (helps if you have that irresistible cheeky face and naughty twinkle in your eye). Flirt outrageously, while never exercising favouritism and you will have the perfect balance of unlimited free food and sex. Easy.

Make Friends with Bar Staff
Make good friends with bar owners/staff and get all your drinks for free. In return, entertain them with your great wit and impressive tales of mountain madness. Occasionally help out by DJing/doing promotions on special nights, in return for more free drinks.

Have a Face that Fits
Happen to look exactly like the first worker to get sent home with an injury and 'borrow' their season lift pass. Alternatively, make friends with a ski instructor/pisteur, who lets you have his/her old uniform so you don't even need to bother with queuing for lifts (seriously, another friend pulled this one off for a whole season).

Coin it...
Offer your services around resort as freelance bar person / photographer / driver and negotiate lucrative contracts to fit in with your hectic schedule of boarding/skiing, partying and sleeping. Alternatively, get spotted by a Salomon/Burton scout who spies your potential and pays you to ride/travel/live the life. End up coming home with more money that you started with.

OK - far fetched, but it can happen. The sad truth is though that for every successful season bummed, most fail miserably in their quest for ultimate snow nirvana.

Reality Bites:


Nowhere to Live
Rock up only to find that you're 6 months too late and all the accommodation went in August. Beg and plead a space on someone's floor for a few nights. Be grateful for your sleeping bag and try not to listen to your kind host 'entertaining' their latest conquest three inches from your head. Get kicked out on Christmas Eve, after you're caught with your tongue 'accidentally' down said conquest's throat, forcing you to blow half your budget paying tourist rates for a bed over Christmas and New Year. Go home at the end of January when your money runs out.

Nothing to Eat
Discover that most new chalet staff 'can't cook, won't cook' and spend a fortune on burgers to stave off imminent starvation. Spend your first few weeks feeling too cold, hungry, hungover and tired to go up the mountain. Contract flu as a result of poor living conditions and spend £50 on antibiotics. Remember you forgot about travel insurance.

Spend all your Money
Show your commitment to friendship with (the bank of) bar owners by investing all your money with them. Entertain them with drunken antics and your best party tricks, only to have them laugh in your face when you ask about possible jobs. 'Reshposhible, moi?! Coursh I am.' Blame beer monster for lack of notes in your wallet and report the theft to the police. Ring home for emergency funds.

Have a Face that Fits (but not know it)
Spend £400 on your season lift pass, only to find out two days later that the guy/girl who looked exactly like you has broken his leg and is going home. Try (and fail) to resell your lift pass to the lift pass office.

Earn a Crust (literally)
Offer your services around resort as freelance bar person/photographer/driver. After three weeks of 'Je cherche du travail', feel lucky when you're offered a trial day's pot washing at £1.50/hour. Cherish the £10 you've made for 6 hours work, and do not resent the fact that you were scrubbing cheese (aka cement) off saucepans while all your mates were out enjoying the first big dump of the season.

OK - exaggerated perhaps, but not so far from reality. Bumming a season is fun but hard work, and by no means guaranteed to succeed.

Article written by Steph Lightfoot

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