4 years of ski bumming, and only because of this thread am I looking back at it all piecing together all the fragments of my recent life. Might be a long one, but I'll try my best to keep it short.
I graduated with a BS in Civil engineering from Penn State, and immediately found work for a small firm outside of Philly. Stayed there for a couple of years, worked on getting my masters, and was generally miserable still living in Pennsylvania, because I wasnt skiing as much as I wanted. I reached a point in my life where I decided to pack everything up and move to Colorado and ski for a year or so. I followed the typical footsteps and moved in with some old buddies from back east, in Denver, and worked as a bartender downtown. I grew up in the woods pretty far away from everyone, and really love the privacy, but I have also worked and lived in Philly and NYC so I was ok with being in a big city like Denver, for a little bit at least. I would work 3 or 4 days a week (always on weekends when the money is good and the resorts are crowded) and ski every other day. At first it was the TITS! Work provided me with enough money to live and have fun, AND I got to my first 100 day season (101 to be exact). It was basically a dream lifestyle for me, all-be-it in a less than ideal location. I got to ski, party, got laid a ton (thanks Denver tinder hoes), and I lived across the street from Chipotle! What more could you want?! Then the motor blew in my Forester, BAM $5k to fix it. Had to cash in my 401k to pay for the repairs and spent the rest on "recreationals" and travel chasing storms. At this point I got settled in again (financially), and sent it for another year of living in Denver, traveling north 4 or 5 days a week, and skied 106 days that season.
The second summer I spent in Denver I was just really getting sick of living in the city (and all of the ups and downs, hazzards, dive bars, and holes sprial down into) and even more sick of traveling 75 mins to ski 5 days a week. But the worst of it was the front range bros with their $40k tacoma w/ 1000,000 racks and attachments, the broncos fans, the creepy drug addicted Wookies asking you for weed on the streets, the bougie fukn Boulder crowd, and all of the tourists who come to Denver just to get stoned. So I decided to save up, cause I was moving to the Southwest of CO to the San Juans. To save I moved out of my nicer apartment and into a house with a group of 8 dirtbag climbers. Rent was $265 a month and my bedroom was in an unfinished room in the basement, and the pipes would literally leak on the futon I slept on. Over the next 6 months I saved every penny and started looking into where I was going to live. Obviously the largest factor in my decision was skiing, so I looked into places like Telluride (too expensive) Crested Butte (too cold!) Silverton (great idea on paper, but man have you ever actually spent more than a day there?) and finally Durango (perfect match!!!).
I moved to Durango in October hoping to find work before the ski season hit full swing, and landed a decent gig with a local resort. They were opening a new shop downtown and I was their lead ski tech. Started out nice, only working a few days a week, in the tuning shop all by myself, exchanging ski work for beer with the locals, skiing almost every morning. But I realized Durango was expensive and I wasnt making the money I used to be behind the bar. So I had to reduce my lifestyle off the mountain. i was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing (in my ski life), but I was still struggling in real life (off the mountain). Fairly unhappy with my work, desperately needing something more intellectual, like I had as an engineer (with health benefits, and stable income, and all the other goodies that come with a "real job"). BUT now in a new place with some of the worlds best skiing within a couple of hours from my front door, it was easy to forget about all that work and money mumbo-jumbo, especially with over 100 inches of snow in January and a helicopter seat in Silverton with my name on it.
Then I had an accident while skiing in bounds one day early March. Sent a small cliff to flat and tore my achilles tendon nearly 90%, where it attaches to my calf. Season ender, major fucking bummer, expensive, the list goes on and on. This was when I realized I needed to start looking for a change. I couldnt ski so what was the point of living this dirtbag, frivolous, skibum lifestyle?! I had recently found the love of my life so I decided I would be staying in Durango, and started to pull up my "big boy pants" again analyzing my priorities. 1) Income so I can continue to afford to live the mountain-town lifestyle year-round. 2) insurance and health benefits (I hadnt had health insurance for 3 years at this point). 3) finding work that I actually enjoyed, that stimulated me, and that would give me the time/money to ski as much as possible when I had free time.
Somehow, some way, I ended up making it all work! Found a job that I love as a structural designer, got a solid paycheck, got them bennies, and landed a smoking hot chick who likes to adventure as much as I do!
Skibumming is a life lesson that you learn as it unfolds in front of you like a fatty pillow line. The skiing was worth every loooong day I worked, every time I struggled, every dime I saved. With that being said I'm happier now that I'm a weekend warrior (I still ski about 50 days a season), and I can never go back to the true skibum lifestyle. BUT I wouldn't have traded my time as a skibum for all the snowflakes in the world.
EDIT: After re-reading what I just wrote, seconds after posting it I'm realizing just writing all of that down and having to actively think about exactly what I've been doing in life lately really helped mental health wise. Glad I'm in a better, happier, more fulfilling place now. And I hope by reading this it will inspire someone to take the step into skibumming for a couple of years to find out who the truly are.
**This post was edited on Jan 4th 2018 at 12:58:10pm