Working a ski season can be a great way to spend a gap year after university. It can also provide an opportunity to take some time off to do something different, have an amazing experience or even to learn some unique skills. In this article, I am interviewing Ryan who has worked many ski seasons and shares his personal experience. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Please could you introduce yourself?
“My name’s Ryan and I first skied on a school trip to Saalbach at age 14. I loved it immensely but it took another 10 years before I clipped into ski bindings again. I didn’t grow up in a skiing family so those intervening years were spent playing sports and swimming, going to school and university to earn a degree and travelling. My passions aside from skiing are two dogs, mountain biking, cooking, making furniture, playing the guitar and music in general.”
2. Which resorts/destinations have you done a ski season at before?
“I’ve enjoyed 4 ski seasons in all. 3 back-to-back in Colorado; Breckenridge twice and then Aspen. After a 7 year hiatus, I recently spent a ski season with Skiworld in Nendaz, Switzerland – part of the 4 Valleys with Verbier.”
3. What does your typical day look like?
“Currently, I work as a digital marketer – which just goes to show the variety of careers on offer to graduate seasonnaires! I spent 3 winters as a chalet host and enjoyed every second – the toilet cleaning especially. Joke. But the beauty of a ski season is no matter how hard or rough a part of your job might be, you just look out of a window at the mountains and count the seconds until you can clip in and go skiing. As a chalet host, the biggest responsibility was to prepare a cooked breakfast in the morning, bake a cake for afternoon tea and then return in the evening to prepare a 3-course dinner for guests. Once a week the guests would all leave, and a new group would arrive – so it was naturally a very sociable job.”
4. How often did you get to ski/snowboard during your season?
“If I wasn’t skiing 4 times a week I would be disappointed. Ultimately it’s all about planning and efficiency at work. Get the job done first and then maximise time on the mountain.”
5. What do you do on a day off as a seasonnaire?
“Go skiing. All day.”
6. What skills did you learn on a ski season that have helped in your career?
“Developing communication skills is far and away the most useful skill. Speaking to a whole range of different people; guests, suppliers, colleagues, and getting the balance right so you can enjoy a good relationship with everyone is something that has been useful every single day since. Other than that, the practical cooking skills have taught me an inventiveness and resourfulness with food that extends beyond the kitchen, to the barbecue, the beach and even underground! Finally, a good sense of organisation is key to a successful season, and once again something that translates to every facet of everyday life in the ‘real world’.”
7. What did you love most about doing a ski season?
“Teaching myself to telemark ski, being fit as a flea and lapping some of the best powder runs I’ve ever skied all day long.”
8. What did you dislike most?
“The snow disappearing and having to pack my skis away at the end of April.”
9. Any favourite moments/funny stories?
“Sharing beers with friends after a powder day. You talk about the same things every time, but it never gets old.”
10. Were there any bars or restaurants at your resort(s) that you’d recommend people check out?
“Too many to count! Some highlights over the years would be Zane’s in Snowmass (Aspen), The Gold Pan in Breckenridge and Edelweiss and Altitude 3330, both in Nendaz.”
11. Do you have any tips/recommendations for someone thinking of doing a ski season?
“Don’t hesitate – act on impulse. You’re never too old to have fun. Children and pets are not a barrier, there are jobs for everyone in the mountains – just as there are where you live in the UK. Have a read of this blog post on 5 Things to Do Before Your Ski Season for some more tips.”
12. Finally, if you did more ski seasons where would you love to go to next?
“I would love to go back to Aspen for another Winter. The allure and mystery of a winter in Japan is very tempting. But I really enjoyed the vibe in both Chamonix and Zermatt so I think a Winter in either of those with my family would be amazing.”
Thanks so much Ryan. It has been great to learn more about what it’s like to work a ski season and certainly makes us want to also go on one too.