Who has it better The Weekend Warrior or the Seasonaire? Christie Hampton tells it like it is.

It’s a Friday afternoon in winter. An I.T consultant is staring at his computer, counting down the minutes. At exactly 5pm his movements are swift and precise.

He is focused and determined, ready to execute his plan with military-like discipline. He is a weekend warrior.

Every Friday between June and October he takes to the roads in order to get a fix of mountain air and, hopefully, some sweet sweet powder turns.

Meanwhile, in an Australian ski resort, a waitress puts on her apron and clocks on for her shift. It’s going to be a busy night in the restaurant but the fact that she spent all day riding the park in the sun with a group of friends makes dealing with demanding customers, sore feet and a shitty boss totally worth it.

She gets paid to live in a ski resort, and it’s great.

Two people with one goal, to get in as much skiing or boarding as they can during the three-month period we call a ski season.

But the question is, when it comes to days on snow, who is getting the most? The seasonal worker or the weekend warrior?

It makes sense that the closer you are to snow, the more time you can spend riding it. But there’s a saying that goes ‘If you want to ski, don’t work in a ski resort’.

Having worked seasonally myself I can attest to this. After complaining about long hours to my boss I was told that, instead, I should feel lucky to be working there, that… ‘It’s all about the lifestyle. That’s what we’re all here for.’

The response I gave (in my head) was that I had no ‘lifestyle’ because I was working six days a week, twelve hours a day. There’s definitely a ‘make hay while the sun shines’ mentality associated with working a winter. The season is short so suck it up, put in the hours and make money while it’s there to be made.

Meanwhile, the weekend warrior has escaped his or her place of work. Annoying co-workers, deadlines and key performance indicators be damned.

An oasis awaits, a mere three to five hour drive away depending on whichever south-eastern capital city you call home. Sure you’ll be rendered with a sore ass, a Red Bull induced hangover and a petrol bill that any Saudi oil baron would be proud of but you’re free.

Free to enjoy every inch of your chosen snow covered destination for two (almost) full days.

However, even the most earnest seasonal worker gets a lunch break so, if those flakes start to fall, obviously you’ll have a far better chance of getting stuck into it than someone in an office hundreds of kilometres away. And if you’ve orchestrated it so your shifts start in the evening then, congratulations, you get 100 points and 58 high fives.

It’s likely you’ll spend most of your days sliding away to your heart’s content. And here in lies the key to seasonal working.

Work nights. Be a waitress, a bartender or a cleaner. Sure they can be thankless tasks but your days are your own. Do not, under any circumstances, be a ski instructor or a liftie. Working on snow but not getting to ride it is pure torture.

Perhaps where weekend warriors come up trumps is the annual ski holiday. It might only happen once a year but it’s a week (or more) of uninterrupted bliss. Time dedicated to nothing but revelling in the white stuff.

You may be lucky enough to spend that time in the powder fields of Japan, the soaring Alps of Europe or haunting the bars of a party town like Queenstown, NZ. Whatever takes your fancy.

For many seasonal workers a ski holiday is like a magical unicorn. The thought of them is enchanting and exciting but they just don’t exist.

At the end of the day the real winners here are skiing and snowboarding. Winners because time on snow is time well spent, regardless of how or how often you’re getting it.

But what would you rather do? Work nights so you can ride all day or head for the hills every Friday night? 

Hot tips for the weekend warrior powder stash and dash

Christie Hampton SnowsBest. She reported on snow for years at Perisher, founded The Daily Flake snow reports in Niseko, edited Powderhound for Morrison Media and blogged for Thredbo Alpine Resort. You may also know her name on the credits at the Weather Channel where she quenched her own obsession with synoptic charts. Follow her on twitter @christiehampo


  1. Speaking from years of experience, lodge managers with good time management skills get most time on snow of all 😀

  2. I’m a seasonaire in Charlotte Pass in a ski lodge. I can work up to 52hrs a week but still manage at least 4hrs of riding each day I work, and a full day off for back country. It’s bliss!

  3. 25 years being a weekend warrior, around 20+ days an Australian season actually on snow all day,… Spend Friday nights in cheap digs in Canberra, then Saturday night at either The Man or Thredbo Hotel. Usually able to check in early Saturday morning. Oh and I make enough money working in the city to afford a few weeks OS in Japan or US in lux. Beats picking up glasses and cleaning ash trays for 3 months to ride what is usually sub standard snow conditions and still coming home broke……

  4. I am a snowboard instructor and it’s the best job by far, sharing your passion and riding everyday…we don’t get much work no, so funds can be short depending on resort however you get the MOST riding time because of that! I ride everyday and get 2 days off and have enough money to support myself. Love it!

  5. Lived in Whistler for almost 10 years now, worked my way up the ranks of ski school until I became a freeride coach. Many of the weekends I worked were spent ducking lift lines in uniform to ski steep and deep powder while the weekend warriors waited in queues for the chairlift before dealing with horrible traffic on their way back to Vancouver. Bit of a longer season over here so the workers can afford to stretch their legs on the hill when the busy Xmas/Easter holidays are not overworking them.
    Advice? Don’t work in the Australian ski industry. It’s underpaid, compressed into 6-8 week season and employees get taken advantage of constantly (I can at least say this first hand about Mt Hotham).


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