Have you ever watched mountain staff cruising around the mountain on their lunch break, and felt immediately envious of their picture-perfect life? Maybe you’ve wondered what it would be like to spend an entire season in the mountains, one of your favourite places.
If this is you, or you’re a lover of snow, travelling, and new adventures, working a season in the snow, is the perfect idea for you.
Over the years, I’ve worked four seasons. Two in Canada, one in Japan, and one here in Australia. Do I regret any of them? Absolutely not. And I’m going to tell you why you won’t either.
It’s an Incredible Experience
I mean, who doesn’t want to automatically have first dibs on the secret local stashes on a powder day?
Aside from the obvious benefits of bulk riding time, working a season provides you with the opportunity to earn money while travelling, and exploring a new country. You’ll find yourself on spontaneous weekend adventures often, and most likely wake up with a sore head once or twice. We could blame that on the altitude if you like…
You’ll also make life-long friends with like-minded people. This is especially awesome if your circle of friends at home have no interest in the snow at all. You’ll be planning ski holidays in amazing destinations with your new winter-loving friends for years to come long after your season is over.
What If I’m Not a Great Rider?
I have good news for you; you don’t have to be a brilliant skier or boarder to do a season.
I’ve met people over the years who’ve either never been on snow, or only ridden once or twice, and have still thrown themselves into a season headfirst.
On your ski season, you’ll have tons of ride time, access to free or cheap lessons, and plenty of friends to encourage you. I can guarantee you that you won’t be the only rookie, and your riding will improve quickly. You’ll be zooming around the mountain before you know it.
Okay, But How Will I Find Work?
Finding a job is one of the easiest parts.
Once you’ve decided which area you’d like to go, you first need to determine whether you’d prefer to work for the mountain, or in the local town.
Working for the mountain usually comes with incredible benefits. Would you like a free season pass, free or discounted lessons, and generous discounts at mountain-owned activities, hospitality and retail outlets? Then working for the mountain is for you.
The only thing to be wary of when committing to a mountain job is that most jobs are day jobs, which can mean less riding time. The jobs can also be a little mundane, and see you exposed to the mountain’s elements on a daily basis (I’m looking at you lifties).
Working for a local business, on the other hand, means you’re likely to be a part of a smaller team, offering greater flexibility for working hours. And if you work in hospitality, you’ll earn much better tips for a small business, than the resort.
How Do I Apply?
When applying, I’d always recommend going directly to the resort’s website, or reaching out to the local business you’ve scouted out on Google. This is how I’ve landed work every time.
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, you can always consider using an organisation that offers ‘Job Programs’, like IEP Australia. They will do everything for you from start to finish, but their assistance does come with a hefty price tag.
Will I Need A Visa?
If you’re an Australian planning to work in Canada, Japan or Europe, then yes, you’ll definitely need a visa. It’s a good idea to start this process as soon as you think you’d like to do a season, to allow plenty of time for processing.
It is easy to do the visa process yourself. The links below will get you off on the right foot:
You need to between 18 and 35 to apply, and you’ll apply for an International Experience Canada (IEC) visa which is valid for 24 months. You can start your application here.
You must be between 18 and 30 to apply, and you’re looking for the Working Holiday Visa (WHV). The visa is only valid for 6 months, however, you can extend it twice for an additional 6 months each time. You need to apply in-person at your closest consulate.
A little less straightforward than the previous two, visa requirements differ depending on which country you’ll be working in. Check out this link for a general starting point.
So is Working a Ski Season a Good Idea?
I’m not saying it’s completely perfect. There will be days that you question your decision, stress about your low-paying job, or feel incredibly homesick. But those days are few and far between.
Experiencing a ski season means an abundance of epic powder days, bluebird days cruising around with your mates, spontaneous adventures, and down days nursing a sore head.
Working a ski season means living the dream every day throughout our favourite season of the year – winter.