The following article is a contribution from my friend and guest blogger Nick Como. Nick escaped the skyscrapers of NYC for the beautiful skyline of the Wasatch Mountains. Insists on a steady diet of fresh powder, rock climbing, mountain biking, beer and will never put pineapple on pizza.
Working at a ski resort, from a rookie turning screws in a rental shop to a Marketing Director a decade nothing short of an amazing dream come true. I’ve made lifelong friends, skied a lot of pow, gained valuable career experience, skied some more pow, had a beer fridge under my desk and skied a whole lot of pow. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything, though I do appreciate still having all 10 toenails come mid-February. Now, I still toss back plenty of brews, it’s just called happy hour instead of après ski.
They should have a support group for ski bums and former resort employees turned working stiff. Cat and I would be the first two to sign up, as we both recently traded 100+ days on the hill to join the ranks of the working world. It sounds like a tough adjustment, but honestly its not. Unlike Cat, I choose not to ski on weekends – especially Sundays during football season. Easy Coast teams kick off at 11 AM and my football addiction is almost as strong as my skiing one.
Here’s how I’ve rationalized, I mean coped, going from an office closet full of skittle colored jackets to one with flashy ties:
Wake Up Early. Living in Salt Lake, less than a half hour from dozens of trailheads, it’s easy to get your pow fix in before the office bell rings. Investing in a headlamp allows a hiking start a 5 or 6 in the morning in the dark. When the sun comes up at 7:30, I get to watch it is rise from the drop-in to any number of classic Wasatch lines before other skiers get there. Sunrises are a bonus, but first tracks are the true reward. There’s ample time to change from Gore-Tex to office wear and be at my downtown desk by 9. However, it's such a quick journey the writing is all over my face to where I spent my morning – goggle indentations, which my office mates get quite the kick out of. Clark Kent had a phone booth to change in, of which I am jealous: shedding baselayers in a car is a skill I’ve yet to master.
Use days off wisely. My co-workers, and more importantly boss, know I love to ski. Calling in sick on a powder day is an obviously dumb move. You know what’s smart though? Saving up comp time when work is really busy in spring, summer and fall. Cashing in four morning hours on well-chosen days a few times a month has more than satiated the pow crave. Plus, I still have all my vacation intact, as well as my job. Speaking of vacation: I was able to visit family for the holidays and take a beach trip in the middle of winter, something that’s impossible when your employed at a resort during their busiest time of year.
Ski at night. 5 AM dawn patrols aren’t for everyone. I’m honestly not much of a morning person, so I have gotten a ton of turns in at night. Full moons, when it’s not snowing are great: I skin up in plenty of natural light and use all of the headlamps juice for the descent. Since it snows nearly every night in the Wasatch, I can also opt to stay in bounds by skinning up resort trails. This isn’t always legal, so check first with the resort before you do this. Also, be smart and stash a 6-pack in your pack – snow cat drivers can be bargained with to tell you what was most recently groomed or filled in with freshly wind loaded pow.
Do something still fun. Above all these things, the most important thing I did was by moving into a job I really love. Being surrounded by great people, which still promote fun things and has a mission I believe in, was crucial. Waking up early, skiing at night and only getting a hall pass on select days would not have been enough. The first thing I did when I started working downtown was to spin my desk to stare right at the Wasatch. It didn’t taunt me like I thought it would, even when my social media channels are overflowing with over the head powder photos. But I do wish I had a beer fridge at my desk.