It is a powerful thing to follow your passion. You find, in any area of life, having complete dedication to something, whether it’s your work, your hobbies or the people around you, sacrifices are required. For a skier chasing the snow, there is a sacrifice that many people could never understand. Summer. To some, the dark winter months can be an enduring grinding experience that is unpunctuated until the first spring daffodils.
A small breed of people come alive in the cold amongst the snowy mountain tops. Winter is not coming, it never left. It’s tough to imagine, for sure, but there is a dedicated band of skiers and snowboarders busy booking flights to the other side of the world as soon as they feel the first warming glint of sun.
I spent a while chasing the snow across the world moving between Europe and New Zealand. Despite what you might think it is an incredible way of life. The stress-free element of being able to disappear and travel across the world every six months is also handy.
Seemingly unending travel and upheaval are involved and plenty to think about when are packing up your whole life into an airline weight limit. 25 kgs is not that much, especially when hauling winter clothing around. The poor airline staff endure the argument to be had as to whether you can check in your oversized bags. I like to make sure I have spoken to the airline in advance to confirm the loophole I am trying to wiggle through is still open. Sometimes, you can find a way without paying extra.
Housing, money, work, visas are all on the agenda too, particularly when travelling long distances. For the moment Europeans are spoiled for choice with ski resorts to pick from in the Alps but step outside you need to spend a while chasing the correct visa. This can be a particular headache without firm work lined up.
Personally, I am a seasoned skier with shed loads of experience in the ski and travel industry so finding at least a low paying job is never too much of an issue. For many, it is a problem. Anywhere there is a ski resort jobs are usually highly competitive, there is a host of low-skilled workers and travellers to wait tables, clean toilets and pour pints. Job hunting is never fun, especially if you can’t afford a lift pass until the paycheck comes rolling on in.
Winter in a van, I know, I know, how glamourous. Well, it’s friggin cold actually but the remote mountain scenery when you pull back the curtain every morning warms the heart, a tiny little bit. Accommodation becomes a pain in the ass, the good stuff is way out of the price range for a snow chaser and the regulars snap up anything reasonably priced. Start putting feelers out as early as possible but it’s a catch 22. If you’re not there in person with a job how can you rent a place and if you have nowhere to live… how can you be there with a job? Particularly in New Zealand, I found myself living all sorts of places, moving between hostels that were full to the brim and for a while living in a van.
If you make it through those cold dark months you will probably have some freeze your nuts off moments and some downright badass powder days too. As spring arrives the warming feel of summer is there, the evenings get longer and you might just squeeze in one BBQ before dashing for the airport. Summer is so close, so so close.
I love all of this and know plenty of people who can’t stop chasing the snow. When I asked a friend who skis non-stop he simply had this to say:
“I love skiing and I love the mountains when they’re coated in snow. It makes for a beautiful place to live and it turns every part of the landscape into a constantly evolving playground right outside the door.”
In all honesty, if you don’t mind the cold then the lifestyle is incredible and you learn never to leave the house without a coat so at least your mother has that to be proud of…
There is nothing quite like the excitement of a snowy weather forecast. The incredible scenery is everywhere, on a bad day just remember to look up and take in the surroundings to restore a smile.
Beach bods are off the agenda, there no real need to start a new diet, the cold sucks up those calories, so yes I will have the cheeseburger, thank you very much. Think about your favourite oversized warm soft hoodie, you can wear it all the time, it’s never too warm or out of fashion.
Most importantly, if you play it right, you can ski every goddamn day.
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