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Old 04-07-2014, 11:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hey guys,

So I'm considering taking off my spring semester of college to work out in the ski industry in the mountains for the season. I'm an Outdoor Recreation major and would like experience as an instructor because I would eventually like to work as a backcountry guide for a heliskiing company. I currently live in the Midwest and would be working as an instructor over winter break if I decide not to take a semester off. Do most resorts require experience? And what would be the best resorts to work for in the mountains?
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Finish college first. If your degree is valuable to you, don't lose focus. You can become a ski bum after you finish, I'm sure you'll have plenty of years left to bum around. Those are great aspirations, but being a lifty and making minimum wage while putting off college is not going to help you achieve your long term goals.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:54 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Finish college first. If your degree is valuable to you, don't lose focus. You can become a ski bum after you finish, I'm sure you'll have plenty of years left to bum around. Those are great aspirations, but being a lifty and making minimum wage while putting off college is not going to help you achieve your long term goals.
yea...I would agree. I would not want to return to college after screwing around for a semester. Plus you will be dirt poor to boot. I'm living the dream being a ski bum after graduating and working a real job for a couple of years. But I'm a bum with a vehicle, money to buy whatever gear I want, go to whatever resort I choose, etc.
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Old 04-08-2014, 02:57 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Hey guys,

would eventually like to work as a backcountry guide for a heliskiing company. I currently live in the Midwest....what would be the best resorts to work for in the mountains?
finish school, get some certs and experience in the summer...like emt, wilderness emergency certs, aiare, nols stuff

and btw...being a liftee or instructor is not going to do much...but get you on the mountian and perhaps meeting some folks to go with out into the bc

and get out of the midwest...and got to go to the mountian...

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Old 04-08-2014, 07:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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First off your college degree means shit if you are going to be a guide unless you're taking outdoor first responder, wilderness survival, guiding, orienteering, and classes like that which actually make sense.

Second instructing is the worst decision you could make. You would be better to reach out to a heli ski or guide operation and see if you could shadow/intern/mentor with them. I've had friends do this it's actually relatively short but the experience you get is far more valuable than anything you would get from being an instructor.

Third if you aren't going to listen to this just know that ski resorts want you for the entirety of the season and taking off your "spring" semester isn't enough you need to be able to move in and be there before Thanksgiving. You'll make slave wages, live in staff housing with up to 3 other minimum wage snow carnies, and probably get a disease or starve from malnourishment.
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
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You'll make slave wages, live in staff housing with up to 3 other minimum wage snow carnies, and probably get a disease or starve from malnourishment.

He's right. Instructors don't get paid for being there. They only get paid while they are teaching lessons. The international workers at my job only get minimum wage and I believe they need to purchase their own food. I'm glad I have my own means of housing up here, and a meal plan that is bundled in with my tuition. Other wise I would not be able to live the way I do. You will more than likely get sick. And you will for sure be hungry. Not a good idea do as others have posted. An instructor job is good for someone who has retired and has stabile income, or a person that is still living at home with mom and dad where the costs are relatively low.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Sounds like they should raise lift prices throughout the industry. It's one thing for the young kids working the lifts to go hungry but I feel bad for the poor guys in management who I'm sure also are.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by BurtonAvenger View Post
First off your college degree means shit if you are going to be a guide unless you're taking outdoor first responder, wilderness survival, guiding, orienteering, and classes like that which actually make sense.

Second instructing is the worst decision you could make. You would be better to reach out to a heli ski or guide operation and see if you could shadow/intern/mentor with them. I've had friends do this it's actually relatively short but the experience you get is far more valuable than anything you would get from being an instructor.

Third if you aren't going to listen to this just know that ski resorts want you for the entirety of the season and taking off your "spring" semester isn't enough you need to be able to move in and be there before Thanksgiving. You'll make slave wages, live in staff housing with up to 3 other minimum wage snow carnies, and probably get a disease or starve from malnourishment.
pretty much this.

resort anything means exactly nothing in the world of bc guiding. if you really want to do what you say the best course of action is to drop out of school and move to real mountains and put yourself in them as many days of the year as possible. latch onto people much more experienced than you and learn all you can - you're already at a disadvantage living in the midwest. you need to move to CO, WA, WY, or AK ASAP.

i say this all to you as someone who did the ORLT degree and will really never use those credentials to get a real guiding job.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
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There is also lots of competition for those jobs associated with heli outfits from what I have heard. And this is among people with a lot of mountain experience. I don't want to sound like a downer, but the goal to work for a heli outfit is pretty ambitious.

As an aside, some people have the right personality to be an instructor, but many don't. I would hate that job... but that's just me. Good luck and get a degree first.
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Old 04-08-2014, 04:35 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I think some of you need to take a step back, and realize that just because you live in bro-town and you're burned out, it is not a fair reflection on the entire ski industry.

Your idea is entirely feasible, don't give up on it. What you do not want to do is work at a mountain that doesn't look after their staff. All those stories above, they all exist. However, just as there are shitty mountains to work at, there are also some really good ones.

I know that Jackson and Aspen Ski Co compensate their staff very well. You will also find instructors at these mountains that double as backcountry guides - not so much heli, more touring. Making connections with these people would be a very good idea, gain as much knowledge as you can.

The positives are that you are a girl, and you have an education. If you have some people skills and a level of professionalism then you can get a Job, but its probably going to be part-time. Almost any mountain is going to ask that you show up during busy times, xmas, presidents etc - if you cant do those days then you might have a tough time.

Best of luck to you.
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