Nomadic Ski Trips on the Rise During Pandemic

Alex Mangels |
ski nomad
Working from the mountains has become more possible during the pandemic. Credit: Douglas Hill /

The ski bum has always been a mainstay in mountain culture. They live for the winter, forever searching for the next storm or the next best line. Let’s not lie, many of us long for that lifestyle, and some of us have been fortunate to live like a ski nomad. However, this winter, we saw a new kind of ski-centric, nomadic lifestyle emerge. One that has allowed people across many industries to chase snow without disrupting their work.

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed countless things about our society. We have seen different aspects of life that we took for granted change before our eyes. Things like the dining experience, social interactions, and travel may never return to what we perceive as “normal.” These changes can be embraced and used for our benefit.

One of the most talked-about changes is the emergence of remote work as a viable option for much of the workforce. Over the course of this winter, I’ve noticed an increase in skiers taking advantage of the ability to work anywhere with a wifi connection. Professionals have been allowed the opportunity to get out of their home market and explore mountains they may not have been otherwise able to.

Many snow-seekers have taken trips lasting weeks on end, plotting multiple stops along the way. These trips require planning ahead of time to figure out travel routes, lodging, and ski passes. There is also a level of flexibility necessary, should skiers choose to scrap part of the trip to stay in one place longer or chase a storm to an unplanned destination.

This season, I lived vicariously through three friends during their trip around the western United States. They mapped a route that took them to four states over the course of six weeks. These friends, who I will refer to as the Trio, racked up the vertical feet at several different resorts during this time.

Setting off from Orinda, California, the Trio’s first stop was the western shore of Lake Tahoe. Tahoe is a standard ski destination from the Bay Area. Here, they spent the first week of their trip skiing at Homewood and Alpine Meadows.

ski nomad
Big Sky on a bluebird day in January. Credit: Eric Sassano

From Tahoe, the Trio made the 15-hour drive through some rough patches of weather to get up to Montana. Here, they got another week of skiing at Big Sky Resort. Next, they ventured south to ski Jackson Hole. When not working or skiing, they sampled their way through Jackson’s food and beer scene.

After about five days in Jackson, the Trio had a decision to make. Originally, the plan was to head west to Bend, Oregon, spending two weeks exploring and making turns at Mt. Bachelor. Instead, after checking the snow reports, they made the call to drive into Utah. The goal was better snow at a selection of resorts to choose from. Here, they set up camp in Salt Lake City and spent days at Alta, Snowbasin, Canyons, and Snowbird ski resorts.

On the last leg of the trip, the Trio went back to familiar territory, spending the last few weeks back at Lake Tahoe and closing out an epic trip at their home mountains. This time, home base was at Fleur de Lac, or the famous Godfather compound, where a friend let them crash. I made sure to check in regularly to get my share of stories along the way.

This trip is only one of the many ski pilgrimages that I’ve heard of this winter. The new reality of a working environment has allowed people to take time to enjoy the different natural escapes we have access to, all while staying connected. Hopefully, when the pandemic is under control, people will still have the freedom to get out and explore without being limited to weekends and vacation time. It could bring about a new kind of weekend warrior and more nomadic trips.

ski nomad
Views from Big Sky. Credit: Eric Sassano

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