The rock climbing community is often accredited for revolutionizing and popularizing the full-time pursuit of an outdoor sport by converting a van into a portable living space and gear room that can be taken to any new project. Inhabitants of their van as dedicated climbers are (respectfully) dubbed as ‘dirtbags.’ Jaden Munro has transferred the vanlife lifestyle to the snowboarding equivalent for the 2018-2019 season (a snowbag?).
Jaden Munro interviewed with Joel Barde at Pique to detail his experience maximizing the reach of the Epic and Mountain Collective Passes- and gave us permission to share his story as well. He boarded 127 days at 30 resorts across the United States and Western Canada with 30+ days of fresh powder.
The Van Plan
Jaden, a 22-year-old male from Australia, worked at Whistler Blackcomb tube park for two seasons where he became infatuated with snowboarding. However, he never felt he had enough time for runs between shifts. After Whistler was purchased by Vail resorts and thus became a part of the Epic Pass, Jaden had the idea to save and spend a year solely focused on the slopes. He moved back home and took a job where he spent 1.5 years saving money. Once finished, he returned to Whistler to visit friends and buy a van. He began his journey November 2018.
Jaden explains that he knew how to travel cheap since he was young with a surf bum for a dad and a frugal-traveling mother. He kept his costs throughout the trip very low, focusing on commuting costs, sleeping in his van every night and avoiding clubbing altogether. He spent $23K in savings for 5 months of travel around North America. This including the cost of expensive flights from Australia and travel insurance.
Cool Days, Cold Nights
Jaden dealt with harsh conditions in his van. He stayed in his van on nights as low as -17 C (in Banff, Canada). He spent one night paying for parking in a covered garage in Colorado when it was -21 C (the only time he paid for overnight accommodation). He’s had to defrost his boots on the dashboard heater. He believes he’s developed a reasonable tolerance for the cold from his upbringing in a small New South Whales town. He would often spend his time in, particularly cold rivers, where he would progressively challenge himself to submit himself to decreased temperatures.
Jaden experienced a deeper understanding of how multi-resort passes affect both the resort and their surrounding communities. He found many locals growing resentful to their once quiet and quick ski days turning into long lines and a mess of Jerrys. With time, some resorts started to blend together, and he pointed to corporatized uniforms homogenous across many resorts as a symbolic indicator of a changing culture.
Munro documented his adventures on his Instagram. At the end of the day, Whistler is still his favorite resort (although he had some memorable days at Park City and Crested Butte). The ability to ski or snowboard straight from the mountain to the town creates a special sense of community and place for him and other riders.