Why Ski Bums Become Successful:

Ryan Mulcahy | | Featured ArticleFeatured Article
Post ski bum life can be good...
Post ski bum life can be good…

In most modern societies being a ski bum is looked down upon and many people don’t quite endorse it or have hopes of their kids to take that path in life. With all justification this is a good thing. True Ski Bumming is hard, requires lots of strategy, and at times challenges who you are. But at the same time this challenge makes you stronger and enables you to developed skills, knowledge, and ability to overcome other challenges life will inevitably throw your way.

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Prioritization

When ski bumming the priority is or at least should be above all to ski. That is stating the obvious I know, but with that said skis bums do whatever it takes to make that happen. In this, also the goal in many ski bumming life styles is to aim high and ski as much powder and deep snow as possible, because for many ski bums this is the end of and be all of skiing, and who can really argue against that.

This prioritization mechanism will translate and stay with the ski bum throughout his life. If he so chooses to go back into the real world he/she will have the advanced ability to prioritize important things in his life say jobs, family, spouses, kids etc and in this find a way to spend as much time dedicated to that.

Veteran Ski Bum and SnowBrains Co Founder Miles Clark skiing ridiculously deep powder in Japan, showing how prioritizing skiing in your life pays off.

Economics

Being a ski bum you learn a very unique way of earning and investing your money. As mentioned above skiing should be your priority and thus utilizing your money and resources in order to pursue skiing is obviously very key. Thus your economic strategy has to be such that you don’t spend money on the things most people do. Food and basic shelter is the first draw from your resources and outside of that skiing and pursuing skiing should be majority of the remainder of your resources. In this, no fancy cars, clothes, big bar tabs from nights of parting, etc.

Furthermore the true ski bum works excessively hard from May- November in order to take a good portion of the winter of and pursue skiing. Thus his monetary resources must be strategized in order to survive and to keep skiing. Even now myself working in a cooperate job I have set up a deal with my company to work every Saturday until December, in order to take off January and part of February to chase pow around the world, once again a ski bum mentality in me.

My brother tells a story of getting kicked out of an upper scale restaurant while ski bumming in Vail for sneaking in and eating food of plates left by patrons, economics of need and accessibility. A ski bum measures success not in the amount of money in ones bank account but rather days on the mountain/ skin track.

Ski bumming takes you to awesome and unique places that no many other people get to experience.
Ski bumming takes you to awesome and unique places that not many other people get to experience.

Dedication and Commitment

In order to get the most out of ski bumming and have the most fun experience one must make a full on commitment to the life styles on all levels. In addition the level of dedication must remain high no matter what bumps in the road are experienced, (low snow year, injury, running out of money etc). This ability to commit and stay dedicated will serve the ski bum well in down the road in life. Marriage essentially is one big dedication and commitment right? Furthermore the corporate world promotes and praises people with full on company dedication and commitment, and I would say ski bums would fit in well in such a position.

Finally being a big a ski bum you are typically progressing big in your preferred area of skiing. Weather your going big in the park, dropping massive cliffs, or setting 3000ft assents via a skin track, commitment and confidence in yourself is very key. Standing on top of a line looking down a feature you absolutely have to commitment to making it and have the confidence that you will make it. The least bit of hesitation in this situation will get you in some big time trouble, just f**ing send it. In life if you are commitment in your decisions and commitment to something, go for it with no hesitation, in the end this will benefit you in a big way.

Author staring down a short but steep line in the backcountry finding the dedication and commitment inside of himself to make the line go.
Author staring down a short but steep line in the backcountry finding the dedication and commitment inside of himself to make the line go.

Use of Resources and simply living

Being a ski bum requires you to use all available resources to stay alive and keeping skiing. Additionally dedication to a simple life style is key in making the most out of your ski bumming experience. In this, the ski bum becomes an expert in research. This is because they must have a full and complete understanding of all the resources they can use to make the life easier and simpler. To this day even in with my corporate job in the cluster that is Orange County CA, I still ride my bike and or public transit 90% of the time.

I am not a ski bum currently, I am financially stable, and have a nice truck that is paid off, but the simple life style instilled in me while ski bumming has remained in my life and makes the most sense to me thus it is how I set my life up. I may have inherited some of this as well. My father an OG ski bum lived in a storage unit in Aspen from 1970-72, cooked on a homemade BBQ girl and showered at a car wash for 25 cents twice a week. (the real life Aspen Extreme) He went on to be a successful business man, father, and entrepreneur. Thus the dedication to simple living and making the most out of your resources will in most case benefit your life in the long run. Additionally once you step outside the ski bum life style you can look back with a sense of appreciation for what you have and what you’re living.

The garage converted into a studio/loft that a good friend lived in for 2 seasons Revelstoke BC
The garage converted into a studio/loft that a good friend lived in for 2 seasons Revelstoke BC using only wood for heat. True dedication to a simple life style.

 Risk Assessment

Risk vs Reward is a concept that most people face on a daily bases and in the bigger perspective shape the long term outcome of life in many ways. From a young age most people development the skill of risk assessment. This starts with trying to steal cookies out of a cookie jar when moms back is turned to sneaking booze out of the house in high school. A ski bum develops a heightened sense of risk vs. reward because typically they are taking bigger risk in all aspects of life in hopes of greater returns.

The life style itself is one big risk, forgoing career and normal life in order to pursue the reward of skiing every day. Therefore the ski bum must be calculated and educated in their risk assessment and have the mental ability overcome fears on the fly and come out with the reward. This is transposed into other aspects of life and in the long term for the ski bum. He/she will be better prepared to asses many different kinds of situations for risk and determined what the ultimate reward is and if it is obtainable. Therefore again, the ski bum life style instilling important lifelong values.

 The other Cofounder of Snowbrains Eric Bryant showcasing his risk assessment skills and the reward of stomping the Chimney Sweep at the legendary Palisades at Squaw Valley CA.

The other Cofounder of Snowbrains Eric Bryant showcasing his risk assessment skills and the reward of stomping the Chimney Sweep at the legendary Palisades at Squaw Valley CA.

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5 thoughts on “Why Ski Bums Become Successful:

  1. Why does sharing this to Facebook come with a “no marijuana” graphic? Seems…unfriendly.

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  2. man, I wish I was still a ski bum, working for the man gets old no matter how much money you make. To the ski bums out there: Soak it up

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  3. During the winter of 2012, I became a tropical ski bum, as I live in Maui, but was able to ski 104 different western USA/Canada alpine/Nordic ski resorts. I lived in a former rental car shuttle bus named MauiSkiBus. During the winter of 2015, I was able to ski 38 different areas and visit 52 different yoga studios. A ski bum from the tropics and will do it again the winter of 2017. Aloha.

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  4. I have one winter of skibum experience. It is rewarding in a way that is hard to come by these days.

    You could say that I’m already successful. I can get by with working 6 months out of the year in a high demand profession. The rest of the time is usually spent traveling around the U.S. or the globe. That is until I racked up 70 resort days last winter in Tahoe while living in my 5th wheel trailor. My first winter was pretty dang deep and awesome. This young professional sees a lot of SkiBum winters ahead.

    SkiBums can go the other direction too: Get your profession together, then become a SkiBum with your professional leverage.

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