It's the same story every year. First time seasonaires rock up at their resort that they're going to call home for the next few months full of stoke and smiles.
However, they soon realise that they're the only person in sight not wearing a hat, they know nothing about avalanche safety and their dream job turns out to be the equivalent to slave labour, with sleeping quarters to match?
Then April swings around before they know it, and they leave confident in the knowledge that they're going to do it better next time? What job they're going to have… the perfect jacket to buy… the optimum flat to rent, right in the centre of town…
"you don't have to make these rookie mistakes... we've already made them for you"
Let’s be honest, it’s hard to land on your feet when you’re going in blind, which is what most of us do when we decide to do a winter season. We all go in not knowing what to expect and come out battle scared, but knowing we've unlocked the secrets of how to do it much better.
But you don't have to make these rookie mistakes. We've already made them for you. If you are thinking about heading off to pastures snowier any time soon, beware of doing (or not doing) all of these things…
1) You Will Buy All the Wrong Clothes
There are many ways in which you can end up with the wrong outerwear on your first winter. The most common causes of which are as follows:
- Being too keen and buying all your gear before you actually know what you want
- refusing to believe that you need a size large to accommodate for all those layers
- believing that skiers are physically not allowed to look cool, thinking what was cool five years ago is still cool now.
You're usually pretty stoked with your gear when you get on the plane, only to rock up in resort and realise that everyone else is cooler than us and if you’d only just waited a bit longer…
You could’ve supported your local shop AND bought some clothes you actually liked, godammit! But now, you have spent hundreds of pounds on looking like an idiot and you're stuck like that for the rest of the winter. Good job.
2) You Will Have a Shit Job
When you’re yet to experience life in the mountains, you are desperate to take on any form of employment because, God forbid, you turn up and all the jobs are gone!
After all, paid work can also provide you with accommodation and a lift pass, which means less planning, less saving, and more buying gear which you will inevitably end up hating.
Want a part-time job? You will inevitably accept a full time one just because you haven’t been offered anything else. Think being a chalet host is the only job you can do in a ski resort? You will be bitterly disappointed.
Think working in a bar means you’ll get to ski all day and party all night? Where will the sleeping go?
The sad truth of the matter is that there are no good jobs in ski resorts, especially when it’s a powder day and you’re stuck inside cleaning toilets. However, there are definitely some that are less shit than others.
It’s always important to remember not to panic and take the first thing that comes along – give it some time and something marginally less worse will come along.
3) You Will Consume Too Many Beverages
Doing a season can be a bit like going to university; you can get really drunk every night of the week which, in some places, can be misconstrued as alcoholism, but in reality is how you socialise and make friends.
When you only have five or six months to socialise and make friends, you have to go into overdrive and drink more than you ever would while working as shop assistant in Stoke-on-Trent.
It’s fun while it lasts, and you all come out of the winter with some great stories to tell, but beware the town drunk. They're the guy that has permanently unpaid tabs in every bar and a cheery, red, alcohol ridden face – no one wants to be that guy.
4) You Will Commit Petty Crimes
It may be as minor as urinating in public, knocking over some bins, or stealing a set of rental poles, but for some reason all seasonaires seem to commit small acts of law breaking in ski resorts.
This kind of relates back to point three, above - Drinking. Excessive drinking makes seasonaires - no, forces you do these things. You'll be having a great time, want to impress your new friends and feel like you’re invincible, as if you're the first people in the world to consider stealing a set of ski poles, or uprooting the community flowerbeds.
It’s the kind of stuff our parents would be ashamed of if they knew what we were getting up to, but is the kind of harmless fun one gets to have when one has little-to-no responsibility… Just don’t make a habit of it, people will notice.
5) You Will Realise That You’re Not a Local
It’s very easy to feel like you know a place after not spending very much time there at all. Never more so than in a small ski resorts with their local-face discounts, friendly bar staff and tight knit seasonnaire communities that make you feel as though you’ve lived there your whole life.
However, after a while you may start to notice people native to the country you’ve invaded, old people and people walking their dogs. These people are most likely more local than you will ever be.
6) You Will Think You Are Better at Skiing Than You Actually Are
The phrase 'I Can Ski Anything' gets thrown around all too liberally these days…You may have been in ski boots before you could walk, or you may have spent the past six months in the dome learning how to ride park, but having the ability to ski a black run or hit a jump does not necessarily a good rider make.
It’s a sad fact of life that there is always someone out there who is better than you, and you only need to rock up for your first powder day to realise that you still have much to learn, sir.
7) You Will Get a Horrendous Illness
The close quarters of ski resorts are breeding grounds for all kinds of infectious conditions, making you more susceptible than ever to STDs, the Nora Virus and killer flu.
When you do your first season, the barrage of constant activities tends to take its toll, and before you know it, a measly cold has turned into a chest and sinus infection and your voice will not sound the same until long after the winter has ended.
And the illness will cling to you like a baby monkey for a long time because there is no time to take time off and rest – work still needs to be undertaken and the snow won’t be there forever.
So just ignore it and wait for it to go away. It’ll be fine.
8) You Will Pay a Small Fortune for a Bed
Much in the same vein as getting a job, seasonaires tend to agree to pay far too much money in rent, and pay for the whole season upfront because we are worried about being rendered homeless if we turn up in resort with nowhere to stay.
And when you have no friends and lots of stuff, sharing a room with three other people and paying an unthinkable amount of money for it seems totally worth it at the time. It’s all part of the experience, after all.
It’s also all part of the experience for you to end up hating one of your bunk-mates. Just accept it. There’s always one. Always. It’s just what close quarters living does to people.
9) You Will Mistake Skiing For Exercise
We all think skiing and snowboarding is good exercise, which is true if you ride all day on a powder day, or hike an awesome line multiple times. But it’s not really exercise if all you’re doing is sitting on a chalrlift, riding to a bar, drinking some beers and then going home again.
It’s almost like negative exercise because one beer contains far more calories than you can burn off from riding down the home run.
Yet, every year, seasonaires are confused by the extra chub or beer gut they gained over the winter, and wonder where it possibly could have come from when they live such a healthy lifestyle…
10) You Will Realise That You’ve Not Learned Enough and Consequently, Will Have to do Another Season
When it gets to April, everyone panics about what they haven’t learned, and how little time there is left to learn it. You'll curse yourself for all the hangover days and afternoons spent sunbathing in mountain restaurants that you could have spent pushing yourself to get better.
So you push yourself, and get a bit better. Just better enough to have to do another season in order to get to that next level that is just slightly out of reach. Just one more season. Just one more...