If you live in ski country and live for winter, there is a goal that belongs on your bucket list.
Have a 100-day season on the slopes.
It’s a milestone that will make all other things in your life between October and April fade into the background. You’ll dream of nothing but skiing. You’ll obsess over weather forecasts. Your legs will feel stronger than they ever have before. Your waistline will shrink in proportion with your bank account.
As the state with the highest-elevation ski areas in the U.S., Colorado is a great place to live if you want to have such a season. For example, the 2018-19 season began Oct. 13 at ski area Wolf Creek and thanks to a healthy snowpack, the season stretched into July at ski area Arapahoe Basin.
But take it from me, it’s not easy. I sit here writing this blog post at 95 days, my local ski area open for one more weekend only, hoping for a couple more snowstorms and plotting the warm May days of slush skiing in my future.
It takes a dedication that will have your friends and family shaking their heads in disbelief. Pull it off and you just may have the best season of your life. Here is my advice to help make it happen.
Work hard all summer
Don’t spend $2,000 on a new mountain bike during the warmer months. Like the squirrels that call our ski areas home, spend summer working and storing away nuts for winter – build houses – work on trails with crews – ultimately, do what you must to give yourself the financial freedom to not work later. Because winter is coming.
Buy a pass that lets you travel
No matter how much you love your local hill, you may get burned out being there nearly every day of winter. Fortunately, most ski passes these days come with free or discounted days at other resorts. For example, the Ikon Pass offers unlimited days at Steamboat, Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Eldora, as well as days at Aspen/Snowmass and two dozen resorts around the world. In 2018-19 passholders at Purgatory, Monarch and Loveland all got days at each other’s resorts. Find information on how to get 30% off lift tickets or Buy One Get One free lift tickets by purchasing Colorado Ski Country USA’s (CSCUSA) GEMs Card here.
Make sure your family is okay with it
Being gone so much will put a strain on your relationships. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day – you may miss them all because you’re on the slopes, sleeping in your car in a ski area parking lot or just too exhausted to put the effort into the holidays. So have an honest conversation with your spouse or parents and make them promise not to get mad at you for neglecting work, chores and errands. They still might get mad at some point so try to get it in writing.
If you must work, get a night job
Living in ski towns can be expensive, so you might not have the option of taking winter off from work. Fortunately, ski towns are full of restaurants, bars and hotels that need nighttime employees. You’ll get the feeling that all you do is ski, work and sleep. That’s okay. It’s why you live there. Just be sure to resist the temptation to go out partying with co-workers after closing. That’s no way to make first chair.
Prepare for the bumps and bruises
Even the best skiers and snowboarders fall sometimes. And the law of averages says if you’re riding on snow 100 days, you’ll have some injuries. Make sure you’re well-stocked on ice packs and Epsom salt. Have a chiropractor on speed dial. Buy a case of ibuprofen. As of this writing, my shoulder is so sore from a collision with a tree. I stash an ice pack in the snow to use during lunch. Last winter I had to cut open a glove to fit a broken, swollen finger… Olympians ski through the pain all the time. You will too. Just be sure to see a doctor if you think you’re really hurt. Taking some days off is cheaper than a knee replacement. Find ski and snowboard safety information here.
Find ways to keep it interesting
The powder won’t be deep and fresh every day so find little things to improve on. Spend a few hours working on moguls. Focus on your pole plants. Play around in the terrain park. Explore new places on the mountain. Maybe even take a lesson to get some professional tips on how to be a better rider.
Have a ski/snowboard quiver
Snow conditions change day to day and sometimes hour to hour. And you’ll want the tools to adapt to the snow. Powder skis or powder board for the deep days. All-mountain skis for the day after the storm when the snow is choppy. A park board for the days you’re jumping cornices and riding rails. Skinnier skis for the days of ripping the groomers. I have been known to swap out my powder skis for my all-mountain skis at lunch and my all-mountain skis for my skinny skis after the 2 p.m. beer break.
Ski on days you don’t want to
You’ll have moments when the alarm goes off and all you want in life is to go back to sleep. Maybe it hasn’t snowed in a while or your legs feel like rubber from skiing seven days in a row. Reach deep down and find the motivation. Nobody ever hit the century mark by staying in bed.
Keep a journal of your days
Before too long on your journey, the days will blur together, and you might find it impossible to remember one day over another. So, I like to keep a journal, writing the date and where I skied and anything memorable about the snow conditions or the people I skied with. Plus, it’s the only way to know how many days you have unless you have a phone app that tracks your runs and you never forget to turn it on.
R. Scott Rappold is a journalist with more than 20 years of experience, including 10 at The Colorado Springs Gazette, where he wrote about skiing, hiking, camping and all the things that make Colorado great. He is now a full-time ski bum who writes when he needs money for beer or lift tickets. He lives in Colorado’s beautiful San Luis Valley. Read more of Scott’s stories here.