Powder 8s: Tips For Living In A Ski Town

A list that has nothing to do with dating a ski patroller

So you’re moving to a mountain town. Good on ya, you have successfully passed the first test on the path to powder enlightenment. But be aware, you are also moving into a cultural ecosystem much different than the suburb you commuted from the past four years. Seasonal positions, ruthless rent, and a general lack of responsibility—this is your norm now. So how do you thrive in a mountain town? There are several resources on the subject (and more than enough ski dating how-to’s), but here are a few of my tips to get the most out of your days in Ski-Ville U.S.A.

Don't kid yourself, grill master. Best to located the nearest Taco Tuesday. PHOTO: Kari Medig
Don’t kid yourself, grill master. Best to located the nearest Taco Tuesday. PHOTO: Kari Medig

1. Learn your public transit
Driving can be a real hassle in a mountain town, especially when life revolves around skiing, beer, and skiing with beer. Most towns have figured out a cheap or free bus system and it’s worth getting on this program right away. After all, chances are you aren’t catching an Uber home from the mountain at 9 p.m. on a Monday.

2. Know the escape route
Mountain traffic sucks, especially if it keeps you from getting to and from the hill. Find a consistent spot, stick with it, and don’t tell a living soul. Everyone knows about the secret lower lot, but not everybody knows about the extra parking spot next to the groomer’s slopeside Pisten Bully garage.

3. Get a P.O. Box
Skiing may be your first sport, but in a mountain town full of sublets and short term rents, moving will quickly become your second. Forgo the hassle of change-of-address forms and get a central mailbox. Also, rumor has it care packages tend to go missing from front stoops on weekend nights. I’m not saying I ate your mom’s home baked cookies, but I might have eaten your mom’s home baked cookies.

4. The classifieds are your friend
Craigslist is the obvious one here, but each town has its own local rag full of goodies just waiting to be pillaged by the watchful eye. Score cheap ski gear, free firewood, or that moose head you’ve always wanted to hang above your fireplace. It’s your go-to shop for everything you need to live it up in a ski town—except maybe groceries. Yeah, definitely not groceries.

5. Dial in the restaurant circuit
You may love cooking now, but it becomes a pain after a long day on the hill. To avoid spending all of that ski valet paycheck in one place, figure out which restaurants have specials on which nights and make a mental calendar. Mondays? Dollar wings at the dive. Tuesday? Well, you’re going to have to decide between Tall-Boy Tuesday and Taco Tequila Tuesday, of course—one of your most challenging weekly decisions. Choose wisely.

6. Have a powder day routine
Part of the advantage to living in a mountain town is that you know that damn mountain like the back of your hand. Study that thing—hard. When the snow falls, know where to go, which aspect is going to be wind-loaded, which lift opens early, what is going to stay untouched until later in the day. Don’t pussyfoot—go ninja, get in, and get out before the base lodge crew gets their balaclavas untwisted. Also see numbers one and two on this list. Know where to park, and if that fails, know the bus route that will get you to the goods fastest.

7. Join a laundry cult
Body odor is part of your game now (pheromones are, like, Nature’s cologne, right?), but that doesn’t mean you have to flip your undies inside out and back again. Get a couple of buddies (groups hold each other accountable, in theory) and set aside a night to do laundry. Grab a six-pack, roll to the local coin-op, and read that Kindle you’ve been neglecting since graduation. Your future, MRSA-free self will thank you in the long run.

8. Don’t get a dog
Just don’t do it. Everyone in town has a pooch, and thus by the mountain town transitive property, so do you. In fact, you can have a dog whenever you friggin’ want one. Call up a buddy and he or she will be glad to get Duke off his or her hands for the weekend so you can impress that fox from hot yoga. The best part? You can return it when you’re done, no mess, no bills, no questions asked.