After 25 years of professional ski travel, I've learned a trick or two along the way: Don't make fun of an Italian border guard's tight pants, always smoke cigarettes while in France, and never talk to anyone in Utah about religion. But below is the real master knowledge: the worst things about ski travel. Don't even worry about having a destination or a goal for your trip--just focus on avoiding the following:
1. Travel Itself
While skiing in different places is awesome, the actual traveling part sucks worse than breakable crust. Years of inching down the post-apocalyptic hellscape that is Colorado's I-70 or dragging 100 pounds of high-performance junk through airports at a frantic stagger have left me so brutalized that, in comparison, the stench of fresh malamute in my dilapidated shack next to the trailer park here in downtown Mount Shredly seems paradisiacal. I didn't move to a ski town because I Loved Skiing So Much, I moved to a ski town because I hated ski travel so much.
The first section of the Pacific Crest Trail is littered with abandoned gear: brand new high-tech trinkets rendered hateful by the mere act of carrying them. Likewise, you could work all summer to save up for the sweetest ski rig ever and want to throw it all in a crevasse after lugging it halfway around the world.
The first time I went to Chamonix, I brought two pairs of skis, ice climbing gear, the works. The second time, I brought one pair of skis and borrowed a harness and ice axe. That was still too much. Next, it was entirely carry-on: no skis or poles, ultra-light AT binders in my backpack, wore all my ski clothes and AT boots on the plane, and then borrowed or purchased beater skis and poles on location. This year, I'm flying with nothing but sweats, flip-flops, and a fanny pack--I'm just going to buy everything I need at the thrift store and then chuck it into a hole on the Mer de Glace when I'm done.
3. Rental Cars
Since you can't rent a real four-wheel-drive car, or one with snow tires, or put chains on whatever clunker you can rent, just as with skis, you're better off simply buying a beater Subaru for $500 and throwing it in a crevasse when it's time to go home.
I don't care about how many stars it has or how much money it costs, hotels are disgusting and creepy. They're all stained with the psychic traces of human loneliness and anomie, and other stuff, too. The only reason to pay for a nicer one is the jacuzzi or to service your ego.
Or you could stay at a hostel and bunk up with one or two or both of the following people: 1) The drunk asshole who stumbles in at two in the morning and then vomits, or 2) The funless prick who gets woken up by person number one. Stay in enough hostels and you might have great experiences, like taking MDMA and having a crazy threesome with hot Spanish backpackers that you just met. You might also wake up afterward in a bathtub full of ice and missing a kidney.*
As with hostels, there are only two people you can be with in a tent: Either you snore like a gurgling sump-pump and fart in your sleep, or you're the other person and you're contemplating the consequences of murder. Check that: You could also be one of those bastards who keeps everyone up by moving around all night making a racket with all that goddamn rustling and forgets to label the piss bottle.
5. Other People
Everybody hates tourists--even tourists hate other tourists. The only thing worse than a tourist is a local on vacation telling everyone else about how much better it is at their home resort. Locals hate tourists because they remind us that before we moved to a ski town to avoid ski travel, we used to be able to afford to do things, like take ski trips.
And there you have it: Just avoid luggage, rental cars, hotels, hostels, threesomes with organ thieves, farty tents, tourists, and locals. Bon voyage, mon ami!
*That was actually pretty fun.
Disclaimer: The author of this column hasn't gone anywhere since at least 1987.
This story originally ran in the November 2017 issue of POWDER. To get the best ski writing on the planet delivered right to your door, subscribe today.