Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Decision

While the life of a ski bum is difficult, the life of the “weekend warrior” is agonizing, especially around this time of year.  It was one thing when the trip reports came from out west.  But now, they’re hitting pretty close to home.  December is when I first start tossing ideas around in my mind, planning adventures, and plotting escapes.  And it usually comes down The Decision: what I should do vs. what I want to do.

Sure, I should just stay in the office; banking time, getting things done, and saving my vacation days for February, March, and April (when the snowpack will be deeper, the days will be warmer, and my skiing muscles will be stronger).  But that’s not what I want to do.  I want to drive up to Stowe or Jay, strap on some skins, and start climbing.  My adventure itch hasn’t been scratched yet, and Saturdays on people packed groomers just aren’t doing it for me.  I want to get out.  I want to live my life.

This is the problem: I have to work.  I have bills to pay, my house needs repairs, and I need to put money towards retirement.  But I want to be able to get up and go at any moment, spend all my money on gas and gear, and take full advantage of every single second of daylight so that each night I can look back and say, “Damn.  That was a good freakin’ day.”

This is the kind of thing that people struggle with for their entire lives, I guess.  A recent study found that people are increasingly dissatisfied with their work/life balance:
According to the APA study, 39 percent of those surveyed expressed satisfaction with their work-life balance, compared to 42 percent in 2009. Furthermore, for the third year in a row, money, work and the economy topped Americans' list of worries. 
We need money to live The Life, and we need jobs to get money.  But then the jobs get in the way of The Life.  And that’s why some people will never be satisfied with their work-life mix.  People will always have to balance their needs and their wants, their responsibilities and their desires, their present and their future.  

All I can ask for is a situation like I have: A fulfilling job, a solid amount of time off, a decent salary, and the chance that, at the end of some of my work days, I can dust off my hands and say “Damn.  That was a good freakin’ day.”

It doesn’t save me from having to make The Decision, but it does make The Decision harder.

(I guess there are worse problems to have).

In a somewhat related note, I was thinking about these types of job-related issues earlier this year, and I wrote a short article for the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) Eastern Division Newsletter that some people might be interested in.  It’s mainly written for ski instructors, but it goes into some of the attributes that make one job better than another.  It can be found on the PSIA-E website here (PDF, scroll down to page 22 and look for "Lessons from The Economist")


  1. "Sure, I should just stay in the office; banking time, getting things done, and saving my vacation days for February, March, and April (when the snowpack will be deeper, the days will be warmer, and my skiing muscles will be stronger)."

    The interesting thing is that often times some of my best days of the season happen during October through December. Lots of opportunities to ski closed trails that are perfectly fine. This is especially true when one lift is open and you can hike up a ridge to a closed trail pod.

    This is in sharp contrast to February and March when every trail and lift is open and there is a ton of competition. No storm is "off the radar" mid-season either, unlike many early season storms.

    April is another good month, when it dumps, as well for many similar reasons: fewer people still skiing and closed trail pods. For weekend skiing, December and April definitely own. Mid-week it really doesn't matter so much.

    So I say save not those vacation days for the future but burn them when ever things look epic regardless of time of year. I balance things in my own way. I can't take a vacation time during about six entire weeks during the winter (a significant portion) due to work. But I can wake up at 5am to get at it for one run. There is always a way to make it happen in some way, shape, or form.

  2. Hi Matt,
    I stumbled across your blog as I searched for "ski bum" related websites. I work at Sun Peaks Resort in BC, Canada. We have a contest running this winter season until February that I thought you might be interested in for yourself or your fellow Ski Bum friends! Check out our contest website at, and to see more about our ski resort you can visit
    Cheers, happy Ski Bumming!
    Tourism Sun Peaks
    Sun Peaks Resort, BC, Canada