Teton County – The richest county in American according to the IRS and for good reason. Jackson, WY is surrounded by 97% public land so it is physically impossible for the town to spread. The effects? A one bedroom apartment costs upwards toward $1200, a price most ski bums and seasonal workers can’t offord. With the price of rent being so high, wages low, and the best variety of bada$$ land to play on, many are forced to either live in their car, camp, or go play somewhere else. We lived on national forest land with a complete, unobstructed panorama view of the Tetons from our front yard for 2 months. The land was priceless and we didn’t have to pay a penny.
Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t all chocolate cake and banana splits. We took a shower every 10 days for $7 at the rec center in town. Food costs were high so jobs with food perks were literally money. Come winter, we moved into a 500 sq ft hotel room without a kitchen. This is the price most ski bums pay to live near America’s #1 Ski Area – Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
It all comes down to priorities. When we decided to ski bum for a winter, we jumped all in to live and work at America’s #1 Ski Resort skiing/riding every day that we could. Our goal to accomplish was to simply be better than we were when we started. The bluebird days were beautiful and the pow days even better.
It’s an odd dichotomy, the ski bum and the rich man. Ski resorts are a rich man’s playground, a ski bum’s paradise. The ski bum can’t survive without the patronage of the rich man, the rich man can’t play without the ski bum workers. The gap is so large and each side don’t believe the other is entitled to be on the mountain. Ski bumming is an entire counterculture on it’s own. Most people I worked with had a college degree and were very intelligent individuals holding aspirations to be free from the confines of an office job. They rebelled against the shackles of a mainstream lifestyle to go the path untraveled. There is no one better to understand the meaning of the road less traveled when they are the experts at finding untracked snow, perfect tree lines and cliffs with unknown landings.