by Paul Maraschiello, The Biggest Ski Bum of Them All


The best way to ski for free is to become a writer for The Ski Bum News. If you write and submit an article on skiing or snowboarding and we publish it, we will authorize you to represent us and cover ski/snowboard events or write feature articles about ski areas all over the world. Just click If you do not have a literary side, you still can ski for free if you follow these tips.


We all are aware of great jobs at ski areas like ski instructor and ski patrol which allow you to ski all day long and strut around in a great looking uniform dazzling hoards of skiers of the apposite sex. You don't have to be an excellent skier to be on the ski school. Every ski area has a clinic program for their instructors and this is a great way of becoming a good skier and meeting a lot of really great people.

I visited one ski area site that stated that there were 65 categories of jobs available and almost every web site had an employment section on their site, It told me that they need help and if they really need help, it is an opportunity for you to ski for free. Most jobs at ski areas come with a free ski pass. So if your avocation is making snow, waiting on tables, selling skis, working in a ski-rental shop, selling list tickets, loading lifts, or a host of other occupations, head up to the ski area of your choice and become a member of the staff. Please note that many of the jobs at ski shops, lodges, restaurants, and other establishments in ski towns also provide their staff with a free lift ticket as a perk. So if you are hunting for a job in a ski town, there are lots of opportunities to earn a free pass beside working on the mountain.


If you are over 16 and under 70, busy with school and a career, you can still ski for free. Most of my friends never buy a lift ticket. Some of them work ski events and races and earn comp tickets that way. Others are ski ambassadors at their favorite ski area, where they assist visitors and pitch in wherever the ski area needs help. Most ski areas are very busy on the weekends and employ a large number of part-time employees. Most of the people you see at your favorite ski area have real jobs during the week and only work at the ski area on weekends. I taught skiing evenings and weekends for years at local ski areas and my daughter was a junior ski instructor when she was only 16 years old. I had a friend that was a Physical Education major who became a member of the Ski School on a temporary basis and taught skiing to little kids during the Christmas holidays. The next year, she got a full-time slot on the Ski School at the same major ski area and she was not an expert skier by any means.


Now let us just say that you can't make a commitment to even a part-time job at a ski area. You can still ski for free. Apache gives free lift tickets to people who are willing to pick up the trash in the parking lot on Sunday morning and there are a lot of other ways of earning a lift ticket for a little work. One of my best friends works gates during ski races and gets a free lift ticket that way. If you contact the ski area, there are often critical shortages of people to do menial-type jobs and many ski areas are more than willing to barter a lift ticket for a little help bussing tables in the lodge, handing out equipment in the rental shop and numerous other tasks. Call them up and ask, I bet you will find that it is a lot easier than you think to ski for free. With the high cost of living in a ski resort town, combined with low wages paid by most ski areas, good help is hard to find.


Now if picking up the garbage is beneath your dignity, making snow is not your cup of tea, you can't quit your $60K job and move to Aspen to work for minimum wage, there is still a great way to do a whole heck of a lot of skiing and get the cost per run down to almost nothing. BUY A SEASON PASS! That's right, lay out the "big bucks" and purchase a season pass. To make this method cost effective, you need to amortize the cost by skiing as often as you can. Before I became a ski journalist, I would buy a season pass as EARLY as possible (ski areas are very interested in selling season passes in August) and I would ski as often as I could. I would be on the slopes every weekend and would schedule at lest one entire week (sometimes 2 weeks) of skiing as a winter vacation. I would make it up to the slope mid-week when the trails were empty and I could usually get my cost per day down to less than $10.00.

Now, maybe you are a little too old to climb up and down the mountain at 3 A.M. hauling snow making equipment or driving a snow cat, your dignity does not allow you to buss tables and you hate teaching beginners how to ski, there is still a great gimmick. Just continue to ski until you are over 70 years old and BINGO you can ski for free, a reader recently reminded me.

Please keep reading The Ski Bum News. There will be other articles on living for free, eating for free and other really great ways of reducing the cost of winter fun at your favorite ski areas.