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Shackles of snow

So. You’re new to Whistler. Probably looking for work. If you’ve found work already, you’re probably looking for more hours or a second job by now.

Welcome. Enjoy the rainy season. Go to movies. Play board games. Cook spaghetti. Lay low. The snow will be here next couple of months. Stick around because it will be worth it.

Found a place to live yet? I know, it’s expensive for what you get, but hey, this is Whistler, one of the top mountain resorts in the world. Our reputation for expensive and cramped living conditions precedes us. You had to know what you were getting into.

Sleeping on a friend’s couch until you find something? Been there, done that. Just remember to buy beer regularly, give up the remote control, and do a bit of housework here and there. Make dinner.

You should also try to wake up when your friends do. They won’t feel like you’re cramping their morning routines and tire of your presence. Besides, you can go right back to sleep after they leave. What else do you have to do?

Welcome to ski bumming in 2003. It’s not the kind ski bumming that Whistler’s freewheeling originals glorified a generation ago, which was all about working summers, skiing winters, squatting on public land, and partying long into the night. This is nouveau ski bumming, which is far more desperate and a lot less fun.

The difference is that the originals were ski bums by choice, choosing to ski rather than work. Nouveau ski bums don’t often have that luxury, and instead are driven into a life of poverty by low wages, and the high cost of rent, food, booze, ski passes and entertainment. Nouveau bums need to work two or three jobs just to stay two steps ahead of the collection agencies.

Come to think of it, we’re more ‘ski slaves’ than ski bums these days, trading our freedoms for lives of indentured servitude. Our first master is the snow, and our second is the company we work for.

"Where were you last winter?" they’ll ask.

"Ski slavin’ in Whistler," you’ll reply.

Works for me.

There are some simple rules of etiquette that you’ll have to accept as a Whistler ski slave.

1. You can call home twice for money and that’s it. Any more and your family and friends, who have already been cut off and disowned, will start to resent you.

2. Don’t try and compete with the pros. You can’t afford to dress like they do, or use the same equipment. Jackets and pants rip, gloves get lost, goggles get scratched, and there are literally thousands of rocks up there, buried under a centimetre of snow or so, just waiting to drill a core shot into your base or rip your edges off.


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