Many years ago, I made a promise to myself that I would take a winter off from work to ski bum in my 30’s. It seemed like a faraway goal – something that would be tough to accomplish due to my stable life with a great job, husband, mortgage and dog, along with some big challenges like health issues and giant monthly student loan payments. I was locked into a specific lifestyle with tons of commitments and responsibility, and couldn’t imagine any alternative. But I held on to that dream without really being able to visualize how it could all play out.
Then I started making radical life changes, and things were starting to line up for me. Over the course of about two years, I got a divorce, sold a house, had major surgery, and paid off most of my student loans. I moved into a small rental house with my dog, worked my ass off, and saved as much money as I could. And I skied as much as possible. In the season of 2014/2015, I only racked up around 45 days, but it was the best I could do.
All of those life changes were a challenge to adapt to and I lost sight of my larger goal. But without me really noticing, everything started to line up: my health was great, I had some money saved up, I had very few commitments, and fall was right around the corner. The flashing signs of obviousness could not be ignored. I started making moves toward accomplishing my ski bum goal. And on November 20th, I walked out of my full-time, awesome job with my focus on the future and nothing specific on the horizon. It was slightly scary, but mostly exhilarating. I was free to ski!!!
In the first two months I skied on Mt. Hood in Oregon, at Stevens Pass in Washington, at Red Mountain and Whitewater in British Columbia, at Alta and Snowbird in Utah, at Soldier Mountain in Idaho, and in the backcountry in all of these areas. Not to mention all the incredible days at home between trips. I was rewarded for my giant risk with endless pow days from our epic El Niño season.
On the two-month anniversary of leaving my job and starting my new life, I taught an AIARE 1 avalanche course on Mt. Hood and celebrated my 50th day of the season on skis that night at Mount Hood Skibowl. The radical life changes continue, and I couldn’t be happier!
Can you totally reinvent yourself in your mid-30’s? Yes. Absolutely.
And since I look pretty serious in all the pow photos above, here’s how I’ve felt since my very first day of my ski safari on November 21st:
Photos (from the top) by Claire Smallwood, Meghan Jewitt, Loren Griswold, Mike Hollum and Brennan O’Connor, AKA the best ski buddies a girl could ask for!