Alright, so everyone prides themselves on their unique style on the hill. Let’s face it, our beloved sport has, whether you like it or not, become an image based industry. Everyone has their choice of outerwear colors, their preference in goggles, they spend hours making sure their board/skis are perfectly stickered to rep their favorite branding, or they shun it all and go for an “I don’t really care what you think” vibe.  In the two years I spent in Mammoth and Tahoe, I met amazing people – people from all over the world, each with their own unique style. There are way too many styles out there to cover in just one blog post, but I wanted to take a minute to touch on the most common types of mountain resort townies I’ve encountered here out west.

1.) The Rock & Rollers. These kids can usually be found sessioning the lift towers and kinked rails in the park (or on the streets if, say, their pass has been punched too many times and they’re too hungover to try and poach). For those who aren’t familiar, “sessioning” is hitting a feature, then hiking back to the top of the run-in for another hit until you stomp it. The rockers can be identified by their skin tight pants, form fitting hoodie, wayfarer sunglasses and snapback cap. Quote: “Sick nosepress, brah. Toss me another PBR.”

Likes:

Tight-fitting outerwear (Black or earth tones only)

Fast, loud, guitar heavy music

Pabst Blue Ribbon and Jack Daniels

Jibbing

Dislikes:

Colors

Skiers that dress like thugs

Skiers

Smiling

Rap music in the park

Skiers

Decaf

Families in the park

Alarm Clocks

Clouds

Skiers

 Snowboarder riding a rail

2.) The Hip-Hoppers / New Schoolers. Also typically found in the park/pipe, hitting the biggest features and taking what are known as “hot laps” (super fast runs through the park on a single chairlift). You can recognize them by their huge pants and t-shirts or hoodies that fall somewhere between the lower thigh and just past the knees in length. These townies love face masks, massive goggles, bright colors, big headphones and monosyllabic words. Quote: “Steeze, bro. Steeeeeeezzze!”

Likes:

Hip Hop / Techno you’ve never heard of

Massive jumps

Huge pants and short poles

40s

Energy drinks

Dislikes:

Snowboarders that dress like Sid Vicious

Incorrectly groomed takeoffs

Lifties

Guitars

Skinny jeans

Skier in knee deep powder

3.) The Mountaineers. From what I’ve gathered of these elusive mountain people, they generally despise the resorts. They live near them, but almost never purchase a pass or ski them. Instead, they opt to take their “sleds” (snowmobiles to the layperson) to launch points and ski or ride that way. They can also be found hiking or ice climbing to untracked terrain for their daily adrenaline fix. At the end of the day you can typically find them back in town, in a dark, quiet pub telling stories of their last narrow escape with death. Characterized by their grizzly beards, worn out flannel and a love for all things gear related (as is understandable, their lives depend on it), they are the most gnarly of mountain folk. Quote: “I EARN my turns.”

Likes:

Snowmobiles

“The good ol’ days”

Climbing ropes

Straight bourbon

Avalanche beacons

Guinness

Dislikes:

Anyone else on this list that isn’t them

Park rats

Showers

Teenagers

Dry Seasons

Seasonal employees who call themselves “locals”

Mountaineer snowboarder backpacking

4.) The Thrift Store Shredder. Image means nothing to these individuals, and, in my humble opinion, that commands respect. They are out there for the love of the mountains and not a single thing else. Their outerwear is probably the same stuff your grandfather donated to Goodwill back in ’87, but these riders live and die by the term “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” They work as little as they can, eat and drink for as cheap as possible and ski/ride EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. The few friends I had that fell into this category all were living with/married to/best buds with someone in the food or drink industry to enable their occasional eating and drinking habit. Night jobs only – days must be open to shred. The term “minimalist” would even be generous in describing these peeps. Quote: “First chair to last call”.

Likes:

Hand-me-downs

End of season shopping at the local secondhand store

Costco (specifically the one in Carson City)

$1 beer night / pocketing their own flask

Microwavable food

Free stuff at local contests

Dislikes:

Designer anything

Technology

Getting their electricity shut off in the middle of winter

Laundry

Ski patrol

Beginners

Private property

Snowboarder with a red truck

5.) The Neo-Hippie. A love for telemarking, dreadlocks, Prana clothing and Phish live recordings pretty much sums up these guys. They grab a soy chai and some granola at the local vegan hippy organic coffee mart, and hop in their Prius to go make some graceful descents. In the summer you can find them teaching yoga to tourists, rock climbing or leading visions quests. They’re generally the most easy going of the aforementioned. In fact, if you get a chance to ride the chair with one, chances are they’ll offer you a story, a funny cigarette, or some trail mix out of love for their fellow enthusiast. Quote: “Free your heel, it will free your mind.”

Likes:

Soy

Hybrid/electric vehicles

Anything made out of hemp

Nature

Peace

That new vegan restaurant in town

Kombucha

Dislikes:

Red states

High-emission vehicles

Bluetooth earpieces on chairlifts

Cities

 Skier with dreadlocks and sunglasses

So this by no means covers everyone, but it’s pretty much a dead ringer for the types of people I’ve met that live on the west coast. I’d love to hear about the other types of people that I may have missed in this post, the people that hang out in your ski towns. Feel free to post your favorites in the comments section!

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  • Wtfeeney

    Don’t forget the aging pro. The guy that had a part in that movie a few years ago that may still get free skis from a new independent ski company. Seen more at the bar than on the slopes, everybody knows who they are, 6 year olds worship them, teenagers call them old school, they never fully recovered from that season ending injury from their last film part. Their fame does not extend outside of the valley.

  • Cary

    This is for all the The Thrift Store Shredder’s out there.

    MY FRIEND SCOOP
    or
    The Probable Cause Song

    (C) Cary Thompson 1992
    (all rights reserved)

    MY FRIEND SCOOP at the local ice cream store
    charges me for one when I get three or four.
    She’s my thirty second flavor,
    My favorite desert.
    She’s my sugarcone
    In her polyester skirt.

    MY FRIEND FLASH fixes bicycle wheels.
    He keeps me rolling with all those freebie deals.
    One day I’ll return the favor.
    He never asks for cash,
    And seems to have forgotten
    ‘Bout his car that I crashed.

    MY FRIEND BIFF who works on a lift
    Gets me up th mountain. Skico’s giver of gifts.
    He’s one of our circle,
    About my seventh best bud.
    It’s all part of the reason,
    Girls think I’m a stud.

    Repeat Chorus:

    MY FRIEND EARL who helps me dive for pearls
    Has contacts with the industry to get some brand new skis.
    He’s the Emir of ski gear,
    With brand new Volants.
    One day I’ll ski into the sunset,
    On that pair of his I want.

    MY FRIEND SCOOP

    If anyone wants this with the chords to the song, and the chorus,
    it’s a ten chord progression:
    write cary@rideinharmony.com,
    say MY FRIEND SCOOP in the subject.

  • MojoSnow

    Article was spot-on, and hilarious. I find my self a combo of them all. How about an article on Instructors?

  • Tif Ross 7

    this is hilarious! some of those are soo right on point!haha

  • Mizjennymae

    There is a special brand of skier that haunts my home mountain here in Montana. These folks are sort of a combination of some of the above-mentioned enthusiasts. We wear everything from straight Carhartt to super yupped out Scott outerwear, and sometimes don’t wear anything at all! We hot lap the bootpack to the ridge, skin off the resort into the sidecountry, skijor like it’s our job, listen to everything from Doc Watson to Dr. Dre, drink PBR and Old Crow like it’s water, smoke that wacky tobaccy like the Marlboro Man smokes cigarettes, and don’t stop!! Fiddle playing, old Ford truck driving, cliff dropping, chute charging, telemark skiing sons of guns is what we are!! Welcome to Montana, where chicks shred the slopes like Edward Scissorhands on crack, the guys will carry you to the bar when you’re too drunk to stand anymore, and all of us ride. Every. Single. Day.