‘The Bowl’ at Aspen Highlands | Photo: michael.stockton

Nothing is better than skiing or snowboarding for free, fortunately many opportunities in the ski industry still exist to earn expensive ski passes without forking over any money. For those that don’t mind hard work or sacrificing some volunteer days for ski privileges, here are recommendations on great ways to earn ski passes this winter.

Aspen Highlands Bootpacking Program:

To reach the steep slopes where cats can’t travel, Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol organizes a massive volunteer effort to bootpack the early season, faceted snow each year. For over two weeks of grueling work, a motivated ski bum can earn an ever valuable season pass.

The extreme terrain at Aspen Highlands can only be opened after the hard work of the bootpacking crew, so for a brief period in November the infamous bowl is tediously crossed up and down till the snow pack is stable. If you enjoy difficult physical work, this may just be the gig for you.

Find out more here: Aspen Highlands Bootpacking

Bridger Bowl Mountain Host:

If you look forward to helping others and engaging with a wide variety of visitors, being a mountain host may be the perfect ‘ski for free’ gig. As an ambassador for the mountain at Bridger Bowl, you share your love of the mountain with guests all the while earning a free season pass. While a mountain host job may not allow you to chase powder at optimal times of the day; the trade-off is worth it. Being a mountain host is a season long commitment, but also an excellent motivation to get on the slopes.

Find out more here: Bridger Bowl Mountain Host Program       

“It’s ‘cold smoke’ I reckon…” | Photo: Bridger Bowl

Wasatch Adaptive Sports Volunteer:

Giving back to others and sharing the opportunity to enjoy snow sports is a pretty unmatchable perk. As a volunteer with the adaptive snow program at Snowbird, volunteers have the chance to experience someone else’s life in ways you might not imagine. While a free season pass might not be a great rationale for volunteering with the adaptive program, the time to enjoy the outdoors and be on the slopes is a great impetus to volunteer. 

Find out more here: Wasatch Adaptive Sports

Is there anything better than skiing? | Photo: Greg Hamilton

Mt. Hood Volunteer Ski Patrol:

The lifeblood of many small ski areas is the volunteer ski patrol and Mount Hood is a great example of a well oiled volunteer patrol. For all the injuries that occur each winter, these diligent volunteers provide rescue and medical services to each of the four main ski areas that encircle Mount Hood. Although it requires extensive training and loads of dedication, working as a volunteer patroller will help you to ski for free and learn a ton about mountain operations, rescue, and avalanche danger in the process. Ski patrollers are vital to operating any resort and as a red-coat wearing member of the National Ski Patrol you are a welcome sight to troubled skiers.  

Find out more here: Mt. Hood Volunteer Ski Patrol

Just another day volunteering for these two philanthropists | Photo: Tim Gillin