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Publisher's Summary

An Outside Magazine Book Club Pick

"A sparkling account." (Wall Street Journal)

An electrifying adventure into the rich history of skiing and the modern heart of ski-bum culture, from one of America's most preeminent ski journalists

The story of skiing is, in many ways, the story of America itself. Blossoming from the 10th Mountain Division in World War II, the sport took hold across the country, driven by adventurers seeking the rush of freedom that only cold mountain air could provide. As skiing gained in popularity, mom-and-pop backcountry hills gave way to groomed trails and eventually the megaresorts of today. Along the way, the pioneers and diehards - the ski bums - remained the beating heart of the scene.

Veteran ski journalist and former ski bum Heather Hansman takes listeners on an exhilarating journey into the hidden history of American skiing, offering a glimpse into an underexplored subculture from the perspective of a true insider. Hopping from Vermont to Colorado, Montana to West Virginia, Hansman profiles the people who have built their lives around a cold-weather obsession. Along the way she reckons with skiing's problematic elements and investigates how the sport is evolving in the face of the existential threat of climate change.

©2021 Heather Hansman (P)2021 Harlequin Audio

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Imminently bingeable

As a fellow ski bum chased down valley by soaring rent and desire to find meaningful work this felt pretty real. Great read and nice addition to ski culture genre.

3 people found this helpful

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The Ski Bum will Never Die!

As an almost 50 year old winter enthusiast currently living in the east (PA), I’ve been reflecting on my life and wondering if I had to do it all over again, what would I do different. After reading this book, it’s clear. Follow your passion, and in my case, endlessly chase the fluffy white stuff for that awesome, incomparable feeling of weightlessness as gravity pulls you down a steep slope throwing powered in your face. I unfortunately didn’t choose that path when I had the chance after graduating a college in the 90s. This book sure makes me wish I did. Heather Hansman takes you through the experience of what it was like, and what it would have been for me, had I chosen the path of a ski bum.. aka “dirt bag”. And I know all those die hard skiers out there who read this are wishing the same thing. Damn.. I should’ve moved out west when I had the chance.

Heather describes her experiences from the time she left the east coast and headed out west chasing the white room.. and a not so dream job of being a ticket checker at a ski resort in Colorado. But we do what we have to for a free pass. As you make your way through the book, your understand that being a ski bum in the traditional sense is living out of a car, or small camper in the parking lot of ski resorts just to get the coveted first chair in the way Warren Miller did back in the day. It’s the skier who unexpectedly shows up at your house with a half-opened case of beer as a form or rent, hoping to crash for the night so they can ski again tomorrow. It’s the local who has a secret locked box hidden on the mountain with bottles of Fireball and bourbon to share with friends before disappearing down some narrow traverse that leads to a area blanketed with knee deep untouched powder…area protected and kept secret by local dirt bags. Heather shares her experiences and transition from a icy back-east skier to a big mountain ski bum, and those stories of many other ski bums who sadly appear to be becoming a dying breed.

Working at a ski mountain for $15/hr and a season pass just doesn’t cut it anymore. Especially it resort towns like Aspen, or Park City. Increased cost of living and stagnet salaries are driving the locals out further and further from the towns that once were home to the ski bums of years past and are now home to only the rich with mansions tucked perfectly on the mountain side.

What the future holds for the ski bum is unknown. But one thing all those ugly outside forces can’t take away is the passion and the love of a sport that is the heart and soul of why ski bums came to be in the first place. Where that internal drive and desire comes from is unknown. It just is there, part of you anatomy when you’re born. And it’s certainly part of mine. To me, the term ski bum is just another term for ski addict. And in that sense.. i will always be addicted to skiing and plan to do it until my jelly legs can do it no more.

As a ski patroller at a small family owned mountain in PA (Elk), i appreciate this mountain more so after reading this book. What were once skiing frontiers in places like Utah Colorado, have now become a gold rush “boom town” resulting in unaffordable homes and long lines of red lights crawling up the canyons. Especially post pandemic! Maybe I did make the right choice in staying back East? Nah!

I may not get 100+ days of fresh pow in each year and dont live in my car, surviving on ramen and beer. But I am absolutely addicted to this sport, and in my opinion, consider myself a ski-bum.

Great book Heather Hansman!

Steve Watson
Elk Mountain Ski Patrol
#327

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Amazing!

This is the first review I've written on here, but I had to do it to adequately recommend this book. If you have ever lived in a mountain town, with time in a mountain town, felt the pull to ski or ride, struggled to make it work, or vacationed with ease, this book is for you. All the points made and topics covered are poignant and important, and she delivers them along with an authentic perspective and glimpse of the ski bum life.

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good memoir

I liked this because I love skiing. Not sure if it is the most representative memoir, but she does try hard to touch on weather Darth Vail, and other big issues.

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This lady is no ski bum!

Just another progressive political cry baby! The world changes and she wants to whine about it, but it's people like her who are driving the change.

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Interesting concept turned sob story

The first few sections are engaging and well written. I cannot stress this enough.. the rest of the book is a sob story about how the author had to grow up instead of acting like a child the rest of her life. Boohoo

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Good first half, disastrous second half

I loved the first 1/2 of the book. There we are taken on a ride through the history of skiing, ski towns, and the people who helped popularize the sport. The second half is an avalanche of woke angst and fantasy coupled with heavy climate-alarmist nonsense. The book closes with an extended section on the author's personal life regrets and doubts but I didn't mind that SO much since it was 1st-hand, personal, interesting information, however depressing.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-16-21

Can't wait to read again

Really excellent book that has me daydreaming (even more) about the mountains.
As someone who has been weighing up sacking off my career as a doctor to move to a ski town this book highlights that not everyone living there is living a fairytale lifestyle, that the grind is real, and those people really do work hard, work hard.
Don't worry though I haven't given up on my dream, just grinding in my twenties so i can (hopefully) move there for my thirties and beyond.