Workers moving on after busy winter
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY – It’s that time of year again.
The last wave of visitors is hitting town, locals are enjoying their last days of spring skiing, and many businesses are preparing to close up for mud season. It’s also the time when the seasonal workers who flock to Vail for the winter pack up and head out of town.
For some workers, a winter in Vail or Beaver Creek is a way to experience a ski season in the Rockies. For others, it’s a great way to earn a bit of cash. And for others, the valley is simply one stop in a series of adventures.
Here’s what some winter residents have planned after the lifts creak to a stop.
This was the Wisconsin native’s first winter in Vail, and he spent a good deal of it driving a massive snowcat on Vail’s slopes, often in the dead of the night. As part of the team that keeps the resorts’ runs groomed, Beasterfield often worked the night shift, which ended at 3 a.m.
“My friend invited me out one winter (to Vail) and I liked it,” he said. “I have a degree in heavy equipment and I needed a job for the winter, so it made sense. I’ve really enjoyed it and learned a lot – with grooming you can never learn it all. As cat operators, we always have to be on our toes, as the conditions are always changing right under our tracks.”
Beasterfield will be returning to Wisconsin for the summer as a wilderness trip specialist, guiding and transporting youth on climbing, backpacking, kayaking and canoeing excursions.
While he said he’s looking forward to the summer, he’ll also miss living in the Vail Valley and its culture.
“It’s a very interesting culture of its own,” he said. “I have never experienced anything quite like it. It is a culture of spontaneity, and people are always looking forward to the next adventure.”
Chutz, who has moved countless times and done a variety of different jobs, said his life has been very “seasonal” for the past few years, so a winter in Vail fit right into the trend.
The Avon resident had spent a year in Vail six years ago working in restaurants and volunteering. He came back this season for some work and some days on the hill.
“I knew that this was an easy place to get that kind of work,” he said. “I got some days on the hill, made some money and met a lot of cool people. You work hard, you play hard, and you’re on the mountain as much as possible.”
In the next week, Chutz will be packing up and heading for Alaska, where he will be a summer wilderness guide, leading natural-history hikes with a mountaineering/
In the next year, he said he plans to continue traveling, probably with the Peace Corps. The position will utilize his masters degree in sustainable development and international affairs.
Meeting interesting people on various journeys like his own has been one of the most rewarding aspects of a season in Vail, he said.
“People have very interesting professional backgrounds,” he said. “I know seasonal workers who are landscape architects or world-class Xterra athletes who work in hotels. It’s not just a bunch of snowboard bums.”
Calbert, who is from Denver, has been skiing Vail with her family since she was very young, and this winter, for the first time, she decided to spend a winter working at the mountain. She attends college in Denver during the week, studying political science and public policy, and spends weekends teaching in Vail.
“I always knew I wanted to work here,” she said. “Growing up, I did ski school in Vail, so it’s cool to come full circle. The experience has exceeded my expectations, and there’s no mountain like Vail. I’m getting to do something I love and get paid for it.”
After the season ends, Calbert plans to head to Washington, D.C., for the summer to work on Capitol Hill. She hopes to eventually pursue a career in government but also said that Vail will probably be in her future plans.
“I want to come back next winter and maybe bring some friends with me,” she said. “And I can definitely see myself coming back and retiring here one day.”
Creamer, a Columbus, Ohio, native, spent his winter working in one of Vail’s highest altitude restaurants, learning the trade and helping throw dinners and parties for the club’s guests.
The externship was the final portion of his training at the Columbus Culinary Institute, and it was an unforgettable experience, Creamer said.
“It was awesome. I got really good exposure and got to learn about all the different parts of the job,” he said. “Also, Game Creek is different from many other restaurants – we’d have private parties and buyouts where cost wasn’t an issue, so we got to really be creative.”
Creamer packed up his car and made the 22-hour drive back to Columbus this weekend, where he plans to continue in the culinary industry.
“I’m definitely coming back to visit this summer, and I’d like to come out another season to work,” he said. “This was my first experience away from home, and the bar is set pretty high now – it’s hard to beat Vail.”