Ski Bums and Dirtbags

Full disclosure: I’m not much of a skier/snowboarder anymore. I ride from time to time, but I don’t even have a season pass.

My outdoor activity of choice these days is rock climbing. In the climbing world, there are dirtbags. These are the people that live in their vans and travel around the world camping for free, climbing all the time and generally living the life.

The winter mountain equivalent: ski bums.

You might be thinking that the terms “dirtbag” and “ski bum” aren’t exactly compliments. But you’re wrong.

It’s a rite of passage and a badge of honor to have these designations.

You could spend your money on new clothes but instead you buy a round of drinks with friends after a long day in the backcountry. Your gear is likely newer and more expensive than your couch maybe even your car.

You spend your days teaching ski lessons or your nights making snow because that’s the only way you can ensure you’re on the mountain every day.

You might even have a second job working nights to fund those summer trips to Chile where you’ll sleep in a tent or a yurt rather than a fancy hotel.


Because life is all about experiences and the people you meet along the way that share your passions.

Park City is a town full of people that are living the proverbial dream. They’re the ones serving you drinks, selling you souvenirs and teaching your kids how to ski. Their lives are fascinating and perhaps even hint at our former selves (you remember the college student who was going to tackle life differently?)

While they may not drive the nicest cars or live in the fanciest condos, they’re stoked on life because they spend their days doing what they love.

They’re amazing teachers because they spread that love of skiing, the outdoors and lighthearted fun to you and your kids.

So yes, in general, calling someone names is frowned upon and generally, someone choosing this type of lifestyle is looked down upon, but maybe all of us sitting in our office jobs can take some time to learn something from the “bums” and the “dirtbags” out there.

Next time you are dining on Main Street, or grabbing a drink or that souvenir t-shirt take a minute and chat with the individual behind the counter. They may just teach you something. 

Sarah FlinnSarah is a Park City local, the food blogger behind and a social media content specialist for USANA Health Sciences in Salt Lake City. She spends most of her free time outside enjoying all that the Utah landscape has to offer. Sarah hopes to someday live much like the Grinch: high on a mountain top overlooking the villages. She’ll keep her heart of gold, though.