retirement skiing


Are some of you guys retired?

Where, when, and how has being retired affected your skiing?

For me it's been pretty dramatic. I spent over 40 years primarily skiing small resorts in the Mid-Atlantic US. While there were a few years in my 20s when I skied 40-50 days, I usually averaged about 10-20 each winter over the decades. I was lucky if I escaped the Mid-A one week per winter to ski New England or US West.

In early 2015 I went from full time to half time working hours (semi-retired) and started doing 2 or 3 one-week or longer western trips per winter. This coincided with my adult son (avid skier) moving to Utah in 2015 and most of my skiing being redirected from the Mid-A to Utah and CO. In early 2019 I fully retired and started doing 3 or 4 month stays in Utah with my average ski days per winter increasing to 40 or 50. I might have been tempted to ski even more, but my non-skiing wife accompanies me and I take quite a few days off to be with her.

I was never a super strong skier, but it's possible my abilities have actually improved a bit since retirement. This is basically because of more slope time, but also skiing in the Rockies (mostly at Snowbird) instead of the Mid-A tends to force you to raise your game or die. O:)
Perhaps the best thing about skiing while retiring is that I now in the position to mostly ski partial days. I don't have to ski bell to bell to feel like I'm getting the most out of my precious few ski days. I can ski when I feel good/strong, rather than ski because it's the only chance I can. A quality over quantity thing. 40 half days is definitely more fun than 20 full days when age 65+ :p

Tony Crocker

Staff member
I retired in September 2010 just short of turning age 58. From Nov 2010 - July 2012 I skied 143 days in 21 consecutive months. Yes that broke prior records by a lot, but I had been averaging 45 days/season since my divorce in 2004. Retirement gives you more time for exercise, so conditioning bumps up some. Since I did not learn to ski until I was an adult, it's likely those 21 months were the peak of my skiing ability.

Unlike jimk I was skiing the same type of terrain and resorts before and after retirement. In the first few years of retirement I had some extra days chasing admin and his Utah posse around Alta, and I believed my traversing skills were enhanced by that.

As far as how much I ski per day, that's remarkably consistent over the past 40 years, nearly every season averaging between 18-22K. Before high speed lifts and mostly skiing weekends, most days were indeed bell-to-bell to accomplish that. Now that can be done in a 5 hour ski day. I'll do more when conditions are great, which means less effort needs to be expended. Abbreviated days are still rare. They occur more often than before due mainly to the Ikon Pass. It's easy to test questionable conditions and bail if it doesn't pan out if you're not paying for a day ticket. But overall I'm more likely to take a day off when relocating or if excessively tired than to shorten a ski day.

The pandemic shut down two gyms that I patronized once a week when I was home. This has also coincided with with a slight decrease in max cardio capacity. But my decline in ski capacity is modest considering it's been 11 years since I retired. I still believe firmly in the Warren Miller plan "If you don't do it this year, you'll be one year older when you do." When I started going to Iron Blosam Week in 1996 there were four of us about the same age pushing each other. I remember the expression then, "Cirque till it hurts." I'm the last one of those four still skiing that type of terrain. Varied health issues have forced one to stop skiing completely and the other two have been confined to groomers the past couple of seasons.

One great aspect about skiing as a lifetime sport is that you can gradually dial down the pace/challenge depending on how you're feeling. That's the way Garry Klassen looks at it. He skis a higher proportion of groomers now, but can still get after it when conditions are optimal.
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Active member
Are some of you guys retired?
My last days working full-time were in mid-Jan 2011. I've worked event (mostly football, some concerts and a few baseball and soccer games) starting before I retired to get my Social Security credits and qualify for Medicare and hopefully get enough Social Security to pay for Medicare (which is now coming out of pocket) when I collect it - just hit SS full retirement age. Now working Mobility Service for events at Levi's stadium which means pushing people in wheelchair from/to parking lot, gates, light rail to/from their seats. I average over 20K steps on game days.
I was never a super strong skier, but it's possible my abilities have actually improved a bit since retirement.
I think skiing with your son at Snowbird must have improved your skiing. My son is less than half my age and in much better shape (planning, but not yet seriously training, for Big Sur marathon in April), but doesn't ski as much so I can usually outlast him, especially over multiple days.
Perhaps the best thing about skiing while retiring is that I now in the position to mostly ski partial days.
I feel like I never get enough days so I'll ski as much of the day as possible, often taking lunch on a lift. My average vertical per day was 24K last season (only season higher was 02-03) and that included one day with early closure and a few short days when my wife was waiting at the cabin or I had to quit early to get home. I have good records going back to 1999-2000 and think the 10-15 years before that were similar. When I lived at No. Tahoe/Truckee are during 1975-77 drought, I think I had 45 and 35 days, respectively with lower number 2nd year due to full-time day job.

Years Days per year Notes
99-00 to 03-04 15.2 No season passes. Used a lot of ski show tickets and other deals.
04-05 to 09-10 21.2 24 days when I had Heavenly only season passes in 05-06 and 07-08, but only 17 days on year in between
10-11 to 14-15 38.4 Squaw pass first winter retired, but may have had best powder days at N*. 11-12 had Kirkwood added to Vail Tahoe pass. 13-14 was first year I had MCP in addition to a version of Vail Tahoe pass. First Canadian road trip inc. 3 days at Mustang Powder in 14-15 was 19 ski days with 18 in a row.
15-16 to 18-19 56 Average vertical per day declined from 23.1 to 21.5 as number of days went up. MCP -> Ikon in 18-19
19-20 to 20-21 31.5 Early end to 19-20 and late start to 20-21 due to COVID. 20-21 included 7 days on next year's Ikon after Kirkwood's (way too early) close. No 20-21 Ikon pass and all my skiing was in CA, except for NV side of Heavenly.

Tony Crocker

Staff member
Average Season Vertical
Average Days Skied
Average Powder Vert.
Vertical per Day
Powder per Season
Different Areas Skied per Season
New Areas Skied per Season
Median Opening Day
Median Closing Day

79-83 were my formative ski seasons before marriage and kids.
84-96 I had younger kids
97-04 I had older kids and more vacation time
05-10 I was divorced, still working and had up to 6 weeks PTO per year
11-19 are the early retirement years
20 and onwards is perhaps a new era of retirement

Opening and closing days exclude southern hemisphere, where I've skied in 8 different seasons.
1997 is when I started cat skiing in Canada, so that's when powder numbers get better.
Spring of 2005 is when I got a Mammoth MVP. This became Ikon in 2018-19.
The above demonstrates the consistency of vertical per day when averaged over multiple seasons. I don't see that number declining much for awhile. Age/stamina issues result in skiing a higher proportion of groomers, which if anything might raise vertical per day.
Details of individual seasons here
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Tony Crocker

Staff member
I feel like I never get enough days
I don't think that hardly at all since I retired. I guess the basic benchmark is 1 million vertical per season, which I missed only with the surprise shutdown in 2020 the week before I had scheduled 2+ weeks in the Alps. I resist committing to extended time away from skiing during the core season of Jan-early Apr, only made an exception for the 2016 eclipse in Indonesia. Over 80% of my skiing Oct-Dec and May-Jul is drive-up, which tends to be short notice, relatively short trips that can be fit in with other plans.

So I see a minimum season in a bad snow year around 50 days, but the big years at Mammoth that start early and end late can get over 70. A big year in SoCal could push ski day count higher (Garry Klassen hit 86 in 2004-05) but that hasn't happened since I retired.

Garry was still working a swing shift job in 2004-05 so most of those 86 days were morning only at Baldy, 20 minutes from home. Perhaps that's why jimk has a lot of partial days; he's at his son's home in Utah much of the time, half an hour from the slopes. By contrast, once you've made the commitment to paid overnight lodging or a few hours of commute time, the incentive seems strong to put in a full day of skiing to make that effort worthwhile.
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When you're in the senior phase of life skiing is like sex, sometimes less is more;). Quality over quantity thing.

20 and onwards is perhaps a new era of retirement
Can you explain what that means?

That is a topic that could go in all kinds of directions. With all the extra people now doing work from home I could see a great many people retiring in a gradual phase-out, rather than completely stopping all at once. Also, Covid is going to continue to put a damper on the numbers of older people that travel and how ambitious they make their itineraries.

Tony Crocker

Staff member
It's mostly age. I have a bit of a decline in max cardio, and losing two of my workout sources due to COVID shutdowns didn't help. My slowing down is gradual but if I were to draw a line somewhere between "early" and "normal" retirement, 2020 seems a logical place.

I mentioned in the 2020-21 recap thread that due to only skiing groomers the first 5 days of that season, I had an adjustment period to more challenging skiing starting Jan. 27 in Utah and didn't feel I was skiing up to normal standards until well into the February/March road trip. Historically I had found that step aerobics almost completely erased the "early season warmup" issue.

There is no question that retirement enhances the ability to chase quality. That's one reason why vertical per day is not declining. I'm much less likely to be skiing a day with poor conditions because I was committed in advance to weekend/vacation days. Taking a day off/adjusting the schedule is much easier when retired.

As far as COVID is concerned, I was and still am aggressive about getting vaccinations. I've had four, Moderna Jan & Feb, then Pfizer July after Israel recommended booster for over age 60. Earlier this month I had a J&J because we were in their clinical trial. Liz got that vaccine Oct. 2020 but I got the placebo then. If vaccinated as far as I'm concerned you lead a normal life. Breakthrough cases (my son Adam had one in July) are no worse than the flu. Yes we have to carry our vaccine records when we travel and get tested as well for foreign countries (Chile this week, Canada February, Europe in March). But those minor inconveniences will not deter us.
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