Live/ski/play at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon

Located just before the dead end on Highway 210, at the top of legendary Little Cottonwood Canyon, is an avalanche-proof concrete building called Goldminer’s Daughter. From the outside it looks rustic, raw and unforgiving. Inside, however, you’ll find the most charismatic group of people you’ve ever encountered, nestled in dormitory-style accommodation. These bunks have housed some of the most authentic “ski bums” this world has seen. Gap year students, college graduates, world travelers and even 9-5 year old retirees, creating a unique community unlike anything else. The best part? It’s about 25 feet from this country’s best ski area in Alta, Utah.

If you grew up like me, watching Level 1 and Poorboyz Production movies, browsing Newschoolers, and spending countless hours watching Line Traveling Circus on youtube, you’ve probably thought, “I want to go skiing. All. Only. Day.” If you want to fulfill those teenage fantasies of waking up steps away from some of the best powder skiing in the country, this is where you want to be.

The Goldminer’s is a functional 4-star hotel that offers a variety of seasonal employment options, from housekeeping to bartending. The job is like any other customer service job, right here the location is much better. It can be exhausting to get to your 3am shift after skiing powder all morning, but then again, you also have to ski freshies all morning. Even then, you can still look out the window and see the sun set behind Mount Superior and remember why you are there. We don’t make a lot of money, but that’s not what attracted us here. It’s skiing 120 days a season, living in the magnificent Wasatch Mountains and being part of a magnetic, colorful and dynamic community that makes it so rich.

Any day, a GMD employee can get out of bed, have breakfast, start up and get on the elevator not even a minute later. From the Collins or Wildcat lifts, you’ll see some of the best skiers in the world – some we’ve all heard of, some who don’t have Instagram. You will see your best friends or the guest you checked in last night. You can still find other GMD employees in the queue. There is a social and excited energy in the air that can only be found in a ski area that offers employee housing like we do at GMD.

The average Alta resident can ski more than 100 days. They learn the ins and outs of this legendary terrain. They race down every corner of the mountain, dodging the good stuff, and getting first tracks in secret powder hideouts during storm cycles. They take a hot lap on groomers on sunny high-pressure days, or ski up and down “high boy” laps on spring bump days. They ski hard and passionately. If you ever need a break, you can ski down to the GMD patio and pick up the ‘Alta Bomb’ brand; a somewhat shocking blend of PBR and espresso. It might sound like a funky combo – but believe me, it will make you want to ski harder than ever. And it’s really delicious.

The hardest part of living in Alta isn’t knowing how to follow local legends. It’s not waking up to the first chair or hiking to the top of Mount Baldy. It’s having to get to work after laps filled with turns and fresh powder traverses on the High T that leave you wondering how you can even stand. After a last-minute rush (and I really mean last-minute – I was at the top of the mountain two minutes before my shift started), the employees, gasping for the air filter in their shifts work with wind-chapped faces, mustaches and ponytails still wet from face-strokes.

For those who enjoy skiing to the last chair, 4:30 a.m. does not mean the ski lifts close. It’s a trip to Funland*, backpacks full of PBR and a loudspeaker. Or it’s a time at the top of High Rustler with the rest of the locals. A quick glimpse of the sun setting over the valley just before they rip a glorious final lap over the famous “High Boy”.

When the lifts are closed and the crowds of the day wear off, Alta employees reclaim their house. On a Sunday evening, they crowd into the Peruvian bar to listen to live music and celebrate the end of the weekend crowds. They dance until the room is about 80 degrees warmer than the weather just outside the windows. On a stormy night, it’s a perilous journey through the parking lot that separates the two buildings. But anyone will tell you it’s worth it for the energy and excitement of Alta’s inhabitants, giddy at the possibility of an interlodge, dancing side by side in their fleece hats and bibs.

If that sounds like winter to you, apply to work at Goldminer’s Daughter for the 2022-2023 ski season. Get a ski pass, accommodation right next to the main ski lift, three meals a day and a community of ski enthusiasts.

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