My Lake Louise Experience

So much like Whistler I thought I’d do a page on my experience rather than just a post. For those of you just joining us I did Whistler first, and if you would like a comparison of the two click here(Link should appear soon!). Here are some questions that might crop up and my experience relating to them.

How did you get the job? – I applied for the job via Lake Louise’s website, a fairly standard process, upload CV, etc. Then I had a phone interview, after that I was invited to an interview at a hiring fair near Toronto. My interview centred on being a Lifty, but then I was inexplicably offered a job as Mountain Greeter.

Any tips? – Usual interview stuff really – Know the job, know yourself, dress well. Not all resorts do this, for the smaller ones you may have to be prepared to go to the resort first without a job. It was handy that Whistler and also Banff / Jasper did hiring fairs.

Where did you live? – The Great Divide Lodge! (GDL) You may also end up at Charleston Residence, known locally as the infamous Chuck Town.

Why’s it called that? – Everyone parties there! (And chucks up…)

How much was it then? – Minimum wage – $12 / hour.

How much was the housing? – $225 a month, the cheapest I have ever seen, that is sharing a room with another person of course.

What was that like? – Not too bad, when you’re paired with a considerate room-mate. It’s very similar to halls of residence at university complete with all the sights, sounds, and smells. The kitchen at GDL also requires going outside to get to, not the best when its -30. The lack of personal space can be a bit of a drag on occasion, but for the price it’s well worth it. I was lucky that I was in with Phil, who became my closest friend in Lake Louise, but I did overhear some others moaning about their room-mates.

What were your options if you’d hated it? – You could apply to transfer if you wanted, we were told however, that during the early season when the accommodation was full, you’d be unlikely to move anytime soon unless you had a major complaint with your room-mate. Unless you’re a permanent manager/supervisor you can forget about your own room.

What about food? – My accommodation would sell me close to two pub meals for the price of one frozen pizza at the local store. By applying some common sense to getting groceries and getting down to Banff whenever you can, you can save a fair bit of money. Even Banff is not exactly cheap, Canmore is better, if you can get there. Chuck town also has a small shop but stock levels vary, and the prices don’t compete with Banff.

Sounds like it’s expensive there!? – It’s more affordable than most ski resorts I would say, but don’t expect to have tons left over at the end of each pay period, and expect to not to save much if you want to do fun stuff.

Couldn’t I just bulk buy Kraft Dinner and eat that? – NOOOO!!! DO NOT sacrifice a decent, healthy, diet just to save money to spend on drinking…. Most jobs at the resort are tiring at times, you need to stay healthy to prevent you from crashing after an early shift. Consider the points above.

No free food on the mountain? – Nope. 20% discount on meals cooked on site. Packaged goods (E.g. Kit Kats and crisps) were full price. Free coffee/tea/soft drinks though!

Plenty of partying around then? – If you go looking for it. If you’re in Chuck Town you’ll do much more than I did in GDL, which is somewhat isolated unless you have a car or a friend with one. I also tended to take it easy if I was in at 8 the next morning.

But you must have gone to work hungover once or twice right? – Yup. A hangover won’t kill you as a Mountain Greeter, but you’re not exactly going to be perky, and as the title suggests you are greeting people. It also won’t add to your comfort levels if its -30 outside….

-30 degrees!!!!??? – Yes this is Canada in winter, and before the sun comes up its cold. It’s the coldest place I’ve ever worked. BE PREPARED!!

What did you have to do in that cold? – The main task was scanning tickets to make sure everyone was paying what they should be. You’re also incentivised to check people’s ages and not let people up who have ticket/pass issues. I earned an extra $300+ in rewards one month, so it pays to be thorough. It’s very customer focused, so be prepared to be a messenger that gets shot, if you catch my drift… There’s also snow removal that needs to be done in the morning, and for me this was sometimes a nice break from scanning.

So you have to be a good rider/skier to be do it? – Nope. There’s no ride-in, and half my department were beginners, but if you want to get the opportunity to ride as part of work you will need to pass a fairly easy test. Unlike being a lifty, if you want a ride break you have to make sure its OK with your supervisor, who has a strong say on when you take it. It’s also unpaid. There are occasionally people that go over to another lift in the day, but the chances to do this were few and far between.

What was the riding like? In a word? Fantastic. Lake Louise has snow unlike anything I’ve ever ridden, and amazing terrain that will keep you entertained all season. It pays to explore off the trails and find all the little hidden spots that aren’t ridden by the usual tourists, and don’t be afraid to hike to the outer bowls on the back side. If you’ve only got a passing interest in park ridding, and are looking for those big chutes, bowls, and glades, Lake Louise is the place for you. See for yourself.

Anything you particularly liked about the place?

The views around Lake Louise are quite often staggering. Works like arresting, breathtaking, transfixing and incredible are not lost in a place like this, especially when your riding through the best snow of your life. If you want to read more about the views click here.Compared to Whistler. Lake Louise is a quieter experience, if you’re not a big party animal, and want to ride on less busy slopes, this is the place for you.

What if I fall over? – If you injure yourself while at work, or riding your designated route to work you’ll be covered by Lake Louise’s own insurance, if you don’t have a decent helmet get one, they are mandatory. Outside of work you’re on you own insurance, so make sure it’s decent. If you’re planning on staying in Alberta for a long time you can get Alberta health insurance. Top tip for avoiding injuring yourself – avoid the park. Most of the injuries I saw people get were from there!

Was there anything about the job you didn’t like? No-one likes an angry customer, and as a Mountain Greeter you are right in the firing line when a pass comes up invalid. I joked that our rewards for catching ticket issues were more compensation for being the messenger that gets shot. Teenagers that lie about their age badly, and then get angry when you say they need to upgrade their ticket, are particularly annoying. Oh yeah, did I mention it’s sometimes –30? Transfers are possible, but only after you’ve worked there for 3 months.

Anything you’d do differently? – Honestly, I applied to be a Lifty and am still unsure as to why they decided I was going to be a Mountain Greeter, and I’d have given up the extra cash to be a Lifty, but other than that not really. I wouldn’t have changed my accommodation one bit, despite the kitchen being in another building.