Colin Clancy’s newest release Ski Bum is definitely a love story, but whether the object of the main character’s affection is the woman he meets on the mountain or the mountain itself is up to interpretation. If we had to guess, we’d say it’s the second. Reading the poetic prose in my office on a snowy day was almost enough to inspire me to ditch work for a mountain rendezvous of my own. I’ll let you have a taste for yourself:
“I made wide arcing turns on the gentle slope then picked up speed as the trail steepened. I felt the edges of my skis digging into the hardpack underneath the fluff and I got low, my inside leg bent on each turn so that my hand and the handle of my pole skimmed the top of the snow. … My thighs burned, a pleasurable ache. At the bottom I looked over my shoulder to admire my tracks.”
The book takes place on Copper Mountain with a crew of ski instructors, lifties and resort bartenders. “I really wanted to capture the feeling, the freedom of skiing and set the novel deep inside that ski culture,” Clancy says in an interview with Denver Life Magazine. Together the group bombs the slopes, stretches their pennies as far as they will go and takes a few trips along the way—even ending up in New Orleans for Mardi Gras where, excuse my language, shit hits the fan.
Aside from their one Hunter S. Thompson-inspired adventure down South, the book sticks closely to the Colorado slopes and offers a glimpse of what living at a ski resort looks like. “The reason I chose to work at Copper is because they provided employees with dorm-style housing right at the base village. In the book, I call it The Block,” says Clancy. The Block acts as the backdrop for many of the groups’ shenanigans and a sweet, budding romance.
The characters contemplate growing up, metaphorized in this book by the coming of spring or the closing of ski season. Within each character there is a constant tension between enjoying this season and worrying about the next. This is perfectly captured by the book’s line “I questioned my existence, yet in truth, I just wanted to go skiing.” Clancy says that even though he lives in Utah now and frequents Brighton and Alta, Copper will always be his favorite. “There are certain employee benefits like taking the chairlift before it opens or skiing powder stashes other people don’t know about,” he says with a grin. Seventeen years after living and working on the mountain, the ski bum attitude lives on.