Ski Bum Aesthetic

Uncover Colorado defines a ski bum as “A person who moves to a ski town, takes up just enough employment to pay for their skiing habit, and lives to ski 100+ days per season. Some last a season, others stick around for life. There’s an art to ski bumming. Ski bums are often lifties and other resort workers during the winter, and find a different seasonal job in the summer. Some are said to be ‘living in a van down by the river.’” I believe the ski bum aesthetic runs deeper than some might seem and I’ll be diving into that in this post, focusing on a group called “Pork Frat”. Ski bum culture revolves around very unique clothing, lifestyle, filming techniques, and an overall devotion to the sport.

The clothing is usually baggy hoodies and snow pants, often ripped or tattered, allowing for optimal flow and movement in the air while displaying their commitment to their craft. The baggy clothing serves to cover up any imbalances when doing air tricks making them look much smoother. The ski bum lifestyle is often financed by the riders working as lifties (ski lift operators) at their local mountain.

It is a frugal and fulfilling life of energy drinks and dirty ski cars outfitted with ski racks and storage bins, riding or working during the day, and finishing off with some après ski beverages.

A more specific area of this culture that I really appreciate are the amateur ski edits filmed and produced by the riders, boasting a highly creative and erratic style of videography, reflective of the lifestyle of the subjects of the videos. One group called “Pork Frat” made up of a group of CU students in 2014-2016 perfectly encompasses this aesthetic in their videos. Their lifestyle is admirable and somewhat relatable as a CU student, especially if you ski or snowboard, and their videos are creative and comedic enough to gain the attention of a much broader fan base. They were even sponsored at the time by Saga Outerwear and Runa Energy Drinks at the time, both brands conducive to the lifestyle.

I wanted to finish off with two of my favorite screen grabs from some of the Pork Frat members’ Instagram pages as they truly capture the art of ski edits and the riders that create them. The creativity in choice of urban or “street” locations, the baggy and unorthodox outfits, and the labor required to build landings or jumps is very impressive and speaks to the art of the aesthetic. In the first picture, the rider flies off a man-made jump and presses the tips of his skis on a tree branch while mid air, a feat as dangerous as it is captivating. In the second picture, my personal favorite, the rider is seen dropping off the roof of New Vista High School here in Boulder. This video left me in awe as the jump succeeded and left me asking how they thought of the idea, and how they managed to execute it successfully. While this lifestyle is definitely unorthodox and not for everyone, the consistencies regardless of location or upbringing are what make this aesthetic so fascinating to me.




Ebbers, C., & Moore, P. (2022, October 20). The best apres ski tailgate gear of 2023. Outside Online. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

Koukov, P. (n.d.). “5 years deep. thank you to everyone who has helped US along the way”. Instagram. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

Koukov, P. (n.d.). Pete Koukov☔️ on Instagram: “Lol oops”. Instagram. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

Pork Frat. (2015, October 8). Totally Trevor the movie 2. YouTube. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from–Y

Porter, J. (2022, November 1). The 5 best backcountry skis of 2023-2023. GearLab. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

ShredbotsOFFICIAL. (2019, August 8). PARTYLAPS – 3.0. YouTube. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

Thomas, M. (2022, January 24). Blog. Free Colorado Travel Guide Vacations Travel and Tourism. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

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6 Comments. Leave new

  • Grady Forsyth
    February 2, 2023 7:09 pm

    I really appreciate your post and bringing up how the ski lifestyle is an aesthetic. I’ve been fascinated by ski crews and the edits they put out for a while. I really agree with you that there is an aesthetic very unique to the community. Fashion in skiing, as you mentioned, is something that is always developing influencing the sport. I really liked how you discussed the “baggy” look. I also had never thought that part of this look was to make tricks look cleaner. I’m super glad you pointed this out. I’ve been a lifelong skier and learned something totally new about the culture! I was curious if you had looked into the aesthetic elements used in the film making for ski edits?

    Port Frat is a super tight crew. My personal favorite is the Strictly crew. I imagine you’ve seen them, but if not check them out. Their filmmaking is ridiculous. Really loved this post!

    • I didnt go too deep into the aesthetic elements of used in the filmmaking for these edits, but by inspection the first things I notice are the common use of the fisheye lens and loud, bass heavy music. I’ll have to check out more of the strictly crew, thanks for the comment!

  • Bodhin Peterson-Smart
    February 1, 2023 10:23 pm

    I think it’s really cool how you went in depth about the ski bum aesthetic especially since it’s something common around Boulder. As mountain towns get more and more expensive the ski bum lifestyle is truly shrinking due to the change in demographic however it is still alive and well in some places. I looked into the Pork Frat thing and that’s honestly hilarious/ amazing. The video on NewSchoolers is dope.

    • Thanks for commenting! And yeah they are very good at bringing humor into their videos as well as some sweet skiing

  • Lucas Fesmire
    February 1, 2023 6:01 pm

    I loved this post. I see a lot of connections between the “ski bum” and the “skate rat” lifestyle/aesthetic. Both make it happen with a very limited income. I think that disregarding the traditional life path is what makes the skiing or skateboarding lifestyle so interesting for many. It’s very difficult to describe this culture with words but I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the importance of amateur videos. Whether it be a couple of kids with a video recorder or a production team with high-quality cameras and lights, when a video is done well it captures the personality and style of the riders in the video. I also think that these videos serve as a window into the life of different cities and the zeitgeist of the time. I’ll be checking out a few of the videos you cited but would also like to know some of your all-time favorites. Great post Jon.

    • I totally agree, the seemingly reckless abandon of the traditional path of life that is really just a true commitment to what makes someone happy. And to answer your question, my personal favorite has been partylaps 3.0 for a while now.


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