Crying on top of the mountain doesn’t mean I can’t ski it down!
An interview with Vicky Huergo, Ski Patroller, Aspen Skiing Company
In a few sentences, describe your current job(s) and path to get there:
Help people by keeping the ski hill safe and assisting them when injured or sick. Give them rides down to the base and help them seek further medical attention.
What does a mountain town offer for your lifestyle that you just couldn’t find in the city? Why do you stay?
Aspen’s community is without doubt why I live here. I’ve been in Aspen for 13 years and love everything about it. Its summers are why I decided to stay forever. I love every season; skiing, biking, rafting, and hiking. And I even have family here, not only my sister but an amazing group of Argentines that make me not miss Argentina that much 😉
How do you define success for your mountain career? What does success look like for you at this place in your life?
I did all kinds of jobs before I started patrolling. One day I went to a friend’s rookie keg and met my bosses, they invited me to ski with them and suggested I get my EMT. I was currently working with adults with autism and thought the EMT would be a great complement to my job. Little did I know I was gonna love it so much. That November I got the job on patrol, and 5 years later I got into nursing school.
What’s the first thing you’d point to when someone asks for help with housing in the mountains?
If it’s your first season, talk with Ski Co because they will help you out! After that, you need to start making friends and connecting with people. There are always people leaving town that need their spots covered.
Who is one person who has impacted you or supported your career? What did they teach you? Why is this important to your success?
I talked with Katie Ertl at the gym once when I got my job on patrol. I had two different job offers from SkiCo and I couldn’t decide. She asked me a few key questions and the decision was very easy to make. I’ve been on patrol for 5 years now and my whole life has changed. Patrolling allowed me to fall in love with medical care. And now I’m gonna be a nurse in exactly one year!
What was a milestone moment for your mountain career where you felt like you “figured it out,” and what steps did you take to get there?
When I got into nursing school and I had so much support from my co-workers. They were all so proud of me now I want to keep on moving forward and give the patrol all my knowledge. School makes me a better EMT every day and as years go by, I believe the experience in the hospital and outside will complement who I am as a professional very well.
Have you ever had pushback from your family, friends, or counterparts about your decision to live and work in the mountains? How did you cope with it if so?
I was born and raised in a city and one day I told all my girlfriends I was going to be a ski patroller. They couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t believe it either. Everyone supported me a lot. The only one that always had doubts was me but I really wanted to make it work, so I worked hard, furthered my education and now I’m making it work.
What is something you’ve learned about yourself throughout your time in the mountains that you don’t think you would’ve learned anywhere else?
That if others can do it, I can do it too! And crying on the top of the mountain doesn’t mean I can’t ski it down haha.
If you had to go back and teach yourself one lesson about budgeting for your mountain lifestyle, what would that lesson be and why?
Learn how to save money!
Some people move to the mountains expecting it to be a dream but realize there are oftentimes challenges and struggles involved. What would you say to prepare them for some of the realities of building a life and career in the mountains?
Having seasonal jobs can be hard for people when they get to the off-season. Budget well to make it through the months of no work. Make friends that live here year-round to have company during the down months. It is important to have people to talk to and support you when there is not much social life. There is a lot more in Aspen than just nightlife. Join some communities and you’ll have people and connections year-round.
What makes working at Aspen Skiing Company so special?
It will give you your first friends in this town. If you stick around, you will have those friends for the rest of your life.