Skiing is expensive. This is nothing new. In our current economy the total cost of one day is like skiing uphill with your boots on backwards. Ouch! Still, it’s such a thrill. But could it possibly become a cheaper thrill?
Here’s a true story. Every Saturday afternoon during the winter months for years, my family loaded up the car with ski/snowboard equipment (purchased at ski swaps), food and drink (a lot of it, including homemade hot chocolate), and kids. Many kids–my own and as many as we could squeeze in (legally). I volunteered to coordinate the school ski program that met every Saturday from 5-9 pm. Classmates and friends descended on a small ski area in the Berkshire Mountains for a few hours of night skiing (the cheapest time to ski). This rewarded my whole family with a season pass each year. Yes, it was a bit of work and one or two of those below zero Saturdays, I would have been more contented staying home by the warm fire. Still, I wouldn’t have done it differently and we looked forward to it all year.
My last article discussed the mega-carbon footprints of ski resorts and how they were inching towards becoming greener. Well, green skiing is all fine and good, but how to pay for all this fun is another story that has taken its hit on families, individuals and the ski industry.
Here are 10 ways to stretch an eco-skier’s budget:
1. Ski locally at a lesser known ski area during the week for the best rates. At Catamount (a small ski area where my family skied) a midweek/non-holiday lift is $10. At another nearby mountain, the popular Hunter Mountain, a midweek lift ticket is $54. Still better than Vail at $97.
2. Recycle equipment and ski clothes at ski swaps, consignment stores or lease/buyback programs. Here’s a program in Colorado for buying and selling used equipment. Non-reusable equipment is shredded to make products like decking and furniture.
3. Get involved. Start a ski program at your school. Group rates for lessons and lift tickets are deeply discounted. The coordinators, their families and chaperones often ski for free.
4. Join a ski club. Ski clubs offer discounts to their participants and free skiing for the trip leaders.
6. Get certified to teach skiing by Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA). One of my children became an instructor and received her own season pass, ski jacket and free use of equipment.
7. Volunteer to teach an adaptive ski program. You do not need to be PSIA certified and the intensive training sessions take less time than PSIA certification. Adaptive teachers get incentives such as free lift tickets, skis, meals and the feeling that they truly made a difference.
8. Work at a ski area. For a free season pass, skiers and boarders who are willing to work weekends have their pick of job opportunities. Most ski resorts have job listings on their websites.
9. Bring lots of healthy food. The food in base lodges is usually expensive and over processed.
10. Try cross-country skiing. Ski right out your front door for free (plus the cost of equipment) and head straight into nature.
Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.