Spend your money on gas, not lift tickets

Spend your money on gas, not lift tickets

Michael Callahan | Boulder Weekly

After last year’s lackluster snowfall truncated the number of available ski days, it would be nice if Mother Nature gave a little foresight into what Colorado resorts may be in for in 2012-13. Without a time machine to take a peek at January’s snowpack, snow enthusiasts must make up their own minds as to what sort of year they want to have. Here are your options when shopping around for your season pass.

For avid skiers and boarders intent on hitting the slopes regardless of weather and willing to search out new terrain, a multiple-mountain pass may be the way to roll. With these passes, as you pay more, you get more areas to ski, with fewer restrictions.

At the high end of multi-mountain passes are Vail Resorts Epic Passes. For those who block off the entire winter to indulge in their favorite outdoor activities, you may want to consider the Epic Pass, priced at $699 (call 303-504-5870 for the latest prices from Vail Resorts). It comes with unlimited access at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin. Users can also trek outside the state to use the Epic Pass at Vail-owned properties Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in California.

The Epic Local Pass or Summit Value Pass could save you a few bucks if you’re willing to spend most of your time at Breck, Keystone or A-Basin. For $549, the Epic Local provides unlimited access to those resorts, plus 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek, although the latter resorts restrict dates around popular holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and President’s Day. At $459, the Summit Value Pass gets you unlimited runs at Keystone and A-Basin, and Breckenridge access except for a few blackout dates around the holidays. Check out www.snow.com for more information or to order passes.

Another multiple-mountain option for locals is the Rocky Mountain Super Pass, which gets the owner unrestricted access to Winter Park/Mary Jane and Copper Mountain for $439­— a price that rises $20 after Nov. 6. Chip in another $50 and upgrade to the Super Pass Plus to add six unrestricted days at Steamboat.

Finally, Monarch Mountain resort is participating in the One Planet One Pass program, which for $359 ($459 after Nov. 4) secures unlimited access to Monarch and limited free skiing at 31 resorts in North America and Europe. Nine of those resorts are in Colorado, so One Planet One Pass holders can experience up to three days of runs at Loveland, Durango, Sunlight, Ski Granby Ranch, Silverton, Ski Cooper, Devil’s Thumb Ranch and Crested Butte. Go to www.skimonarch.com for more information.

If you like to hone your skills on familiar terrain, single-mountain passes may be the way to go. On the high end are resorts like Aspen/Snowmass, Steamboat and Crested Butte, where a season pass costs more than $1,000. Ski more than 10 days and you’ve recouped the cost. Closer to home, Eldora is offering its season pass for $469, and Winter Park/Mary Jane will let you ski its runs all season long for $389. A Loveland season pass bought for $379 also comes with three free days at Monarch and Durango, and one free day at Silverton. As the temperature falls, season pass prices begin to rise. A good site to compare season pass prices is www.coloradoski.com/season-passes.

Some locals just can’t seem to carve out time to carve runs on Colorado slopes. For those who trek infrequently to the mountains, a four-pack might work.

Copper and Winter Park offer four packs of lift tickets for $149 (check www.coppercolorado.com), which provides four days of unrestricted skiing and riding. Arapahoe Basin offers the same for $158 (through Dec. 14). Loveland’s $129 (Check www.skiloveland.com or 303-571-5580 x136) four-pack is four actual hard tickets that can be spread out individually or used among friends and family on the same day. The Loveland four-pack is only available online at www.skiloveland.com or by calling the ticket office at 303-571-5580, ext. 136. Winter Park also offers the “4 by 40 Pass,” which for $199 lets you in for two days at Steamboat and two days at Winter Park.

If you can’t make up your mind or don’t like to commit before monitoring snow levels, the Colorado Gems Card might be an option for those who piece their skiing together. For $10, cardholders get discounts, including $10 off lift tickets and two-for-one deals at eight participating resorts. Blackout dates and restrictions do exist, but there are savings to be had. Check out www.coloradoski.com/gems to see all the benefits and to order.

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