NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY SEASON PASSES at your favorite Southeast or Mid-Atlantic Ski Area!

We’ve been getting a lot of emails asking about all thing skiing and snowboarding, including the ever-popular “what kind of snow season do you expect?”  While we can’t answer that one, we CAN answer one that has been asked a lot.  The question of the day is, “What kind of season pass deals are available?”

Season passes offer sweet discounts IF you plan on skiing more than a couple of times during the season. Simple math will tell you if a season pass is a good fit for you.  For example, lets say that a single day lift ticket cost $50 at “XYZ Resort”. If a season pass to that resort is being offered for $600, then you’ll have to ski or ride (12) times to make it worth while. Any skiing or ride beyond that and you’re saving tons.

To ski or ride (12) times in a season, you’ll need to average being on the snow at least once every (10) days or so. For real snow lovers – that’s a no-brainer.  For the busy parent or family person sometimes there’s so many other activities happening that (12) days is a challenge.  I owned a Gold Card years ago and remembered being on the snow some 60 days of the 120+ day season. Then family and associated activities such as work, school, basketball, soccer and others kept me off the slopes. A couple of years ago I made a commitment to get out and ski every chance I could. That ended up being less than (10) trips to the slopes. My youngest girls were so young that making a quick trip to the slopes (less than ten minutes from me) was tough.  There’s something about having to pack and carry all of the skis, poles, helmets AND the kids themselves that kills the desire to make two trips down a hill.

Two seasons ago both my youngest began to be real skiers.  While I still had to carry the equipment, the kids made skiing fun again.  I could actually enjoy myself again. Then last season my two youngest were 11 and 5 a boy could they make some turns. I had to “re-learn” skiing without being bent over to either hold a skier in front of me…or to hold a training harness. My wife reminded me that the timing (and ages) of my last three daughters had made it such that I had not had a great season of free skiing in some (15) years! By the time one would be off, skiing on their own, another would take their place in front of my wide-spread skis.  I had skied so many runs in either a speed-shredding pie-shape – or 70-80° stance (to shave speed while training) that I really couldn’t just aim down a hill and let it loose.

Last season I rediscovered the real joys of skiing again. Trips to Snowshoe Mountain and WISP, as well as skiing locally at Appalachian, Hawksnest and Ski Beech had me on the snow more times that I can count. NOW…season passes make sense again.  So be careful and think through whether or not a season’s pass makes sense.  Also, consider the length of season.  Some resorts tend to open later than other AND still close earlier.  Look at the number of days of operation for the resort of your choice and make your decision accordingly. The number of operational days can make a huge difference.  Don’t forget that we INCLUDE THAT INFO on SkiSoutheast.  Simply click on the resort of your choice and scroll down and look for that tidbit of info rmation in the right column.  Getting in (12-15) trips to the slopes at a resort that is only open an average of (90-100) days is more challenging than skiing at a resort that averages being open (130+) days a season.

When you take the days of operation into effect, some season passes are better deals than others. Cataloochee caught the skiing world’s attention last season by being one of the first resorts in the NATION to open.  They WERE the first to open in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic and they were the last to close in North Carolina and among the last to close in the Southeast.  That made their season pass a better bargain than most.  If you live in close enough proximity and could hit the slopes for a little bit every day, then even this season’s pricing of $465 would make it such that you could ski for less than FOUR BUCKS a day!

The main thing to know is that season’s passes are a great way to save money if you’re planning to ski or ride more than a 12-15 times in a season.

FAMILY PASSES OFFER EVEN BETTER SAVINGS

Most of the Southeast’s resorts offer FAMILY passes at even greater discounts.  It can get pretty expensive if you have two, three or more members of your family that want to ski.  Most of the resorts will discount the second, third and subsequent members of your clan.  For instance, Cataloochee’s Family Pass makes it such that three members of your family can ski all season long for about $920 as opposed to $1395 if charged at single prices.

GOLD CARDS GETTING A BIT PRICEY…

The North Carolina Ski Areas Association offers an unlimited ski pass to a select few (they only sell 100) each year. The pass is great if you’d like to ski often AND anywhere in the state.  Priced at $750 each, they’ve gotten a little less advantageous as the used to be – except for the hardcore skier or rider.

If you figure the average single day lift ticket at around $35, you’d have to ski (19-21) days to break even. Some resorts have considerably higher weekend pricing, but most hardcore skiers and riders avoid the weekends because of the crowds. Another consideration is the fact that the pass makes sense if you live in close enough proximity to the High Country’s four ski areas…and somewhat less sense if you’re close to ONE resort, such as Wolf Laurel, Cataloochee, or Sapphire.  They were actually a pretty sweet deal a few years back when they were in the $500-$550 range.

The Gold Card is only offered to (100) skiers or riders.  We’ve been asked “why?” tons of times.  The answer is pretty straightforward.  The NC Ski Areas Association uses the funds generated from those sales as a large part of the marketing budget. (100) sells x $750 is $75000.  Regardless of being a pricey ticket – it is STILL a great deal for all involved.  It helps the NCSAA and it’s STILL a great deal for those that will be on several slopes…several times a season.

ACT NOW TO SAVE THE MOST ON SEASON PASSES AT YOUR FAVORITE RESORT

The resorts have been offering SOME greater savings on season passes for those that purchased them prior to September 1st, 2006.  However, it’s NOT too late to save big. Most of the resorts have graded scales wherein if you buy before October 1st you can save as much as $90 of the price of a season pass after November 30th.

The best savings are available now through the end of September. October 1st starts some rather substantial increases in season pass prices and you can expect slightly increased pricing with each subsequent month as the season draws near.

So if you plan to be on the mountain of your preference on a regular basis, a season pass is the ONLY way to go. One resort states, “Think of it as a frequent flyer program for skiers and snowboards with one big difference – YOU GET THE SAVINGS UP FRONT!”  Also there’s nothing like skipping the lift ticket lines and going straight to the slopes. Some resorts also offer added benefits such as discounts in their shops, access to prime locker space and more.

HOW TO FIND SEASON PASS RATES

Anytime we run articles such as this we are bombarded with emails asking things like, “How much is a season pass?” (without telling us for WHAT resort).  We also get a ton of people asking specific rates FOR specific resorts and while we’ve love to make your job easier by posting the rates right here…we simply can’t do it.  All resorts offer slightly different rates and dates, as well as unique family discount structures.  To avoid posting all of them at one glance that may confuse you…we have provided direct links to each of the resorts that we promote in North Carolina , the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Click on your choice:

Appalachian Ski Mountain

Cataloochee

Hawksnest

Sapphire Valley

Ski Beech

Ski Wolf Ridge

Bryce Resort

Massanutten Resort

The Homestead – (Not posted)

Wintergreen Resort

Canaan Valley – (Not posted)

Snowshoe Mountain

Timberline Resort

Winterplace Resort

Wisp Resort

Ober Gatlinburg

Until Next Time…

Be sure to email photos, snow reports and comments to: [email protected]

Visit www.SkiSoutheast.com  and www.HighCountryWeather.com  for more info rmation.