Tag Archives | saving money

Ski Swaps, ’16 -’17

We all know that ski gear ain’t cheap. If you have to have the latest and greatest, then sure, there’s no denying that’s true. But there are definitely ways to save, and one of the best is buying second-hand at ski swaps. Swaps are a great way to enjoy new-to-you gear without doing too much damage to your wallet.


You can find ski swaps just about everywhere: ski resorts, ski clubs, high schools, and colleges. Swap season usually starts in the fall, so keep your eyes open; chances are there’s one near you.

To make your search a bit easier, here’s a list of some of the swaps you’ll find in the months ahead:


Sept 30: Potter Bros. Ski Swap, Kingston, NY

Sept 30-Oct 2: Pico Ski Swap, Pico Mountain, VT

Oct 6-10: Wachusett Mountain Ski & Snowboard Swap, Wachusett, MA

Oct 8-10: Ski Butternut Ski Swap, Great Barrington, MA

Oct 8-10: BBTS Ski Swap, Waterville Valley, NH

Oct 9-11: Killington Ski Club Ski Swap, Killington, VT

Oct. 18-19: Bousquet Mountain, Bousquet Lodge, Pittsfield, MA

Oct 28-30: Greek Peak Ski Club Ski Swap, Cortland, NY

Nov 4: Sundown Ski Patrol Ski Swap, New Hartford, CT

Nov 5: Gunstock Ski Club Swap, Gilford, NH

Nov 6: Pat’s Peak Ski Team Ski & Snowboard Sale, Henniker, NH

Nov 6: Brunswick Ski Swap, Brunswick, ME

Nov 15-19: Ski Haus Ski Swap, Brewster, NY

Nov 18-19: OMS Ski Swap & Sale, Okemo Mountain, Ludlow, VT

Nov 21-22: Cambridge Rotary Ski Swap & Sale, Jeffersonville, VT


Oct 1-2 & 8-9: Mt. Pleasant Ski Swap, Cambridge Springs, PA

Oct 7-10: Alpina Ski Swap, White Haven, PA

Oct 10-15: Buckman’s Tent & Ski Swap, All stores, PA

Nov 5: Ski Roundtop Mega Sale, Lewisberry, PA

Nov 25: Wintergreen Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Wintergreen, WV


Sept 23-25: Buck Hills Ski Swap, Burnsville, MN

Sept 30-Oct 1: Welch Village Fall Ski Swap & Sale, Welch, MN

Sept 30-Oct 1: Granite Peak Ski Swap, Wausau, WI

Oct 1: Harbor Springs Ski Team Ski Swap, Nub’s Nob, MI

Oct 1: Skitoberfest, Boyne Mtn Resort, MI

Oct. 1-2: Wild Mountain Open House & Swap, Wild Mountain, MN

Oct 2-11: Afton Alps Ski Swap, Hastings, MN

Oct 10-16: Boston Mills/Brandywine/Alpine Valley Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Peninsula, OH

Oct 14-15: Mt Kato Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Lake Crystal, MN

Oct 21-22: Giants Ridge Ski Swap, Biwabik, MN

Oct 28-30: Team Duluth Ski Swap, Duluth, MN

Oct 29: Ski Swap at Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville, MI

Oct. 29: Chestnut Mountain’s Open House and Ski Swap, Galena, IL

Nov 12: Central Wisconsin Ski & Sport Swap, Stevens Point, WI


Sept 30-Oct 2: Snowbird Sports Education Foundation Ski & Snowboard Swap, Snowbird, UT

Oct 14-15: Winter Park Ski & Snowboard Swap, Winter Park, CO

Oct 16: Sac State Ski Swap, Sacramento, CA

Oct 21-23: Vail Ski Swap, Vail, CO

Oct 21-23: Sandia Ski Patrol Ski Swap,  Albuquerque, NM

Oct 22: Jackson Hole Ski Club Swap, Jackson, WY

Oct 22-23: Marin Ski & Snowboard Swap, San Rafael, CA

Oct 24: North Tahoe Ski/Sport Swap, North Tahoe, CA

Nov 4-5, Red Lodge Ski Swap, Red Lodge, MT

Nov 5: San Ramon Valley High School Ski & Snowboard Swap, Danville, CA

Nov 5: Truckee Ski and Snowboard Swap, Truckee, CA

Nov 5-6: Bridger Foundation Ski Swap, Bozeman, MT

Nov 7: Hesperus Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Durango, CO

Nov 10-12: Beaver Mountain Ski Swap, Garden City, UT

Nov 11-12: University of Nevada Ski Swap, Reno, NV

Nov 11-12 & 19-20: Helm of Sun Valley’s Ski Swap, San Mateo, CA

Nov 23: Larson’s Ski Swap, Wheat Ridge, CO

Dec 2-4: Ski Dazzle, Los Angeles, CA


Oct 12: Skyliners Winter Sports Swap, Bend, OR

Oct 22: 49° North Ski Swap, Chewelah, WA

Oct 23: Leavenworth Gear & Ski Swap, Leavenworth, WA

Oct 20-23: Corvallis Ski Swap, Coravallis, OR

Oct 27-30: Eugene Ski Swap, Eugene, OR

Oct 29-30: Mt. Spokane Ski Swap, Spokane Valley, WA

Nov 1–2: Tacoma Ski Swap, Tacoma, WA

Nov 2-6: Ski Fever & Snowboard Show’s Ski Swap, Portland, OR

Nov 4-6: Bogus Basin Ski Swap, Boise, ID

Nov 5: Lookout Pass Ski Patrol Swap, Coeur D’Alene, ID

Nov 11-12: Newport Ski Swap, Bellevue, WA

Nov 12: Schweizer Alpine Racing School Ski Swap, Sandpoint, ID

Nov 21-22: Olympia Ski Club Ski Swap, Olympia, WA


Oct 13-16: Canada’s Largest Ski & Snowboard Swap, Toronto, ON

Oct 21-23: Calgary Ski Swap and Sale, Calgary, AB

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Goodbye To My Year of Going Without


Well, I did it, everyone! I made it through My Year of Going Without!

Some of you know about this already (I wrote about it here). In a nutshell, last November I challenged myself to not buy anything for the next 12 months unless it was an absolute necessity. Essentially, this covered things like clothing, books, shoes, sporting equipment, electrical gear, anything I considered discretionary. Not included: items like food, eating out, hair appointments, toiletries, gym membership, cable and/or internet, phone, and of course, my season lift pass.

Why? First, I just wanted to see whether or not I could do it. I have a friend who went 12 monthstuffed-closet1s without drinking any alcohol, and this seemed like an interesting twist on that. And second, I already had a ton of stuff. And not just ski stuff. I have a closet full of shirts/sweaters/pants/shoes/you name it. My decision was more a reaction to consumerism and a move toward simplification (you have to read this article about the incredible amount of crap we own).  I mean, do we really need five or six ski jackets? Or another fleece when we already have six in the drawer? Probably not. We could definitely all make do with less.

There was an environmental component, too. While buying stuff may be great for the economy, it’s really not that good for the planet. Making stuff to meet growing demand strains our resources and creates all sorts of disposal problems, too. And as someone who loves winter, I want to do what I can to help stop climate change. (See, it all comes back to skiing.)

So in early November, 2014, I stepped off the consumer bandwagon. And I stayed off it for twelve long months.

How’d I do?

Pretty damn good, actually. Yes, I did buy a couple things, but I made exceptions for these going in: a new pair of ski boots, of which I was in dire need (end of season pricing!) and a new helmet (pro deal!) which I also really, really needed. Other than that, nothing.

To be honest, it really wasn’t that hard. I’m not that much of a shopper, anyway. And it’s pretty easy when you live in an area where there aren’t a lot of stores. Oh, sure, there’s always the internet. But I unsubscribed to a lot of the e-commerce sites that used to send me emails. And that made it a bit easier.

Did I learn anything?

Yes. I learned that you really don’t need as much as you think. As I said in the beginning, I already had a lot of stuff. So anything else that I bought would’ve been, well, extra. On a daily basis, I was able to make do with what I had just fine. And strangely enough, knowing that I wasn’t going to buy something didn’t make me desire it more; if anything, it made me desire it less, probably because I knew it wasn’t in the cards. There’s something freeing in that.

I also found that it reinforced something each of us already knows: you can’t rely on things to make you happy. For example, we might think a new sweater will make us more attractive, happier, better able to deal with our lives. But in reality, the good feeling you get is pretty fleeting. Happiness has to come from within. Not buying things tends to bring that home.

Did I miss anything?

Yes — and this surprised me: I found that I missed the actual shopping experience. Many of us don’t shop just because we need to. We shop because it’s fun. It’s a recreational activity, which is something I don’t think I ever really considered. For example, when I visit my parents in Florida, one of the things I always do is go shopping with my mom. Taking away that activity left a bit of a hole, yet it opened the door to other options, too.

Has my life changed, now that My Year of Going Without is over?

Not really. I haven’t gone on a shopping frenzy. Yes, I bought a few things: a new hat, a pair of shoes, a pair of earrings. Recently, I went into a Target and was profoundly struck by how much stuff is packed away in there. The number and variety of items is dizzying. It seemed to clarify that all of us have access to more than we could ever want or need in a million lifetimes. It’s up to us to decide what’s important, what isn’t, and do what makes the most sense for us.

I’m hoping this experience makes me a thoughtful and more deliberate shopper; one who thinks more carefully before handing over my credit card and who asks more questions: Is this something I really need? Will it make a difference in my life? Sometimes we buy things in the heat of the moment just because we want to own them. It’s how we end up with closets full of stuff we never use. And then we’re right back where I started from.


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Ski Swaps, 2015.

We’ve done it: we’ve crossed the magic bridge into September. And though it’s not officially fall, everyone knows that with Labor Day in the rear view mirror, summer is over. Which means we’re one step closer to ski season.

It means something else, too: the start of that great annual tradition, the Ski and Snowboard Swap. These are a great way to enjoy new-to-you gear without getting sticker shock.


Ski swaps are everywhere: ski resorts, ski clubs, high schools, and colleges often have them. So keep your eyes open; chances are there’s one near you.

To make your search a bit easier, here’s a list of some of the swaps you’ll find in the months ahead:


Sept 18-20: Upstate NY Ski and Snowboard Swap, Syracuse, NY

Oct 2-4: Pico Ski Swap, Pico Mountain, VT

Oct 8-12: Wachusett Mountain Ski & Snowboard Swap, Wachusett, MA

Oct 9-11: Killington Ski Club Ski Swap, Killington, VT

Oct 10: Plattepalooza Ski Swap, Plattekill, NY

Oct 10-11: BBTS Ski Swap, Waterville Valley, NH

Oct. 10-12: Ski Butternut Ski Swap, Great Barrington, MA

Oct. 18-19: Bousquet Mountain, Bousquet Lodge, Pittsfield, MA

Oct 23-25: Greek Peak Ski Club Ski Swap, Cortland, NY

Nov 1: Pat’s Peak Ski Team Ski & Snowboard Sale, Henniker, NH

Nov 7: Gunstock Ski Club Swap, Gilford, NH

Nov 8: Brunswick Ski Swap, Brunswick, ME

Nov 21: Cambridge Rotary Ski Swap & Sale, Jeffersonville, VT

Nov 21-23: OMS Ski Swap & Sale, Okemo Mountain, Ludlow, VT

Nov 27-29: Ski Haus Ski Swap, Brewster, NY

Nov 27-28: Stratton Mountain School Ski & Snowboard Sale, Stratton, VT

Nov 28: Down East Ski Club Swap, Portland, ME


Oct 25: SkiCenter Ski Swap, Washington, DC

Nov 7-8: Ski Roundtop Mega Sale, Lewisberry, PA


Oct 2-3: Welch Village Fall Ski Swap & Sale, Welch, MN

Oct 2-11: Afton Alps Ski Swap, Hastings, MN

Oct 3: Skitoberfest, Boyne Mtn Resort, MI

Oct. 3-4: Wild Mountain Open House & Swap, Wild Mountain, MN

Oct 12-15: Boston Mills/Brandywine/Alpine Valley Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Peninsula, OH

Oct 18: Snow Snake Ski Swap,  Midland, MI

Oct 23-25: Team Duluth Ski Swap, Duluth, MN

Oct 24: Ski Swap at Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville, MI

Oct 25-27: Buck Hills Ski Swap, Burnsville, MN

Oct. 31-Nov 1: Chestnut Mountain’s Open House and Ski Swap, Galena, IL


Sept 11-13: Team Summit Ski & Snowboard Swap, Breckenridge, CO

Sept 25-27: Snowbird Sports Education Foundation Ski & Snowboard Swap, Snowbird, UT

Oct 9-10: Winter Park Ski & Snowboard Swap, Winter Park, CO

Oct 9: Weber State Outdoor Gear Swap, Ogden, UT

Oct 23: Ski Swap @ 2nd Tracks, Ogden, UT

Oct 23-25: Vail Ski Swap, Vail, CO

Oct 23-25: Sandia Ski Patrol Ski Swap,  Albuquerque, NM

Nov 6-8: Bridger Foundation Ski Swap, Bozeman, MT

Nov 7: Hesperus Ski Patrol Ski Swap, Durango, CO

Nov 8: Truckee Ski Swap, Truckee, CA

Nov 12-14: Beaver Mountain Ski Swap, Garden City, UT

Nov 20-22: UNR Ski & Snowboard Swap, Reno, NV

Dec 4-5: Alta Ski Swap, Alta, UT


Oct 15-18: Corvallis Ski Swap, Coravallis, OR

Oct 23-25: Eugene Ski Swap, Eugene, OR

Oct 24-25: Mountain to Sound Ski Swap, West Seattle, WA

Oct 24: Mission Ridge Ski Team Ski Swap, Wenatchee WA

Oct 31-Nov 1: Yakima Ski Swap, Yakima, WA

Oct 31-Nov 1: Mt. Spokane Ski Swap, Spokane Valley, WA

Nov 1-2: Tacoma Ski Swap, Tacoma, WA

Nov 6-8: Bogus Basin Ski Swap, Boise, ID

Nov. 6-8: Lookout Pass & Silver Mountain Ski Patrols, Coeur d’Alene, ID

Nov. 6-8: Portland SkiFever & Snowboard Show, Portland, OR

October 15-18: Canada’s Largest Ski & Snowboard Swap, Toronto, Ontario

Oct 23-25: Calgary Ski Swap and Sale, Calgary, BC



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My Year of Going Without.


Before I get started, let me make one thing clear: this is not for everyone. What’s more, I certainly wouldn’t want you to abstain from buying anything from the many companies that advertise on the TheSkiDiva.com. Please, if you want or need something, by all means, click on our advertisers’ ads and buy lots of stuff. It helps support the site.

What I want to talk about here is pretty much the antithesis of the Gear Addiction and Jacket Slut threads we’ve had on forum. Because now that the year is half over, I thought I’d come clean: I made a resolution to not buy anything for myself in 2015.

Why? Well, two reasons: First, I just wanted to see whether or not I could do it. I have a friend who went 12 months without drinking any alcohol, and this seemed like an interesting twist on that. And second, I already have a ton of stuff. And not just ski stuff. I have a closet full of shirts/sweaters/pants/shoes/you name it. My decision is more a reaction to consumerism and a move toward simplification (you have to read this article about the incredible amount of crap we actually own). I mean, do we really need five or six ski jackets? Or that fleece we see on the internet? Probably not. We could definitely all make do with less.

People have asked if this includes things like cable and hair cuts and things like that. No. It’s a not-buy-anything-that-I-don’t-think-is-a-necessity challenge. I’m not trying to do without everything and live like a monk in a cell. I’m just trying to reduce the amount of stuff I accumulate, at least for a year. What does it include? Clothing, shoes, sports equipment (including ski gear, except for ski boots for which I made an exception going in), and any discretionary spending for stuff (like books, jewelry, etc). Not included? Food, eating out, hair appointments, toiletries, gym membership, cable and/or internet, phone, and of course, my season lift pass.

My biggest challenge has been books. I love to read, but our local library isn’t the best, so in the past I’ve had to buy whatever I was interested in. As a solution, I’ve been using the library in my daughter’s town. Even though it’s 4 hours away, they let you take out books for four weeks, so I’m pretty safe since I usually see her once a month. And I can download ebooks online.

Reaction has been funny. My mother is aghast — though I’m not exactly sure why; maybe she thinks I’m depriving myself for no reason  — and other people have said it’s a good idea but they could never do it themselves. To be honest, I think they’d be surprised by how easy it actually is.

Have I been tempted? A bit, but I’m really not a huge shopper, and living where there are few stores and no shopping malls makes it pretty easy not to buy things. The hardest part so far has been avoiding all the end-of-the-season sales in the ski shops and on line.

I’ve had great trepidation about making this public. Manufacturers of ski gear and apparel, whom I strongly support, thrive on selling people the latest and the greatest. There’s a new technology for skis? You gotta have it. Warmer, lighter weight jackets? Oh, baby, I’m all for it.  It’s just that right now, I’m good. So I’m taking some time off.

One more thing: By doing this, I’m not passing judgement on anyone’s decisions to buy whatever they like. This is just something I’m doing for me, because I’m in a place now that makes it possible, both emotionally and materially. Once the year is up, there’s no telling what I’ll do. :smile:

So here we are: six months down, six more to go. Will I make it? Stay tuned. But I’m pretty sure I will.


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To buy (on clearance) or not to buy? That is the question.


So it’s the end (or approaching the end) of ski season, and the ski you’ve been lusting after all year is finally on sale! In fact, alllllllllllllll the skis out there are on sale. At shop after shop, Ski Divas are doing their happy dance. It’s clearance time, and you can save big bucks on the ski of your dreams.

Provided you know what that is.

But what do you do if you need/want new skis, and you’re not sure exactly what to buy? Or if you kinda sorta maybe know what ski you want — I mean, you’ve read all the great reviews and you’ve been leaning toward a particular ski — but you didn’t get around to trying it out on snow? There it is in the shop and the price is phenomenal — but you just. don’t. know. Should you go ahead and pull the trigger? Should you pay your money, even if you’re not entirely sure? What if you ski it and don’t like it? Then again, what if you don’t buy it and then end up paying full price for something nearly identical next season? Like Ulysses, you can hear the sirens singing. Can you resist? Should you?

This is something that is asked all the time on TheSkiDiva.com. And the answer is…….(drum roll here)….there is no right answer.

For some people, the prospect of missing out on a good deal is just too enticing. They’ll buy even if they haven’t demoed and even if they’re not entirely sure the ski involved is 100% right.  They figure they can sell it on eBay or Craig’s List if it doesn’t work out. And if they take a small loss, that’s okay. The potential savings offset the risk.

But then there are those for whom this is just too chancy. They don’t want to invest in a ski unless they’re 100% sure that it’s  right for them. Which is easy to understand. Why shell out your hard earned cash for something you’re not going happy with? Better to buy when you’re completely certain than to settle for something just because it’s cheap.

So there you have it. The way you go is up to you. Me, I’m always up for a good deal, and if I can’t get exactly what I want, most of the time I’m okay with an alternative — if the price is right.

What about you?

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Combo Ski Passes: More Mountain for Your Money

You know it’s spring when you start seeing emails about next year’s season lift passes in your in-box. I’ve received quite a few lately, and I’ve been struck by the many combination deals that are cropping up; you know, the ones where you pay for a pass that’s good at more than one resort. Some of these, like the Epic and Mountain Collective Passes, have been around for a few  years. And some, like the MAX pass, are brand new for next season.

These are great for just about everyone. The resorts get money up-front, as well as loyal customers who’ll spend on peripheral items like food, lessons, and equipment. And skiers can realize big savings, too. In an era when the walk-up window rate can be over $100., you could end up paying for your pass in just a few visits.

Some of the best season pass deals are listed here. Many offer extra savings for buying early, so you may have to move fast to get the best price.

BTW, if you know of any other combo deals, please post them in the Comments section below.

In the West:

listingRocky Mountain Super Pass+: This gives you access to five Colorado resorts and one in New Zealand. It includes unlimited Access to Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain & Eldora Alpine Pass, as well as restricted access to Steamboat, Crested Butte, and Mt. Ruapehu. For a bit less, you can get the Rocky Mountain Super Pass, which gives you unlimited access to Winter Park and Copper, and limited access to Mt. Ruapehu, or the Route 40 pass, which gives you unlimited ski/ride days with a Winter Park Resort season pass and 4 days at Steamboat.

epic-pass-logo2(1)Epic Pass: You have four choices here:

The Epic Pass with unlimited access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, and Arapahoe Basin.

The Epic Local Pass, with unlimited access to Breckenridge, Keystone, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton & Arapahoe Basin,  10 total restricted days at Vail and Beaver Creek, and limited restrictions at Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood.

The Summit Local Pass, unlimited access to Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, and limited restrictions at Breckenridge.

The Tahoe Local Pass, access with limited restrictions to Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood, and limited restrictions to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone,  Park City, and Arapahoe Basin.

logo_Powder_Alliance copy.jpgPowder Alliance:  Buy an anytime season pass to any of 13 areas and receive three free days at all the rest. Powder Alliance Resorts include Angel Fire Resort, Arizona Snow Bowl, Bridger Bowl, China Bowl,  Crested Butte, Mountain High, Mount Hood Ski Bowl, Schweitzer, Sierra at Tahoe, SilverStar, Snowbasin, Stevens Pass, Timberline.



d5bbb8e18cf3c3cd310bb2d137955221Mountain Collective Pass: This covers 16 days total at The Collective destinations. You get two days each at Alta/Snowbird, Aspen Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Mammoth, Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Sun Valley, and Whistler Blackcomb. You also get 50% off all additional days at The Collective destinations, and special Mountain Collective lodging deals. Even better, no blackout dates.


Ski Utah Silver and Gold Passes: The Ski Utah Silver Pass allows the holder to ski for 30 days at each Utah resort (30 days at Alta, 30 days at Deer Valley, 30 days at Sundance, etc.). The Ski Utah Gold Pass offers 50 days of skiing at each Utah resort; however, the pass is also fully transferable pass so your friends and family can enjoy your same privileges on the days you’re not using the pass.

The Gold Tahoe Super Pass: Worried about buying a season pass and not using it? Here’s one with a  worry-free guarantee.  The Gold Tahoe Super Pass gives credits for unused days that can be put towards the following season. Skiers get unlimited access to Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, plus four additional days at both Sierra-at-Tahoe and Sugar Bowl, as well as 50% off lift tickets at the eight resorts that are part of the Mountain Collective, including Jackson Hole, Alta-Snowbird, and Sun Valley. But if you’re unable to ski at least four days during the upcoming season for any reason (not just poor conditions), you get a $100 credit for each unused day. So if you don’t ski at all, their 2016/17 pass would be discounted by $400.

california-cali4nia-ski-passCali4nia Pass: One pass covers Mammoth, Bear, June, and Snow Summit. There’s a host of benefits when you buy early, including 5 exclusive Early Up events at Mammoth, 5 Bring-A-Friend tickets, 10% off rentals, 10% off retail when you spend more than $100., and up to 20% off lodging at Mammoth Lodging Collection properties.


In the East:

 Ski Roundtop/Liberty Mountain/Whitetail Pass: Includes unlimited access to Ski Roundtop, Liberty Mountain, Whitetail Resorts. You also get preferred parking at Roundtop on weekends and holidays until 5PM,  50% off regular class lessons, two snow tubing tickets valid Monday through Thursday non-holiday, one free First Class Learn to Ski or Board Package for a friend, special hotel rates at the Liberty Hotel, and a 15% discount in the sports shops.

superpassWhite Mountain Superpass: Valid every day of the 2015/16 winter season at Bretton Woods, Cannon, Cranmore and Waterville Valley.



NEPass_logo-bw-180New England Pass: Includes Sunday River, Loon, and Sugarloaf. You also get lodging deals, retail savings, and free or discounted lift ticket at Boyne Resorts’ western mountains including Brighton, UT and Big Sky, MT.


UnknownFour.0 College Pass: This is for the full-time college student who wants unrestricted access to Okemo, Mount Sunapee, Killington and Pico at a price that fits a student’s budget. Includes resort-specific benefits.


East & West, Combined

MAX_Pass_Logo_highresThe MAX Pass: Brand new for the ’15/’16 sesason, the MAX pass covers 22 mountains throughout North America, with five days at each mountain (110 days total!). In the west, this includes Steamboat, Mount Bachelor,  Big Sky, Winter Park, Copper, Crystal, Brighton, Boreal, Cypress, Las Vegas, and The Summit. In the east, Killington, Pico, Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Stratton, Tremblant, Blue Mountain, Snowshoe, Boyne, Loon, and Boyne Highlands.


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Let’s hear it for the little guy!

I love hearing stuff like this:


SAM Magazine—Littleton, N.H., Sept. 12, 2013—After being shuttered for more
than 20 years, the Mt. Eustis Ski Tow will reopen to skiers and local school ski
programs after Jan. 1. The town is planning to offer the non-profit Mt. Eustis Ski
Hill Group a three-year lease for $1 a year. Voters approved the plan at a town
meeting last March.The Group plans to run the area, with its one rope tow and two
trails (one lighted) and a gladed area, with volunteers, with costs handled mostly
through donations. The Group is suggesting a $5 donation for each visit, but it’s
not required. The aim is to offer affordable skiing and riding to all, and to provide
a venue for school and local youth ski/ride programs.

As part of the community-wide effort, the automotive technologies students at Littleton High are resurrecting the rope tow’s gas-powered engine. Home Depot is donating a building to serve as the warming hut. Five volunteers will split the duties
of running the tow and slopes, and will be trained in operations, safety, and first aid.
The area will be open in the afternoon Tuesday through Friday and on weekends.

And this:


Adirondack Daily Enterprise -Tupper Lake, NY, September 17, 2013 – As long as
there’s snow in the forecast, people will be able to ski Big Tupper this winter. Jim LaValley, chairman of ARISE (Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving their Economy), announced Monday that Big Tupper Ski Area, which was closed last winter, will be
open for the 2013-14 season. “One of the challenges we looked at last year that made
us decide not to go forward with operating after three seasons was, what if we sold
preseason tickets and we didn’t get the snow?” LaValley said. “It’s really hard to
explain to people that we wouldn’t have the capability of paying them back. We have
enough money in the bank now to mow the trails and wait for the snow.”

Skiers and snowboarders will be able to take to the slopes of Big Tupper Ski Area this winter, Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving their Economy announced Monday.
Last year, ARISE sold one of the the ski center’s groomers, which gave the group a
little extra cash. Now, LaValley said, with a little luck and a lot of snow, Big
Tupper could turn a corner financially. To help maximize revenue, the ski center
will be completely volunteer-run this winter. Day passes will cost $25. In the
past, there have been up to four paid employees manning the center’s 25-plus trails.
Although he wouldn’t get into specifics, LaValley said this is just the beginning of
Big Tupper’s role in Tupper Lake.

Why does this warm the cockles of my little heart? And why does it matter to anyone at all?

Once upon a time there were hundreds of small ski areas like this all over the place. Any farmer who had a hilly back pasture could hook a rope up to a tractor motor during the winter, call it a ski run, and be good to go. Yes, agreed, those were simpler times. People’s expectations were lower. Air travel wasn’t as common as it is today. And snowmaking was practically unheard of.

But even in a world with mega-resorts and super-sonic snow guns, there’s still a place for areas like Mt. Eustis and Big Tupper. Little ski hills like these aren’t a Business Venture or Investment Opportunity. They’re not around to sell condos or even ski-and-stay packages. Instead, they’re perfect for newbies who want to learn, for school programs, and for families who want to have some affordable fun. They’re no-frills, know-everyone, no-lift-line kind of places where you don’t have to pay a fortune for a lift ticket. You can send your kids off on their own without any worry. Or you can drop them off after school to take some runs instead of sitting home playing video games.

Sure, you don’t get the terrain and amenities of the big resorts. If you want a high speed lift, restaurants, or trail-side lodging, fuggedaboutit. And if there’s no snow, well, you’re pretty much out of luck. But with lift tickets at some resorts well into nosebleed territory, these places bring them back down to earth.

Power to the people.

I know the economic realities of running a ski area are daunting. But when communities come together to support places like Mt. Eustis and Big Tupper, everyone comes out ahead.

Let’s hope for more of this in the future.

Rope tow in Pinnacle Park, Pittsfield, Maine


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Have I got a pass for you!

Getting a season pass used to be a pretty simple affair. Ski a lot at one mountain? No problem. It’ll be X dollars per year. Enjoy.

More recently, however, resorts have gotten smarter. They’ve partnered with one another to offer passes that are good at multiple locations. The result is a win-win for everyone. The resorts get loyal customers who’ll spend on peripheral items like food, lessons, and equipment — all the other things that bring in money. And skiers can realize big savings, too. In an era when the walk-up window rate can be over $100., you could end up paying for your pass in just a few visits.

Some of the best season pass deals are listed below. Many have purchasing deadlines that you can find out by visiting the provided links, so you may have to move fast.

The Mountain Collective Pass:  For $379., you get 2 days each at 12 resorts: Alta/Snowbird, Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Mammoth, Whistler-Blackcomb, and Squaw/Alpine Meadows. PLUS 50% off all additional days at these resorts. No black-out days, and 25% off lodging. A pretty sweet deal.

The New England Pass: This is good for the Boyne resorts of Loon, Sugarloaf, Sunday River. Prices range from $459. for the Bronze Pass, which includes non-holiday weekends, to $735 for the Silver, which has 13 blackout dates, all the way up to $1,055 for the Gold, which has no blackout dates. You also get discounts at the Boyne resorts out west.

The Rocky Mountain Super Pass: For $489, you get unlimited skiing at Copper Mountain and Winter Park/Mary Jane, plus 6 days at Steamboat and 3 days at Monarch. For $419., you get unlimited skiing at Copper and Winter Park/Mary Jane.

Epic Pass: $689. buys you unlimited skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, Arapahoe Basin, and Eldora. No blackouts. It also includes 5 free days at Verbier, Switzerland and 5 free consecutive days at Arlberg, Austria. Move on this one; you only have til September 2.

Epic Local Pass: A subset of the Epic Pass,this gives you unlimited, unrestricted skiing at Breckenridge, Keystone, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton and Arapahoe Basin with limited restrictions at Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar & Kirkwood. Also includes a total of 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek with holiday restrictions. All this deliciousness for only  $529.

Tahoe Local Pass: Another subset of the Epic Pass, offering unlimited skiing or riding at Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood 7 days a week, with limited holiday restrictions, for $439.

The Summit Value Pass: Yep, another subset, with unlimited skiing or riding at Keystone and Arapahoe Basin with restrictions at Breckenridge.

Big Cottonwood Pass: A joint offering by Brighton and Solitude that offers unlimited skiing at both resorts with no blackout dates. $999.

Powder Alliance: Buy a pass at any one of the following resorts and get 3 full days of skiing at all the rest (that’s 33 extra tickets!): Angel Fire, Arizona Snow Bowl, Bridger Bowl, China Peak, Crested Butte, Mountain High, Mt. Hood Ski Bowl, Schweitzer, Sierra at Tahoe, Snowbasin, Stevens, and Timberline. Imagine the Ski Safari possibilities!

Ski and Ride NY: This covers multiple ski areas throughout New York State. There are no black out dates, it’s transferrable to family and friends, and you can use it holidays and weekends. It’s a bit pricey ($1100!) and there’s a limited supply left. Go here for more info.

White Mountain Superpass: Good for Bretton Woods, Cranmore, Cannon, and Waterville Valley. I’m not sure if this is still available or not  — the web site only lists prices through May 31, 2013 — but back then it ran $949.

4.0 College Pass: Skiers in Vermont (like me) are thirsting for some sort of collective pass, and this here’s a good one.  Unfortunately,  it’s for undergrad college students only. I hope they’ll change this next year. Which is why it’s included here (Do you hear me, Okemo & Killington?). Anyway, it works like this: Ski Killington, Okemo, Pico, and Sunapee for $369. As I said, for college students only. Too bad.

Having a season pass is a great thing. Only want to ski an hour? No sweat. Decide to quit early?  Go ahead. You don’t feel like you’ve blown a hundred bucks. Another thing: many season passes offer lots of great discounts for food, retail, lodging, and so on. So you can save in other ways, too.

Go forth and buy.



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How to buy used skis.

Park City Ski Swap

I’ve often wondered how people can afford to ski. Between lift passes, apparel, skis, boots, travel, and food, it’s pretty easy to drop a ton of money. And as expensive as it is for one person, it can get really pricey when an entire family’s involved.

Luckily, there are lots of ways to save money. And one of the best is to buy used gear at ski swaps. You may not end up with the newest stuff out there, but if you know what to look for, you could end up with some great gear.

That’s the key: knowing what to look for.  Throwing good money into bad equipment won’t save you anything at all. So here are a few things you can do to help navigate the ski swap jungle:

Know where it came from: It helps if you know the person who owned the equipment, or at least how much it was used. Some people buy stuff, use it only a few times, and decide it’s not for them. Others may beat the daylights out of a ski before they decide to let it go. So if you can, find out how many ski days it had before it ended up at the swap.

Give it the old eyeball test. This is pretty simple. If it looks bad, it probably is. A few cosmetic scratches on the topsheet are no big deal. But if the ski is bent, if there are gouges out of the base, walk away.

How’s the camber?  Camber is the bend of the ski that puts spring in your turn. In conventional skis, it’s the upward arch formed from tip to tail when the ski is on the ground. Some skis made from 2009 on  have little or no camber, so it’s important to know if the skis had it to start with. In a conventional ski, you can check for camber by placing it horizontally on a flat surface. The ski should stand up on its tip and tail, with a slight lift or arch under the binding. A matched pair of skis should show an equal amount.

Check the edges: Do this as if you were sighting a rifle. The edges should be straight. You don’t want to see bulges, dents, gaps, or looseness where the steel edges attach, or rust that goes through the edges into the wall or base of the ski. You’ll also want to hold the ski bases together and press the camber out, making sure contact remains all the way up the skis to the shovel. Slide the skis past each other sideways, base to base. They should  slide smoothly. If there’s a brief slide, with “click-click” noises, the steel edges may be “railed,” or projecting below the base. A base re-grind by a ski shop can cure this.

Is there any delamination (layer separation) between the ski cap and steel edge, or top plate and sidewall? This can allow moisture to infiltrate the core. You don’t want it.

Are there any gouges? If there are any on the top sheet that go into the core, walk away. Gouges on the base  that don’t go through the ptex can probably be repaired.

How dry is the base?  If the base has a gray or whitish dry look, it’s most likely oxidized. This means that the base is prematurely old and won’t take new wax very well.  This will compromise the glide, as well as your own safety.  It can also mean that the previous owner didn’t care for the skis very well. You can also determine dryness by bending or flexing the ski, and then placing your ear near the bottom of the ski.  If you hear crackling, it means that the bottom is dry and brittle due to lack of care and poor storage. Walk away.

Bindings: Each year binding manufacturers provide ski shops with a list of “indemnified” bindings, which are bindings that are still considered safe. Generally, bindings with shiny metal or leashes are obsolete. Streamlined, colorful, composite bindings are modern. Even bindings considered “safe” should be inspected. You want to be sure that there are no cracks, loose parts, or loose mounting screws. Make sure the DIN settings are the same in the front and back. If not, the spring may be tired. A general rule is do not ski on bindings more than five years old, or that look like they have seen better times. Never ski on used bindings without having a proper release check performed at a ski shop.

Happy hunting, and happy saving!


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So you want to save on lift tickets?

Who doesn’t? Hey, if there’s any way that I can cut my costs, I’m there.

That’s one of the reasons I love Liftopia. Well, that and we both started our websites around the same time. Which gives me a strange sort of fellowship with these guys.  In the world of the internet, we kind of grew up together.

What is Liftopia? Simply put, it’s a site that allows skiers and boarders to buy lift tickets, clinics, and rentals in advance on line at a reduced rate. Resorts offer date specific items at the Liftopia site, which you can buy in advance for as much as 90% off on-mountain rates.

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking about Liftopia co-founder, chief operating officer, and all around nice guy Ron Schneidermann.

Ron Schneidermann, co-founder, Liftopia

Me: Good to finally meet you, Ron. Liftopia is such a great concept. Can you give us some background about what you are and how you got started?
Ron: Sure! Evan Reece [Liftopia co-founder] and I worked together at Hotwire, an online travel site. One day in March, ’05, we were IM-ing about whether or not to go up to Tahoe for the weekend – you may remember it wasn’t the greatest snow year — but we weren’t sure we wanted to spend $72 and end up sitting in traffic. So we were thinking, well, maybe if it was $50 it’d be worth it.  Maybe we should opt out and go mountain biking instead. Then we started wondering: why are lift tickets the exact same price, regardless of the snow? Why can’t we buy lift tickets on line instead of going to REI every time? Why isn’t there an Expedia equivalent for lift tickets? The more we talked about it, the more we thought it made a lot of sense.

Our initial reaction was that someone must have done this before.  It’s 2005, and everything’s been done already.  We started poking around the internet and didn’t see anything that compared, so after chewing on it for a few weeks we decided to start a company. In May,’05, we pooled all our money together, which at the time was $5,000 each.  We got our hands on as much data as we could to figure out what the landscape was – what’s been done, what hadn’t been done – and we raised money from our friends and family. Then we worked on the site. It took us a little bit of time to get a buy-in from the ski areas. That was the hard part.

Me: What was your first mountain partner?
Ron: You know, we keep going back and forth; it was either Windham in New York or A-Basin in Colorado. We can’t figure out which one it was, though it’s definitely one of the two.

Me: How many mountains do you work with now?
Ron: When we went live in the ‘06/’07 season, we had a whopping 7 resort partners and sold all of 900 tickets total. We tend to measure our growth by the quantity and quality of our resort partners because that really opens up different marketing channels for us — how many different customer segments we can tap into and geographies and things like that. During our first winter we had 7 resort partners; our second, about 30 partners;  our third about 70; our fourth about 100; and our fifth, 130. Last season we had 180, and now we’re at 250.

There are roughly 470 ski areas in the US, and in Canada 130 or something like that. We’ll never have all of them, because there are so many small areas that are just rope tows on a little hill. As for other countries, we’re in Canada and we have a few partners in France and Chile. We’re very focused on continuing to grow and getting more breadth and depth in terms of our partners. But at least in North America it’s gotten easier for us to talk about who doesn’t work with Liftopia than who does work with Liftopia.

Me: So you started with just the website and things progressed since then. Can you tell me about some of the ways you’ve changed and what that means for skiers and riders?
Ron: When we first started, the initial concept was to create a marketplace for resorts to get rid of distressed inventory. So in New England or the Midwest, if it was going to rain this weekend, we could put some deals up and get people to come out who otherwise wouldn’t come. Then we realized that everyday should be sold in advance and on line. It shouldn’t just be the crummy days, but the good days, too. It’s important for resorts to get folks away from deciding what to do based on the short term snow forecast. There are many reasons for people to go or not go out on any given day. The obvious ones are snow and weather, but then there are things like sore muscles, hangovers, and so on. It’s really easy to just wake up one morning and decide that you just don’t want to go skiing today. But if you booked on line in advance, paid three weeks before, and you got a great deal, it’s a lot easier to get yourself out, even if it’s just for a few hours. And once you’re out, it’s always a good time. So we moved away from just the distressed inventory. Then we started adding other products like rentals, room packages, credit for on mountain dining. And and we created our iPhone or iOS app, and we now have a site for Android and Windows phones.

The biggest change was last year when we launched the Cloud store. When we’d go to resorts, the biggest question we’d get was why aren’t we just doing this ourselves on our own website? Our answer was you should, but as we got to know the industry better, we found that many resorts didn’t have the tools to make it happen. So we thought let’s take what we have for Liftopia and roll it out so that resorts can plug it into their own sites. This way, they’ll have an e-commerce feed that’s really user friendly, best in class, but more importantly, they’ll have an inventory management system and analytics.

Me: So users won’t have to go to the Liftopia website necessarily; they can go to the resort website for the same thing.
Ron: Exactly. The resorts can also offer unique deals for their own customers, however they want to manage it.  The Cloud went live last year. We had about a dozen test partners. This year we’re going to have between 30 and 50 using it here in the US.

Me: Liftopia recently introduced The Mountain Collective. [a pre-paid pass that provides users with 2 free days and 50% off lift tickets at Jackson Hole, Aspen/Snowmass, Alta, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows.]  This is an amazing deal. Can you tell me how it came about?
Ron: These are all independent, progressive resorts. They were tossing around the idea that even though they were all competitors, they didn’t overlap all that much. So they thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could partner together and create something that would be collectively better than the sum of its parts?’ They came to us with this idea and asked us to tell them what we could do. So we put together a proposal and a marketing plan. We created TheMountainCollective.com and a mobile version of the site.  And we [Liftopia and the resorts] all launched it at the same time in August. It’s great for the resorts, but it’s even better for the consumer. And that’s why it was such a great thing to be a part of.

Me: I know it’s created a lot of buzz. How’s response been so far?
Ron: It’s been amazing. We’ve sold passes in 16 different countries and seen traffic from 105 different countries so far.

Me: Do you have anything more like that down the pike? What about in the east?
Ron: I would love to see an east coast version of this, but we need to see which resorts would recognize the opportunity and want to collaborate together.

Me: Anything else exciting coming from Liftopia?
Ron: For us, it’s the basic blocking and tackling – getting more resorts and unique inventory on board, getting more product live.  When we first began, it was all about the single day pass, and last year, about 15% of our bookings were bundled – lift tickets plus ski rentals, lift tickets plus lessons, food and beverage vouchers, and so on.  That was up from 10% the year before. This year we hope to move to 20-25%. So that’s going to be a huge area of value for the consumer. I think we’ll see that continue to grow.

We’re clearly in a state of transition. The industry is going from outdated, brick & mortar distribution channels that don’t afford the ski areas any control, to on-line distribution with real time control of pricing and quantities — which means they can offer real killer deals, and not have to worry about it spiraling out of control.

Me: So since you started Liftopia, have you had time to ski?
Ron: You know, I have two kids now – an 8 week old and a 3 year old. I hope to get the 3-year old out this year. But it’s not like when we first started, when we didn’t have kids and we’d take meetings on the chair lift with our ski area partners.

Me: You’re in San Francisco. Where do you ski, over in Tahoe?
Ron: Yeah, I grew up skiing at Kirkwood and Sierra and Squaw, and I tend to go to Squaw and Alpine. And if I’m lucky I’ll ski in Colorado or someplace like that during a conference.

You can — and should — check Liftopia out yourself. It’s an easy way to save a lot of money skiing. And what could be wrong with that.

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