Illustration: Ami Voutilainen
Lift ticket prices are getting out of control. Whenever we tell people we’re interns at a snowboard magazine, we hear, “Sounds like fun, but I could never afford it; I’m not rich.” It pisses us off. Do you think we’re rich? Just a couple of millionaires volunteering our time to fetch the boss coffee and hand-stuff those annoying little subscription cards into every copy of this magazine? Hell no. We’re broke as a joke, yet we’re snowboarding constantly.
There are a handful of resorts out there—you know who you are—that are pushing it too damn far with the cost of day tickets, and this is scaring people away from trying the greatest activity man has ever created. Sure, season passes are still fairly reasonable, but most first-timers don’t just drop in on a season pass. Most people need to first afford day tickets in order to get hooked for life.
Tickets during holiday weeks at some resorts now cost over $150 for a single day! Considering that the federal minimum wage is $8.25, this means someone working an entry-level job—say a lowly intern at a magazine—would have to work over 18 hours in order to afford one day of riding. This is insane! Sure, you could argue that there are only a handful of resorts out there charging an arm and a leg for tickets, but these prices have a ripple effect throughout the entire industry. Every other resort in the country justifies continually raising their prices by referencing how much more it costs over at Mount Fancy-Shmancy.
Let’s face it, if you walk up to the ticket window at certain mega-resorts and buy a one-day lift ticket, you’re going to get hosed. These tickets are priced to grab wealthy tourists by the boots (or balls) and shake them until the money stops falling out. Don’t let these prices scare you, because there’s always a way to beat the system.
1.) Just buy a season pass.
You’ll thank us later. This will always be the most affordable way to ride on your own terms. You’ll typically “pay off” your season pass after around 10 visits, and after that it’s like you’re going for free. Buy your pass in late summer or early fall, as most resorts offer heavily discounted rates.
2.) Get a job at the resort.
The free season pass is an incredible perk—plus you typically get half off food in the lodge. Those $50 heat-lamp cheeseburgers are now only $25!
3.) Work at your local snowboard shop.
Many resorts understand the value of good local shops in their community and hook their employees up with free or heavily discounted tickets or passes.
4.) Think outside the resort.
You don’t have to be Jeremy Jones, riding polar bears around the North Pole to find your own fun. Wherever there’s snow and a hill, there’s snowboarding to be had. Think golf courses, public parks, backyards, etc.
5.) Invest in a splitboard.
Snowboards that turn into a pair of skis might sound like the devil’s doing, but the good times are endless. They are only practical in certain parts of the world, but once you have one, you ride for free, forever.
We may be magazine interns who don’t know the first thing about running a resort, but we do know that you don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. If people can’t afford to try snowboarding because of outrageous day tickets, there are going to be fewer snowboarders in the future.