I have a theory and I think I’m right… You don’t have to be rich to snow ski.
I know what you’re thinking though, “How does anyone afford to ski?” I just looked up pricing for lift tickets for a full day pass. Brighton… $62, Snowbird… $78 (tram & chairs), Deer Valley… $96, YIKES, that’s not cheap!
Plus, you’ll probably have to spend around $1,000 for your gear (skis, bindings, boots, and poles), not to mention all the warm clothes you’ll need (jacket, snow pants, hat, gloves, goggles, etc.). I can see why people don’t bother going skiing at all.
My problem is… I’m already hooked. As long as I can still get my ski boots on I’ll be itching to hit the slopes every winter. I don’t know if it’s just getting away to a wintry mountain setting, feeling the clean, crisp air fill my lungs, or the simple enjoyment of making turns down a snow-covered hill. I’m still living on a budget, so I’ve just had to figure out affordable ways to keep doing what I love.
Finding Affordable Ski Gear
My family moved to Heber Valley in Utah when I was 15. This is when I picked up skiing and was introduced to the best ski sale in the world… the annual St. Lawrence Catholic Thrift Store Ski Sale. I think I’ve gone just about every year since.
People donate their used gear to the Catholic Church in Heber and they hold a sale every first weekend of November to raise money for their church. They sometimes even have new stuff donated by ski stores.
The year after Desiree and I got married, I took her to the sale and got her equipped with some sweet skis, bindings, boots, and poles all for $48. A couple years ago I found an Arc’Teryx Gore-Tex jacket for $20. This year I got a pair of Marmot Gore-Tex mittens for $5. So instead of paying full price for expensive gear, I just use what those generous Catholics provide me every fall.
Alternatives to Expensive Lift Tickets
I’ve tried to avoid paying for expensive lift tickets any way I can, including hiking or skinning up backcountry slopes to get a few free runs.
But the best deal I’ve found for lift tickets is a little thing called “Ski Free at Three” up at Alta. Every day from 3pm until 4:30pm anyone can use the Sunnyside triple, high-speed chair lift for FREE!
From the top of this lift, you can access everything from mild green beginner’s slopes (like Dipsy Doodle), to blue groomers (like Blue Bell), to black tree runs (Vail Ridge). It gets a little busy on the weekends (as word is starting to get around), but on week days where I can knock off early from work, I can usually get about 6 or 7 runs in before they close. And the chair lift is only an hour from my house in Lehi.
So, with another ski season on its way, I’m already getting the itch to make some turns. And maybe these cost saving tips will give some of you the urge to join me in the mountains this winter. In the words of Warren Miller, “If you don’t try it this year, you’ll be another year older when you do.”