Nathan Bilow
If you plan to do this during the winter, it may be a good idea to score a season pass now.

In the heat of August, skiing might be the furthest thing from your mind.

Then again, this is Colorado — maybe not.

But if you plan to ski this winter, the planning for passes begins soon. And the deals are happening now.

Catch the bus

CU’s Ski Bus is a classic way to hit the Summit County slopes with a few dozen of your best buds, and on the cheap. Check for details on the bus. Tickets for the 2010-11 season go on sale in mid-October.

Ari Stiller-Shulman, spokesman for Colorado Ski Country USA, said mid-summer is often a good time to start looking for a season pass, because that’s when resorts determine their new prices for the season — and that’s when they’re cheapest.

“In a lot of cases, you have a month or two from that time until when it adjusts up, maybe in September,” he said. “But that varies from resort to resort.”

For example, Mistalynn Lee of Winter Park Resort said that the current (lower) prices on the Rocky Mountain Superpass (which gives passholders access to Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Steamboat) are guaranteed through Labor Day — Sept. 6.

Some resorts (and passes) offer discounts to college students.

For example, two deals are available to students for the Super Pass, said Rob Perlman, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Winter Park and Steamboat — the Super Pass plus College Pass, and their two-for-one offer through Wells Fargo (details at

If you don’t think you’ll ski or ride often enough to warrant a season pass, or want to sample resorts, Stiller-Shulman recommends getting a GEMS card for $10 (details at The card gives two-for-one and other discounts at Colorado’s smaller resorts — like nearby Eldora, Echo Mountain and Loveland.

“It pays for itself after one use,” Stiller-Shulman said.

Whatever you think sounds best for you, consider this — choosing a pass might be a time to bow to peer pressure. It’s all about spending the day with your friends, right?

And sharing carpooling cash.

Epic/Colorado Passes

Among the multi-mountain passes offered by Vail Resorts, the Colorado Pass might be the one to snag for students wanting to get a lot of time in at the areas this winter.

This pass grants unlimited access to Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapaho Basin, plus 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek (restrictions apply). It was $449 as of early August; Vail Resorts was not available for comment on when the price will go up.

Vail Resorts offers other multi-mountain pass options. Check for details.

Rocky Mountain Super Pass

If you love the bumps (Mary Jane, anyone?) and love the idea of escaping to Steamboat a couple of times even more, the Super Pass plus College Pass should be on your radar. Students can pick up a Super Pass, which includes unlimited access to Winter Park/Mary Jane, Copper Mountain and six unrestricted days at Steamboat, for $339. Price good through Sept. 6.

Eldora Mountain Resort

As Boulder County’s only ski area, Eldora gets bonus convenience points — especially since you can take the bus there from Boulder.

Eldora does a few other things to make it convenient to ski or ride just up the hill. They offer a mid-week-only season pass at a discounted rate, and be on the lookout for an Eldora table in the University Memorial Center this fall for special student days, when you can score a discount on a regular season pass.

Prices for the 2010-11 season were not available at print time.

Four Packs

If you think you’ll make it out a few times, but not enough to warrant a season pass, look for four packs, like those offered at Loveland, A Basin, Winter Park and many other areas.

These are usually available for a limited time in the fall and give big discounts compared to buying a lift ticket the day you plan to ski or ride.

Some areas — like Loveland — just send your lift tickets in the mail, and no photo ID is required, so you can share them with friends and family.

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