Our current heat wave notwithstanding, we really are moving slowly, but inexorably, into fall.

Being that I live in a second-story apartment that collects heat better than a solar hot-water heater, this change couldn’t come any sooner for me.

That’s only one of the reasons I’m glad that we’ve passed the equinox: it’s also when we finally get to buy our season ski passes.

I know, not everyone in Boulder is a skier/boarder, but many are — and besides, the reason many people don’t is because it’s so expensive. While I can’t deny the truth of that statement, I can at least try to lighten the load a little.

The first trick is to take a deep breath, and just buy a season pass when they’re cheapest — now. Many deals have October deadlines. No matter which mountain you pick, the pass will pay itself back in three to five days. I’ve seen day passes run up to $90 per day, quickly snowballing into a small fortune.

There are three basic types of season passes that Boulder skiers get, each revolving around its own group of mountains.

One involves some variation on the themes of Winter Park, Copper and Steamboat (skicolorado.com; $349 if you get the student deal). If you’re really on your game, use the Wells Fargo two-for-one deal.

Another group of passes centers around the resorts of Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and a few more. It’s much more expensive; the most inclusive pass costs $619, though you do get many more mountains to choose from (snow.com).

These prices are scary — I know from personal experience, since $349 is my rent for a month. But if skiing is a necessary luxury for winter happiness, then start making PB and J sandwiches in bulk and store them in your freezer now.

And just think: it’s the equivalent of six cheap kegs, a semester’s worth of books, a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. It’s half the price of a rock gym yearly membership — and you’ll burn way more calories for your money.

A PS3 is still a little above my budget — so my favorite cheap-skiing location is Eldora Mountain Resort, just 21 miles west of Boulder (eldora.com).

Their advertised price is comparable to season passes at bigger resorts, but don’t be fooled — look instead for the deals they advertise around campus. Buying early is always a good idea, and U.S. Bank has partnered with them for a two-for-one deal; my friend recently got a pass for $77 this way.

That’s far more manageable; it’s less than some concert tickets. For the ultimate in cheapskate, stay away from the lodge and don’t buy new ski clothes… as long as you’re not skiing in jeans.

Eldora rocks for many more reasons as well: It’s so close that you can race out of your morning classes at 11 and still get a good half-day in.

RTD runs a convenient bus straight out of the Walnut Street Station to within 50 feet of the lifts. And even if you do drive yourself, it’ll take a fraction of the gas that driving to Winter Park does, and it’s far more pleasant — as the bumper sticker says, “Friends don’t let friends drive I-70!”

Maybe the best part about skiing Eldora, though, is the attitude. This is where the die-hard locals go, and Corona Bowl is filled with salty old telemarkers doing turns I would die for.

If there’s a way to be snotty about being cheap, Eldorans have it mastered — and have elevated it to an artform. There’s no better additive to an excellent day of skiing than a healthy dose of self-righteousness.

Vivian Underhill’s Boulder Frugalista column runs every Tuesday in the Colorado Daily.

blog comments powered by Disqus