There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction derived from, as they say, “earning your turns.” Untracked snow and crowd-free explorations are major perks to getting your fill of pow off-piste.
That said, skiing groomed trails still holds plenty of appeal for a variety of skiers and snowboarders.
Perhaps you’re a backcountry skier looking to enjoy a little Type 1 fun. Maybe you’re a weekend warrior escaping the city life for a gulp of fresh air. Whatever your reason for springing for a lift ticket and logging a resort day, we’d like to help you make the most of it.
Score cheaper lift tickets
Let’s get one thing straight, lift-serviced skiing and riding doesn’t come cheap. If you aren’t currently swimming in disposable income, try your hand at scoring reduced-price lift tickets on the interwebs.
Liftopia reigns supreme as the digital epicenter for searching deals by date, but oftentimes just purchasing directly through the resort website ahead of time will save you a few bucks.
Another secret source for discounted tickets? Your local gear shop. Occasionally outdoor gear stores are able to nab some tickets at cheap prices and pass them on to customers. Not a guarantee, but always worth a shot.
Work the singles line
If cost is the number one “con” to resort skiing and riding, waiting in lift lines is a close second. Fortunately, there are several ways to navigate the masses and come out on top.
Head immediately toward the singles line. Even if you’re not skiing alone, it will be well worth your crew’s while to split for the lift ride and reconvene up top. Hey, you might even make a new friend while you’re at it.
Ski against the grain
You can count on at least half the mountain heading into the lodge during the lunch hour to fuel up on overpriced burgers and mid-day beers. Use that time to get in as many laps as possible and leave your snacking to mid-morning or mid-afternoon instead. When folks call it quits at three to jump-start their après-ing, make sure you’re good and ready to take advantage of those empty trails and crowd-free lift queues.
Ski the trees
If you’re not skiing the trees at a resort, you might be missing out on some seriously challenging/epic/gnarly/fun/pow-filled terrain. Much of the tree skiing that can be found within resort boundaries is often labeled as “glades” on official trail maps. Make a mental picture of such areas when you’re looking at the map and then try and evaluate the scene from the lift when possible.
Of course, not every off-piste opportunity comes so easily. Your best bet for finding secret stashes and resort-accessed backcountry is to put in the time researching the area before you go and/or making nice with a local. Keep in mind that not everyone is willing to hand over their beta to a stranger and approach such conversations with due respect and consideration.
Also important to note, if you’re leaving a groomed trail, you’re assuming a greater amount of risk. Whether you’re deep in the woods or within a stone’s throw of resort boundaries, be sure to follow backcountry safety practices.
Pack your own food
If you’ve got a wad of cash burning a hole in your pocket, more power to you. For those wishing to save a few bucks and pass on the infamously over-priced lodge food, Hydroflasks and Ramen noodles are the way. Stash a flask filled with your favorite cheap meal in the car and stock up on Clif bars to keep you going throughout the day.
Scope out the best après spots
Well, you’ve done it. First chair to last, you’ve lapped your groomer-loving heart out and now you’re ready to indulge in everything the resort town scene has to offer. Craft brews, poutine piled high, and live music are the stuff that après-dreams are made of. Find the best spot by chatting up locals on the lift or scouring the internet for reviews. When in doubt, take a drive through town and pull into the nearest parking lot filled with dirty Subaru’s, Tacoma’s, and vans topped with Thule’s. If you head inside and find yourself surrounded by pink-cheeked, beanie-wearing, Gore-Tex clad folks yammering on about the “insane pow” and gulping IPA’s (or, let’s be honest, PBR’s), you’re in the right place.