PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In case you missed it, we’ve already had snow in the Pocono Mountains. It’s time for skiers and riders to start checking the bankroll to figure out how far the skiing and riding dollar will travel this season. There are bargains to be had. Here’s where and how to cash in.
Look no further than any Pennsylvania mountain where your family or friends lead you. Since you’re just starting out in a lifetime sport, do not invest in equipment until you’ve gotten your feet and likely your tush wet. Look for a “First-Timers” or “Beginners” package. It will include a lift ticket, good for the entire day on the beginners slopes, equipment rental and a first group lesson. They’re available at all mountains. We’ll use Elk Mountain as an example. Buy the package for $55 midweek or $70 on weekends for skiing. Snowboarding beginner packages are $62 midweek and $72 on weekends. If you buy it separately, skiers will pay $99 midweek and $108 on weekends. Riders will ante up another $8 on any day. Buy the package.
Children score discounts at all mountains. But in Pennsylvania, most mountains offer free skiing for 4th and 5th graders. In our own backyard, Spring Mountain has its own program for 4th grade students attending local schools. The pass is good all season and the mountain adds a day of rental equipment and a lesson. Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association offers a free season pass for 4th and 5th graders that can be used at nearly 20 mountains from the Poconos to the Alleghenies.
Joining a ski club (riders too) provides a companionship of common interest. It also is a vast treasure chest of discount lift tickets, deeply discounted clubs trips to local and distant mountains, free lessons and group discounts for club racing events. The starting place to find a club in your area that most closely marries your own interests and lifestyles – singles, couples, family, racing, travel is the Eastern Pennsylvania Ski Council. The council is an umbrella organization for all regional Ski Clubs including those in South Jersey.
DISCOUNT TICKET SOURCES
Ski shops, at some point during the season will hold customer appreciation days at area mountains with deeply discounted ticket prices. Also ask about demo days that let you test a wide variety of skis and boards. Talk with your shop people about available bargain priced tickets. Watch your home town government “Event” listings. Many include lift tickets to area mountains or cut rate bus trips to the slopes.
GROUP SKIING AND RIDING
Form your own company skiing and riding crew. All it takes is 15 (sometimes less) to take advantage of mountain “Group Rates”. Someone will have to step up as leader to make arrangements and determine who in the group needs just tickets or lessons and equipment. In our area, Spring Mountain and Bear Creek are popular spots for after-work ski evenings. Both are lighted for night skiing and have bars and restaurants for after-ski group chilling.
If you’re willing to work for it, there’s free skiing all winter plus some jingle for your pocket by scoring a ski area job. Hiring is underway right now with plenty of part-time work available. Just check your favorite mountain web site. Jack Frost and Big Boulder even held a recent job fair but are still looking. Their web job page is typical.
Stretching the ski and ride dollar means more days on the slopes. Each area has unique buying methods from timed tickets and on-line shopping to multi-day packages and special discount days for students and first responders. Troll the mountain web pages to find your bargain.