Students weigh their options for season ski-slope passes

by Mat Grudzien | 12/4/07 3:22am

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Changes in the cost of ski passes this winter have forced students to re-evaluate their ski-season choices.
by Lauren Wool / The Dartmouth

Skis and snowboards do not grow on trees, however. Neither do season passes.

Killington Resort, a favorite among College students, has upped the prices of its season passes this year.

While some snow lovers may take this as a sign that the pass allows access to more mountains, the truth is that the options are reduced over past years. This year, the college pass costs $399 and is valid for Killington and Pico Mountains, a $50 increase over last year's pass that also included access to Mount Snow, Attitash, Sunday River and Sugarloaf, according to Killington Resort spokesman Tom Horrocks.

Some students said that they believe the price increase was not significant.

"I still bought Killington because I did last year and it worked great," Daniel Moore '10 said. "I feel like the majority of people go to Killington 'cause it's fast and easy to get there."

According to Ren Chen '08, who also chose Killington for the resort's status as "first open on the East Coast," this winter is attractive because it makes the skiing season feel longer.

Both Pico and Killington are about 40 miles away from campus. Killington has a vertical drop of 3,050 feet and offers a maximum of 200 trails, whereas Pico, with a vertical drop of 1,970 feet, offers 48 trails. Both mountains are owned by the American Skiing Company.

Killington's price increase has forced a number of students to seek better deals for this winter.

Gary Freihlich '08 said that the price increase has made him "try skiing at different mountains in his final year at Dartmouth." This year, he chose Okemo.

Okemo's pass this year costs $299 if bought before Dec. 21 and $399 thereafter. It is valid for Okemo, Stratton and Sunappee.

"It's really crowded during holidays, but otherwise it's pretty open and has some solid runs," John McKay '11 said, referring to Okemo. "World Cup is my favorite [run]. It's off the summit and it's sweet."

Okemo has a vertical drop of 2,200 feet and a maximum of 117 available trails, while Stratton stands at 2,000 feet and has 90 trails. Both are approximately 40 miles from the campus. Sunappee, 81 miles away, has a 1,500 feet vertical drop and offers a maximum of 65 trails.

For the first time this year, students also have the opportunity to buy the "Triple Major Pass." The pass costs $329 and offers access to Mad River Glen, Bolton Valley and Jay Peak.

Peter Van Deventer '08, who bought the Triple Major Pass, describes it as "the best pass in the East."

"[Jay Peak has] more snow than anywhere else, great terrain, great trees," he said. "Mad River is awesome, not crowded, and no boarders."

Jay Peak, though, is about 108 miles from Hanover. It has a vertical drop of 2,150 feet and 76 trails. Mad River Glen, with a vertical drop of 2,000 feet, is a 77 mile drive from Hanover and offers 45 trails

"Bolton Valley has night skiing, which is awesome," Deventer added.

Stowe is also an option for students, rated by Ski Magazine as the fourth best ski resort in the East. The mountain has a vertical drop of 2,160 feet and offers 118 trails. It is situated 70 miles from campus. Stowe's pass costs $450, but if three or more passes are bought at once, their price drops to $375.

As experienced skiers will venture to test their skills on the steepest slopes of the East, many beginners will stick with local mountains. Dartmouth Skiway is certainly one of them.

"I think 'the hill' sucks, but at least it's local and close," Joe Garagliano '11, who plans to buy the Dartmouth Skiway season pass, said.

Dartmouth Skiway student passes are set at $150, which allows students to enjoy a total of 968 vertical feet and skiing 20 minutes away from campus. It offers a maximum of 30 trails.

Another local choice for this season may be the $99 Whaleback college pass. The mountain has a 800 feet vertical drop with 30 available trials, and is also 20 minutes drive away from the College.

All of the ski passes can be purchased online on resorts' respective web sites.