A Miser’s Guide to Skiing on Mt. Hood
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
After well over 20 years and a complete metamorphosis from scrawny teen into a near-40 year old curmudgeon, snowboarding remains a passion. When I reached the legal working age, I took a job as a prep cook at Crystal Mountain, Washington, where I worked off and on for several years.
Why did I seek out this particular job? Free snowboarding. All you can eat. Boom. I was in heaven. Fast forward to last winter, I took a part time gig at a local resort. Why? See exhibit A. Apparently one other thing didn’t change from high school until now: I’m cheap. As a result, it has always been a habit of mine to chase down good deals.
Before we get into tips to keep your cost down, here’s a word to the wise: don’t buy second hand lift tickets. You do not know what you are going to get. The vast majority of tickets sold are non-transferable. If resorts know you bought them on Craigslist, and yes there are ways they can find out, you might find yourself shelling out retail after all.
Alright, here are a few tips to keep your cost down :
You’ve missed the boat on this one for this winter. Season passes are priced low before the season starts so the resorts can ensure some sales if, like this year, season starts very late. Starting around $500, the cost for passes rise as season nears (in some cases almost double). I recommend buying no later than the first weekend of November to get the best deals.
Go at Night
Season passes for night skiing start at $129 at Mt. Hood Meadows. It’s only $26 per night to ride at night at Timberline. The closest resort to Portland, Ski Bowl, is the largest night ski area in the country, and they are also highly rated. Tickets at night there are only $34.
Rig the System
Mt. Hood Meadows offers a new Southside lift ticket this year. It will get you on a couple bunny hill lifts and Vista, a high speed lift, which offers fun runs and even a wee bit of advanced terrain. It’s $59 per day. If you buy a Beginner Package online for $99, it comes with three days access to Vista. If you need rentals those are included. This is a ridiculously good deal. And hey, maybe even take a few lessons. They’re also part of the package.
Look for Promos
On Sunday, the first 6000 people in the door to the Winterhawks game got a free lift ticket to Mt. Hood Meadows. They are only valid on a couple days this season, but that is one heck of a deal. Promotions like this aren’t uncommon. Just start looking.
Over at Mt. Bachelor, they’ve got “Charity Week” coming up. It starts this Sunday, January 4th and lasts until January 15th. During that time, it is only $39 for a full day of riding. That’s half priced. Even better is that Mt. Bachelor has pledged $50,000 this year to local causes. Can you guess where I will be the next couple Sundays?
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is on a Monday when the lifts typically don’t open at night, Mt. Hood Meadows keeps their lifts spinning for the Hood River Rotary Club’s Annual Fundraiser. It’s only $15 and you can ride from 2-9pm.
Ask for a discount
Are you a full time student? Military member or veteran? Many resorts offer a price break. While there may not be a truck driver discount (I was actually asked that once), it cannot hurt to ask.
Get a Job
Do you have extra time in your schedule? Working at resorts is a fun way to connect with the mountain. Don’t rely on the paycheck – it might only cover your gas. But the discounted (and usually free) lift access makes it worth it.
Go with a group
Rates at Timberline drop from $64 to $46 if you are in a group of 12 or more at Timberline. Heck go with 10 or 11 people and just split the cost of the unused tickets and you’re all still saving money (even more if you carpool). Post something on Facebook or ask around your office. I think you’ll find it easy to rally that many folks for a day of fun.
Jesse is an East Portland resident, political junkie, snowboard fanatic, and former pub owner.
Related Slideshow: Oregon’s Seven Best Winter Warmer Ales
Ill Tempered Gnome
Ill Tempered Gnome has the deep tone of the brown ale that it is. There is nothing ill-tempered about this beer besides the name. Oakshire, still in the shadow of its Eugene neighbor/brewery Ninkasi (almost literally being just blocks apart), produces the best winter beer in the state outside of Bend.
Photo Courtesy of Oakshire Brewery
Double Mountain Fa La La
There’s just something about Double Mountain, a Hood River Brewery founded by Full Sail alumni. They refuse to follow convention and continue to create one of the most consistently good and underrated beer products in Oregon. Their winter seasonal Fa La La La La is a big malty hop bomb. Try it in their reusable 16.9 ounce bottle – that’ll give you an excuse to visit the brewery to get your deposit back and enjoy even more of their product lines.
Photo Courtesty of Hood River Brewery
In its 27th year, “Jubel” reigns as the king of Oregon’s winter beers, if not all seasonal beers. It is a dark, malty ale that, like many seasonal beers, varies ever so slightly from year to year. A clever public relations blitz around the label art each year precedes its release and creates a buzz long before the released product can give you one.
Photo Courtesy of Deschutes Brewery
10 Barrel Pray for Snow
While I picked up a six pack the night before this month’s anticipated blizzard, it did not work and there is no such beer as Pray for a Little Ice. Let’s hope AB/Inbev’s (Budweiser) recent purchase of Bend based 10 Barrel doesn’t impact the high quality of this beer in future years.
Photo Courtesty of 10 Barrel Brewery
Sleigh’r Doüble Alt Ale
Cutely named to sound like metal band Slayer, there is nothing else cute about this deep dark double alt ale. Brewed in a more traditional German style, don’t let the festive label fool you. This one will leave your with a ringing noggin if you aren’t careful. Ninkasi’s Total Domination IPA is their best known product. The Sleigh’r is decidedly better.
Photo Courtesy of Ninkasi Brewery
Hopwork's "Abom," as it is known for short, is by style an IPA (albeit a dark one). This Portland brewery known for its love of sustainable practices as much as beer itself, shines through all seasons. Its winter beer makes the cut for a variety of reasons, including its availability in environmentally friendly “pounder” 16 ounce can (that happens to fit perfectly in the pocket of a ski jacket for use in case of a long chair lift ride).
Photo Courtesty of Hopworks
Widmer manages to make the hops shine in their winter seasonal, Brrr. Brrr, a red ale is of the lighter hued winter beers. Widmer has long proved that having corporate overlords as business partners doesn’t stop the production of a great product. Brrr boasts perhaps the coolest release party of any Oregon beer, taking over Grand Central Bowl annually for “The Big Chill” which features art, photo booths, bowling and of course BEER!.
Photo Couresty of Widmer Brewery