Season pass prices getting steep in U.S. 

As August draws to an end, powder hounds tired of the slush on the summer glacier start counting down the days to the opening of the winter season. Whistler-Blackcomb has yet to announce its pass and lift ticket prices for the winter ahead, but the prices at some other resorts are starting to scare a few skiers and boarders.

One of Whistler-Blackcomb’s biggest competitors, Aspen, offers several early bird incentives – including an unrestricted, four-mountain pass for $999 if purchased before Aug. 31 – but the regular price of an adult unrestricted, four-mountain, season pass comes in at $1,699. "Hmmm, not too bad for four mountains," you think, especially in comparison to last year’s dual mountain rate of $1,519 (plus GST) at Whistler-Blackcomb.

Back up a minute. That’s $1,699 US, just shy of $2,500 Canadian!

And that’s not the steepest figure south of the border. A full season on Bald Mountain in Sun Valley Resort will run you $1,650 US this year, $1,750 US after Oct. 15. And the biggest strain on the bank book is in Jackson Hole where you’d have to shell out $1,830 US if you left it until October to buy. The early rate is $1,495 US to the end of August.

Rates are slightly better in Utah, where the higher concentration of resorts keeps prices competitive. A Park City season pass can be picked up for $850 US and a Snowbird pass is $899 US.

Vail has yet to announce its 2001/2002 rates, but last year an unrestricted season pass, good at Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin, was $1,449 US.

If you prefer to keep your money and your snow sliding in Canada, you can ski and board Big White all winter for $769 (plus GST). Or travel one province east, where you can take advantage of a Rocky Mountain Passport (includes Banff Norquay, Panorama, Lake Louise, Nakiska, Fortress, Fernie, Kimberley and Wintergreen) for $999 (plus GST).

All of the above mountains offer early bird discounts and various options and restrictions will also bring down the price of your pass.

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