Bargains await lucky skiers

After what seemed to me like eons, snow started falling again in the mountains last week. Scanning the forecast days in advance, I planned for hitting the slopes Friday, during a storm.

I hadn’t skied powder since Jan. 11, on the road at Brundage Mountain near McCall, Idaho. I expected a release of pent-up powder-hound demand like my own, but the smattering of cars in Silver Mountain’s parking lot surprised me.

Mountain managers have told me weekday traffic is down this season. This is good for you and me. It’s a skier’s market, and deals can be found everywhere as resorts dangle carrots to get people on their sticks.

I chose Silver because I hadn’t yet been there on a classic powder day this season. But if I had gone 20 minutes farther down the highway to Lookout Pass, I could have had great skiing for 18 bucks, it being Boomer Friday, and my age being well past 40. Wednesdays at Lookout, season-pass holders at other resorts get 10 bucks off the regular $29 weekday adult ticket.

I found 4 fresh inches at Silver and a snowstorm in progress. There was no hurry to hit my favorite lines. After each run, better than the last as the snow fell, I skied directly on to a chair. The lack of competition for untracked powder seemed too good to be true, but it was. All day.

I wondered if the day before was more populated. On Thursdays and Mondays, season-pass holders at other resorts can ride the lifts at Silver, plus the water park for $20. You can also save $6 on a $49 adult ticket any day of the week if you buy them at REI, and $5 at Rosauers.

Mt. Spokane also has a grocery connection, with discount passes at any area Yoke’s Fresh Market. College students can get a package of five lift tickets for $129, a 28 percent savings. A Family Pack is 20 tickets for $449, which can save up to 45 percent. REI sells a $42 adult ticket for $36.

Tuesday is the day to save at 49 Degrees North. Season-pass holders at other mountains get a $20 lift ticket that day. Get a pizza at Papa John’s and ask for a two-for-one voucher good at 49 on Tuesdays.

You can sleep in on Sunday and get a great deal at Schweitzer. The Sunday Solution lets you ski and ride from 1 to 4 p.m. for $20. REI sells a $59 adult Schweitzer pass for $50.

Area-wide, 10 gallons of gas at any Shell station gets a two-for-one voucher good at different hills on different days of the week: Mondays, 49 and Lookout; Tuesdays, Schweitzer and Mt. Spokane (through February); and Thursdays, Mt. Spokane, Silver and Lookout.

Toyota drivers can ski free for a day at each of the five local hills. The Toyota Ski Free Days remaining this season include Lookout on Feb. 20 and 49 on Feb. 27. This partnership among Ski the Northwest Rockies, Shell and Toyota has provided more than $100,000 in savings each year to skiers and riders.

As I worked around my favorite haunts at Silver, snow accumulated steadily. By midafternoon I enjoyed the best powder skiing I’ve had this season. Wardner Peak seemed like a personal playground created just for me.

Earlier I had vowed to continue until the snow stopped. It didn’t let up, but I hit happy hour in the lodge anyway. I wanted to save a little money.

Bill Jennings can be reached at snoscene@comcast.net

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