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This winter break, with the help of the new Ikon pass, a group of senior Rammies took off on a ski trip, visiting a few of the  largest ski destinations in the nation. With our final semester of school looming before us, we packed nine days with skiing, laughing and quality time with friends while road-tripping 1,500 miles across the western half of the country.

Our trek started in Lake Tahoe. We were able to ski Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows while staying with family in Reno, NV. The lake views from the top of both resorts were breathtaking, and even with just a few inches of fresh snow, we ripped around and explored all of the terrain offered. There was fresh snow to be found if you explored far enough, although icy moguls were present as well.

From there we drove across the desert of Nevada to Salt Lake City, sleeping on the floor of a generous friend’s apartment. Alta and Snowbird showed us the best of the Wasatch mountains, including a bit of just-opened terrain where we got fresh tracks!

Jackson Hole, our final destination, did not disappoint. Steep vertical runs and a blessing from the snow god Ullr meant a few pow-filled days that left our legs feeling like noodles and our hearts full.

How can you plan a ski trip on a student budget? Here are a few tips and tricks when planning an epic traverse of your own:

  •       Season passes like the Ikon and Epic pass offer student discounts that work at resorts all over the country. If you’re planning on taking a long trip, think about buying a pass like this to several resorts. Day tickets at U.S. resorts can be extremely expensive, and using an Ikon or Epic pass can pay off after only a few days.
  •       Want to get to a new destination? Frontier Airlines now offers flights as low as $19 one-way, even with paying the baggage fees to check your gear, it still offers a pretty affordable option compared to other airlines and many hostels offer great deals for students looking for inexpensive lodging.
  •       Instead of eating out for every meal while on the road, go to the grocery store and purchase snacks and ingredients to make meals on your own. Many hostels have shared kitchens where meals can be made, which is much less expensive than eating out.
  •       Carpool and share the price of gas! Turns out cramming into a tiny car to drive across the country with all of your ski gear is a cheap way to see a new place, as well as a bonding experience.

Just trying to get into skiing and don’t know where to start? Here are a few extra tips:

  • Borrow gear from friends or buy used gear from places like Gearage or Craigslist. Skiing doesn’t have to be incredibly expensive, and everyone should have the opportunity to participate. You don’t have to have the best gear out there to spend time with your friends and explore new places!
  • If you’re just starting out, look for tickets to resorts like Snowy Range. They offer great beginner terrain and have affordable lift tickets.
  • Have a friend with a ski pass? They may have buddy tickets! See if you can get a discounted day ticket from a friend with a pass.
  • As a student you can utilize CSU resources such as the CSU Outdoor Program’s learn-to-ski trips which offer transportation, equipment rentals, a lesson and a day ticket for less than $100. CSU also has a new bus system called SkiSU that provides transportation to certain resorts for students who may not have a car.
  • If possible, avoid resort skiing on weekends and holidays. On weekends and holidays, ski resorts in Colorado are often overcrowded and chaotic. For novice skiers, crowds can be stressful and dangerous. Instead, take advantage of weekdays or ski over breaks.
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