Mode of Operation: Great Circle Routes
My modus operandi revolves around “great circle routes”. (Yes, pun intended.) Great circles begin at an anchor city from which regional resorts are visited in a fashion that minimizes retracing steps or mileage. Ideally I’m able to visit a new area on a daily schedule. You can visualize it: ski all day, travel in the evening, ski again next day, repeat tomorrow and occasionally take a day off. Stay flexible to allow time with new friends, spent an extra day at an exceptional resort, or take in special festivals and events encountered along the way.
I like to schedule at least five areas within a circle route. Better yet are ten or so but now we’re talking two weeks. When the target is “way out west” The ambitious goal is established with 20 or more. The greater the distance, the more precious the time and costly the expense.
One more rule of thumb: I attempt to visit the resorts and larger areas mid-week. Yes, the rates are lower, but it’s just as good to avoid the crowds.
Lift lines aggravate me, and one the week-ends and holidays length of lines runs counter-intuitively to size. These are the rules, but rules can be broken, and sometimes I must.
So the great circles are, researched well in advance, set up and then I see how the snow flies. Google Maps works well for mileage and times. I book friends, hostels, hotels, B&B’s and condos usually in that order, for I try to be a good steward of my limited funds. My kids call me “cheapskate” but my friends are usually more generous using “parsimonious”.
I study the early purchase season passes thoroughly mining multi-destinations offers as well analyzing cost per area. The greatest deal to date is a seasons pass at Sipapu, New Mexico. It has provided access to as many as 20 areas one single season. Military and often first responders get great rates, ASK, and bring id.
Monarch in Colorado offers a super-senior seasons pass at age 69 and for just a $20 preprocessing fee and that’s more than covered in local suppliers discounts (including Elevation Craft Brewery). Heck one night of great camaraderie can cover that cost. And if you want you can just walk up to the window, prove you’re at least 69 years young and get a free day pass any time throughout the season.
Most areas offer Senior rates at differing ages and several offer free skiing for super-seniors. Again the age varies usually between 70 – 80. ASK! Even the “hoity-toity” resorts offer a $10 or so discount that can bring the day rate to just under $100. BIG DEAL!
There are such things as half-day tickets usually starting at or after 12 noon. They can save a few dollars, but I only use them if I need the mornings hours to drive those few extra miles. The crowds can thin out after lunch which will reduce those long lines. But you get those “sunshine skiers” and the “hang-over crowd. (And God Bless the pious church attendees on Sundays!)
Ah yes there are well-lit slopes for night skiing. It’s largely an eastern phenomena, and ad it saves money. The crowds are non-existent, but gimme a break. It’s cold out there. I seldom use ‘m. The one area, and it was “out west” where it was invaluable was Snow King area in downtown Jackson Hole, WY. I had packed a long week-end expedition to the Tetons. I didn’t wish to sacrifice a powder day at Grand Targhee or Jackson, so we squeezed Snow King in after a da of snow moiling in Yellow Stone National Park. (But, That’s another story.) It was very convenient and worked out well, but night skiing did not do justice for a review of Snow King. I need to return.
This “great circle” approach developed when I scoped out the whole vision thing. I listed and lumped all the ski areas. Next, I systematized a plan. Now I’ve logged and catalogued past circle experiences. However most importantly, I’ve mapped out the future rings . Got a purpose; got a plan. So it’s on to fruition. Gotta fill the bucket. Gonna fill the bucket.
Check it for a moment; be well advised: I’m not the “normal” skier! Most sane people recognize skiing as a sport, something to be enjoyed at leisure, in one’s spare time. But to me its a career, It’s a vocation in the classic sense; a calling. It’s integrated into my career in education. I’m a teacher. But I’m a researcher and investigator. I simply have to know.
And then lastly, I’m a wanderer; a man on the go, a rolling stone, a gypsey.
Come, Ski With Me!