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Season pass prices getting steep in U.S.

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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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