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January 24, 2007

Skiing for a Family of Four

I want to expand further on the rising cost of skiing and pricing families out of the market. I want to post the real economics of skiing for a family that isn't addicted like I am and doesn't have season passes, their own equipment, and a condo at a resort. I am going to talk specifically about Brian Head, which represents a good "budget friendly family resort", but these costs are fairly representative.

Cost per Day Cost for 3 Day Weekend
Lift Tickets $50 per person = $200 $600
Rentals $25 per person = $100 $300
Condo Rental $200 $600
Food (and remember how expensive resorts are) $100 $300
Gas to and from the resort (rough guess) each way = $50 $100
--------- ---------
Total $1900

Now, remember that you can stay at a hotel in town and eat at Taco Bell, so maybe we can cut a few hundred dollars out of the budget for food and lodging. For that matter, you could drive a Prius hybrid and get 45 miles per gallon (however snow really sucks for passenger cars). We start cutting those costs and you are still over $1000 for a three day weekend of skiing for a family of four. You can make the argument that this is on par with Disneyland or the other major attractions. Maybe this seems reasonable. But this is FOR ONE WEEKEND of skiing. I can't imagine going to Disneyland three or four times per year, but I can certainly imagine going skiing more than one weekend per year. Most of that cost is in lift tickets and rentals. If you want to ski Aspen, you better double that number or possibly more. And again, this demonstrates the value of the Colorado Pass, discounts, owning gear, going to small resorts, and cutting costs.

In our case, we own our equipment. A good set of adult skis bought on E-bay runs $250 plus another $150 for bindings and mounting. Boots run $150 for a low end cheap pair, but probably more like $250 for adults and $100-150 for kids. So for each adult, we are talking at least $600-700 for skis, boots, and bindings and these are E-bay prices for new equipment. Kids gear is cheaper so that number is more like $300-400 per kid for their skis, boots, and bindings. So for a family of four, let's say $2000. Then you have coats and ski pants. Plus gloves, face masks, walkie talkies, helmets, hats, long johns. Figure it is at least $300 per person for these items when they are bought on sale in April when things go on clearance. That is another $1200.

Rough estimate is $3500 for gear, plus another $300 or so per year because kids outgrow stuff or you lose stuff. Then you have season passes which in my case run $200 per kid plus $300 per adult. Figure that is roughly $1000 per year. On top of that, you still have to eat and have a place to stay. We have our own condo, so we cook most times (which helps tons).

Prices are going to keep rising unless there is some competition, and honestly I don't know if competition will even help. Skiing already competes with other sports and other entertainment for our budget dollar. If average Americans can't afford the sport without major sacrifices, how do we keep the sport from getting out of reach?

Posted by Justin at January 24, 2007 01:30 PM


Well one thing to consider is that many resorts basically let young kids ski for free. Especially the non fancy destination ones.

And skiing on the weekends is way more $$$

But I too wish the hobby was cheaper so that it doesn't die out. What I do is keep lots of spare equipment around (purchased super cheap in the off season or on Steep&Cheap) so that when begginners visit our place they pretty much only have to get a beginners lift/lesson package because we'll have everything else they need (goggles, helmets, jackets, gloves, pants etc).

Posted by: arv at January 25, 2007 07:20 AM