Ski swap at Buck Hill September 26-28

It’s a warm weekend in the Twin Cities, but you can still “think snow” by attending a ski and snowboard sale at Buck Hill.

Buck Hill tent sale 2014

You’ll find alpine skis and snowboards, mostly used, plus plenty of boots for both kinds of equipment. Most of the gear is used, but you’ll find new items, too, if that’s what you are looking for. Bindings as separate items, whether ski or board, are not nearly as common. Also for sale are ski poles, goggles, and clothing, including speed suits for ski racers. The goods are in two tents pitched in the parking lot, plus the chalet.

While you’re there, you can check out various youth development programs, such as the G team, purchase a season pass, or simply pick up the new season’s brochure that outlines the basics of passes, tickets, lessons, and other things, including — for the right person with small feet — a snowboard with step-in bindings and matching boots.

Step-in bindings

The sale runs through 7 p.m. on Saturday, with just two hours tomorrow morning, 10 a.m. , through noon. The sale/swap benefits the Buck Hill Ski Racing Club.

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What are Twin Cities ski areas offering for 2014-2015 season passes?

One easy way to make skiing and snowboarding affordable is buy a season pass. A pass combines two simple concepts–a volume discount, and a loyalty bonus–to make it a reasonable, and often, attractive alternative to buying daily tickets. Yes, you may give up some variety, but you’ll be rewarded. And if you already prefer one ski area over another, due to its location, terrain park, trails, or anything else, then the case for a season pass is even stronger. Pass holders may also receive extra benefits, including preference on the rental of a storage locker, or discounts at other ski areas.

So who is offering what this season? Here are the prices available as of September 21, 2014. In general, the earlier in the year you buy, the less you’ll pay. The prices below are for unlimited season passes, meaning that you can use them any day of the week, any time of day.

Adult pass
Afton Alps: $419.00
Buck Hill: $365.00 ($395.00 if purchased on 11/1/14 and after)
Hyland Ski & Snowboard: $349.00
Trollhaugen: $340.00 ($400 if purchased on 11/12/14 and after)
Welch Village: $349.00
Wild Mountain: $340.00 ($399.99 on 11/4/14 and after)

Child pass
Afton Alps: $289.00
Buck Hill: $265.00 ($295.00 if purchased on 11/1/14 and after)
Hyland Ski & Snowboard: $249.00
Trollhaugen: $221.00 ($260 on 11/12/14 and after)
Welch Village: no child pass
Wild Mountain: $221.00 ($260.00 on 11/4/14 and after)

Senior pass
Afton Alps: $279.00
Buck Hill: $197.50
Hyland Ski & Snowboard: $99.00
Trollhaugen: $221.00 ($260 on 11/12/14 and after)
Welch Village: no child pass
Wild Mountain: no unlimited senior pass; midweek pass available

Family of 4 pass
Afton Alps: $1,099.00
Buck Hill: $1,090.00 ($1,170 on 11/1/14 and after)
Hyland Ski & Snowboard: $849.00
Trollhaugen: $840.00 ($1,000 on 11/12/14)
Welch Village: $1,099.00
Wild Mountain: $833.22 ($980.96 on 11/4/14 and after)

College student pass
Afton Alps: $269.00
Buck Hill: none
Hyland Ski & Snowboard: no college pass
Trollhaugen: $99.00 ($225.00 on 12/17 and after)
Welch Village: none
Wild Mountain: $99.99

Fine Print: Family pass
Afton Alps: Call for more information
Buck Hill: Immediate family members living at the same address
Hyland Ski & Snowboard: Same address; must be purchased in person
Trollhaugen: Children must be 17 and under, living at home
Welch Village: Two adults, children under 21, living at home, two generations only
Wild Mountain: One household, including children under 18, living at home

Other pass options
In addition to the passes listed above, most ski areas have a variety of other pricing options for passes. Here are a few that caught our interest:

Corporate flex (Wild)
Midweek only (Trollhaugen; Welch; Wild)
Saturday only (Trollhaugen; Wild)
Sunday only (Trollhaugen; Wild)
Night only (Welch; Afton, but only for college students)
Racing program participant (Hyland)

Some final notes
In addition, you may also wish to check with your favorite ski area to ask about options and bargains on single-day or multi-day lift tickets. You can get discounts for skiing or riding only during certain times of the day, or on selected days of the year; buying tickets at partnering ski shops; printing tickets at home; and other options.

If you’re a senior looking at the ability to ski or ride at any time, Hyland’s pass can’t be beat. Not only is it the lowest price ($99), but you can use it any time.

After Vail Resorts purchased Afton Alps, it invested a lot of money in the snowmaking system. It also raised the price of unlimited season passes significantly above that of its competitors. Will skiers and riders find that a good trade-off?

If you’re looking for a family pass and have children living at home, consider the Welch Village family pass. It extends to children up to age 21, as long as they are living at home. That’s the oldest age for areas for which we currently have information.