Well, it certainly is expensive, no doubt about it. Isn’t everything these days? In an absolute sense, depending upon one’s particular financial situation, it may be just too much. No argument there. But if you’re reading this, you’re probably the type that isn’t going to give up an active lifestyle that you enjoy, no matter what. So, in a relative sense, how does skiing compare to some other forms of recreation?
As with most other sports, there is the initial outlay for equipment. While the cost of a mountain bike or a set of golf clubs can be quite expensive, a good pair of running or hiking shoes cost much less. So let’s agree that getting set up with a descent set of ski gear is probably on the more expensive side of the spectrum. Of course lodging is also a big expense. But this is a necessary requirement in any vacation scenario, and a hotel room or condo at a ski resort is probably no more expensive than one on the beach. So once you are beyond this initial outlay and you’ve made it to the base area of the resort, what you’re really paying for with skiing, as with many other sports, is daily use of the venue.
So let’s compare skiing with some other recreational pursuits that also require paying for a venue. Skiing, golf, and fitness centers are all very different, but they are alike in that you are paying for the venue in order to experience the activity.
So let’s start with skiing. There are many top notch resorts that still only charge about $75 for a walk-up daily lift ticket. A few that come to mind would be Bachelor, Taos, Kirkwood, and A-Basin, and Alta Since the lifts usually open at 9am and close at 4pm, that’s seven hours or about $10-11 per hour to shred to your heart’s delight. Now, as with both golf and fitness centers, paying for a season pass or membership can significantly lower your cost per day. But for comparison’s sake, let’s stick with the daily walk-up rate.
How about golf? Well, the cost of a round at a nice venue ranges widely given the time of year and geographical location. But for a course comparable to the resorts above, you’re probably going to drop something right around $75. The average time to shoot 18 holes is usually about 4 hours, so you’re looking at somewhere between $15 and $20 per hour to swing away! But wait, the whole objective of golf is to get less swings… Isn’t it?!
Finally, we have the ubiquitous neighborhood fitness center. Granted, not many folks pay the walk-up fee, but if you’re out of town it’s fairly common. At most of the nicer gyms this fee usually ranges from $15 to $20 and then you can stay as long as you like. That being said, most folks probably don’t workout for more than an hour or two. So now we’re looking at paying from a low of $7.50 to a high of $20 per hour to sweat away the pounds.
So maybe the cost of skiing is really not all that bad. At least in line with many other forms of recreation, and probably better than some.
How about one last comparison? Let’s look at dinner and a movie for Mom and Dad. Just like a round of golf, you’re looking at right around 4 hours. Dinner and drinks are $80 and the movie is $20, so you are looking at about $25 per hour to escape the little ones. But wait, I forgot, what about the babysitter? There’s another $10 per hour on top of it.
So bottom line… For about the same price as a babysitter, you can rack up as much vertical per hour as you can handle!
John "fritzski" Fritz
EpicSki Special Correspondent