I'm going to make a concerted effort to improve my skiing this year, but am having trouble deciding on how to go about it. Lessons are expensive enough that I can't afford to just try everything and see what works for me, so I'm hoping you might be willing to help me narrow down my list of options.
Me: 28, male, reasonably athletic, fairly aggressive. Skied once at age 5, once at 15, and pretty consistently for the past 2 years. Took one never-ever lesson at 5. Tight or steep trees and more than 8 or so moguls in a row are where I currently notice problems (though I'm sure my technique sucks on green groomers, too). My primary goal is to use skis as transport for mountaineering, so I care a lot more about being able to survive varied conditions on suboptimal gear than I do about having flawless technique on groomers with ideal boots and heavy skis.
The options from which I'm trying to choose:
1) Wander up to lesson desk, schedule private, pray
Pros: individual attention, convenience, if the lesson isn't great I'm only out ~$100, possibility for regular lessons from the same instructor to continue improving
Cons: finding an instructor who's a good fit seems to be challenging, I don't like the idea of supporting the way ski schools cheap out on paying their instructors by giving them my money
2) ESA Stowe
Pros: well-known instructors who seem to be very well-regarded, instructors are presumably well-compensated, meeting new people to ski with
Cons: expensive; inconvenient; if the instruction is like a lot of the technique discussion in the forums, I'm going to have trouble getting much out of it; not sure the goals of most attendees are similar enough to mine that I'll get a good value here
3) Call SkiClinics.com, schedule private clinic, ask for recommendations on somebody closer for more regular follow-up work
Pros: well-known instructors who have skied everything I'd ever need to, individual attention
Cons: expensive?; mildly inconvenient; instructor might get annoyed at wasting his time on my crappy skiing, which could be improved by a lesson with any random high school kid
4) Spend the money on a trip to Colorado, ski with friends, work on mileage
Pros: fun, mileage seems to be important, yard sales provide great feedback, lots of ski time for the money spent
Cons: inconvenient, might not be so great for improving technique
What do you all think I should do? I know everybody here loves ESA, but from what I've read here and elsewhere on the web, I'm not sure it's well-aligned with my goals. This will be my first real foray into ski lessons, so I'm hoping those of you with more experience might be able to offer some guidance.
Thanks, and I apologize for the length!