With six acclaimed mountains less than 30 miles away from Westminster College’s campus, the big back-to-school question on many students’ minds is where to buy their ski or snowboarding pass for the upcoming season.
“I’ve spent more time these past couple of weeks trying to decide where to ski than I’ve spent getting into my classes,” said Jessica Morgan, a junior business major.
Though students ski and snowboard at several different Utah resorts, many said the most important factor they consider when buying a pass isn’t money but friends.
“It’s more important where my friends are going than the actual mountain,” said Graham Chag, a senior geology major. “I’m a social guy, I’m a social skier and I just like to ski with my friends.”
Chag isn’t alone, Jackson Podis, a senior environmental science major, also said he consults his friends before making his purchase.
“Who I’m going to be skiing with is the biggest deciding factor,” he said. “I pretty much just go where my friends go.”
Purchasing a pass at some Utah resorts can cost upwards of $2,000 a season, and budgeting for it can put a burden on some students — especially with other expenses like tuition, food and rent. But despite the monetary challenges, some students said they make sacrifices to ski with their friends.
Finn Townsley, a junior environmental science major, said he prioritizes the purchase of a ski pass no matter what.
“Last year I didn’t really eat very much because I couldn’t afford a ski pass, so I just ate really cheap value meals,” he said.
Most students agreed that they’d prefer to purchase a pass at one of the mountains in Big or Little Cottonwood Canyon over Park City or Deer Valley.
“I’m not going to get a pass at Deer Valley,” Chag said. “I just don’t want to be in a tourist area, and Park City and Deer Valley are filled with tourists.”
Other Westminster students agreed that those resorts are too expensive.
“I wouldn’t go to Park City because it’s bougie, and I wouldn’t get an Epic pass because it’s so much money,” Townsley said. “I just feel like Park City is more about the culture than the actual skiing.”
Though most ski resorts offer free passes for employees, most students said they were uninterested in working on the mountain — especially while attending Westminster full time.
“I wouldn’t want to work on a mountain while I’m in school because I wouldn’t want to work on the weekends when I could be skiing,” said Walker Sorely, a senior computer science major who purchased a pass to Snowbird his first year and to Alta his sophomore and junior years.
Sorely said he switched from Snowbird to Alta to experience something different but is undecided about where to go for his final year.
Unlike most students, Sorely said he doesn’t consider where his friends are going to ski as a factor in purchasing a pass “even a little bit.” He said he enjoys skiing alone because it gives him the freedom to do whatever he wants and doesn’t care about the social aspect of the sport.
But whether it’s having a good time with friends or feeling independent and liberated, students said they purchase passes because snow sports bring joy to their lives.
“Buying a pass isn’t a question,” Morgan said. “I’ve skied somewhere different each year, but really all that matters to me is that I’ve chosen a mountain by the time it starts snowing.”
Although opinions about where to purchase a season pass vary, most students agree on one thing: “It’s gonna be good skiing wherever we go,” Podis said.
All the mountains are different and cater to different clientele, but because of the amount of snow each year, students said no decision is bad.
“You can’t really go wrong in Utah,” Sorley said.