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Season Passes

Is there any better way to get a buzz on for the year than picking up your season pass?

It doesn’t matter who you are—a 22-year-old newbie fresh out of St. Lawrence and bumming out west for your first time, a cynical ski-company employee, or a rock star sponsored skier—getting your pass is one of the most excellent and highly intense ways to get a jones for skiing. You stand there against the backdrop of dancing turtles or little flowers or blue-haired trolls, facing the Polaroid and thinking, “What kind of expression should I have on the photo this year—goofy? Suave? Retarded? Stoned?” and poom before you’re ready the flash has gone off and you’re stuck with “ugly geek.” But that’s OK, because then there’s that smell of the plastic running through the laminator and you know that it means one thing: five or six months of freedom to get on whatever lift you want, whenever you want, and skiing, skiing, and more skiing.

Yes, a season pass is one of the coolest things in the world.

That expensive little piece of plastic is about as different from a day ticket as the earth is from the moon. Instead of just being a passing customer, you’re part of the cycle, part of the process, from beginning to end. You’re there to close the place down, and when you’re standing on this side, holding that card in your hands, well, damn that feels good: deeper, more sustaining, a part of instead of apart from.

On a more superficial, basic, and important level, the best thing about a season pass is all the epic days it’s gonna bring. It’s tempting (well, inevitable) to think about how much the pass costs and how many days it’ll take to make it pay for itself, but what’s way cooler is to think about all that it represents—each day of a season on skis, your choice, the good and the bad, the groomed and the deep. All accessed by that piece of plastic.

Season passes are funny. Even after they’re dead they still have a power. I don’t know anyone who throws theirs away. A few years back Powder had a contest, and one guy wrote his entry on a color photocopy of his season passes from the previous seven years. At first clean-shaven and short-haired, each passing season saw him get a little less manicured, a little more scraggly, obviously pulled by the powerful magnet of ski bummery, until on the last pass he looked like every other long-haired ski-town skid. One thing didn’t change, however: In every single pass, the brother had this intense look in his eye that said, “Let’s go.” It was a pretty rad way to write his autobiography. It gives you something to think about when you go to pick up your pass, huh?

First published in Powder Magazine, issue 26.1, September 1997. Copyright Steve Casimiro 2001. All rights reserved.

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