Written by: Ben Blauer | Edited by: Dara Barney
First of all, if you haven’t started making a list of places to find fresh powder this winter, you better start now. Summer is coming to an end which means winter is fast-approaching. It’s time to hit the Google machine for new and exciting terrain to conquer this upcoming season.
I’m about an hour from my home turf on Mt. Hood in Oregon. Some may consider me lucky to live so close to Hood and Bachelor; but I must say, I love hitting smaller spots when the mainstream resorts get too busy. Places like Willamette Pass, Hoodoo, and Ski Bowl have so much character. Those small- to mid-sized slopes give me the chance to ski on more desirable days without waiting in lines that wrap around the parking lot.
I’ve been skiing all of my life and never have I come across an opportunity like this at Shasta:
For a price comparable to a two-day lift ticket, there is finally a ski pass that checks all the boxes… Insanely good price, variety, and lastly — they’re the best spots you’ve never heard of. If you haven’t figured it out already, or don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m referring to the second coming of American skiing — the first-ever Indy Pass.
The Indy Pass will be a necessity this winter. It is the best snow-related investment you’ll make since you bought your last pair of ski boots. Check this out: It offers you 68 days of skiing during the ski season at 34 independent ski areas around the country. Imagine access to that kind of variety for only $199! Oh yeah, you read that right — only $199. Plus, if you buy in September, you get the option of making 4 payments of $49.75.
A quick note for young families — if you’re looking to get your hyperactive kids on the slopes more than twice, the Indy Pass is exactly what you’re looking for. A family of four will spend about $500-600 per day on the mountain if you factor in lift tickets, rentals for the little ones, lunch, and gas. Your wallet will hate you by the end of the day. However, with Indy Pass, you could spend two days at five different resorts and ski ten full days for 20 bucks per person per day. BOOM, crisis averted!
Okay, now that you know about Indy Pass, here is some inside info for one of the west coast’s hidden gems.
Near the top of my list of new West Coast spots to hit is Mt. Shasta Ski Park. Since its new ownership in 2017, Mt. Shasta Ski Park has become a four-season resort exploding with potential. This local spot is trying to diversify their stash of year-round attractions offering everything from twilight skiing to overnight cabins in the back country. This resort is a block of marble waiting to be sculpted.
The Ski Park itself has 31 trails on 425 acres of diverse terrain for skiers of all levels. Snow quality is great most of the season as long as it’s not wet, so make sure to check the weather forecast before you go, just like you would anywhere else. The park gets dumped on from time to time due to its positioning in the shadow of Mt. Shasta; as long as the season is in full swing, you’ll never have to worry about lack of snow.
Mt. Shasta Ski Park is the perfect place for families to hit the slopes. Like I said, there is plenty of variety when it comes to beginner slopes as well as tougher slopes for the parents. Although groomers and pockets of trees are fun, we experienced skiers know that isn’t where we get our fix. What I’m really excited to talk about, is not the traditional trails and lifts, but above and beyond Mt. Shasta Ski Park. The Ski Park is the obvious attraction, but I bet you haven’t taken the time to look beyond the boundaries.
I’d like to add that Mt. Shasta is beautiful year-round, so don’t limit yourself to just the winter. Shasta summers are absolutely gorgeous whether you’re camping, renting a houseboat from Silverthorne, or mountain biking on trails you’ve only dreamed of. But let’s get back to talking about finding some fresh pow pow.
I’m now speaking to all of you backcountry wildlings out there looking for first tracks. Beyond the boundaries of Mt. Shasta Ski Park is a skier’s paradise filled with backcountry terrain, breath-taking views, and rentable cabins equipped with the necessities for overnight stays. The cabin rentals are moderately priced and can sleep up to seven of your closest friends. If you check out the YouTube video, you’ll see exactly why I’ve placed Mt. Shasta Ski Park near the top of my list.
Most people take the Coyote Butte lift and hike to the summit of Gray Butte, Located about 1220 feet above Coyote Butte. According to mountain management at Mt. Shasta Ski Park, the hike can be done in about an hour in most snow conditions. From there, the backcountry is your playground. When it comes to an authentic back country experience — you won’t find many like it on the west coast.
Can’t you see it? Hitting never-ending freshies all day long and spraying your best buds with powder. Then when the sun starts to set you pop off your skis, shake that snow off your clothes, unclip your boots, and step into that quaint cabin built right on the mountain. Take it back to vintage ski days when you could walk into a warming cabin and feel welcome. Don’t forget the comradery of sitting around a cast-iron, wood-burning stove with hot cocoa resting in a dented pot — absolutely unbeatable.
It’s time to take a break from the big resorts and take advantage of local spots. What are you waiting for? Dig a little deeper this season and rediscover your passion out on the mountain. It’s time to rediscover the spirit of American skiing — the right way.
Grab your Indy Pass here!