Free Tickets – A Reason to Love Growing Old on the Slopes

As the SkiZer grows older, he’s finding plenty to complain about.

Aches and pains. Lazy dudes on Solowheels. Millennials texting as they walk down the street. Yes, the SkiZer can be a cranky old coot from time to time.

But I have to like one thing: Ski lift ticket prices are getting cheaper for my age group.

As my recent story in The Seattle Times reported, resorts offer lots financial of incentives for older skiers. That’s because so few people stay on the slopes as they age: Only 7 percent of the skiing population is older than 65 in Washington and Oregon, according to the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association.

Skier Bill Weigand on the slopes of White Pass.

At White Pass, you can ski for free if you’re 73 years old. Bluewood near Dayton, Wash., and Whitefish Mountain Resort in Western Montana offer free rides for those 70 and older.

Other resorts, like Summit at Snoqualmie, Stevens Pass and Mission Ridge charge just $15 for septuagenarians. And for those in their 60s, day tickets are reduced as much as 20 percent.

The free and reduced tickets have created active communities of older skiers.

At Whitefish Mountain, some of the older regulars ski nearly every day, logging more that 4 million vertical feet in a season. Why do it?

“If you don’t stay active, you die,” says Fred Frost, 74, one of the Whitefish Mountain faithful.

At White Pass, a group of older skiers hits the slopes in the mornings, then sometimes heads to Yakima to go golfing in the afternoons.

“What’s not to like about that?” says Dave Joynt, 78, a regular at White Pass. Joynt and his friends say the atmosphere among the older skiers is like being in an episode of “Cheers.”

 “If you ski there a lot, you know everyone when you walk into the lodge,” he says.

All too soon, I’ll be joining the club. This old-age thing has a real up side.

Bud Schwaegler skis Paradise Basin at White Pass.



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