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Lift ticket prices taking a leap

Times Staff Writer

SKI season in the West is just getting started -- many resorts are yet to open -- but already lift ticket prices are hitting higher elevations, rising above $80 a day in Colorado.

In much of California, high temperatures thwarted snowmaking. But as of the Travel section’s extended deadline Friday, Mammoth Mountain and a couple of Lake Tahoe resorts were open.

Resort operators say they need to increase lift ticket prices to cover expenses. Many now change prices daily.

“Rates go up typically every year, at every resort, because of the cost of running the business,” said Kristin Rust, spokeswoman for Aspen/Snowmass in Colorado. “Energy costs have gone up. It costs a lot to build new gondolas.”

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Skiers can save by buying multiday passes.

Here was the situation in several resorts on Friday:

* Mammoth Mountain: Six ski lifts were open. This season’s additions include the $1.5-million Top of the Sierra Interpretive Center, with a lookout and displays on local geology and volcanic history, expected in March. Early-season adult lift tickets are $63 per day. Regular rates, expected to start Dec. 23, will be $78 per day, up from $70 for weekends and $73 for holidays last year. Multiday discounts have been expanded; www.mammothmountain.com.

* Lake Tahoe: Most of the area’s 20-some ski resorts were still closed. Among the openings: Boreal and Heavenly, with Sugar Bowl and Kirkwood scheduled to have opened Saturday.

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“We need a really good storm and some really low temperatures,” said Pettit Gilwee, spokeswoman for the North Lake Tahoe Marketing Cooperative. Prices of lift tickets vary; www.puretahoenorth.com, www.skiheavenly.com, www.kirkwood.com, www.sierraattahoe.com.

* Colorado: At Aspen/Snowmass, Aspen and Snowmass were open, and Aspen/Highlands and Buttermilk planned to open Dec. 9. Among additions this season: a new gondola in Snowmass from the base village to mid-mountain. Adult lift tickets, good for all four mountains, are $82, up $3 from last year; www.aspensnowmass.com.

At Vail Resorts, all four ski areas were open. Among improvements: Vail has remade three terrain parks and added a fourth. The three others have added terrain access, and Breckenridge expects to open in January a gondola to link the town with the mountain. Adult daily lift tickets vary by date and area. For Vail, as of Friday, they were listed at $72 on the website, www.snow.com.

* Utah: Most of the state’s 13 resorts had opened; check websites for details. Among improvements: Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort next month expects to open a 600-foot-long tunnel to take skiers from the top of a new high-speed quad lift to the Mineral Basin area; Park City is adding new rails and jumps to terrain parks; www.skiutah.com.

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* Canada: Whistler Blackcomb, two hours north of Vancouver, was open, with record-setting November snowfall or more than 10 feet. A new quad, opening Dec. 16, will provide the first high-speed access to more than 1,000 acres. Adult daily lift tickets Friday were about $57. www.whistlerblackcomb.com.

jane.engle@latimes.com


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