A preseason ski survey, from peak to peak

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The preseason sales are under way for winter wear and equipment, local and regional resorts are hiring personnel for on- and off-mountain jobs and snow sports enthusiasts are getting themselves in shape for downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowtubing and snowshoeing.

And it's time to see what those resorts will be charging this winter for lift tickets, rental equipment and lessons; to check on the number of their slopes, trails and types of lifts and to save their websites and phone numbers for future reference.

Unfortunately, some resorts have increased prices this season, especially during the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

Fortunately, there are bargains out there, especially on weekdays, at Boyce Park, Hidden Valley, Mount Pleasant of Edinboro, Mystic Mountain at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa, Ski Denton, Oglebay, Snowshoe and Wisp.

PG graphic: The region's slopes
(Click image for larger version)

Discounts for college students, law enforcement, emergency responders and active military are available at some resorts. Check websites for midweek specials.

You also can save money by going online to buy lift tickets, lessons and snowtubing tickets and to rent equipment, including snowshoes and snowblades. If you're staying at or near a resort, you can save time and aggravation by getting fitted for rental equipment the night before you ski.

It's a good idea to insure rental equipment. It costs about $2 a day. Although rocks peeking through the snow belong to the resort, you're the one who hit them with their skis or snowboard. It also pays to wear a helmet.

Thieves in and around resorts continue to help themselves to unattended skis and snowboards. Safeguard your equipment by checking it or locking it every time you go inside the lodge -- even if it's "only for a minute." The checking cost is minimal -- about $2 for unlimited access all-day.

Treat yourself to at least one day of skiing or snowboarding midweek when lift tickets and rental equipment cost less -- and slopes are less crowded.

Hidden Valley has a good deal on Mondays and Tuesdays -- a lift ticket, rental equipment and a beginner lesson for $32. Wisp has a better one on Mondays beginning Jan. 7 -- a lift ticket, rental equipment and a one-hour clinic for $29. It isn't offered on Jan. 21 and Feb. 18.

Although the major resorts would like to open just before or after Thanksgiving, they'll need a week or more of below-freezing temperatures before they can make enough snow to start the season.

Here's some basic information for 17 local and regional resorts.

Missing again from this year's list is Cockaigne, the western New York ski area that lost its landmark lodge to a fire in January 2011 and is looking for a new owner.

The Sundial Lodge at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa, which was destroyed in a fire last February, has been replaced with a bigger lodge that is scheduled to open Dec. 24. It will be quite a Christmas present for its guests.

WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA
Blue Knob

Prices: Adult five-hour flex lift ticket: weekends, $50; weekdays $30. Junior (12 and under), active members of the military and seniors (65-69): weekends $40; weekdays $28.

Open-to-close lift tickets for adults are $60 weekends, $38 weekdays. Junior, military and seniors: weekends, $48; weekdays, $33. Seniors 70 and older: weekends, $22.50; weekdays, $16.50. Children 5 and younger ski free when accompanied by a parent with a valid lift ticket. Beginner group lesson: $20. Ski rental: $22 for five hours; $30 open-to-close. Snowboard rental: $32 for five hours; $42 open-to-close. Cross-country skis and snowshoe rental for adults and children: $14. Lessons available on request. Trail fee: $14.

Lifts: Two triple chairlifts, two doubles.

Slopes and trails: 34.

Vertical drop: 1,072 feet.

Address: Box 247, Claysburg, PA 16625; 1-800-458-3403; 1-814-239-5111; www.blueknob.com.

Boyce Park

Prices: Adult weekend lift ticket (Friday daytimes through Sunday nights), $14; Monday afternoons through Thursday nights, $10. Junior (6-17) Friday daytimes through Sunday nights $12; Monday afternoons through Thursday nights, $8. Seniors (60 and older) Friday days through Sunday nights, $11; Monday afternoons through Thursday nights, $7. Children (5 and younger) $4 any time. Group lesson: $10. Ski rental: $8.75. Snowboard rental: $25. Ski runners: $8.

Lifts: One chairlift, one Poma lift, one handle tow.

Slopes and trails: 9.

Vertical drop: 180 feet.

Address: 675 Old Frankstown Road, Pittsburgh (Plum), PA 15239; 724-733-4656; 724-733-4665 (recorded snow conditions); www.alleghenycounty.us/parks/fees/ski.aspx.

Hidden Valley

Prices: Adult Saturday lift ticket: $55; Sundays, $52; Fridays, $38; Mondays and Tuesdays, $32 for adults and children (includes complimentary rental equipment and a beginner group lesson). Wednesdays and Thursdays, $35 for adults and children. Junior (6-17) and seniors (65-69): Saturdays and Sundays, $45; Fridays, $35; children 5 and younger: free. Seniors 70 and older: $15 anytime. Group lesson: $25. Ski rental: $24 weekdays, $29 Saturdays, $27 Sundays. Snowboard rental: $30 weekdays, $35 Saturdays, $33 Sundays.

Lifts: Two quad chairlifts, two triples, one double, three surface lifts.

Slopes and trails: 28.

Vertical drop: 340 feet front; 430 feet North Summit area.

Address: 1 Craighead Drive, Hidden Valley, PA 15502; 1-814-443-8000, www.hiddenvalleyresort.com.

Mount Pleasant of Edinboro

Prices: Adult weekend lift ticket: $23; weekdays $20. Student (6-21): weekends, $20; weekdays, $18. Child (5 and under): free when accompanied by a parent who skis. Seniors (70 and older): free. Last call special: $10 (last two hours of any day). Group ski and snowboard lessons: $20. Adult weekend ski, snowboard and snowblade rental: $22; weekdays, $17. Student: weekends, $17; weekdays, $12.

Lifts: One T-bar and one Poma lift.

Slopes and trails: 10.

Vertical drop: 320 feet.

Address: Box 447, Edinboro, PA 16412; 1-814-734-1641; www.skimountpleasant.com.

Mystic Mountain

Times and prices: Open 2 to 10 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on holidays falling on a Monday. Neighbor and Friends Night every Friday beginning Jan. 4: $25 for lift ticket and rental equipment. One-hour lesson specials are available from 4 to 8 p.m. Fridays beginning Jan. 4 for $25 per person. Adult lift ticket (Saturday, Sunday and holiday): $38. Child (6-11): $30. Child (5 and younger): $20. Group lesson (maximum of three people): $105. Adult rental: $29. Child (6-11): $25. Child (5 and younger): $20. Snowboard rental: adult $29; child $25. Snowshoe rental: $20. Cross-country rental (includes trail fee): $20.

Lifts: One regular quad chairlift and one handle tow.

Slopes and trails: 7.

Vertical drop: 300 feet.

Address: 1001 Lafayette Drive, Farmington, PA 15437; 1-800-422-2736; 724-329-8555; www.nemacolin.com.

Seven Springs

Prices: Adult lift ticket (Fridays through Sundays): $68; Mondays through Thursdays, $51. Child (6-11): Fridays through Sundays, $51; Mondays through Thursdays, $41. Children 5 and under ski free when accompanied by an adult with a lift ticket. Seniors (70-79) pay half price; seniors 80 and older ski free but need a lift ticket. Group lesson: weekends, $37; weekdays, $33. Rental: adult, $40 (Friday through Sunday), $37 (Monday through Thursday). Child, $35 (Friday through Sunday), $32 (Monday through Thursday). Adult snowboard rental: $40 (Friday through Sunday), $39 (Monday through Thursday). Child, $36 (Friday through Sunday), $35 (Monday through Thursday). Telemark rental equipment and helmets also are available.

Lifts: Two six-person chairlifts; three quad chairs, five triples, three conveyor lifts and one rope tow.

Slopes and trails: 31.

Vertical drop: 360 feet front, 750 feet back.

Address: Champion, PA 15622; 1-800-452-2223, 1-800-523-7777 (recorded snow conditions), 1-814-352-7777; www.7springs.com.

Ski Denton

Prices: Adult lift ticket: Fridays through Sundays, $39; Mondays through Thursdays, $26. Youth (6-11) and seniors (65-69): Fridays through Sundays, $26; Mondays through Thursdays, $19. Seniors (70 and older): free. Child (5 and under): free anytime when accompanied by an adult. Group lesson: $18. Rental: adults, $22; youth, $19. Snowboard and snowblade rental: adult, $29; youth, $26. Cross-country rental: $15.

Lifts: One triple chairlift, one double and two Pomas.

Slopes and trails: 22.

Vertical drop: 650 feet.

Address: Box 367, Coudersport, PA 16915; 1-814-435-2115; www.skidenton.com.

Ski Sawmill Family Resort

Prices: Adult weekend lift ticket, Fridays through Sundays: $37; Mondays through Thursdays, $26. Youth (6-11): Fridays through Sundays, $30; Mondays through Thursdays, $22. Seniors (65-69), half off an all-day adult lift ticket). Seniors (70 and older) free any day. Children 5 or younger ski free when accompanied by an adult who buys a full-price lift ticket. Group lesson: $20. Rental: $25. Snowboard and snowblade rental: $34.

Lifts: One triple chairlift, one double, two T-bars.

Slopes and trails: 13.

Vertical drop: 515 feet.

Address: 383 Oregon Hill, Morris, PA 16938; 1-800-532-7669; www.skisawmill.com.

Whitetail

Prices: Adult weekend lift ticket, $67; weekdays, $56. Junior (6-12): weekends, $56; weekdays, $48. Children (5 and under) receive free lift ticket with the purchase of an adult lift ticket. Seniors (65 and older): weekends, $67; weekdays, $28. Group lesson: $43. Ski rental: $44. Snowboard rental: $50. Military discount: $5 off lift tickets anytime.

Lifts: One high-speed quad chairlift, three regular quads, two doubles, two Magic Carpets.

Slopes and trails: 23.

Vertical drop: 935 feet.

Address: 13805 Blairs Valley Road, Mercersburg, PA 17236; 1-717-328-9400;

www.skiwhitetail.com.

WEST VIRGINIA
Canaan Valley

Prices: Adult any day lift ticket, $50 weekends; $32 weekdays. Child (12 and under) and seniors (60-69), $40 weekends; $22 weekdays. Note: Lift tickets are less expensive during Value Season -- Dec. 15-25. Children 5 and under ski free when accompanied by a parent who skis. Seniors 70 and older ski free. Group lesson: adult $25; child $20. Rental: adult $28; child, $25. Snowboard rental: adult, $37; child, $30. Cross-country rental: adult, $20; junior, $18. Snowshoe rental: adult, $20; junior, $18.

Lifts: One quad chairlift, two triples, one Magic Carpet.

Slopes and trails: 39.

Vertical drop: 850 feet.

Address: HC 70, Box 330, Davis, WV 26260; 1-800-622-4121; 1-304-866-4121; www.canaanresort.com.

Oglebay

Prices: Adult lift tickets: $26 weekends and holidays, $22 Fridays and $15 Mondays through Thursdays. Youth (6-17): $19 weekends and holidays; $16 Fridays and $11 Mondays through Thursdays. Child (5 and under) skis free when accompanied by an adult with a valid lift ticket. Lessons (includes rental equipment): $50 per person per hour, $30 for each additional person. Reservations recommended. Adult rental: $26 weekends and holidays; $22 Fridays and $15 Mondays through Thursdays. Youth rental: $19 weekends and holidays, $16 Fridays and $11 Mondays through Thursdays. Adult snowboard rental: $31, $26 and $18, respectively; youth, $26, $22 and $15, respectively.

Lifts: One triple chairlift.

Slopes: 1.

Vertical drop: 168 feet.

Address: Route 88 North, Wheeling, WV, 26003; 1-800-624-6988; 1-304-243-4177 for snow conditions; www.oglebay-resort.com.

Snowshoe

Prices: Adult weekend lift ticket $84, weekday $79. Student (high school or college) and seniors (60-69) weekend $74, weekday $70. Junior (6-12) and senior (69 and older) weekends $70, weekdays. $66. Note: During Value Season (before Dec. 13 and after March 17), adult any day lift tickets are $59; student and seniors (60-69) are $52 and juniors (7-12) are $49. Children 5 and under ski free when accompanied by a parent or guardian who skis. Group lesson: $45-$55. Rental: adult, student and senior $40; junior (12 and under) $35. Adult snowboard rental (includes boots): $40; juniors and seniors, $35.

Lifts: Three high-speed quad chairlifts, three triples, one surface lift at Snowshoe; one quad, four triples, two surface lifts at Silver Creek.

Slopes and trails: 42 at Snowshoe; 18 at Silver Creek.

Vertical drop: 748 feet front and 1,500 feet back at Snowshoe; 663 feet at Silver Creek.

Address: Box 10, Snowshoe, WV 26209; 1-304-572-1000; 1-304-572-5252 (reservations); www.snowshoemtn.com.

Timberline

Prices: Adult weekend lift ticket: $58; weekdays, $38. Junior (6-12): weekends, $37; weekdays, $27. Children (5 and under) ski free when accompanied by a parent who skis. Group lesson: $30. Rental: adult, $28; junior, $22. Child (5 and under), $13. Snowboard rental: Adult, $37; junior, $32. Snowblades: $28. Telemark skis, boots and poles: $28

Lifts: Two triple chairlifts, one double, one surface lift.

Slopes and trails: 37.

Vertical drop: 1,000 feet.

Address: HC 70, Box 488, 488 Timberline Road, Davis, WV 26260; 1-304-866-4801; 1-800-766-9464 (general information); 1-304-866-4828 (snow reports); www.timberlineresort.com.

WESTERN MARYLAND
Wisp

Prices: Adult weekend lift ticket, $60; weekdays, $29. Junior (12 and under): weekends, $40, weekdays $29. Seniors (65-69): weekends, $39; weekdays, $29. Seniors 70 and older ski/snowboard free. Opening day to Dec. 14 and March 11 to closing: adult weekend $35, weekday $29; junior weekend $29, weekday $25. All tickets include night skiing Tuesdays through Saturdays. Group lesson: $35. Rentals: skis and snowboards, weekends $38, weekdays $25. Cross-country and snowshoe rentals: $40. Trail fee: weekends $15, weekdays $10.

Lifts: Two quad chairlifts, five triples, two conveyor carpets, one surface tow and one loading carpet.

Slopes and trails: 32.

Vertical drop: 700 feet.

Address: Box 629, McHenry, MD 21541; 1-301-387-4911; www.skiwisp.com.

WESTERN NEW YORK
Holiday Valley

Prices: Adult and senior weekend lift ticket for any eight hours, $60; weekdays, $52. Junior (6-11) weekend lift ticket for any eight hours, $46; weekdays, $41. Adult weekend lift ticket for any four hours, $57; weekdays $48. Junior weekend lift ticket for any four hours, $41; weekdays, $38. Seniors weekdays lift tickets, $41 for any eight hours; $38 for any four hours. Children (5 and under) free. Group lesson: $32. Rental: adult, $28; junior, $22. Snowboard rental: adult, $31; junior, $27. Cross-country skis: $18. Snowshoes: $18.

Lifts: Three high-speed quad chairlifts, eight standard quads, one handle tow, one Magic Carpet.

Slopes and trails: 58.

Vertical drop: 750 feet.

Address: Box 370, Ellicottville, NY 14731; 1-716-699-2345; 1-716-699-2644 (ski reports); www.holidayvalley.com.

Kissing Bridge

Prices: Adult weekend lift ticket: $56 for any eight hours; $54 for any four hours. Junior (13 and under): $42 for any eight hours; $40 for any four hours. Adult weekday lift ticket: $42 for any eight hours; $38 for any four hours. Junior weekday lift ticket: $30 for any eight hours; $28 for any four hours. Children (5 and younger) are free when accompanied by an adult ticket holder. Group lesson: $30. Rental: adult, $25. Junior, $20. Snowboard $30.

Lifts: Two quad chairlifts, one triple, four doubles, two rope tows, one handle tows.

Slopes and trails: 36.

Vertical drop: 575 feet.

Address: Route 240, Glenwood, NY 14069; 1-716-592-4963; 1-716-592-4961 (ski reports); www.kbski.com.

Peek 'n Peak

Prices: Adult weekend lift ticket: $54 for any eight hours; $50 for any four hours. Weekdays: $45 for any eight hours; $39 for any four hours. Junior (6-11) weekends: $41 for any eight hours; $37 for any four hours. Junior weekdays: $34 for any eight hours; $29 for any four hours. Seniors 65 and older: $33 every day. Five-year-olds ski free when accompanied by an adult with a valid lift ticket. Group lesson: $25. Rental, for any eight hours: adult $30, child $24; for any four hours: adult, $23; child, $18. Snowboard rental, for any eight hours: adult, $36; child, $30; for any four hours: adult, $28; child $24. Snow shoes: $15. Cross-country rental: $9. Trail fee: $8.

Lifts: Six triple chairlifts, two doubles, two Magic Carpets.

Slopes and trails: 27.

Vertical drop: 400 feet.

Address: 1405 Olde Road, Box 360, Findley Lake, NY 14736; 1-716-355-4141; www.pknpk.com.

travel

Lawrence Walsh writes about recreational snow sports for the Post-Gazette.


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