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OPINION: Lift tickets at Mt. Baker Ski Area are too expensive for college students

Despite student discounts, the ski resort’s prices are still unreasonable to purchase

A photo of a catwalk leading down to a run at Washington’s Mt. Baker Ski Area on Feb. 3, 2024. The resort has eight lifts and 31 runs for people to explore and ride. // Courtesy of Jack Culbertson

Growing up in Colorado, I started skiing when I was 2 years old. When I began looking at colleges to attend, I knew wherever I went had to have good skiing.

After hearing that the Mt. Baker Ski Area has good snow, the next thing I knew I was enrolled at Western Washington University and flying my gear up for the winter. 

However, I’ve only been able to go up to the mountain three times since coming to Bellingham. Since coming to college and being responsible for paying skiing expenses myself, there was no way I could go skiing as often as I used to. 

Like me, many students at Western are unable to go up to the mountain because of astronomical ticket prices. Given that a huge number of Western students ski or snowboard, Mt. Baker Ski Area should have discounts and cheaper passes for college students. 

Mt. Baker Ski Area’s daily lift tickets cost $91.20 without tax. The ski resort also offers a discounted season pass for college students at $877.68, compared to the adult season passes at $1,102.40. 

If you go up over nine times in a single season, then the student discounted pass is worth buying over daily passes. 

“I didn’t think I’d be using [the pass] enough to make it worth it,” said Nathalie Finneron, a second-year Western student and snowboarder. “Even with the student discount, a season pass is still $700 to $800, which is kind of unrealistic.”

Like Finneron, I chose not to get the college season pass. I didn’t think I’d get my money’s worth. Taking into account gas, food, availability and the ski area’s limited hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., I felt like I’d be giving away free money. 

“Having flat consistent pricing doesn’t discriminate against people who are in school and have chosen to take that path,” said Michael Trowbridge, the general manager for the Mt. Baker Ski area. “It helps with the simplification across the board and just a level playing field.”

While I understand the resort’s efforts to give everyone who makes it up the mountain the best experience, it excludes a large population who can’t afford the steep prices. 

If anything, making the mountain more accessible to college students would increase the overall profit of the mountain. 

“I think we could bring in more people… we’ve limited our season pass sales for several years,” Trowbridge said. “That’s a conscious decision on our part.” 

The resort chose to limit season pass sales to ensure the mountain isn’t overcrowded, Trowbdrige explained.

The Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah is about 20 minutes from Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University. Their resort offers several benefits to nearby college students, such as the Young Adult Limited Pass. 

“Anyone between ages 18 to 24 can qualify for getting this pass,” said Annie Condon, Sundance Mountain Resort’s public relations and marketing manager. “Whether you’re a student in college or a young, working professional, we recognize that age group doesn’t have as much disposable income as someone that’s in the middle of their career.”

The Young Adult Limited Pass costs $599 before October or $699 afterward. The resort also has afternoon, night and twilight hours, allowing students more opportunities to use the mountain.

Moreover, Sundance offers discounts through the Unlimited Pass on many activities, such as ski and snowboard tune-ups, art studio classes, zip tours, merchandise and more.

Plus, season pass holders get three days of skiing in a dozen other resorts in New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Wyoming, Oregon and Texas.

“We thought about how we can continue showing our appreciation and delivering value to buy season passes,” Condon said. “Whether it’s someone that’s been coming here for decades or a college freshman that is saving all of their extra income to be able to buy a pass.”

In all honesty, Sundance’s deals and consideration for students made me more disappointed with Mt. Baker Ski Area. 

I will say, however, that I am a bit spoiled coming from Colorado where the Ikon and Epic passes offer unlimited access to multiple resorts around the state. 

I understand many factors prevent the Ski Area from giving students the same benefits as Sundance and other mountains. Paying employees, maintaining the ski area and adding services and amenities are all crucial when deciding how much each ticket price should cost. 

Still, the amount the college pass costs and the limited hours lifts are unrealistic for students. 

Making tickets more affordable would allow college students to experience the mountain better, whether it’s cheaper day passes or an overall lower cost in the college season pass. 

While I’m no expert on the subject, selling tickets at a reasonable price for college students could also bring in more money.

As it stands, spending $90 for the lift ticket alone makes going up to the mountain feel more like a pain than something to be excited about.

Jordan Brotamonte

Jordan Brotamonte (she/her) is an opinions reporter for The Front this quarter. In her free time, she skis, takes photographs, and spends most of her time trying new coffee shops around Bellingham or exploring new places outdoors. You can reach her at

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