Free 5th-grade ski pass returns for 2009-2010 |

Free 5th-grade ski pass returns for 2009-2010

Bob Berwyn
Summit Daily/Bob BerwynDylan Berwyn focuses on some steep powder in Monarch's Mirkwood Basin, courtesy of Colorado Ski Country USA's free 5-grade ski passport. The trade group will start taking applications for this season's pass on Labor Day weekend.

SUMMIT COUNTY – “Is that Pike’s Peak, Dad?” Dylan said last winter, panting after hiking to the top of Monarch Ski Area’s powder-filled Mirkwood Basin.

Located near the center of Colorado, Monarch is a great place to combine skiing with a quick geography lesson, a fun benefit of the free 5th-grade ski passport offered to Colorado students by the state’s ski resort trade group.

The view from Monarch’s 11,960-foot summit ski area spans a big slice of the state’s major ranges. Pike’s Peak looms to the east. The East and West San Juans show up as jagged sawtooths on the southern horizon, and the Elks and West Elks rise to the west.

As we visited about half of Colorado’s ski resorts last winter, we tried to learn a little bit about the history of each area and how they are part of the state’s cultural and economic fabric – not a bad deal when you combine a little knowledge with three days free skiing at each of the member resorts.

Colorado Ski Country USA is about to launch applications for this year’s edition of the passport. More information is online at, and information on the passes will also be available at some of the Labor Day retail ski gear sales around the state.

The ski resort group also offers a 6th-grade version for $99, so Dylan and I will continue our quest to try each of the state’s member areas at least once. This year the 6th-grade version offers four days of skiing at each resort.

Colorado Ski Country has been offering the passes for 12 years. About 200,000 families have benefited from the deal during that time. A Colorado Gems card also enables deals at the state’s nine smaller, “Gems” resorts.

Individual resorts are also holding the line on season pass deals at least through Labor Day. Intrawest recently announced that season passes for Copper and Winter Park, as well as four-packs, will stay on sale through the end of the holiday weekend. The two-mountain, Copper-Winter Park Super Pass is $399. All the pass prices at

Vail Resorts passes are also still on sale at pre-season prices, including a $599 Epic Pass, valid at all four Colorado areas owned by Vail, as well as Heavenly Valley and even A-Basin, thanks to a joint ticketing deal with Vail Resorts. This year’s Colorado Pass (Keystone, Breckenridge and A-Basin, with 10 days at Vail-Beaver Creek), is $439. The Summit Pass is $399. Exact price breakdown can be found at

A-Basin’s Bonus Pass is on sale right now for $349, with five days at Breck or Keystone, including one day at Vail-Beaver Creek. More info at

Loveland season passes are also $349, with a midweek pass available for $249. Some versions include free skiing at Monarch. Go to for the breakdown.

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