Can You Ski Without a Lift Ticket?

Can You Ski Without a Lift Ticket?

If you have been skiing for a while now, you might have noticed that lift passes are getting more and more expensive in most ski resorts. 

In fact, ski tickets have become one of the expenses limiting skiers’ budgets during their winter vacation. 

If you ask me, though, it’s understandable, given that the resorts have a tough business whereby they usually sell their tickets only the period before the skiing season. Not to mention that they have to pay ski patrol to maintain the slopes and keep skiers safe.

Now, with the high lift ticket prices, most people, especially beginners, find it hard to ski. Some people actually view skiing as a rich person’s sport. 

But does it always have to be this way? What if you love the snow and want to enjoy skiing but just don’t have the money to purchase a ski pass? Is it possible to ski without a lift ticket? 

Well, the best answer to the last question would be a yes and a no. It is a no for a person looking to spend time in a cozy resort, use the chairlift, and ride on the resort’s groomed ski runs

You’ll need a lift ticket to ski in any major ski resort in the US and other ski countries. 

However, it is a yes if you are ready to do some exercise while having fun in the snow. Skiing without a ticket means you’ll ride on unprepared slopes, and you must be up for such a risky adventure. 

Keep reading to learn more on how to ski without a lift ticket!

How to Ski without Lift Tickets


There are several ways to go skiing without a lift pass. First, you can ski in resorts when they are not operating. 

The other approach involves skiing in the backcountry. But you should be warned that backcountry skiing is not ideal for beginners unless they have an experienced skier to guide them. 

Let’s talk about the two approaches to help you decide which way to go.

Skiing in Ski Resorts during Off-Hours 

Skiing in Ski Resorts during Off-Hours 

Ski resorts are areas or towns established and developed for winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding. 

In the US, major ski resorts have villages and towns near their ski areas to make sure that guests can comfortably ride on the slopes and enjoy quality accommodation. 

So, ski resorts are simply skiing destinations with great facilities and amenities, but the major winter sports, including skiing and snowboarding, are the main activities. 

However, to spend time in a ski resort in any ski country, you need a lift ticket to gain access to the lifts and the mountain. 

And while kids under four years will get a free pass in many resorts, every adult needs a ticket, even if you’ll be there for a couple hours.

You can buy your season pass online before the vacation or get it during your trip at the guest services desk. 

But did you know that you can skin a ski resort’s mountain and ride free? Well, it’s actually possible to do that, but first you need to be sure that the mountain is public land. 

To ski in a resort, you’ll also need to check their off-hours as you cannot ride the slopes during their normal operating hours. 

The National Ski Areas Association reveals that most resorts allow skinning, but different mountains have different policies. 

Some resorts have a policy that allows skiers to ski for free, while others require guests to buy uphill skiing tickets. 

So, if you don’t want to purchase the ticket, you want to be sure that your preferred ski area allows that before heading out. 

If you want to embark on an uphill skiing trip, you’ll need a pair of skis, boots, bindings, skins, and poles. You should also ensure that your boots have adjustable cuffs for safety when skiing and walking around the mountain. 

I have been on several uphill skiing trips with my buddies in Colorado, and I can assure you that such adventures are not just about riding the slopes. 

You get to enjoy beautiful mountain views and breathe some fresh air. And once you make it to the top, there is always a feel-good sense of accomplishment. 

It’s possible to have a lot of fun while uphilling, just as you would in a designated ski area. All you have to do is plan ahead and bring everything you need for your adventure, from safety equipment to snacks. 

Meeting other uphill-minded skiers will also make your trip much more enjoyable than when doing it alone. 

Backcountry Skiing

Backcountry Skiing

If you enjoy skiing and want to ride a lot without a lift pass, it might be time to challenge your ski ability level. Yes, I mean backcountry skiing!

You can dive into the beautiful backcountry skiing world and spend quality time skiing on the untouched slopes. 

However, you should keep in mind that riding in the backcountry is not for a beginner skier. New skiers should never go backcountry skiing unless a professional or highly experienced skier accompanies them.

If you want to go for backcountry skiing, here are a few essential things to do to ensure a successful and safe adventure:

#1. Learn About the Risks of Backcountry Skiing

Backcountry skiing involves hiking up the mountain and later riding down on areas not managed by resorts or monitored by ski patrol. 

It’s all about the idea of challenging your skills and getting a feel of the untouched nature.

Even so, climbing a mountain to the top can be a risky undertaking, and such excursions have potential risks. 

Since there are no ski patrollers in the backcountry, your safety is entirely on you. You need to learn about the dangers of backcountry skiing and understand the challenges you have to deal with. 

The most obvious risk is the avalanches. Many skiers and snowboarders have died due to avalanches, and some of them are usually experienced. 

So, it’s important to learn how to handle avalanches in case you encounter them during your trip. 

The American Avalanche Association offers several courses to help skiers and boarders deal with such challenges and make the right decisions while on the trail. 

You also need to stay up to date with the weather updates to know the likelihood of encountering an avalanche as you walk up the hill. 

Another common danger of riding on the backcountry slopes is the tree wells. These are holes of snow usually found under the base of trees on the hill. 

Tree wells are usually soft, and it’s easy to fall into them when riding on unmaintained runs. When you fall into one, it can be difficult to get out unless you have someone to help you. 

Other dangers of riding on backcountry terrain include getting lost or being caught up in a snowstorm while out there. So, don’t forget to bring a GPS or a map when riding in an area that you are not familiar with. 

#2. Get in Shape

While you don’t have to train hard like an athlete looking to participate in the Olympics, being in shape is vital for the backcountry terrain. 

It’s not easy to hike up the mountain, and sometimes it may even feel unnatural and painful. 

If you want to take your first trip to the mountains, you need to get your body ready for the physical challenge. 

You also want to keep in mind that the trails in the backcountry terrain are not maintained, and you shouldn’t expect them to be free of rocks or trees on your way down. 

With that said, you should be confident in your ski ability before heading out, or at least bring along some experienced friends who can guide you. 

If you don’t have experienced buddies, you may want to take a backcountry ski or snowboard lesson, which is usually more affordable than a lift pass. 

#3. Gather the Appropriate Ski Gear 

You’ll need some special equipment along with the basic ski gear before setting off for the backcountry terrain. Here is a list of the required backcountry equipment:

Ski, Bindings, and Ski Boots

These are the basic things that you need to be able to ski. If you are a beginner and don’t want to buy everything as you start, you can rent skis and boots. This way, you will learn the sport without spending too much on the equipment. 

When renting or buying your ski gear, you need to ensure that you get the right size, as getting the wrong fit will lead to a terrible experience on the trail. 

The ski boots should be lightand designed with a walking mode for easier and safe climbing. Attaching crampons to the boots can save you from tough falls. 

You also need to ensure that you get bindings that easily release your heel when you hike up the hill.  

Your clothes don’t have to be fancy and expensive as long as they are warm and protective. And don’t forget your helmet and a pair of gloves. 

Ski Poles 

Ski Poles 

While poles are not always helpful when riding down the mountain, they are vital when hiking up. 

Ski poles will give you balance and stability to prevent falling and becoming too tired as you climb the hill. 

You can also use the poles for the blocking pole plant technique when riding on extremely steep terrain. 

Avalanche Transceiver 

Also referred to as an avalanche beacon, an avalanche transceiver is an emergency locator designed to trace skiers or snowboarders buried under the snow. 

This beacon is a must-have when riding in the backcountry, as it can send a signal to nearby rescuers in case you fall in an avalanche. 

Avalanche Shovel

You also need a compact avalanche shovel that can easily fit in your backpack when going to the backcountry. 

It’s an essential tool, especially when riding with friends, since it makes it easier to shovel out snow and rescue someone when they get caught up in an avalanche.  

Avalanche Probe 

An avalanche probe is a foldable pole mainly used to trace the exact point of someone buried in the snow.

The collapsible rods come in handy when riding on the backcountry slopes as they save time when rescuing someone from an avalanche. 

#4. Plan Your Skiing Trip 

Once you get the necessary backcountry equipment, you need to start planning for your adventure. 

The first thing you want to do is ask a few friends to accompany you to the backcountry. Then talk about what the trip entails and how long it will take. 

Finding a location shouldn’t be a problem as there are many places to check, from websites to guidebooks. You can also talk to your friends for some good recommendations. 

#5. Start Small and Take It Easy

If you are going to the backcountry for the first time, you should find areas with moderate slopes, as steep runs can overwhelm you. 

Even if your friends are experienced, they shouldn’t pressure you to ski on terrain that is too challenging for your level.

Lastly, take things easy, as some of the challenges you’ll face can easily be solved with proper common sense. Climbing the mountain will be quite a sweat, but you’ll definitely feel inspired and happy once you make it to the top. 



Do You Need a Lift Ticket for Bunny Slope Breckenridge?

Do You Need a Lift Ticket for Bunny Slope BreckeYes, you need a lift ticket for bunny slope Breckenridge. But you can get discounted tickets for beginners or kids’ ski lessons in the resort. 
If you want to save money on tickets in Bunny slope, you can find deals by purchasing a multi-day ski pass 14 days before your trip.

Can You Walk Up a Ski Slope?

Yes, you can walk up a ski slope to enjoy nature in the backcountry. And if you are near a resort that allows uphilling on their runs, you can walk up to the top and ski down the hill. 
To walk up a ski slope, you’ll need to bring special skiing gear like skins or crampons, poles, avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe, especially for steep terrain. 

Is a Ski Pass the Same as a Lift Pass?

Yes, a ski pass is the same as a lift pass. People normally use the two terms interchangeably, and they simply mean the lift ticket that gives you access to the mountain and allows you to use ski lifts in a resort. 
When you buy a lift ticket, you can freely ride the lifts and ski down the resort’s slopes with no restriction as long as you attach it to your ski wear. 
It’s also essential to keep in mind that lift tickets are purchased for varied durations. You can buy one for the day or get an extended one for the whole week. 
If you intend to spend more time in the mountain, I’d suggest that you purchase a multiple-day ticket as buying lift passes every day will be way more expensive. 

What Do I Need to Go Skiing for the First Time?

To go skiing for the first time, you’ll need to find a beginner terrain, gear up, and buy a lift ticket, especially if you plan to visit a ski resort. 
When it comes to skiing gear, some of the items you’ll need include skis, ski boots, bindings, warm and protective ski clothes, thick socks, a helmet, and ski poles.
Lift tickets can be expensive, especially for starters who aren’t sure whether they will like the sport or not. But you can sign up for a ski or snowboard lesson that comes with a ski pass.
If you are working with a tight budget and don’t want to spend on ski passes, you can ski up resorts during off-hours or embark on backcountry skiing with someone with experience riding on the rough slopes. 
I wouldn’t recommend a backcountry skiing adventure for beginners if they don’t have someone to guide them. You need a skier who knows what they are doing to help you navigate the rugged terrain. 

Final Word 

Final Word 

Lift tickets are an essential part of a skiing adventure, but they tend to be expensive, especially for a beginner skier. 

The good thing is that there are several ways in which you can ski without having to purchase a lift ticket. 

You can embark on uphill skiing in a resort that allows skiers to skin free or take a challenge and head out to the backcountry. 

And if you are a beginner, you can join a snowboard or ski lesson to gain riding ability and access the chairlifts. 

No matter which option you choose, it’s possible to enjoy skiing and have a lot of fun on the slope. Just be sure to bring your safety gear and have someone who knows what they are doing accompany you during your adventurous learning journey. 

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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