There are no two ways about it: snowboarding is expensive.
But what if it's your life's dream to shred? What if this is what you were BORN to do? You're going to find a way to snowboard, even if it means losing your left nut.
It's January. It's a fair ol' way from pay day - and we're craving some time in the mountains.
This is why we've put together a way to go snowboarding on the cheap. Read, make notes, and give us some feedback on how it all goes...
Get Yourself Some Gear
I’ll just rent a snowboard, you think. Save myself a few dollar, right?
Renting snowboards is cheap(ish), but even a total monkey knows that if you're planning on making more than three or four snowboarding trips in your lifetime, you're better off biting the bullet and buying a board.
"eBay is simultaneously be the best and worst place you can buy second hand gear"
Brace yourself fellas, because here's the bad news. For the most basic brand new set up, you’re looking between £400-500 including board, boots and bindings. And that’s before you’ve even got your clothing kitted out.
However, don't start canning those shred dreams just yet. There is another way – and it’s called eBay.
It may simultaneously be the best and worst place you can buy second hand gear. However, if you avoid the dodgy sellers with bad ratings, eBay can offer some really sweet deals on kit.
All else fails, put a shout out on Facebook. You never know who may be giving away a board on the cheap.
COST: Anything from £100-300, if you go second hand.
Find A Dry Slope Or Snow Dome
You don’t even need snow to shred. In Britain, we are blessed with dozens of dry slopes and snow domes to keep us poor souls without mountains entertained.
There are around 80 places to snowboard in the UK (yep, 80), so you don’t have to bounce around your living room to try out your new kit.
Hell, we are known as the Land With No Snow – and yet we sent seven snowboarders to the Winter Olympics last year. Pretty much all of them started on dry slopes.
If Jenny Jones and Jamie Nicholls can shred on synthetic mesh, so can you.
COST: From £7 to £45 for a two hour lift pass
Go To The Alps, Eastern Europe Or Scotland
Let’s be honest, if you’re truly set on snowboarding properly, you’re going to want to go to somewhere snowy.
Your choices for snowy-but-affordable consist of: the Alps, Eastern Europe or Scotland.
The Alps is generally pricey and full of French people. Eastern Europe is very cheap, but rumours of bad snow, inhumanely long lift queues and vampires. Scotland is great but can be a bit patchy on the snow front and they do have an unhealthy obsession with Irn Bru.
OK, so it’s a lesser of three evils. Just kidding. All of these places have some serious perks. Pick your favourite and go with it!
Travel Any Way You Can
Lots of people think it’s cheaper to drive. They’re right, it is – if you have a full car. Well, if you have a car at all.
Cars are expensive, and there are lots of sneaky toll roads through France that’ll change you over €100 in total to get to the Alps – and send you into a foul mood.
"Bag a ride with a mate. Hitchhike. Just don’t get the coach unless you really have to..."
Cheap flights are always an option, but don’t forget you’ve got to get up the mountains. It’s not like London where there is a train and a bus stop on nearly every street corner. It’s the m-o-u-n-t-a-i-n-s for pete’s sake!
Bag a ride with a mate. Hitchhike. Just don’t get the coach unless you really have to. It might only cost £20 return but when you’re wedged between an overweight Austrian that smells of egg sandwiches, you’ll wish you spent the extra dough on a airplane seat.
COST: Free - £200, it just depends how savvy you are and how much time you've got to kill
Hunt Out Somewhere To Stay
Hunt out those cheap package deals like Bear Grylls on the prowl for a rare wilderbeast. They’re out there, you just need to know where to look.
Off-peak times are the best to go. I know you might not necessarily go to school anymore but some people still do. This means Christmas, New Year, February Half Term and Easter Holidays are pretty much no-gos when it comes to booking a shred trip.
"Hunt out those cheap package deals like Bear Grylls on the PROWL for a rare wilderbeast..."
Other cheap options include pitching a tent in a winter campsite (not recommended if you generally need a piss in the middle of the night) or sleep in your car (bring a 4-season sleeping bag and twelve hot water bottles).
If you’d rather not contract hypothermia in the back on your van, Couchsurfing is a popular option. Stay on people’s sofa beds/floors for free – and pray their host are not sociopathic serial killers.
COST: Free - £300 for a week's stay
Become A Boss At Packed Lunches
“Fuck you, ridiculously expensive French Fries and crap excuse for a pizza," is exactly what you should be saying to those overpriced mountain restaurants.
Instead, beat the system, go to the supermarket and make the meanest packed lunch the slopes have ever seen.
We heartily recommend the following:
- Half a baguette filled with whatever you can find the fridge. Cold meats, leftover brie, crisps, ketchup…
- Back up sandwich. Peanut butter and jam is a personal favourite.
- Apple. Bananas leave a nasty black gunk mess in your backpack after a day riding. Trust us.
- Seven Mars Bars, because you never know when you’ll need a sugar pick-me-up
- Hard-boiled egg in a Tupperware, pure protein, just like your grandma used to make…
COST: £5 or less
Skimp On Lift Passes (Or Find Alternative Ways)
So, if you’ve managed to nab a good second hand board, a cheap or free accommodation deal and hitchhiked your way to the mountains, you are doing pretty well.
Here comes the sting in the tail: the damn lift pass.
These are notoriously pricey. A week’s lift pass for the Portes du Soleil is nearly enough to feed a small child for a year.
"Just stay for the whole season and get a job with the lift pass included"
You could wing it without a lift pass. Check out this article on by-passing the lift pass system.
However, if you don’t fancy the hassle of ending up in jail and/or lost in the backcountry, pick a cheap resort. Lesser known spots might not have the same variety of runs or insane backcountry opportunities, but they will have just as much snow for half the price.
Or just stay for the whole season and get a job with the lift pass included. Win-win.
COST: Free - £200 for a week's pass