Ski season is upon us. Start preparing early to get the best deals. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

As temperatures drop, each colder and colder morning serves as a reminder that winter is just around the corner. Along with winter comes ski season (easily the best time of the year). Whether you are a long-time skier or snowboarder or are looking to get into either of these sports, now is a great time to think about preparing for the upcoming season. Although Boston is not a mountainous city, many people here ski and snowboard, making the city well equipped to be the launching point of the season. After seven or eight months off, I’m sure the excitement is building to get back out on the slopes. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your next season:


Figure out where you want to go:

Although it can feel like skiing is something that only happens in some far away place, the mountains are much closer than you think. Ski areas like Bradford and Blue Hills are within a half hour drive of Boston, and while they are very small, they offer incredible access to skiing and riding. Nowhere is closer. The farther you get from Boston, the larger the mountains and better the skiing. New England has a wide array of ski areas, ranging from small hills like Blue Hills to huge multi-mountain resorts like Killington in Vermont. Wachusett Mountain in Massachusetts is a popular option at only an hour from Boston. I tend to find the sweet spot to be driving about two hours away as you can get some great skiing in and still make a day trip. At just over two hours away, Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire offers a classic New England skiing experience and over 2,000 feet of vertical drop. No matter where you end up, skiing in the east is a blast, and offers its own unique challenges compared to skiing in the rest of the country.


Figure out how to get there:

The BU Ski and Board Club runs multiple trips per year, often to Killington and one in Canada, which can be a great opportunity to meet other Terriers who love skiing and to get a break from school to experience an awesome mountain. If you want to do your own thing, you could rent a Zipcar for the day and take a day trip to any number of mountains in the area.


Buy gear early:

Now is definitely the time to get any gear you need before other people start snatching up all the good deals. Once Christmas time and ski season set in, prices will rise for skis, snowboards, gloves, jackets and anything else you might need. Right now, you may be early enough to the game to grab a deal or two on last year’s gear, but don’t wait long. Here in Boston we are lucky to have some great ski and snowboard shops that are great resources for getting equipment for the year. North River Outfitter in Beacon Hill as well as Ski Monster near North Station both offer great customer service and a wide selection of ski gear. Online stores often have large inventories and if you search enough, you might find some good deals. Remember, if you’re just starting off, renting directly from the mountain you’re visiting will likely be your best option.


Secure your passes early:

Right now is the time to buy any kind of season pass while prices are still low. Most mountains will offer a discount if you buy a season pass early enough, and most will still offer those discounts for at least another few weeks, if not months. If you are really serious about skiing, you might want to consider a college pass, which will let you ski at multiple mountains in the New England area all under one heavily discounted pass. While there are a few different options, I have found the College Superpass to be the best combination of value and accessibility of resorts. If you buy the pass prior to Nov. 30, the price is $319 and will get you on the slopes at Cranmore Mountain, Bretton Woods, Waterville Valley and Cannon Mountain.


An upcoming event in Boston to keep an eye out for is the annual ski and snowboard expo at the Seaport World Trade Center. They have a variety of services and a wealth of information about skiing and other winter activities, as well as great discounts on deals and lift tickets. Definitely head down to the seaport from Nov. 9-12 to check it out.