Steep discounts for frequent skiers

Next time you make small talk on a chairlift, ask your seatmates what they paid for their lift tickets. Then hang on to your ski poles. You may be astounded at the different figures you get— and more than a little annoyed if you are the sole rider who shelled out full price ($47‚$59 per day at most big mountains).

Increased competition among ski areas due to industry-wide consolidation has spawned a rash of frequent-skier and incentive plans designed to lure avid downhillers to one resort (or a group of resorts) and keep them coming back all season. The best programs, such as the Edge Card, featured at all 11 slopes owned by the American Skiing Co., cost little or nothing to join, reward you relatively soon after enrollment, and allow you to choose from a number of ski areas. Others require an initial cash outlay and a greater commitment to one particular area, but can still be worthwhile. Many offer additional perks, like the chance to skip the ticket window and go straight to the lifts, as well as deals on lodging and dining. Sign up at a participating resort's guest services desk or Web site. Happy trails.

— Meg Lukens Noonan