There’s definitely one good thing about the recent heavy storms hitting Southern California: more fresh powder on the slopes! The weekends are getting sunnier, which means great runs on the mountainside. Skiing and snowboarding, though fun, can be expensive endeavors; a good snowboard alone can cost you well over $300, and all-day lift tickets can run between $50-$60 at many resorts. Your best bet for planning the ultimate bargain ski/snowboard weekend is to plan ahead. Here, we offer you the ultimate guide for a great ride without breaking the bank.

Grabbing the Best Gear at the Best Price

First things first, get your gear. You want to be ready to attack the mountain and look cute while doing it. The best time to buy your ski/snowboard gear is toward the end of the season. Be sure to check out all of the deals at your local skate/surf/snow shop when each season ends. But for now, most rentals at these shops will cost you about $25, and these are complete packages, including boots, bindings and boards for boarders and skis, boots and poles for skiers. Also, try shopping around on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. People are always trying to get the newest gear for the season, so you can offer to take their used gear off their hands for really cheap.

Though Ski Dazzle is over for now, you can plan ahead next year by attending this event. The Ski Show & Snowboard Expo is held yearly around the start of ski/snowboard season and offers packages and deals on all your ski/snowboard gear. The reason why it’s so cheap is because they’re clearing out old stock for the new year, so you’ll be able to get all your gear for more than 50 percent off from vendors. Plus, a ticket to Ski Dazzle (which was $18 this year) gives you a free lift ticket to Bear Mountain/Snow Summit. There are some conditions that apply, of course. Yet, calculating the costs of a regular ticket to Bear Mountain/Snow Summit (about $56 for a whole day), you’re saving a lot by just merely buying a ticket to the event.

One thing that’s great about being a student and renting ski/snowboard gear is that you can easily rent quality equipment from your school’s recreation center. Check their site for details.

Making Your Lift Tickets Worth Their While

If you missed Ski Dazzle this year (Don’t worry, now you’re prepared for next year.), there are some options on lift tickets that might just give you the edge on savings. If you’re lucky, for Bear Mountain/Snow Summit and Mountain High, you can ride free on your birthday. For the rest of us with summer birthdays, there are options such as half-day lift tickets or night boarding. Night Boarding is usually the cheapest, running about $30 for most ski resorts. The best thing about the night is that there are less people! This means that you have the whole slope to yourself without the risk of tripping over those newbies. Plus, the snow quality is better, with a more powder-like quality at night, making falling much easier. The only drawback is that it’s very cold, which is manageable if you’re wearing the right warm clothing for your ski/snowboard run.

Mountain High hosts College Nights, Jan. 20, Feb. 3 and March 3, when students can ride from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for only $20 (with college ID). After your runs, you can grab a beer and dance with other students at the Bullwheel until 11 p.m.

For other ways to add value to your weekend, Mountain High’s Points ticketing system lets you purchase a ticket based on how many runs you have, meaning that like a debit card, points are deducted every time you use a chairlift to go up the mountain. The value of this ticketing system is the amount of control and transferability you have. They’re sold in blocks of 200, 500 or 1,000 points, and each chairlift uses about 10 to 20 points. The 200 block starts off at a rate of $55 ($65 for holiday and peak weekends), and you can use any unused points on another day. Plus, the ticket is transferable to other people. So when you take your beginner buddy who can only handle one run for the day, you can use his/her point ticket for your own fun.

For Bear Mountain/Snow Summit, there’s the Half-Day Getaway Program, which gives you a credit voucher for up to $15 off your next visit. How it works: You buy an all-day lift ticket to ski and snowboard all morning and then return your ticket to the ticket window by 1 p.m. to receive your voucher.

Another program from this resort is catered specifically for those new to the mountain and involves downloading and filling out a release form, which will give you a voucher for $10 off of your lift ticket. This offer is not for people who have previously registered.

Extended Lift Ticket Deals

If you plan on continuing your snowboarding trip for more than just one weekend, then the Extended Lift Ticket Deals are worth the cash. Mountain High offers their 6-Pack, which is six adult eight-hour lift tickets good for any day of the season (this includes holidays). At $179, you’re basically paying $29 per ticket. The resort also offers another deal called the Quad for only $79. It is four adult night tickets (valid from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.) that you can use between Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the season, including holidays. Your savings add up with this ticket deal since when broken down you are only paying $19 per ticket. This is just another reason why boarding at night is one of the cheapest ways to snowboard this season.

Going in a Group Beats Going Alone

Going with a group is definitely an experience, a retreat away together that offers valuable deals and some pretty memorable times. Once you get your Facebook event ready and your confirmations set, then you’re ready to shop around.

If you’re planning on going with a group, group rates are available at Mountain High. They require a group of 15 or more people paid as one transaction to qualify for their reduced rates. So instead of paying $55 for every person, each person pays $47 for an all-day pass. Group nights are even cheaper at just $20 per person. As an added incentive, Mountain High offers one complimentary ticket for every 20 purchased. All of the forms you will need are on their Web site. Reservations are required and you will need to fax or e-mail the forms at least four days in advance of your scheduled trip date.

Bear Mountain/Snow Summit also offer a similar incentive for group deals. They offer one complimentary ticket for every 20 purchased as well.

Lodging

This is where planning ahead comes in handy since the closer the date of your reservation, the more likely the price will go up. For the best deal, usually allow two months or more before your weekend reservation date. Make sure to reserve during regular weekends and not during peak holidays. The easiest to use Web sites to find the best deals for weekend lodging in Big Bear and Wrightwood include bigbearvacations.com, bigbearcoolcabins.com and mthigh.com.

For lodging near Mountain High, go to mthigh.com and click on the lodging tab. They conveniently compile all the cabins available for rentals from hotels to a three-bedroom log cabin. Your best bet is to type in the number of bedrooms you need. Each listing has a contact number and a description of the lodging’s amenities.

For Big Bear, both bigbearvacations.com and bigbearvoolvabins.com have similar interfaces where you can do a search for availability based on number of bedrooms, length of stay and total rent. Other search options include occupancy, locations and different amenities, such as whether you want to bring your pet, hot tubs, lakefront and Internet. Right now, bigbearvacations.com has a special deal where you stay the nights of Feb. 21 to Feb. 24 and receive 10 percent to 40 percent off, including free lift tickets. They also have specials for AAA members and the military, offering 10 percent off.

Bigbearvacations.com’s service is simple and easy, you book online, pick up the keys from their main office (and your free gift) and your rental is set.

Rides

Carpooling is a must for any bargain ski/snowboard weekend, and Mountain High is the closest for those living in Los Angeles. It is 20 minutes off Interstate 15, which connects with Interstate 10, 60 or 210. Plus, there’s a unique feature on the Mountain High Web site that allows you to coordinate a rideshare with other people in your area. For those who don’t have a car, you can search preferences based on gender, age and ability.

With this economic climate, here’s a quick and easy guide to having the most rad and awesome ski/snowboard weekend ever. Remember, a lot of these tips involve planning ahead for the best deals. So, plan accordingly because saving on snow season doesn’t stop when the season ends.