Zimride announces new route to Lake Tahoe

Just in time for the start of the ski season, ride sharing website Zimride has announced the opening of a new route between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe. To celebrate this new option, they’re also giving away free gas and partnering with local resorts as well.

Launched back in 2008, Zimride is an interesting mash-up of carpooling meets social media. The site allows drivers to sell the empty seats in their cars to passengers who are traveling along the same route, saving everyone some cash in the process. Touting the economic and environmental benefits of ride sharing, the company says that it has helped facilitate more than 26,000 carpools, covering over 100 million miles, at an estimated cumulative savings of $50 million.

The San Francisco to Lake Tahoe route is expected to open on Thanksgiving Day, which is often seen as the unofficial start to the ski season as well. To commemorate the new route, Zimride is giving away a free tank of gas ($40 value) to the first 500 drivers who successfully book the new route between now and the end of the year.

Lake Tahoe has long been considered one of the truly great ski destinations in North America. Nestled high in the Sierra Nevada mountains along the border of California and Nevada, the region is home to more than a dozen resorts, such as Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley. Travelers who stay at either of those resorts, or one of Zimride’s other Lake Tahoe partners, will will also be entitled to discounted lift tickets, VIP parking, and more.

I’ve never personally used Zimride, but it sounds like a great way to not only save a little cash, but also take a road trip with some like minded people. It sounds like fun to share a ride from San Fran to Tahoe for a weekend on the slopes. Considering the price of gas these days, it never hurts to split the costs either.

Find out more at Zimride.com.

Colorado ski resorts prepare for ski season, introduce social networking to slopes

Skiers and snowboarders who have been eagerly waiting for the Colorado ski season to begin, had their patience rewarded last week when Keystone Resort opened to the public for the first time this year. They’ll soon be joined by Breckenridge, which fires up the lifts tomorrow, followed by Vail and Heavenly, who kick off the season on the 19th, with Beaver Creek finally joining in on the fun on the 24th of the month.

It may still be early November, but the snow has already been flying on the mountains, with several of the resorts receiving in excess of 7″-8″ of snow in the past few days alone. That means that skiers can already expect a good base of powder when the gates open over the next few weeks, and considering these resorts average 300+ inches of snow per year, you can bet that the season ahead will be a good one.

Fantastic lodges and beautiful powder aren’t the only thing these resorts have up their sleeves this year however. They’ve also managed to bring their lift tickets into the 21st century by incorporating an RFID chip right in the passes themselves. That technology opens up a host of new opportunities for visitors in what can only be described as an Epic Mix.

Epic Mix is a unique blend of outdoor fun, social networking, and technology that comes together in an online environment or on a mobile app for the iPhone and Android devices. As you spend the day going up and down the mountain, making great run after great run, the RFID chip is busy keeping track of how far you’ve skied, how many vertical feet you’ve dropped, and so on. It then allows you to share that information online at the Epic Mix website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. You can even earn special Epic Mix achievements for completing certain goals or attending specific events. Those achievements can be shared with friends and family in the form of badges that can be prominently displayed on your Epic Mix or Facebook page. Examples of some of these achievements are the Snow Turkey, which is awarded for visiting a resort on Thanksgiving Day or the Three’s Company badge for skiing more than 3000 vertical feet in a single season.

As of this writing, the Epic Mix mobile apps are not available yet, but the website promises that they’ll arrive “by Christmas.” Android and iPhone users will find plenty to love in these applications, as they’ll not only allow you to access your Epic Mix account while on the go, they’ll also show you exactly where your friends are on the mountain at any given time, and allow you to message one another to set up when and where to meet. The apps will also give you real time weather and snow reports, traffic updates, and information on the conditions of your favorite run.

For more information on what Epic Mix can do, check out the video below and be prepared to have an even more social experience on the slopes in Colorado this season.

[Photo credit: Breckenridge Lodge]