Lift lines. Crowded slopes. Tracked-out powder. As important as a bustling community of skiers is to the feel of the sport, haven’t you ever wished you could have a mountain to yourself?

Thanks to the California-based outfit Liftopia, now you can. Starting this winter, the company is offering Full Mountain Rental packages at five ski areas nationwide, including two here in Maine. It’s not exactly private, but now you have the opportunity to rent Mt. Abram or the Camden Snow Bowl for a couple hundred of your closest friends.

Liftopia, a “complete online ski marketplace” based in San Francisco, also allows customers to buy lift tickets at nearly 200 mountains (including about a dozen in Maine) at a significant discount.

Evan Reece, co-founder and CEO, billed the site as a skiers’ and snowboarders’ version of travel discounters like Expedia. You can get tickets, rentals and other amenities for specific days, and you get a discount at the cost of being locked in to a particular date.

Over the years I’ve discovered that many folks working in the ski industry worldwide have connections to Maine, and Reece is no exception. A Massachusetts native and Colby graduate, Reece grew up skiing all over northern New England and was a Sugarloaf pass-holder in college.

Customers can search by date and resort and purchase discounted tickets directly through the Liftopia website. The list of available resorts has ballooned since the company was founded in 2006 with seven ski-area partners.

Setting up mountain rentals with Liftopia works the same as any other purchase on their site.

You click to the page for the Snow Bowl or Mt. Abram and check mountain availability — non-holiday Mondays and Tuesdays in Camden, and non-holiday Mondays through Wednesdays at Abram.

The Snow Bowl rental runs $5,000 for the day, and includes access to the entire mountain and tubing hill. Mt. Abram offers two levels, with $4,600 netting access to the whole resort and $2,800 for just intermediate and expert terrain.

All three packages buy skiing and riding for 250 people, meaning the most expensive package only runs $20 a person.

Since these packages are on days when the resorts would otherwise be closed, the full mountain rentals never limit access to people who would be skiing there otherwise.

“It can be a benefit to any number of types of skier,” said Reece. “You can have this be a good corporate outing, or you can have someone who wants to show their friends how awesome they are and get their own private mountain.”

The partnership between the resorts and the California company is win-win. Liftopia can provide tickets at a steep discount (and a unique experience — private skiing!), and ski areas can guarantee a certain number of people on the hill.

Along with the two resorts here in Maine, Liftopia offers full mountain rentals of Plattekill Mountain Resort in Roxbury, N.Y.; Whaleback in Enfield, N.H.; and Tamarack Resort in Idaho — the one Western resort on the list.

Reece noted that New England is a particularly strong scene for these private group rentals, since the region boasts a number of skiing and outing clubs. The Down East Ski Club and Maine Outdoor Adventure Club come to mind.

“Here’s a group of people that skis together regularly, and it’s an opportunity for them to get together and be the only people out on the hill,” Reece said.

As someone who spent a lot of time in both Camden and Greenwood as an aspiring skier, I couldn’t be happier that the two are Liftopia’s Maine partners. In a world where unique and exclusive programs are the de rigueur way to separate ski areas from their competition, a private resort for you and your friends is a pretty one-of-a-kind deal.

Josh Christie is a freelance writer and lifetime outdoors enthusiast. He shares column space in Outdoors with his father, John Christie. Josh can be reached at: [email protected]

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