Snowcone, this debate comes up every year (the "is it cheaper to ski out west" debate). Since we're all starting to think about the ski season, might as well start arguing about this too!
My take: if you go for a week, skiing is cheaper out west. If you factor in terrain, the value is far, far better out west than east. What's influenced my decision to ski around here way more than gas prices are the lift ticket prices. You can ski Alpine Meadowns in CA for 39 bucks- you can ski Whitetail for 50. There is no comparison in the terrain. You can ski Solitude Utah for 47 dollars or Snowshoe for 60 somethin' (all window prices here). I don't care what it takes to get terrain open around here, Snowshoe should never- NEVER- be within two dollars of Squaw Valley. Period.
So will gas prices influence my skiing decisions? Well, I spend 80% of my time skiing out west and what's influenced my decisions more over the last year than anything else was the broke-ed-ness of being back in school. The high lift ticket prices, the long drives, the lack of a positive income stream all matter more to me than the cost of gas. But this winter we're heading back to Utah- Park City most likely- where we'll be staying liftside for a week and eating powder for breakfast! Maybe I'll even meet Crush so he can show me a thing or two about skiing these new shaped ski thingies.
Gas prices? If it came down to gas prices, I'd call in sick, save the commute, and go skiing. Priotize, prioritize...