OK, so you just blew a load of cash on back-to-school shopping. But don’t put up the plastic just yet, because now is the time to think about something a bit more alluring than loose-leaf notebooks and graphing calculators for Junior. Yes, it’s time for back-to-the-slopes shopping.

As of yesterday, most of the big local ski areas had announced their 2010/2011 season pass pricing. And if you don’t already have your ski boots in a row, here’s a handy breakdown of your options for maximizing your time on the hill.

Mount Hood Meadows
This year, the Unlimited Pass for Hood’s largest ski area clocks in at $449. And there’s no need to form a group this year to get the lowest rates. If you think you can get the job done in 10 days, you’ll only need to pony up $349. (Not bad, considering a regular lift ticket will run you $69.) Nordic action more your speed? $75 nets you weekend (Thursday-Sunday) access to some of the most meticulously groomed cross-country tracks in the Northwest.

Timberline
For the truly snow-obsessed, T-line’s Complete Pass ($995) scores you a guaranteed 365 days on the hill (if you skimped on the graphing calculator, that’s less than 3 bucks a day). But if you’re usually ready to hang up the sticks by May, then the Season Pass ($499) is your best bet. Got little ones? Really little ones? Timberline also offers the Parenthood Pass ($550), which lets parents who have kids that are too young to ski swap the same pass. Which means you can get your turns in while your better half babysits, coca in hand, in the lodge. Note to snow hogs: Be prepared to return the favor.

Fusion Pass
The popular Fusion Pass ($449) which gets you the nod at both Timberline and Skibowl, is back. No surprise there. But the big change here is that unlike in years past, the Fusion can be purchased by individuals, so no need to troll the Ski Fever and Snowboard Show in search of 4 strangers to go in with you. (Unless you just dig that whole scene, of course.) You can also purchase the pass in person each weekend in October at all area REI locations.

Mount Hood Skibowl
Other than the Fusion Pass, prices aren’t up yet. Will post those details as soon as they’re available.

Mount Bachelor
A day or six at Bachelor is never a bad idea. And the 12-day pass ($450) is just the ticket for stealing away to the Big B for a few weekends. Think you’re game for more, but don’t want to cough up $799 all at once for a Season Pass? Put in a $49 deposit by September 15, and Mount Bachelor will let you spread out the remainder of the balance into two separate payments in October and November.

Something else to jot down in your loose-leaf notebook: In most cases, prices start to go up in October and November. So shop now for the best deals.