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Skiing is expensive, almost prohibitively so for a middle-class family. Miles and points help tremendously in managing the overall cost, but lift ticket prices, especially for a whole family, can get out of control in a hurry. One way to rein in expenses a bit is to do the math on a season pass of some sort either with unlimited skiing or with a set number of days that you can use at various resorts. If you are going to ski more than once in a season at the major resorts, getting a pass is almost undoubtedly the way to go. Or, you can be like my parents and ski for $25 a day a little off the beaten path.
Currently, there are two main multi-resort annual ski passes to choose between. First, there is the EPIC Pass that we are using this year to ski at Whistler and Vail, but that is also valid at Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek, Park City, Stowe, and a few others. Second, there is the Mountain Collective Pass that currently includes Aspen Snowmass, Alta, Jackson Hole, Telluride, Taos, Banff, Squaw Valley, and more.
A basic explanation for how these passes work is that with the Epic Pass you can purchase a 4-day, 7-day, or unlimited pass to use at the eligible resorts however you wish. With the Mountain Collective Pass, you get two days included at each of the participating resorts and then additional days are 50% off the regular rate. To give you a price comparison, the 7 Day Epic Pass goes for about $600 – $700 and the Mountain Collective Pass sells for about $400 – $500 with prices generally increasing as ski season approaches. Of note is that the child Mountain Collective Passes are only $99, which is a much better deal than for the paid child Epic Passes.
If you think those are big numbers, and they are, remember that single day tickets are more than $150 per person at many of these resorts.
Telluride joining the Epic Pass program
This week there have been some big announcements for both of these ski pass programs going forward. Today it was announced that Telluride, previously a member of the Mountain Collective, will be joining the Epic Pass program next ski season. My oh my would that pair nicely with whenever the much-delayed SPG Hotel Ajax property in Telluride finally opens…if it ever opens.
Those with the unlimited Epic Pass will receive seven days to use at Telluride and then they can get 50% off additional days beyond those included seven. Those with the Epic 4 and 7-day passes can use those days at Telluride if they wish, with discounts available after those included dates are used. Conversely, those who are Telluride Season Pass holders or Telluride Ski & Golf Members with full winter benefits can get 50% off lift tickets at Vail mountain resorts.
Telluride is simply magical, so the news of it joining the Epic Pass next season is pretty huge news in the ski world all by itself, but that isn’t the only recent development.
New IKON Pass kicking off for the 2018 – 2019 ski season
While the Mountain Collective Pass will reportedly be around for one more year, the new competitor to the Epic Pass program is going to be IKON. Details on this new pass are still minimal, but you will find many of the familiar faces from the Mountain Collective Pass onboard. Some of the participating 23 resorts include Steamboat, Winter Park, Aspen Snowmass, Copper Mountain, Mammoth, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Killington, Tremblant, Deer Valley, Alta, Snowbird, Stratton, and more.
The new IKON passes will offer options ranging from full unlimited access to a set number of days that will vary by destination. Pricing and exact details are expected in the coming weeks.
Obviously, it makes the most sense for those who ski on passes to focus on one family of ski resorts each ski season. This means that which resorts belong to which pass is pretty key when it comes to planning trips. On paper next ski season I would like to go to Keystone and Aspen Snowmass, but that really doesn’t make sense at all from a pass perspective. From that standpoint, it makes the most sense to either drop down to just one trip or select two mountains that are in the same pass family such as Aspen and Steamboat or Keystone and Breckenridge or Telluride.
What do you hope to see from the new IKON pass program? Does your family purchase a ski pass in order to ski more for less?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.