The age of the multi-resort pass in upon us.
And that is a good thing.
Some locals may bitch — many of them vociferously — about them, saying these multi-resort passes are taking the soul out of skiing and bringing too many outsiders to the hill and clogging up the access roads and contributing mightily to the disappearances of secret powder stashes yada yada yada.
But you know what? These little pieces of plastic have been boon to the industry, making skiing and snowboarding a bit more affordable for many folks: Most of these multi-resort passes are cheaper than the old-style one-resort-only passes and they usually pay for themselves in less than a week of riding.
And besides, it can get awfully boring running laps at Mt. Wannabe day after day after day … You sometimes need a little something extra to perk things up. Don’t ever get the hankering to see what’s on the other side of the mountain?
The Big Two
There are several multi-resort pass options you can select, with the two most prevalent being the Epic and the IKON. These two giants of the multi-resort pass — each with 40 or more resorts in North America, Europe, Asia and Down Under under their respective wings — have more-or-less set the template for how a multi-resort pass should or can work.
With the Epic, whose top price is around $1,000 for the full, no-blackout, go-anywhere adult pass, you get all that the Vail Resorts are known for: sprawling mountains, impeccable grooming and decent customer service. You also get every-day access to such resorts as Vail, Breckenridge and Telluride in Colorado, Park City in Utah, Heavenly and Northstar in California, Sun Valley in Idaho, Stowe and Okemo in Vermont and Whistler Blackcomb in Canada.
With the IKON, whose full go-anywhere adult pass is $1,029, you get bit more (potential) adrenalin rush for your buck with big-mountain resorts like Mammoth and Olympic (née Squaw) Valley in California, A-Basin and the Aspen Snowmass complex in Colorado, Jackson Hole in Wyoming, Stratton and Sugarbush in Vermont and Alta and Snowbird in Utah.
With most of the aforementioned resorts charging $150 or (much) more for a daily lift ticket, you can recoup the cost of your pass very quickly. And if you are an inveterate winter road-tripper as I am, you can easily satisfy your resort-hopping jones with one or both of those passes.
If you’re not into the huge corporate feeling world of the IKON and/or Epic passes, there are a couple of other, lower-key options for you to consider.
One is the Mountain Collective, which is a loose association of 23 resorts around the globe. For the $589 adult pass, you get two days of skiing and snowboarding at Alta and Snowbird in Utah, A-Basin and Aspen in Colorado, Mammoth and Palisades Tahoe (a.ka. Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows) in California, Jackson Hole in Wyoming, Revelstoke and Lake Louise in Canada, Sugarbush in Vermont and Chamonix in France.
Another is the Indy pass, which for $399 gives you two days at each of their 80 participating, relatively small-time resorts, including Brundage and Tamarack in Idaho, China Peak and Mt. Shasta in California, White Pass in Washington, Snow King in Wyoming, Jay Peak in Vermont, Lutsen in Minnesota, Saddleback in Maine, Waterville Valley in New Hampshire and Crystal Mountain in Michigan.