Most important: Link to Season Pass comparison spreadsheet
Sort of important: Let me know if you want to see a similar spreadsheet for "Multi-Day Passes"
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Less important: My ramblings on 2021-22 Season Pass Spring Sales
Buying in advance is the most affordable way to ski/ride. Even if you plan to ski just a few days, there are buy in advance options that make it more affordable. Unfortunately, if you don't buy a multi-day or season pass this year and you want to ski next year, you may spend upwards of $200/day.
A season pass is the most economical if you ski more than at least 5 days a year. I am a big fan of taking the cost of your pass and dividing it by the number of days you skied with it. It is always a fun game to see how low I can get my cost per day. Prices will start going up in April or May.
There is no denying that the multi-resort pass has changed the skiing industry, and I'm thankful for it. But with that, the price of day passes have sky-rocketed. From a business perspective, it makes sense: resorts get guaranteed cashflow come the fall. As a consumer, this means each March as we are enjoying the start of spring skiing, we have to start thinking towards the next season. What will be happening in my life a year from now? Where will I want to travel to ski? How many days will I be able to get in? We have to decide before prices start going up so we can get the best possible deal.
This is an interesting year in the world of season pass sales. While Ikon continued the normal annual increase, Epic decided to decrease their price by 20%. So if you were going purely on price there's no comparison, you'd buy Epic. The Full Epic pass is $216 less than a Full Ikon. Even with an Ikon renewal code, Epic still wins out with $116 of savings. I do think Ikon differentiated themselves this year by going with Affirm so you can "finance" your pass vs. the traditional pay $49 down and pay the rest in September. On the other hand, Arapahoe Basin is decreasing the amount of passes they're selling and increasing the price.
I am all about making skiing accessible, but I have major concerns about the crowds turning these same people off from skiing. Picture this: you're new to skiing and so excited about that you can afford the $600 Epic Local Pass. You stay on top of things and get a great deal on a season ski rental. Then, every time you go to ski, there are so many lines you're constantly cold, and there are so many people on the trails that it feels dangerous to ski down. While lowering the price is making skiing accessible, it's not necessarily making fun skiing more accessible. To lower the barriers to entry, we also need to create an environment that makes it easier to safely learn, and crowded slopes are not the answer there.
I don't have any perfect solutions. Maybe before this year I would have said that lower price and reservations, but let's be honest - the slopes this year at Vail Resorts felt just as crowded, if not more crowded than past years. Maybe it's looking towards smaller mountains like Ski Cooper and Wolf Creek, but they're not as convenient for people coming from the Front Range.
For the value, I think A-Basin is worth it. I would love to see them do something like Pass Scholarships, to balance the great experience with accessibility. As an A-Basin passholder, if there was a way to donate to a non-profit to make passes more accessible, I would. I was impressed when I saw the Ikon and SheJumps partnership earlier this year - check it out if you haven't seen it yet.
I don't have a solution, if I did I would hopefully be working in the industry to drive change. I am just a girl who loves to ski and wants to make sure others have access to share in this wonderful sport. Thanks for reading my ramblings! Happy to help you think through any pass decisions - just reach out!