My, what a difference two years makes. This time, two years ago, I was creating a rather fanciful decision tree to help skiers decide how many ski passes to buy. At that time, I was a big fan of 4-packs and 6-packs combine with a season pass at my local mountain. I still am.
But times are changing and while you still may want to augment your home resort season pass with some great multi-day deals from other resorts, more and more it seems that the trend is toward collaboration and value-added partnerships that allow a single pass to take you more places.
One Planet, One Pass
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? And at Colorado’s Monarch Mountain, it is.
This year, Monarch’s One Planet, One Pass program offers deals at resorts on two continents, in five countries and in nine states – seriously. 31 ski areas and resorts in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, California, Michigan Arizona, North Carolina, British Columbia, Germany, Austria and Spain accept the Monarch pass.
Monarch has built their multi-mountain pass over eight years, working with other resorts on a reciprocal basis. “We’re all in it together,” explains marketing director Greg Ralph. “We all add value to each other’s passes, and we all get more people skiing, more often.”
Participating resorts this season include many of Colorado’s smaller “gem” resorts such as Powderhorn and Loveland, to larger full-service resorts such as Crested Butte and Durango Mountain Resort. Backcountry favorite, Silverton Mountain, is also included.
Fancy a trip along Canada’s Powder Highway? You can use the Monarch Pass at both Red Mountain and Revelstoke. Looking for deep powder? Take the pass on the road to Alta, Utah and then continue north to Grand Targhee, Wyoming. Kaffee und kuchen more your style? The Monarch pass can take you to five Berge & Company resorts in Germany and Austria.
The deals vary from mountain to mountain, so check the Monarch Mountain website for all the details and current pricing. Oh yeah – and you can actually use your One Planet pass at Monarch Mountain, all season long.
So, take a look for multi-mountain deals at your resort. More and more mountains are building these relationships, making your pass worth more and more!
The Mountain Collective
This is the pass that has everyone thinking “road trip” this season. Take four legendary independent resorts – some of the biggest names in the business – and create one pass that offers two free days at each resort with an unlimited 50% discount on additional days for the ski season. What do you get? An unprecedented reason to quit your job (or maybe just take some time off), fill the car with gas and hit the road.
Aspen/Snowmass, Alta, Jackson Hole and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows: can it get any better than this? Think about it. 16,005 acres of terrain on eight mountains served by 104 lifts. That is one big collective mountain. And with the Mountain Collective pass, you can get lodging at up to 25% off as well.
Brand-new for this season, the Mountain Collective pass is available online through an exclusive partnership with Liftopia, the largest seller of on-line, discounted lift tickets. You can also order the passes by phone by calling 800-705-6286.
Road trip, anyone?
The Epic, epic Pass
Ah yes, the big dogs. There’s no denying that some of the impetus behind multi-mountain passes comes from the success of Vail Resort’s Epic Pass. What started in Colorado some years ago as an inexpensive pass offering skiing at Vail Resort’s Keystone, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek and Vail mountains (and independent Arapahoe Basin), has evolved into the big dog of all passes.
The Epic Pass comes in different varieties, with different deals depending upon which pass you choose. The full Epic Pass (and yes this pass, too, is worth a road trip) offers unlimited access to the five Colorado resorts mentioned above, as well as Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe. New this season is a partnership with Verbier, offering passholders three free days days at the largest ski area in Switzerland.
If your plans don’t include extensive skiing in three states (and Switzerland), there is also an Epic Pass Local (with restrictions at Vail, Beaver Creek and in California), the Tahoe Local Pass and the Summit Value Pass. Prices vary by pass type. For more information, check the snow.com website.
I have a friend in the ski industry who says of Vail, “They’re like the grownups with a laptop and the rest of us are like kids in a sandbox.”
Whether or not you agree with this sentiment, it is undeniable that Vail Resorts has brought down the cost of season-pass based skiing and pushed the industry towards more collaboration. As a skier, I certainly don’t want to buy a daily ticket at any of the Vail Resorts, but with a pass, I’ve got no complaints.
Laptops for all!
The 5th and 6th Grade Passport
Colorado is not the only state to offer free skiing to 5th and 6th grade students, but it was one of the first, if not the first. It’s also the only state with which I have firsthand 5th and 6th grade passport experience.
Here’s the deal: if your child is in 5th grade in a Colorado school (yes, that means you live here), your child can ski three days at each of 20 participating Colorado resorts for (drumroll, please)…FREE! All you need to do is sign up and provide a photo on the Colorado Ski Country USA website. If your child is in 6th grade, he or she will receive a pass for 4 days of skiing or riding at 20 resorts for only $99.00. That’s less than $1.25 a day if you manage to bag all 80 days!
Additionally, with the 5th grade pass never-ever skiers or riders can take a free lesson, including rental equipment, during January as part of Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month.
For more information about the Colorado Ski Country USA Passport program, please visit www.coloradoski.com/passport or call 303-866-9707.
Know of other great pass deals for kids and adults? Please share in the comments section. We’d love to hear what’s available all over North America, and beyond.
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