March 30, 2022

Yes we know that the winter of 21-22 is still alive (and sometimes well), but it is already time to start thinking about ski passes for next winter. This is particularly important given that you can save a buttload of money by investing in passes for next year NOW.  Single area season passes for 22/23 are slowly becoming available, but many areas have yet to announce pricing for those passes for next winter. If you are going to mainly ski your home mountain buy their pass now or contact that resort to find out when they will be available. They would like nothing better than to have your money well before next winter, and they make it worthwhile to buy now!

The real news regarding ski passes currently is in the world of multi-mountain passes – Mountain Collective, Ikon, Epic and the Indy Pass being the national (and in some cases, international) ski pass giants. Each of these pass programs have announced initial pricing for the 22/23 winter, and it is highly unlikely prices will go down so now is the time act. We hear from many people that they can’t make decisions this early because they don’t know where they are going to ski next winter. While a logical excuse, it may be a red herring. All four of these passes cover numerous areas and geographies so you need not completely fine tune your plans for next winter to benefit from buying one or more of the passes. Also, consider flipping the script – let the passes help you decide where to go. Thinking that a western Canadian trip would be fun? The Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (Fernie, Kicking Horse, Kimberly and Nakiska) are part of the Epic Pass. (We haven’t skied Kimberly or Nakiska, but we can very highly recommend visits to Fernie and Kicking Horse!)

We could easily put you to sleep by attempting to describe in detail the features of each pass. The specific attributes of the passes are complicated, particularly since Epic, Ikon and Indy passes each have at least two levels of passes. But hopefully our discussion will provide an overview specific enough to get you headed in the right discussion.  (Huge shoutout to Storm Skiing Journal for creating a Pass Tracker chart that provides amazing detail in a spreadsheet format on these passes and numerous other passes – see Storm Skiing Journal Pass Tracker).

  • Indy Pass – Since we have an affinity for the little guys, we will start with the Indy Pass. Key takeaway – it ain’t so little any more. The Indy Pass now includes more than 80 resorts in the US, Canada and Japan. The concept is simple – $279 (or $379 for no blackout dates) gets 2 days at each resort plus 25% off a 3rd ticket. To be a member of the Indy Pass family a resort has to be independently owned (not defined by Indy) so the resorts tend to be the smaller  areas. But don’t be put off by this. Many of these areas have serious vertical and provide less crowded primo skiing. East coast – think Jay Peak in VT; Cannon in NH; and Saddleback in ME. Rockies – Castle Mountain Resort – Alberta (2,800 vertical); Silver Mountain Resort – Idaho (2,200 vertical); and Powder Mountain – Utah (2,200 vertical). Check it out and purchase yours here – Indy Pass
  • Epic Pass – While there are different iterations of the Epic Pass, the basic concept is unlimited access (no blackout dates) to 40 Vail owned resorts for $841. It’s expensive, but it includes some major resorts both east and west – Vail; Breck; Whistler; Heavenly; Park City; Stowe; Okemo; and Wildcat are prime examples. In addition, one gets 7 days at Telluride and the resorts of the Canadian Rockies, 5 days at each of several Japanese areas and reduced tickets at more than 25 European resorts. Many of the passes on the market now are best used if you are going to sample a number of areas on a trip. The Epic Pass makes sense even if you plan on just going to one area. Five days of skiing at Vail cost well over $1,000. The math is simple – buy the Epic Pass even if you are just skiing Vail for a week. Learn more and purchase here – Epic Pass
  • Ikon Pass –  The Ikon Pass comes in three flavors – (i) the full pass for $1079 provides unlimited access to 14 resorts (West examples – Steamboat; Winter Park; Solitude; Mammoth/ East examples – Stratton; Sugarbush; Tremblant) with up to 7 days each at more than 25 other destinations (including Aspen; Jackson; Sugarloaf; and Sunday River); (ii) the base pass at $769 with access to 13 key resorts with certain blackout dates and up to 5 days each at 30 areas in North America and Europe; and (iii) the Sessions Pass which allows you to customize 2 day ($249), 3 day ($349) or 4 day ($419) packages at over 35 resorts with limited black out dates. Notable changes for the upcoming season include the addition of Sun Valley, Snowbasin and the French resort Chamonix Mont-Blanc and the removal of Alta from the base pass option. Snowbird you will get 5 days (with holiday blackout dates) on the base pass. The Ikon Pass perhaps makes more sense if you are looking to ski multiple resorts, but even the full pass may suit you if you are just skiing one of the areas for a week. More here – Ikon Pass
  • Mountain Collective – In many aspects this is the simplest pass to figure out – $539 for 2 days each at 22 resorts with no blackout dates and 50% off additional days. The list of included resorts is impressive – Alta/Snowbird, Big Sky and Sun Valley for example in the West and Sugarloaf in the East. Given the limited number of days at each resort the Mountain Collective pass perhaps makes sense for the most adventurous skiers who are going to ski a number of ski areas over the winter. Get yours before the price hike here – Mountain Collective

The moral of the story – pour yourself your favorite winter drink (before you switch to dark and stormies), call your ski buddies and make those plans now for next winter. As we said, you don’t need to nail down all the details now since one or more of these passes probably makes sense if you can develop a general idea about where you want to explore next winter.

Be well; Ski Well

conSKIerge co-founder

Charlotte Miller caught the ski bug early from her dad. An avid skier and gearhead, Charlotte claims Sugarbush, Vermont and Alta/Snowbird, Utah as her home mountains. In addition, she has explored many other resorts throughout North America and northern Japan. Despite having a job in the corporate world, she skis 40+ days a year. She is an Ambassador for Atomic. Warning – while she loves to share her love for the mountains with others, don’t try to keep up with her on the hill – it won’t end well.