April 12, 2024

As the Utah avalanche forecasters like to say…we have entered that time period when summer and winter duke it out. Otherwise known as spring. As I write this I am watching a brilliant sunny spring day go by in Maine thinking that summer is winning out. But every time I venture outside I am reminded it is still chilly and brisk, and we have months to go before summer actually takes hold.

It is a time of scattered emotions for us skiers. My feet are still firmly planted in winter. My mind wanders between good memories and regrets for places not skied, actions not taken. Yes, once again we had a plentiful winter of deep Utah snow accompanied by dear friends, but why didn’t we go to Snowbasin on that sunny spring day; why didn’t we…; why didn’t we… Several times the echo of Warren Miller’s voice stating “If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do” spurred us to take action. But there are activities out there that we will just be one year older when we do it! Damn!

As this season winds down we are struck by some recent developments and news coverage of topics we have discussed over the winter…

First, we have long suspected that the New York Times follows us and gets their ski related ideas from us. 🙂  They have done it again! We have written about Powder Mountain in Utah several times this year focusing on the purchase of the resort by the Netflix co-founder (Reed Hastings) and his announcement that substantial parts of the mountain would be private starting next year. See Privatization of the Ski Industry and Powder Mountain Going Private?  Since our last post on this, Powder has announced a further investment in the public/private model. Powder will put in several new lifts splitting the new terrain between public (1,000 acres) and private (2,400 acres). Our articles and these new developments garnered the attention of the NYT, and they recently published an article on the resorts upcoming changes: NYT On Powder Mountain Developments.

We also recently wrote about several publications irresponsibly hyping the dangers of our beloved sport (that would be you – The Atlantic and Outside) – read our piece here: Is Skiing Dangerous?.  The Los Angeles Times recently joined the hysteria. Apparently they have confirmed that increased accidents on the slopes are due to weed smoking, GoPro using, selfie-taking skiers. Who knew!? For the full frantic article –  ICYMI Weed Smoking Ski Accidents.

In addition to us railing about the increasing focus on private access to skiing, we have often lamented the outrageous cost of pursuing the sport. As we have discussed, some of this can clearly be attributed to several 800 lb. gorillas – i.e. Vail and Aspen controlled companies (read Ski Area Acquisitions). The Economist, recently published an article wrapping all these factors; increasing costs; private skiing and the dominance of Alterra and Vail Resorts into one neat (well, ugly actually) package – The Economics of Skiing in America.

Speaking of Alterra, they recently purchased Colorado’s beloved Arapahoe Basin and have now announced that they require parking reservations and be charging $20 for parking on peak days. We of course knew there would be changes as this famously independent area (we can’t even call it a “resort”) got gobbled up by the Aspen controlled Alterra, but this seems like an odd change to announce early in the process.  In the world of skiing $20 ain’t much, but charging for parking is a third rail emotional issue for many of us. We were dismayed several years ago when Alta went to this model. But now A-Basin?! And we thought the eclipse was the end of the world! For an interesting discussion on the Arapahoe Basin parking situation see SKI Magazine – Let Us Debate the Latest Controversy over Ski Resort Parking.

And then there is this. We recently saw an Instagram post by a person who had just come back from Japan in which they compared the cost of day tickets (purchased day of) for well known US and Japanese ski areas. The results were astounding… the average for US areas $246 while the average for Japanese ski areas was $51. As we know from personal experience this winter, the Yen isn’t worth much these days. And, yes, we know that only people with way more money than any of us buy same day tickets. But you get the point – to ski in North America is f****** expensive!!!

Be Well; Ski Well

conSKIerge co-founder

Kevin Dennis is a life long ski bum with a 34 year legal career on the side. Now retired, he skis 80+ days a year. While he lives in Alta UT in the winters, he has traveled extensively through skiing and has skied almost every major resort in North America (and many you have never heard of). He continues to hit the road often throughout the western United States and Canada and trips over the last several years have included ventures in British Columbia, Montana and Colorado. Whether you want to know about the behemoths like Aspen or Squaw or are interested in the road less travelled (Lost Trail Powder Mountain in Montana or Whitewater in BC anyone?), Kevin has been there, has an opinion and you will most likely have to tell him to shut up after a half hour!