May 10, 2021

As this ski season winds down, our thoughts turn to spring and summer activities. Oh wait! Lets try that again.

As this ski season winds down, our thoughts turn to NEXT SKI SEASON!! Whew. We got it right this time.

While we all have other activities that bring us joy (what did that delightfully crazy lady say about organizing your life – if it doesn’t spark joy, throw it away? We should probably apply that to our interests and hobbies, eh?), we suspect many of you are like us – Skiing is the king of all joy! So we all know we will ski next year. This means a little planning now is worth the effort. This is particularly true when it comes to buying tickets/passes for the winter of 21/22. And the sooner the better, because prices are only going to go up!

One of the only aspects of the corporate takeover of the ski industry we like is the surfeit of ski pass options. We could easily put you to sleep with too much detail on your options, so our aim here is to highlight the basic alternatives. We will leave it to you to get into the various websites as you try to stay awake piling through the details, but whatever you do, BUY!

First some non-financial basics. Don’t delay getting a pass because you fear for the next pandemic, or that you will get hurt or get run over by the big bus before next winter. Even if the company or area you have bought your pass from does not have an official refund policy, our experience is that the resorts are understanding on the refund front. We can thank Covid for that. And perhaps also thanks to Covid, additional frills are often provided to pass holders. Want free unreserved parking, early ups on your favorite lift and cheaper tickets for your loser friends who didn’t buy a pass? Then buy a pass. (Alta for instance has caused the earth to move in Utah with their recent announcement that they will adopt a parking reservation system and charge for weekend/holiday parking next year, but it is clear certain pass holders will be exempt.)

And then the financial reasons are compelling. While there is no magic number, if you plan on skiing more than 8-10 days next winter you should consider a pass, and the time to buy it is NOW given “early season” discounts. If those days are going to be at one resort look seriously at their season or multi day pass options. Many areas are currently offering transferrable multi day passes for a designated number of days. For example, Snowbird offers a Flex-4 Tix or Ten-2-Share passes.

Life gets complicated when you venture into the world of multi-area passes, but it is worth going there. The most unique, and therefore the most interesting to us, continues to be the Indy Pass. Since our last post on the Indy Ski Pass they have continued to add resorts.  For $379 ($279 with blackout dates) you get two days of skiing at each Indy resort. Now included in the pass are some of our favorite eastern resorts (Jay Peak and Cannon) and ones on our hit list (Bolton and Saddleback) and some western gems (Powder Mountain and Lost Trail Powder Mountain). Rainy day? – scroll through their website and plan weekend adventures or your next road trip. See Indy Pass

Of course the 800 lb. gorilla in this multi-area pass world is Vail Resort’s Epic pass. In a stunning move, Vail Resorts has dropped their prices by 20% this spring so for $783 one gets unlimited access to their marque resorts (think Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Park City and Whistler/Blackcomb) and seven days at each of Telluride, Sun Valley, Snowbasin, Fernie, Kicking Horse and a few additional Canadian and overseas resorts. For even strikingly even lower prices they offer their Local Pass and 4 day options. For a serious skier planning a couple trips or even one extended stay at one resort the savings with this pass are really astounding. Note, Vail Resorts anticipates that reservations will no longer be required for the 2021/2022 season, a requirement that plagued many skiers this past ski season. See Epic Pass

Weighing in at 700 lbs. is the Ikon pass, which is basically Aspen’s counter to the Epic. Somewhat surprisingly, Ikon has refused to enter into a price war with Epic and has essentially maintained their pricing structure. For $1,049 you get unlimited access to 15 name resorts (Steamboat, Copper and Squaw/Alpine perhaps the most significant) and 7 days at each of 29 other areas with no blackout dates. That list of 29 is quite impressive with Aspen Snowmass, Jackson and Snowbird/Alta being the top western resorts and Sugarloaf, Sunday River and Killington the key eastern areas. As with Epic there is a cheaper, more restrictive pass and a four day option. It remains to be seen whether their higher pricing will hurt them and for now we will leave to others the debate of whether Epic or Ikon has the better stable of resorts. See Ikon Pass

Mountain Collective continues with a different approach, offering 2 days at each of 23 different resorts which is therefore what we term the “Road Trip’ pass. And the price – at $499 – is quite appealing. One trip could include Jackson, Alta/Snowbird and Big Sky. Their coverage on the east coast is a thin, but it does include the two sugars – Bush and Loaf. Particularly appealing is that additional days at any of their resorts are half price, although depending on the individual resort policies that is likely to be half the highest single day full price ticket. See Mountain Collective Pass

If you are still awake, suffice it to say that the above is the flyover summary of your options. Of course the details are the devil and each website will offer more than you want to know. Our point is before you move onto those less joyful non-skiing activities give ski season 21/22 some thought. If you consider December 15th a logical start to the season it is only 219 days away…


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!