How to execute a proper trip using The Mountain Collective pass
As you may have read in an earlier freeskier.com post, The Mountain Collective added Whistler Blackcomb, Mammoth Mountain and Snowbird to its alliance of resort superpowers for the 2013/14 ski season, creating even more of an incentive to get the Collective pass while supplies last. While at first glance this offering may seem like something out of dreamland, many still wonder how to execute a ski trip that maximizes the benefits of The Mountain Collective pass. For those folks, we present three scenarios to consider.
1) You’re a frequent visitor of one of the Mountain Collective resorts but hold a season pass at a different nearby resort.
You live in South Lake Tahoe but make the occasional weekend trip north to shred Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. Grab a Mountain Collective Pass, nab a couple of “free” pow days at Squaw and Alpine, then ski there for 50% off each day the rest of the season. When it comes time to take a vacation, it’s a quick three and half hour drive south to Mammoth Mountain. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, make the eight and a half hour trek east to Alta/Snowbird, and if you’re willing to spend a bit more money, hop a flight to Whistler, Jackson Hole or Aspen. With the money you’re saving, airfare is less of a burden.
Just another blower day at Mammoth. All photos courtesy The Mountain Collective
2) You live in non-ski country and don’t have a season pass, but you love to shred and take multiple ski trips each year.
You live in a large metropolis such as New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, but you still have the skiing itch, and scratch it with two big trips each year. The Mountain Collective gives you a chance to ditch the concrete jungle for six unique skiing destinations while saving some money in the process. Spend a week at Whistler Blackcomb and Alta/Snowbird taking advantage of abundant (450+ annual inches) snowfall at both destinations. If you’re looking for some easy backcountry access, Jackson Hole or Squaw/Alpine may be your best bet. Those who enjoy soaking up the sunshine can do just that while skiing Mammoth Mountain and Aspen/Snowmass.
The Mountain Collective is also the perfect tool to chase powder for your ski vacation. Rather than booking your trip months in advance, only to show up to less than optimal snow conditions, you can wait until a few weeks out and base your destination on where the storms are headed. With six destinations, one is bound to be getting dumped on.
3) Quit your job, live the ski bum dream.
Had it with your tyrant of a boss, making you come in to work on the weekends? Tired of sitting in traffic every morning and afternoon? Fed up with that constantly malfunctioning copy machine? Rather than formulating a diabolic plan to swindle your company out of millions of dollars, we suggest grabbing a Mountain Collective Pass, quitting your job and hitting the road.
Use some of that money you’ve saved up during your foray into the workplace to purchase an old van, rip up the seats, throw in a mattress and you’ve got your home for the next couple of months. Start off your life of unemployment in a little place called Aspen, timing your visit to intersect with the Winter X Games. Take two days to explore one of the four mountains (Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass or Buttermilk). Say you choose Ajax, Chris Davenport, in the 2013 Freeskier Resort Guide, suggests heading to Lift 1A on a powder day because often times it “will open before the gondola and you’ll be lapping the steeps while everyone else is still reading the morning paper.” When you’ve skied yourself silly, head to Buttermilk to watch the best winter sports athletes in the world throw down at Winter X Games.
Amid the aspen at, well, Aspen.
Once you’ve had your fill of the Aspen life, head north to cowboy country and Jackson Hole, and shack up at the comfortable yet affordable Hostel X. If you’re looking to challenge yourself, head straight up the tram and to Corbet’s Couloir or out the backcountry gates to Cody Peak (assuming you have the necessary backcountry tools and knowledge). If you’re looking for a more mellow experience, take some laps on the Casper chair for more intermediate terrain.
From Jackson, you’ll want to head southwest to hit up the blower Utah powder that accompanies Alta and Snowbird. Spend a day charging the steeps at each, and add a couple half-price days on to that if you’d like, because, after all, you don’t have to be at work on Monday.
Now, it’s off to California for a stop at Mammoth Mountain. Check out Mammoth’s world-class terrain parks or, per the advice of Chris Benchetler, as seen in our 2013 Resort Guide, head “off the backside toward chair 14 and hike the Hemlocks—the sick terrain there is protected from the wind.” And next up on your trip is Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, about a three and a half hour drive north. Split up your days at the resorts, spend one day soaking up the Squallywood lifestyle and hot lapping KT-22, then head over to its quieter, more reserved neighbor where the terrain is just as good but the crowds are non-existent.
Now for the grand finale; make the long haul up the coast, maybe camping out in Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park to split up the trip, and end up at the grand daddy of them all, Whistler Blackcomb. Repeatedly the number one overall resort in our Resort Guide issues, Whistler Blackcomb has so much to offer that you may never leave, which is OK because you quit your job, remember?
Jibbin’ underneath the Peak 2 Peak at Whistler Blackcomb.
Regardless of age, gender, ability level, skier type, home base, etc… there are plenty of ways to take advantage of the Mountain Collective Pass. For $379, you get two lift tickets at eight of the premier skiing destinations in North America, 50% off lift tickets after that, as well as a variety of lodging discounts. In a world where multi-resort passes are as common as getting iced at #freeskierfest, The Mountain Collective seeks to give its holders the best bang for their buck—and what’s not to like about that?
For more, visit mountaincollective.com.
About the author:
Donny O'Neill hails from the mystical, faraway land of New Hartford, CT. When he's not in the mountains searching for Big Foot, he's the Associate Editor here at Freeskier.