Planning a winter road trip? Or considering a few weekend-long getaways this ski season? You might want to contemplate your ski pass. As skiers become more mobile and destination-driven, and snowfall becomes less consistent, passes granting access to multiple ski areas are becoming more attractive. Noteworthy among them is the Mountain Collective Pass, which gets you on the chair for cheap at some of the best mountains in North America, and beyond.
The pass, which costs $419, gets you two days of skiing at each of 14 participating resorts: Alta/Snowbird, Aspen Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Revelstoke, Ski Banff/Lake Louise/Sunshine, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Mammoth, Stowe, Sun Valley, Taos, Telluride, Thredbo, Whistler Blackcomb (just for the ‘16-17 season) and Ski Queenstown/Coronet Peak/The Remarkables. The pass also provides two days, but not the full range of benefits, at partner resorts like Chamonix-Mont Blanc in France, Valle Nevado in Chile and Japan’s Hakuba.
If you want to ski more than a weekend’s worth at any given resort you can purchase all additional lift tickets for half price. To sweeten the deal even further, the pass provides lodging discounts aplenty, $99 passes for kids and a one-year membership to Protect Our Winters—because, well… refer to that less consistent snowfall bit, above.
Christian Knapp, vice president of marketing at Aspen Skiing Co. (ASC), which spearheaded the formation of the Collective, says that he and his colleagues observed an increasing number of skiers looking for value and variability. “We saw a void in the marketplace for a flexible pass product targeted at destination skiers with a low out-of-pocket price,” he explains. To close the gap, ASC partnered with Alta, Jackson Hole and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows and rolled out the pass in 2012-13.
It’s grown steadily since then—Telluride and Revelstoke are new to the Mountain Collective this year. Knapp says many resorts have expressed interest in joining the partnership, but that the participating resorts are careful about which ski areas they include. He explains, “We poll our guests every season and ask them what resorts resonate the most for a future inclusion in the lineup.”
Knapp believes the Mountain Collective makes sense for resorts because it’s an easy way to attract new skiers who might not make the effort to visit without the lure of a great deal. It makes sense for bucket-listers and money-conscious skiers, too. Just tick through the list of ski areas included on the pass: These are dream destinations that can be skied without breaking the bank. In fact, if you use up both your two days at each destination, your average cost per ticket is about $14. Even if you don’t hit all the stops, the pass pays for itself after about four days of skiing. And, in the event that the Rockies are dry or California has a seasonal slump, but, say, it’s nuking in British Columbia or Vermont, it allows flexibility in your plans.
Seattle-based skier Martin Masionpierre says that the Mountain Collective pass motivated him to explore the West and check out mountains he’d never skied before. He linked trips to Jackson Hole, Alta/Snowbird and Whistler. “I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t had the pass,” he explains.
Masionpierre confirms that he’s buying it again this year, and that he already has a(nother) trip to Alta in the works. “As someone who hadn’t skied a bunch of different western resorts outside of my Washington ski hills I think it’s a really nice way to explore different mountains,” he says.
He’s not the only one exploring. Knapp says Mountain Collective customers visit an average of three resorts per season, but many reach more than that. “Each year we’re blown away to learn that some of our most loyal customers have traveled to almost all the resorts, in some cases even renting RVs to do it,” he explains. “Hearing those stories is one of the most inspiring aspects of the Mountain Collective and why we’re so focused on making it better each season.”[table id=160 /]