Blooming trees may not be conducive to ski thoughts, but spring is a great time to plan next season on the slopes because multiresort passes go on sale at this time.
Multimountain passes give access (often unlimited) to several locations, and in recent years they have upended not just the way the ski industry sells lift tickets, but also how people approach their winter trips. Vail Resorts was among the first to jump onboard, introducing its Epic Season Pass in 2008. Now it sells 650,000.
“We are seeing a trend with people buying their Epic passes, often early to receive a discount, before knowing exactly when or where they want to go,” said Dan Sherman, the vice president for marketing at Ski.com, which arranges vacation packages. “Next they will lock in their dates by buying a plane ticket. Then, sometimes months later, they will lock in the rest by choosing a resort and booking their lodging.”
Jeff Hanle, the director of public relations for the Aspen Skiing Company, a member of the Mountain Collective (created in 2012), said, “The real value of the pass is the diversity of resorts and the fact that pass holders have an incentive to explore new destinations.”
Here is a guide to the most popular passes for 2017-18. In most cases, the listed prices will go up: the early bird gets cheaper fresh tracks.
An all-you-can-ski Epic Pass costs $859 ($449 ages 5 to 12), and unlocks 14 mountains, including behemoths such as Vail in Colorado, Heavenly and Kirkwood in California near Lake Tahoe, Park City in Utah and a recent acquisition, Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia. International options are not too shabby, either, with several free days at the Alpine hot spots Verbier, Val d’Isère and St. Anton.
The Epic Local ($339 to $639), Epic 7-Day ($339 to $639) and Epic 4-Day ($229 to $419) passes are cheaper but limit the number of resorts you can visit or have blackout dates.
The Mountain Collective offers two free days (lift tickets are half-price afterward) at 16 top resorts like Alpine Meadows/Squaw Valley and Mammoth in California, Sun Valley in Idaho, Alta and Snowbird in Utah and Jackson Hole in Wyoming. International affiliates include Lake Louise in Alberta, Chamonix in France and Valle Nevado in Chile. While the Mountain Collective is strongest in the West, it added Sugarbush in Vermont (replacing Stowe, which is now on Epic) for 2017-18.
A pass costs $429 for adults and $99 for children under 12; the price will rise when current supplies are exhausted (last year it went up to $499). Early adopters can pick a third free day at the resort of their choice.
Good for 44 mountains, the MAX Pass blankets the country, and for 2017-18 six resorts have been added, including Gore, Belleayre, Windham and Whiteface in New York. This is in addition to Alyeska in Alaska, Steamboat in Colorado, Big Sky in Montana, Mount Bachelor in Oregon and Solitude in Utah.
This pass is among the most straightforward: For $629 (more after May 1), adults get five free days at each destination, with no blackout dates; child rates are $29 to $429. If you happen to have a season pass at one of the participating resorts, a $329 add-on gives access to the other 43.
The Peak Pass has enrolled seven midsize hills in the Northeast, including Hunter in New York and Mount Snow in Vermont. There are five pass options based on age and calendar flexibility. For unlimited access and no blackout dates, buy the Explorer ($399 ages 7 to 17, $599 for people over 30) or the Drifter ($399, ages 18 to 29). The Drifter’s price is good until Dec. 15, while the Explorer goes up after April 30, and then again on Oct. 18.
Larger Colorado resorts that aren’t in Epic or the Mountain Collective are in the Rocky Mountain Superpass ($599 for adults). This lets you into Copper Mountain, Eldora and Winter Park, with free days at Crested Butte and Steamboat, as well as Alyeska in Alaska and six places in Iceland, Japan and New Zealand.
The Gems Card is great for those who enjoy crowd-free mom-and-pop resorts. A $25 card allows you to buy a pair of two-for-one adult lift tickets or two adult tickets at a 30 percent discount at nine participating mountains in Colorado, including Arapahoe Basin (which is expanding), Cooper, Loveland and Powderhorn.
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