If you've ever showed up at a ski resort ticket window on day 1 of your ski vacation and been totally shocked by the lift ticket prices listed in the window, you're not alone. The going rate at major ski resorts in North America for a daily lift ticket right now is between $120 USD ($172 AUD)-$160 USD ($229 AUD), and this price is only expected to climb another 3-5% annually. For casual skiers, there used to be very few ways to get around this (when I was growing up, there were just three options of season pass, midweek pass, and daily lift tickets!) In the adaptable life of the 21st century ski resort, however, ski pass deals are evolving…and that means bigger savings with more flexible options for different types of ski vacationers with varying needs.
This week, we asked skier and adventurer Jeremy from Tahoe how he saves big with one of the most popular package ski passes: the Mountain Collective Pass. Keep reading for his expert advice on the best of what this pass has to offer, and surprising ways to save next season.
What's your skiing background?
I was a kid in a big family of skiers growing up in Vermont. We raced, skied fast, snuck in bump runs and "out-of-bounds" tree runs after training – those tree runs made us feel pretty cool! Skiing the East helped me figure out how to deal with bullet-proof ice and thin snow, steeps and tough weather. So, when I moved out West for college, I was in heaven. I've been skiing the powder of Utah, Colorado, and the Tahoe area since.
Where do you like to ski?
I love Squaw Valley right now – there's truly nothing like the good vibes I feel from the people and the place. Tahoe had a rough season in 2015-2016, but this past winter was epic – Squaw will even stay open through July 4th this year! I also bounce around to Northstar and Heavenly. When I get the chance, I travel over to my old stomping grounds in Utah: mostly Snowbird and Alta, and then driving up through Colorado as well. I guess you could call me a bit of a storm chaser.
Do you buy daily lift tickets, lift ticket packages, or a season pass?
For many years I worked for ski resorts part-time in order to get a free season pass, and that also gave me discounted skiing days at partner resorts. Sometimes I was able to get free vouchers from friends at other resorts. Honestly, I don't think I've ever bought a lift ticket at a window before – it just wasn't worth it for me. I like to stay at least 2-3 days when I ski a different resort, and buying lift tickets a week in advance for that amount of days usually saves 20%. I started getting more interested in these multi-resort experiences and passes a few years ago, and the Mountain Collective Pass suits my lifestyle the best.
When did you start using the Mountain Collective Pass?
I purchased my first one for the 2014-2015 season because I knew I'd have time to travel around. It gave me 2 days of skiing at some of my favourite spots: Jackson Hole, Aspen Snowmass, Whistler Blackcomb. They had a crazy deal going on: the pass was on sale for $359 USD ($514 AUD). Since then I've purchased one each year.
Can you give us a sense of numbers? How much skiing does it actually take to save with a Mountain Collective Pass purchase?
I make it a season goal to hit almost every mountain with the pass, but you definitely don't have to use all the days and perks of the pass to get your money's worth. Right now the 2017-2018 pass is on sale for $449 USD ($643 AUD) and offers 2 days skiing at 16 resorts: that's under $15 USD ($21 AUD) per day of skiing! If you're planning a trip to Utah alone (on the pass, Alta, Snowbird, and Snowbasin are included), you'll use 6 days of skiing at $75 USD ($107 AUD) per day – that's definitely below ticket window price. I tell my friends back east – even those who have season passes at their home resorts – to get the Mountain Collective Pass so they vacation out West to a few great resorts and get 2 days in on a weekend getaway at Sugarbush.
Are there any other off-slopes perks that come with the pass?
The Mountain Collective pass offers 50% off day tickets for any additional days at those resorts beyond the first two – I've used that perk in past seasons. There are also decent lodging deals for pass-holders, and a bonus day at one resort of choice. One of my favourite perks (I guess you could call it a perk) is that there are no blackout dates: sometimes package passes have blackout dates around the holidays, but not this one. I also just saw that for this coming season, we get 2 free days at Hakuba Valley, Valle Nevado, and Chamonix!
What about savings for kid and families?
Kids passes are on sale for $99 USD ($142 AUD), which is an awesome deal – even 2 days at one of these resorts makes the pass worth it for kids.
Are there any new ski areas for the 2017-2018 season you're particularly stoked about?
I probably won't make it out East next season, but it's nice to see a New England Resort on the list – Sugarbush. I will definitely head to Snowbasin, which is also a new addition, when I'm in Utah.
What are the top 3 recommendations you have for those thinking about purchasing the Mountain Collective Pass?
- Do the math: like I mentioned before, it doesn't take much – just a week of skiing – for this pass to save you some cash on lift tickets.
- Buy now! I say that because the pass is only on sale while supplies last: come November, it will likely be too late.
- Make the pass purchase an excuse to explore new resorts. Consider taking 2-3 days at one resort, then road-tripping to another as opposed to staying in one place for 1-2 weeks. This pass coincides with adventure, so let it happen.
Interested in more ski vacation package deals? We'll help you get the best deals here.