Posted on 16 Apr 2019

The Cost v. Benefit of Conglomeration of Ski Passes

ski_pass_conglomeration | Moving Mountains

It's no secret that many local skiers from previously unaffiliated Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Alta and Aspen are less than enthusiastic about their new association. Search the web and you'll find scores of articles where locals from those and other Ikon & Epic Pass affiliated ski towns lament about the recent overcrowding brought on by their new ski pass kinship. Increased traffic, longer lift lines, crowded restaurants, and busy grocery stores are all cited as evidence that these bundled passes are problematic and disrupting their way of life.

It always strikes me as extraordinarily short-sighted when I hear locals complain about tourism. We want the great restaurants, free concerts, top-notch schools, free buses, world-class ski resort, incredible biking & hiking trails, premier sports facilities, fun shops and all the rest, but we want it just for us. Do the math, y' doesn't work that way. ;)

As human beings, one of our biggest worries is the fear of lack. We fear that our needs will go unmet and there won't be enough (fill in the blank) left for us. It's an age-old worry. I grew up in Southern California. Heaven forbid anyone encroaches on another surfer's wave! Seriously though, Steamboat is a special place and the concern is real that our special little place will change. The answer is, Yes, of course, it will change. That is the nature of things, they change.  But any concern that Steamboat will somehow magically transform to one of 'those' ski resort towns is just silly. 'Breeeathe...there's enough for everyone', I often hear myself say when I see or hear the fear of lack in action. On the contrary, as my husband and I lunched at the Taco Beast last weekend, a visitor at our table asked if lift lines in Steamboat were always this short. Someone else answered that 'there were few periods in the winter when you should expect to wait in line, otherwise, yes, this is how it usually is in Steamboat.' We know we're lucky and it's that collective sense of gratitude that I most love about Steamboat and why I firmly believe we'll always have that small-town charm despite the big-town changes we experience.

Personally, I have not heard locals or visitors complaining about overcrowding brought on by the Ikon Pass. And, although a Google search quickly nets several articles about growing pains in Aspen and other Ikon-related resorts, I didn't find similar articles about Steamboat. Perhaps our skier numbers have been steadily growing regardless of the Ikon Pass and we've just grown accustomed to waiting for one more light on Hwy 40 to cross 3rd Street over President's Week. Certainly, we were considered the Colorado ski town with the best snow last winter, so even a poor snow year can seem busy in Steamboat--and that was pre-Ikon Pass. Anecdotally speaking, I know several locals who took advantage of skiing other Ikon Pass accessible resorts this winter. For the most part, these were local families who wouldn't otherwise have skied Taos, Aspen, Mammoth or Alta due to the cost of the lift tickets. I'm guessing that any extra crowding they experienced at home was taken with a grain of salt due to the benefit of access to these other mountains.

Of course, the argument holds that an increase in skier numbers likely results in improvements to resort infrastructure and services that benefit skiers as well as increased local business and tax revenue that benefits the community as a whole. (For instance, despite not paying for lift tickets, when our friends skied Taos this winter they did pay for lodging, parking, dining out, gasoline, groceries and a couple of gifts. In the end, that's revenue which contributes to the local economy and to local jobs that, without the Ikon Pass, wouldn't have been realized.) According to Outdoor Magazine's Marc Peruzzi, the ski industry was desperate for a quick injection of cash and the recent competition between Alterra Mountain Company and Vail Resorts may be just the answer at just the right time. Outside Magazine: The Giant Resort Companies You Hate Are Saving Skiing

At the end of the day...make that season, all that really matters is if you're planning to ski again next year! If so, you'll want to pick up your very own 2019/20 Ikon Pass right away and Learn everything you need to know about the IKON Pass. There are some great new perks of ownership you'll want to check out. Shop Ikon Passes Prices go up by $100 April 24th, so drop everything and order your $649 Ikon Base Pass or your $949 Ikon Pass today. See you on the slopes! 

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