2020 Ski Season
Planning to ski this winter? You need to start planning for the 2020 Ski Season RIGHT NOW. Who knows if all mountains will be burning heaps of trash populated by mutant trolls by winter, but real skiers will vie for first chair regardless.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, two companies have been on a hungry, hungry, hippo spree to snatch up most of the ski resorts in the US and Canada. (no, we still can’t go to Canada).
Alterra Mountain Company owns 15 ski mountains and their IKON Pass gives pass holders limited access to 26 more – Buy IKON Pass
Vail Mountain Resorts owns 34 ski resorts. Their EPIC Pass covers all of their resorts. Buy Epic Pass
Buying a pass used to be for serious skiers only, this year is different as some mountains are giving priority access to pass holders only. You’ll need to look at your favorite mountain’s 2020/21 plans and decide if the 2020 ski season turns you into a season pass holder.
Vail is more than just Vail Mountain now, they own Park City, Northstar, Stowe, Okemo, Breckenridge and more. Including some international destinations we can’t visit at the moment, and yes Canada is now international, le sigh. All of their properties are accessible through the Epic Pass.
Epic Pass announced that they will be implementing a reservation system at all 34 of their North American resorts. This is huge news, because limiting daily numbers on the mountain is unheard of in North America anywhere besides, say, Deer Valley.
Yes, you have to have a reservation for every single day you ski. Every, single, day. EPIC Pass Holders will have priority access to the reservation system.
2020/21 pass holders can start making reservations online beginning November 6, 2020, for the Core Season (from December 8, 2020 to Easter, April 4, 2021). For the Early Season (all days prior to December 8, 2020) reservation inventory will be released weekly for the upcoming week based on conditions and terrain availability.
No EPIC Pass? Lift tickets will go on sale December 8, 2020. When you purchase your lift ticket this season, it will include a reservation for a specific resort and specific date, so no need to make any further reservation. They will not be selling lift tickets during Early Season. So if it snows, and the world is not a burning trash heap, the early season could truly be epic as only pass holders will be allowed on the mountains.
There’s a lot of fine print, I’m going to link to the EPIC Pass site. Passholders get priority for reservations, but can only hold 7 days worth of reservations at any given time. Yes, they are offering protection in case mountains have to close or you are unable to ski for some reason.
Alterra Mountain Company owns some favorite travel destinations like Deer Valley, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows and Steamboat as well as Stratton and Sugarbush on the east coast and Mammoth and Big Bear on the west. See the Alterra Mountain Company website for a full list of holdings.
IKON Pass took a slightly different approach. While their resorts will be taking measures to limit daily numbers on the mountains, not all IKON Pass destinations will be requiring advanced reservations. Some, like Big Sky, Jackson Hole, Loon, and Taos have already announced they will be requiring reservations for IKON Pass holders. Others, like Snowbird, Squaw Valley, Steamboat, and Sugarbush, have announced that reservations will not be required for IKON Pass holders at this time. This is a dynamic situation and could change at any moment, so skiers and snowboarders are encouraged to check each mountain’s policies regularly. Again, there is a lot of fine print that covers access to various mountains, etc. read more HERE.
2020 Ski Season
Besides lift ticket reservations at some mountains, other measures being taken at certain mountains include:
• Prioritizing access for season pass holders (including IKON and Epic, depending on the mountain)
• Limiting the number of daily lift tickets that will be available for advanced purchase for non-pass holders
• Eliminating walk-up window sales
• Requiring advanced parking reservations
Pass Protection aka Insurance
Both IKON Pass and Epic Pass have rolled out coverage to provide a sense of protection for passholders:
• “Epic Coverage” (terms and conditions detailed here) provides refunds associated with illness, job loss, injury, and certain resort closures, such as any due to COVID-19. It also protects passholders’ Priority Reservation Days on the mountain this season.
• IKON Pass is offering “Adventure Assurance” (terms and conditions detailed here) to provide its passholders peace of mind:
o For any reason, if you don’t use your 20/21 Ikon Pass, you will have the option to defer the purchase price paid for your 20/21 Ikon Pass toward the purchase of a 21/22 Ikon Pass using the new Zero-Day Credit – no questions asked. You can now make this decision between September 10, 2020 and April 11, 2021.
o Should any eligible Ikon Pass destination close due to COVID-19 between December 10, 2020 and April 11, 2021, Ikon Pass holders will receive a proportional credit towards any 21/22 Ikon Pass.
Given that it is only September, and the world seems to change drastically every 36 hours, all of this information will likely shift in some form or another. But, if you are a serious skier, the time to plan is now. I’m thinking about an Epic Pass so I can gamble on some early season skiing as I think I’ll likely have the mountains somewhat to myself and hopefully get some vertical feet in before the world ends.
Need help planning? Send me a note on firstname.lastname@example.org I have connections with some great travel advisors who have partnerships with providers who can make sure you get on the mountain this winter.