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  1. #1
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    Epic Pass Restrictions Effects on Crested Butte, Telluride and Beyond

    On the Saturday of MLK weekend at Telluride, while there, I heard that there was a large influx of skiers and boarders due to the Epic pass. Apparently, they 'stopped selling tickets after 8k'. (Not sure what that means if the Epic pass is simply scanned at the lifts.) It was crowded but very manageable.

    I heard yesterday that over the MLK weekend there was over 45 minute lift lines at Crested Butte and the town was 'over-packed' due to an 'I-70 corridor blackout of the Epic pass'.

    One theory put forth was that Vail Resorts was weeding out the 'medium and low brow' skiers and boarders and 'sending them elsewhere' to make more room for their 'high brow' clientele with deep pockets.

    Any truth to this or other theories as to how the string pullers at Epic, IKON, Mountain Collective, etc, passes can and will direct skiers and snowboarders to various areas in the future.

    The dynamic seems to be changing.
    Last edited by Alpinord; 01-30-2019 at 06:59 AM.
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  2. #2
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    There's been a bunch of talk of this in the Montana thread and some whining also from JXN peeps about Ikoners taking over. I met a Bay Area couple in Big Sky over the holidays who were avoiding the Squaw shit-show and travelling to Ikon destinations. They can't be the only ones.

    As for Utah, I think there are a lot more visitors going to LCC to ski the fabled Snowbird/Alta resulting in massive traffic jams that were already happening. I think people may spend a day in Solitude, too, even though it's unlimited. But it's not as cool maybe? A bunch of people coming are doing one day at DV, 1 Solly, 1 at brighton, rest at SB/Alta. So many choices in Utah with an Ikon. I have met a few people camping out in Solitude for weeks though. Old retired guys. Almost everyone on the lift is first time Ikon holders. College kids get one for under $400 I think so Solitude has a ton of college kids skiing there. Probably a bunch had Epic passes before that, which also is a killer college deal.

    I don't know how crowded Solitude used to be, but if you arrive at 10am on the weekends good luck finding a parking spot.

    The real benefit I see is going to local hotels, air b-n-b, and restaurants.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by muted View Post
    I don't know how crowded Solitude used to be, but if you arrive at 10am on the weekends good luck finding a parking spot.
    5 years ago the place was so quiet I was convinced that it was a front for laundering money, and I'm sure it was "busy" compared to a decade earlier.
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  4. #4
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    Sweet, the plan is working. Spreading people out. Send them down to CB. That town could use some additional winter business. MLK weekend is when it is supposed to be crowded, everywhere. The times between, still won't be that crowded. If you own a business, you probably aren't bitching. OMG! Secret Stash on a 1 hr wait?

  5. #5
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    It's been pretty crazy how many Ikon pass holders I've talked to in LCC. My theory is Alta/Bird pull out next year or see their season pass sales tank.

    It's a bummer to me since I get no real benefits as an Alta/Bird passholder and unlimited at Solitude only isn't super appealing as my house is a fair bit closer to LCC than BCC.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpinord View Post

    I heard yesterday that over the MLK weekend there was over 45 minute lift lines at Crested Butte and the town was 'over-packed' due to an 'I-70 corridor blackout of the Epic pass'.

    The dynamic seems to be changing.
    The times they are a changin but unless by "blackout" they are talking about the complete inability to use the road as a road on MLK weekend, its a negatory on the "I-70 blackout." Even the local pass is unrestricted to Keystone, Breck and Abasin. Vail was probably blacked out (at least for the 10 days that come with the local pass) so, sure, anybody at CB with an epic at that time was 'blacked out' of Vail, but not the other I70 joints to my knowledge. Maybe people used the long weekend to go further/avoid I70 shit show with known incoming weather (IIRC). I guess I70's been Epic/Ikonic/RMSPlused for a while now.

    I was once at the top of Loveland Pass and some boarders were dropping in on I dunno 24" fresh, yelling "FUCK VAIL" - now while I kinda feel the same way, I was thinking, "they care."
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  7. #7
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    There's been a bunch of talk of this in the Montana thread and some whining also from JXN peeps about Ikoners taking over. I met a Bay Area couple in Big Sky over the holidays who were avoiding the Squaw shit-show and travelling to Ikon destinations. They can't be the only ones.
    If you own a business, you probably aren't bitching.
    Talking with folks on the lifts pretty much confirms quote # 1. I have heard the same things.

    Listening to these people, most are doing VRBO and buying groceries to avoid eating out so I guess it depends on what business you own.

    I thought it was a one off last week because of MLK day. This Monday there was decent skiing and it was sunny but cold and the day skier lot was packed.

    For better or worse these pass deals are certainly having an impact. As a season pass holder I am not pleased but that is the way the world seems to be going.

  8. #8
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    and yet the overall skier numbers and visits are trending down. "nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded" comes to mind.
    I suspect when all is said and done, the downward trend of skier visits will continue. As a long time Solitude pass holder, who was converted to Ikon, I can tell you MLK weekend was quiet by relative standards at Solitude especially compared to a place like Park City. If anything, as mentioned earlier, the long lines at mega resorts should be there Christmas week, MLK and presidents weekend. That's when these places make their money.
    If anything its not the pass sales that are clogging up LCC and Tahoe and Summit, but the overall rampant development and migration that has seen places like the bay area, SLC and Denver grow massively over the past couple of decades. So now you have throngs of people who can simply drive up primarily on school breaks and weekends, vs years ago when maybe the skier visits were spread out more with people coming for a week at time.
    I ski Solitude and Alta mid-week and if it's not a powder day, they can't even be covering the cost of running the lifts on those days

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ncskier View Post
    and yet the overall skier numbers and visits are trending down. "



    Hmmm, my derivative space must be coarse.




    So, while skier visits are very subtly trending down, those still skiing are fiending up.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by shredgnar View Post
    Sweet, the plan is working. Spreading people out. Send them down to CB. That town could use some additional winter business. MLK weekend is when it is supposed to be crowded, everywhere. The times between, still won't be that crowded. If you own a business, you probably aren't bitching. OMG! Secret Stash on a 1 hr wait?
    It sounded like CB (town & ski area) doesn't have the capacity for those numbers currently. This may create incentive to ramp up development quickly. Possibly too quickly and thoughtlessly for many. Also, Vail Resorts might increase on mountain lift capacities.

    It's sounding like, along with weather and road conditions, you'll need a pass restriction calendar and general understanding on what resorts are under which 'jurisdiction'.

    The skier trending to the backcountry is increasing as I understand it. It's becoming more of a zoo too.

    I know Telluride ended Mountain Collective due to last year's drought. If skiers and boarders didn't show, no cash flow to the ski area. I'm not sure if they had to pay Mountain Collective to be on their list. They are on Epic now. How do areas directly benefit from Epic and IKON passes? Do they all get a base percentage of pass sales?
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ncskier View Post
    If anything its not the pass sales that are clogging up LCC and Tahoe and Summit, but the overall rampant development and migration that has seen places like the bay area, SLC and Denver grow massively over the past couple of decades.
    ?? These people are buying passes and clogging up everywhere.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by muted View Post
    ?? These people are buying passes and clogging up everywhere.
    I think his point is that it's *LOCALS* that are causing the shitshow in these places, not the out-of-town Ikon/Epic folks.

    I'd like to see some data, but I'm inclined to agree...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by skaredshtles View Post
    I think his point is that it's *LOCALS* that are causing the shitshow in these places, not the out-of-town Ikon/Epic folks.

    I'd like to see some data, but I'm inclined to agree...
    It's both of course. Start with an overcrowded area, add free tickets to visitors to a legendary resort 45 minutes from an airport = LCC shit sandwich.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by skaredshtles View Post
    I think his point is that it's *LOCALS* that are causing the shitshow in these places, not the out-of-town Ikon/Epic folks.

    I'd like to see some data, but I'm inclined to agree...
    I was in Breckenridge this summer and it was packed. A local told me that it used to be nice and mellow in the summers, but now it's been 'discovered' as an easy front range getaway.
    Best regards, Terry
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  15. #15
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    It is a bit of both the cheap pass and the growth of desirable places to live factor.

    In the case of Bozeman, we only have 2 major ski areas nearby so the choices are limited and both are starting to get crowded. Time to move to a different shithole town.

  16. #16
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    It's different everywhere I guess, but I make it a point to talk to the people I ride the lift with. Been skiing alot this season and have ridden chairs with dozens of people. At big sky its almost always the same.

    Local people from Bzn, Helena, Billings, etc all have Bronze or Gold Big Sky Passes. Seems like even more people are from out of state and have an Ikon passes. It will be families of 4 all with ikon passes all from out of state. "We used to always go to Breckenridge, but with the Ikon it just made it super easy to try Montana for 3 days......We are staying down in Belgrade." Lots of young ski bum types bouncing around the west using their Ikon days and sleeping in their cars or, working on their computers wherever there is free wifi and eating hotdogs.

    The Ikon actually makes it cheap to bum around somewhat. Either as a young person or a family and not really spend any money AT the resort.

    This system is not actually good in the long run for the resorts or some local businesses. The mountain has seemed crowded, but the restaurants and shops don't seem any more crowded. Lots of park > ski > maybe eat a rice crispie treat > get back in the car and go eat something cheap down valley.

    Also, no incentive for "average" to "above average income" families to buy a ski condo anymore. Why limit yourself to one mountain/area when you can cheaply bounce around with an Ikon and Frontier flights and stay at Motel 6 and eat cheap "in town"?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whiteroom_Guardian View Post
    <snip>

    Also, no incentive for "average" to "above average income" families to buy a ski condo anymore.
    I don't see this as a problem... ?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by skaredshtles View Post
    I think his point is that it's *LOCALS* that are causing the shitshow in these places, not the out-of-town Ikon/Epic folks.

    I'd like to see some data, but I'm inclined to agree...
    I believe this is correct. Cheaper access to skiing with passes plus more locals than ever makes for crowds.
    Also the bar graph is helpful since its total numbers but it still doesn't compare percent of people who ski to the overall population.
    In 2000 the US population was 282million in 2018 its estimated to be 325million. Therefore, the percent of people who ski continues to decrease and probably getting older overall.
    If you own a restaurant in a town and the number of people increased by 15% but your sales went down 8%, you are not in a growth business.
    The second graph also proves my point. Days went up probably by two factors, the population of the US from 1950 probably doubled and cheap deregulated airfare along with baby boomers in the 70's fueled the week long ski vacation out west.
    American is just getting more crowded and more crowded in areas nearer to skiing apparently. Throw in a cheap pass and its a recipe for crowds. In the US when was the last resort to open? Deer Valley, Beaver Creek?

  19. #19
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    ^^^ Depends on what you do for a living I suppose.

    In the long run all these condos will probably end up still being used but I would guess as VRBO rental investments rather than as single family getaways.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpinord View Post
    It sounded like CB (town & ski area) doesn't have the capacity for those numbers currently. This may create incentive to ramp up development quickly. Possibly too quickly and thoughtlessly for many. Also, Vail Resorts might increase on mountain lift capacities.
    Yeah, that was one holiday weekend. Summit and Vail have been over capacity many times over many years. That'll eventually cause the businesses in CB to learn to deal with it, make money, improve, etc. As far as developing too quick and fast, that is YTBD and up to CB's town council and planning. Guaranteed CB is dead as a doornail during the week and probably most weekends even.

    Point is, if skier numbers are flat, and a few resorts that aren't usually crowded, get a little more crowded, then so be it.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by skaredshtles View Post
    I don't see this as a problem... ?
    I guess it really depends on who you talk to. People that actually live somewhere (even if only for 2 weeks of the year, but own property) probably contribute to the local economy more than the same people would if they visited for 4 days a year?

    Would be interesting to see the actual figures regarding local business income in relation to skier numbers (ikon pass vs. season pass vs. day pass).

    I wonder how many people who used to do the "traditional" family ski trip (buy day passes for everyone in the family for an entire week, stay slopeside and eat 2 or 3 meals/day at local restaurants) are now doing the hop around on the ikon, stay down valley, eat cheaper, etc.

    I totally get it. If lived on a coast or the midwest and wanted to ski the ikon seems to make it possible to fly out for 2 or 3 cheapish weekends to different regions instead of one big "traditional" trip.

    How that really effects things economically I don't really know. That's well above me, but I'm sure there is someone on here who knows for sure.

    I guess the effect on local pass holders is that the mountain seems very crowded and VERY gaped out, and if you are a business owner (depending on the business) you may be wondering where all these people are spending money. It's one thing to be a 1 trip a year warrior family, but if you go to the same hill every year you probably know your way around the mountain. With Ikon every weekend can be a whole new experience for some people so = lots of gaggles of people standing in traverses, clogging up the hike (which many shouldn't be on to begin with), standing 6 deep in front of the lift maze completely lost, etc.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not bunion View Post
    ^^^ Depends on what you do for a living I suppose.

    In the long run all these condos will probably end up still being used but I would guess as VRBO rental investments rather than as single family getaways.
    Which makes good sense for those investing in the property. Easy money. How that effects everyone else and the mountain is another question.

  23. #23
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    Kirkwood is way more crowded. Or rather the parking lot fills up early. And the road back to my home is a slow crawl on Sundays when it used to be a quick and easy getaway.

    Itís not the numbers alone that suck, but the drags cutting into lift lines and the fact that 90% of the new skiers/riders donít know how to stay on a traverse or ski the fall line. The mountain can look like shit the day after a powder day on the open faces and bowls.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whiteroom_Guardian View Post
    Which makes good sense for those investing in the property. Easy money. How that effects everyone else and the mountain is another question.
    STR's contribute a lot of money to the local community. Who do you think cleans them? The money isn't as easy as people think. Who do you think gets hired for remodels? Local contractors ya think? Most are paying local taxes and paying for permits now too.

    But people just like to hate on them. Rather have a bunch of 2nd homeowners who only visit 2 weeks a year and spend very little money.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ottime View Post
    Kirkwood is way more crowded. Or rather the parking lot fills up early. And the road back to my home is a slow crawl on Sundays when it used to be a quick and easy getaway.

    Itís not the numbers alone that suck, but the drags cutting into lift lines and the fact that 90% of the new skiers/riders donít know how to stay on a traverse or ski the fall line. The mountain can look like shit the day after a powder day on the open faces and bowls.

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