2022-23 Indy Pass Prices Stay Flat, All 82 Partners Expected to Return
Indy introduces “Switch Pass” discount for current multi-mountain pass holders
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Indy Pass announced 2022-23 pricing today, kicking off the North American multi-mountain pass sales season. Prices on all Indy Passes will remain flat from the 2021-22 campaign, and all 82 partner ski areas are expected to return. Skiers will get two days at each mountain. In addition to the standard suite of the Indy Pass, no-blackout Indy+ Pass, and add-on option for partner-mountain season passholders, Indy is rolling out a Switch Pass, which kicks $20 off the price for anyone who had a 2021-22 Ikon, Epic, or Mountain Collective pass. Here are this year’s prices:
Indy Pass: Adult $279, Kids 12-and-under $119
Indy+: Adult $379, Kids $169 (no blackouts)
Indy Add On: Adult $189, Kids $89 (partner resort season passholders only)
Indy+ Add On: Adult $289, Kids $139
Indy Switch Pass: Adult $259, Kids $109, Adult+ $359, Kids+ $159 (limited time offer; Switch discount not available for the Add On pass)
Current Indy Pass holders are not eligible for the Switch Pass, even if they held one of the big passes this year, but they will receive a discount code for 10 percent off their 2022-23 Indy Pass, dropping the price below that of the Switch Pass as long as they purchase by May 17.
Indy Passes are on sale now, though Indy will not announce its final roster or associated blackout dates until May 1. An interest-free payment plan is available, with monthly payments as low as $28.
Here’s a bit more about next season’s Indy Pass suite, and what the offerings mean for skiers and skiing in general:
Its operating model proven, Indy stabilizes its price
As Indy enters its fourth season, it’s worth peaking back at the pass’ growth by number of partners at each season’s launch date (prices are for the base adult Indy Pass, which includes blackouts):
2019: $199, 34 ski areas
2020: $199, 52 ski areas
2021: $279, 66 ski areas
2022: $279, 82 ski areas
The price history looks a little weird without context, so here you go: Indy declined to raise prices in 2020, as the nation still marinated in the collective uncertainty of Covid. The much-discussed (and somewhat surprising at the time) outdoor boom that followed drove Indy’s yield – or price-paid-per-ticket to resorts – lower than its target, and the pass price leapt 40 percent in 2021 as a result. Much grumbling ensued. “We probably should have raised prices in 2020,” Indy Pass Founder Doug Fish told me, so the increase would have been more gradual and palatable to skiers. Pass sales for the 2021-22 season doubled anyway. With that influx of new customers and price jump, the projected per-resort payouts are “solid,” Fish told me this week.
“With last year's price increase, we've found the sweet spot where our resorts are receiving a solid payout for each visit, so no price increases are necessary at this time,” Fish said in this morning’s press release.
I do expect price increases in future years, but it is unlikely the Indy Pass price will ever spike 40 percent in a single season again. In a U.S. America where inflation is spiking and a 2x4 costs more than a snowmobile, I think we can all be happy to take the win here.
Indy remains the best supplemental ski pass in America
Almost everyone will pay less than the $279 Indy list price. The bill for current passholders, after the 10 percent discount, will come to around $251 (less the hated three percent “service fee”). Indy+ will drop to $341-ish. The Switch Pass will cover just about everyone else. Vail sold enough Epic Passes that if aliens abducted everyone without one (let’s just pretend that your Epic Pass doubles as a protective amulet), there would be a sufficient population remaining to repopulate the planet within eight or nine years. Ikon and Mountain Collective don’t reveal sales numbers, but trying to find a skier without at least one of the three big-mountain passes is like trying to find edible food at McDonald’s: pretty rare and not all that trustworthy as a narrator.
Which takes me to my point: the Indy Pass, with its 164 days of skiing for less than the price of a single-day walk-up lift ticket at Steamboat and collection of low-key, less-likely-to-resemble-an-evacuation-point-from-the-dinosaur-apocolypse-on-holidays resorts, is the best add-on pass in skiing. In fact, it complements an Epic or Ikon Pass perfectly, since the dollar difference between the full and blackout versions of those passes (which as of today have not yet been released for the 2022-23 ski season), is about the same as the price of an Indy Pass. Save your Indy days for Saturdays or holidays when getting within 10 miles of Mount Snow is like getting caught in some kind of themed ski-rack parade.
“Look at all those cars driving by very slowly with their ski sticks on top, Mommy. It’s like when grandpa drives his El Camino in the classic car parade on Founder’s Day!”
“No, no Sweetheart. That’s not a parade. Those are cars waiting to get into Mount Snow.”
“Oh, don’t they know they should have gone to Magic Mountain instead?”
They probably didn’t. Next time they should take a bag of candy to toss out the window to children and spectators as they wait.
You don’t actually have to switch passes to buy the Switch Pass
To be eligible for the Switch Pass, “purchasers are required to upload a receipt from the purchase of their current, 21-22 Epic, Ikon, or Mountain Collective pass.” Nothing says you can’t go ahead and buy a 2022-23 Epic, Ikon, or Mountain Collective pass anyway. Even if it did, how are they going to audit it? Indy Pass is not Vail. There are like six people working there.
Instead, the Switch Pass is really just an incentive to add another weapon to your ski pass quiver.
“Our new Indy Switch Pass presents an option for anyone who bought an over-sold megapass and allows those folks to experience the less crowded, laid-back atmosphere at small-to-mid-sized, independent resorts,” said Fish. “We invite them to join the Indy Revolution and see what they've been missing.”
Indy’s roster may be stabilizing
Indy’s growth has been stunning to watch, particularly as the pass began adding regional destinations such as Jay Peak, Waterville Valley, Cannon, Saddleback, Tamarack, Powder Mountain, Lutsen, and Granite Peak, any one of which could have just as easily fit into the Epic, Ikon, or Mountain Collective stable.
But the pass can’t grow at that rate forever, at least in America. With Indy’s pay-per-visit model, density matters. You need resorts just close enough together to make the pass compelling, without having them so convenient to one another that a majority of passholders are skiing 10 or more days, lowering each ski area’s per-visit payout to concerning levels. In large parts of America – the Northeast, the Upper Rockies, the Upper Midwest – Indy has already reached critical mass. To add new partners in those regions, they would have to either be trophy properties that would sell a material number of passes – think Mad River Glen, Bretton Woods, Smugglers’ Notch, Whitefish, Mt. Baker, Bridger Bowl, or Nub’s Nob – or one with cheap enough walk-up lift ticket prices that they would be unlikely to substantively drop the yield for other partners – Black Mountain of Maine, Loup Loup, The Porkies.
Still, Indy can probably squeeze another dozen-ish destinations out of the vastness of U.S. America, especially in regions where it has little or no current density: Tahoe, the Southwest, western New York and Pennsylvania. Then it’s on to Eastern Canada, Europe, maybe the Southern Hemisphere. This has been the first pass release announcement during which Indy hasn’t added new partners (though it added its first Colorado mountain, Sunlight, last month). More are likely coming. If Indy wasn’t sitting at 90 partners by Thanksgiving, I’d be shocked. But there isn’t a ton of urgency there anymore. The product is now a rock solid for option for millions of skiers.
And oh yeah Jay Peak –Indy’s top resort for redemptions last year, and, if I had to guess, this season as well – is staying on the pass, despite ongoing uncertainty over its long-term ownership. That alone should keep anyone east of Buffalo buying the pass for at least another season.
Now let’s talk about those blackout tiers
I’ll start here: this season, 59 of Indy’s 82 partners – including heavies like Jay, Castle, and Tamarack – had zero blackout dates on the standard $279 Indy Pass. That’s good.
The other 23 partners? Well, it gets messy. I don’t know what I have a harder time understanding, Indy Pass’ blackout-dates page, or this 8,000-year-old cave painting of a dude with a spear talking to his pet giraffe:
I don’t have any issue with blackout dates as a concept. They are a good way to meter access while providing options for people of varying means. But Indy’s choose-your-own-adventure blackout tiers are confounding. The holiday blackouts toward the top of the page are pretty straightforward, but by the time you get to the bottom and encounter nine resorts spread across three different tiers excluding wild combinations of holidays, weekends, bar mitsvahs, and boat christenings, it’s hard to keep straight even as you’re looking right at it.
The logical solve for the customer is to simply purchase the Indy+ Pass. But I would like to see Indy untangle this ball of Christmas lights. Offer three tiers: no blackouts, holiday blackouts, and weekday-only. Price them accordingly. If Ski Cooper can get 50-plus independent ski areas to hand out three no-blackout lift tickets to its passholders, then surely Indy can come up with something better than the current plan.
Then again, maybe it doesn’t matter. As Fish has pointed out to me when I’ve raised this issue with him in the past, the skiers of U.S. America have been trained to read these hieroglyphics. The Epic and Ikon Passes have their own blackout quirks (Mountain Collective has no blackouts). Maybe my desire to order the independent ski resorts of America into neat little grids is the same impulse that drives me to organize my refrigerator condiments or buy the exact same socks for 20 years so I never have to match them after a wash. For a pass that united an unlikely coalition of coast-to-coast competitors, the level of harmony is already kind of astonishing.
Nonetheless, I’ll be back to break down Indy’s partner list and blackout dates when the pass announces them on May 1. Frankly, I expect far more blackout dates on the standard Indy Pass than we saw this year, especially as formerly off-the-grid local hangouts like currently-no-blackout Berkshire East report their busiest days on record and the Epic Pass refugees stumble off the mountain, beaten and exhausted, vacant eyes trained on the distance, looking for an alternative. “There, there were just… so many of them.”
“So many what, Only-Skis-at-Whistler Bro? Bandits? Looters? Did you get jumped?”
“No, man. No, it wasn’t that. It was all the… the skiers. And they were all from New York… and, and they couldn’t stop telling me about how they lucked out because their apartments… because their apartments had closets! Closets, Man! Closets! Like, like they’d just discovered them… like they’d never HEARD of such a thing. And then on and on about the high ceilings… and the dishwasher. Like I was supposed to be all astonished! I think I’m losing it man. I just don’t know anymore...”
We’ve all been there Bro. The good news is that there are places you can go that no one in New York* has ever heard of. And some of them are on the Indy Pass. We’re gonna fix you right up there, Bud.
*Put down your pitchforks, New Yorkers. I live here too. And you know it’s true about the closets.
The Full Partner List
Pacific Region - 14
British Columbia: Apex, Manning Park, Sovereign Lake, Sasquatch
California: China Peak, Mt. Shasta Ski Park, Snow Valley
Oregon: Hoodoo, Mt. Ashland
Washington: 49 Degrees North, Hurricane Ridge, Mission Ridge, White Pass
Rocky Mountain Region - 18
Alberta: Castle Mountain, Ski Marmot Basin
Arizona: Sunrise Park
Idaho: Brundage, Silver Mountain, Tamarack, Pomerelle, Soldier Mountain
Montana: Blacktail, Lost Trail Powder Mountain, Red Lodge
Utah: Beaver Mountain, Eagle Point, Powder Mountain
Wyoming: Snow King, White Pine, Antelope Butte
Midwest Region - 20
Iowa: Seven Oaks, Sundown
Michigan: Big Powderhorn, Caberfae Peaks, Crystal Mountain, Pine Mountain, Shanty Creek, Swiss Valley
Minnesota: Lutsen Mountains, Spirit Mountain, Powder Ridge, Detroit Mountain, Buck Hill
South Dakota: Terry Peak
Wisconsin: Granite Peak, Little Switzerland, Nordic Mountain, Trollhaugen, Tyrol Basin, The Rock Snowpark
Eastern Region - 17
Massachusetts: Berkshire East, Catamount*
New Hampshire: Cannon, Pats Peak, Black Mountain, Waterville Valley
New York: Catamount*, Greek Peak, Swain, Snow Ridge, Titus, West
Vermont: Bolton Valley, Magic Mountain, Suicide Six, Jay Peak
*Catamount straddles NY/MA border
Mid-Atlantic Region - 9
North Carolina: Cataloochee
Pennsylvania: Blue Knob, Montage, Shawnee
Tennessee: Ober Gatlinburg
Virginia: Bryce, Massanutten
West Virginia: Canaan Valley, Winterplace
Japan Tohoku Region - 4
Okunakayama Kogen, Geto Kogen, Shimokura/Pandora, Tazawako
The opening line of Doug’s email today announcing the Indy Pass going back on sale was hilarious:
“I want to take a moment to thank you for putting up with all our emails over the past year and non-unsubscribing from this list!”