2023-24 Ski Season Preview, Part I: Itemizing all 303 Megapass Ski Areas
46% of America's ski areas have joined one of seven multimountain passes
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A few weeks back, I itemized America’s 505 active ski areas. Since then, Cockaigne, New York seems to have disintegrated after a two-year comeback. Then, on Wednesday, Black Mountain, a New Hampshire stalwart in continuous operation since 1935, suddenly canceled its ski season, citing “circumstances beyond our control, including soaring energy costs, unpredictable weather, extreme staffing shortages, and many other challenges.”
Which is grim (I’ll have more on Black Mountain in this newsletter soon). However, that leaves us with 503 active Alpine ski areas in U.S. America. Which is a lot. Over the coming weeks, I’ll release a multi-part series analyzing the state of this sprawling ecosystem. The goal is to answer this question: what does U.S. skiing look like as we head into the 2023-24 ski season?
I want to start with multi-mountain passes, both because that’s where so much of The Storm’s focus lands, and because those rosters give us a foundational understanding for so many other megatrends driving the evolution of modern lift-served skiing.
First, some headline numbers:
The seven U.S.-based international multi-mountain passes (Epic, Ikon, Indy, Mountain Collective, Power, Freedom, and Powder Alliance) have signed a combined 303 ski areas, 233 in America and 70 in other countries.
50 ski areas have joined two or more multimountain passes, with the most common points of overlap being Ikon and Mountain Collective (25 shared partners) and Indy and Powder Alliance (12 shared partners).
Two ski areas have joined three passes: Eaglecrest, Alaska is a member of the Freedom Pass, Powder Alliance, and Indy Pass; and Valle Nevado, Chile is a member of Ikon, Mountain Collective, and Power Pass.
The Indy Pass has signed as many full Alpine partners as the Epic and Ikon passes combined (129)
233 of America’s 503 ski areas are a member of an international multi-mountain pass. That’s 46 percent.
Of the 270 U.S. Alpine ski areas that are not affiliated with one of those seven passes, 113 either run only surface lifts, or are not open to the general public.
That means that 233 of the 390 public U.S. ski areas that run chairlifts have joined at least one multi-mountain pass. That’s 60 percent.
Megapass penetration is most pronounced in the West, where 105 of 185 ski areas (57 percent), have joined a multimountain pass.
An almost identical percentage of ski areas in the East (72 out of 196, or 36.7%) and Midwest (46 our of 122, or 37.7%) have joined a multi-mountain pass.
The Ikon Pass offers nearly three times as many ski areas in the American West (32) as the Epic Pass (11). Indy offers 38.
Indy Pass dominates the Midwest, with 67% of the region’s total megapass ski areas.
U.S.-based multi-mountain passes have added 70 partners outside the country.
More than half, 39, are in Canada.
Japan is second, with 25 ski areas on U.S.-based passes.
13 European ski resorts have joined U.S.-based passes, but each of these destinations includes up to 12 ski areas.
Australia and New Zealand each have five ski areas on U.S.-based passes.
Only one South American ski area has joined a U.S.-based pass. This is somewhat surprising, given the ease of travel to the region (no timezone hassles), the superior winters when compared to other Southern Hemisphere destinations (the high-altitude Andes versus low-altitude Australia and New Zealand), and the obvious benefit of being able to offer year-round skiing (the seasons are flipped down there, in case you missed the memo on that one).
I suppose you’re ready for the chart. Here you go - the numbers above each state/province/country etc. are total ski areas aligned with a multi-mountain pass in that area. The second number, where present, represents the total number of ski areas in that region: 3/12 means that three of Alaska’s 12 ski areas have joined a multimountain pass.
CHART BEST VIEWED ON DESKTOP
Some of you are likely wondering where the Uphill New England Pass is, or why I didn’t include regional passes like New York’s Ski3 or the White Mountain Super Pass. For this particular exercise, I’m focusing on passes with a national or international scope. So while Powder Alliance sits mostly in the West, the pass’ New Zealand and Canada partners qualified it for inclusion on the big pass list. I’ll examine regional passes in a future post.
I’ve also taken this opportunity to update all of The Storm’s pass-specific charts. Here’s a new and vastly improved look at the current Epic, Ikon, Indy, Mountain Collective, Power, Powder Alliance, and Freedom Pass rosters:
Below the paid subscriber jump: so many charts.