Snowbasin and Sun Valley Exit Epic Pass, will also join Mountain Collective
Something Alterra is for sure crushing Vail on is decent advertising for their different resorts. On Ikon, there's a dedicated page full of images and tidbits of information, whereas on Epic, they have... a name? Maybe a short 1 sentence description with a generic skiing photo. Definitely doesn't help them differentiate the resorts in their offering.
Spring skiing on the Ikon is definitely a plus though. In April, 100% of the terrain is open, there's no crowds, and its not freezing cold out---not to mention that slushy bumps might be the best thing ever. Yet almost all of the Epic resorts suite is closed by the second or third week, even in monster snow years. Hopefully Vail will see how much of an advantage they're giving to Alterra here and follow suit.
Just wish their financial partnership with KSL would allow us PA locals to utilize some sort of Ikon partnership with Blue Mt and Camelback that KSL now manages. Our local passes almost cost as much as an Ikon base.
Great news for Alta pass holders. Rip Snowbird
Well that's ironic, earlier this season I was deciding between visiting Sun Valley and Snowbasin with my Epic Pass since next season I would be switching to either the Ikon Pass and/or Mountain Collective. I didn't get to Snowbasin, but I visited Sun Valley, and now they'll be on the other two passes I'm looking at lol
I was originally going to use my Epic Pass for Stevens Pass and Whistler Blackcomb trips, but Stevens Pass has had a horrendous season as we all know, and getting across the Canadian border unfortunately remained unfeasable due to the lack of available PCR testing where I live. Canada just recently changed their border crossing requirements to only need an antigen test which is far quicker and way more available, but I've already redirected to a Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood visit to Tahoe, weekdays only!
Bummer I couldn't get to Whistler, but if I were to get an Epic Pass going forward, now that they've lost even more ground in the Rockies, I would probably only get the Epic Day Passes to use on a singular trip through the RCR partner resorts since they're not far from me and not owned by Vail. It's probably best I didn't go to Whistler Blackcomb anyway, seeing their lines and management have become far worse than the last time I was there in 2015, the last season before Vail and the Epic Pass.
Me focusing my Epic Pass travels on Sun Valley and Tahoe this season due to being unable to cross the Canadian Border probably ended up being a good thing, I haven't heard horror stories in regards to staffing at Vail's Tahoe resorts or of course the high budget independent Sun Valley.
In regards to Sun Valley, I feel like crowds definitely were increased by the Epic Pass from my own observations. I've been to Sun Valley twice, the Christmas & New Year's holiday period of 2015 going into 2016, and February 2022. During the 2015/2016 trip, Sun Valley had powder days, full snow coverage with no bare spots, no ice and wasn't terribly cold either, good visibility, the conditions were perfect. The only time I ever waited in a line was on the former Cold Springs fixed grip double chair at the end of the day, which people were using as an egress out of the Seattle Ridge area, plus all the skiers getting funnelled down from Sun Valley's iconic bowls.
Fast forward to late February 2022, with the holiday weekends of February already done with. I actually made sure to only ski Sun Valley on the weekdays, because on the weekends from my observations of their webcams, they'd have lines on the Challenger lift backed up all the way over the bridge. It also doesn't help that Sun Valley has lower chair and gondola cabin density on their lifts for a reduced uphill hourly capacity, and little to no lift queue management because they probably never really needed to partake in the art of lift queue management before the days of the Epic Pass. And when I visited on the weekdays, Seattle Ridge would be regularly backed up, although the other lifts were not.
I'm not surprised that Alterra yanked Mammoth, Palisades and Sugar bush from the Mountain Collective. Now those resorts are exclusively Alterra products, and the Mountain Collective losing Alterra resorts in favor of independent Sun Valley and Snowbasin makes the MC a more distinguished and unique product from the Ikon Pass. Also, Sun Valley and Snowbasin are way closer to the other MC resorts, whereas Palisades and Mammoth were isolated from the rest of the MC portfolio . The people who buy the MC don't live in California, but they certainly do live in the Rockies since the MC has unbelievable coverage of the Canadian Rockies and is further improving coverage of the Utah/Wyoming/Idaho Rockies.
Overall I'd say this is a win for Alterra and their Ikon Pass, and the Mountain Collective. Vail though? It's been an unfathomably rough season and I'm wondering how many Epic Pass users will convert to the MC or Ikon Pass. I'm certainly one of them.
Great article. I’m very happy with the Ikon adjustments. The only wish I had unfulfilled was Silver Star( Pwdr corp) joining ikon.