Mountain Collective Returns to California with Addition of Sugar Bowl
Pass now delivers 50 total no-blackout days at 25 top resorts
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The invention of the wheel, but for skiing
It seems quaint now, the stoke fired by four giants uniting. Alta, Aspen, Jackson Hole, and Palisades Tahoe under the banner of the Mountain Collective. Just $349 and it’s yours. Two days at each. No blackouts Brah. Half off lift tickets after that – before lift tickets cost more than a car. Today the reaction would be “what else you got?” The Indy Pass hit this spring at $279 and now has 97 downhill partners – 194 days of skiing. But the internet is written in ink and we can observe how the Neanderthals of 2012 received the arrival of the Mountain Collective – from Powder on Aug. 14, 2012:
In an unprecedented move, four of the premier independent mountain destinations in the West have created an alliance to form the Mountain Collective™, offering a groundbreaking pass for the 2012-13 season: the Mountain Collective™ Pass. Starting today the pass is available online through an exclusive technology, distribution and marketing partnership with Liftopia at www.TheMountainCollective.com.
“This is a completely new concept for a ski pass and gives winter enthusiasts the freedom to access some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world, “ said Christian Knapp, vice president of marketing, Aspen Skiing Company. “There’s been an incredible spirit of collaboration amongst the partners to bring this historic alliance and innovative new product to life.”
Dear People of the Past: I’m sorry to tell you that Liftopia did not work out. Also stock up on toilet paper. Also buy Tesla stock.
But that coalition, underwhelming as it hits the 2022 skier, proved remarkably durable. For 10 years, those four founding ski areas hung together on the Mountain Collective. Even as Vail rolled dozens of resorts up on its Epic Pass. Even as the M.A.X. Pass brought big boys like Alyeska, Crystal, Crested Butte, Winter Park, and Copper together in a 44-mountain coalition with five days at each. Even as Ikon displaced M.A.X. with a supersized roster that included those four founding Mountain Collective giants and 40-plus more global destinations. The Mountain Collective kept growing, resilient in the storm, fused at its core by those four founders.
In March, the founding four finally cracked. Alterra, citing an effort to streamline resort access, yanked Palisades Tahoe – along with Mammoth and Sugarbush, which had joined in the intervening years – off the pass for the 2022-23 ski season. Then-Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory explained the decision to me in a June podcast conversation (1:09).
“I think the product’s still quite good, but for us it became confusing for our customers, and so we decided to pull out of it,” he said. “It’s not a negative commentary on the individuals involved with it, or even the product – it just didn’t go well with the rest of our products. We like to control the narrative.”
Still, Mountain Collective remained resilient, announcing the same day that Alterra’s mountains departed that it was bringing lost partners Sun Valley and Snowbasin back after their three-year Epic vacation. The coalition added Le Massif in June and Marmot Basin in July. Before today, the pass sat at 24 partners, its largest number ever.
But Palisades and Mammoth had been the Collective’s only two partners in California, the nation’s most populous state and the second-largest U.S. ski market by number of skier visits. The product had been a big seller in the San Francisco Bay area, where skiers could take a couple weekend trips and then assemble a longer voyage to Wyoming or along B.C.’s Powder Highway.
Enter Sugar Bowl, which today becomes Mountain Collective’s 25th partner and fills the California-sized hole in its roster. Skiers will get two days each at every destination, and then half off its partners’ obscenely overpriced walk-up lift tickets each day afterward. The pass currently runs $579 adult, $479 for ages 13 to 18, and $189 for kids 12 and under. Prices increase Sept. 27.
The Collective finds its pace
Sugar Bowl is the fifth new partner that Mountain Collective has added for the 2022-23 season – Sun Valley, Snowbasin, Le Massif, and Marmot Basin were the others. The Collective’s current roster is expansive and impressive. Here’s a peek:
Mountain Collective has really become the premium no-blackout ski pass for the Upper Rockies and Powder Highway. From Alta / Snowbird / Snowbasin / Jackson / Targhee / Sun Valley on north, you can sail. It wouldn’t take a master logician to cobble together a life-defining two-week roadie with this pass floating in a bootbag sidepocket.
Sugar Bowl sits well outside this crucible. But it’s still a damn fine addition, and it adds an element of uncrowded Tahoe that no other megapass currently delivers. Here’s a look at Sugar Bowl and what today’s news means for the Mountain Collective and its passholders:
Below the subscriber jump: a breakdown of Sugar Bowl, the brewing Indy versus Mountain Collective pass war, and where Mountain Collective could strike next.