Vail, Beaver Creek Peak-Day 2022-23 Lift Ticket Hits $275
Does it even matter?
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Something to talk about while we’re skiing for $5 a day
Of the many Simpsons scenes that ride always in my brain, one of my favorite is the Huck Finn spoof from 2001. Nelson (Huck Finn) and Bart (Tom Sawyer) escape raftwise down the Mississippi, stopping en route for supplies. After the shopkeeper (Apu) loads a sack of goods that no 1840s schoolboy could do without – a jug of whisky, three plugs of tobaccy, and some extra-strength opium – he lays out the boys’ total: two cents.
“Two cents!” the boys gasp in unison.
“If you think my prices are high, go across the street,” Apu says, pointing to the 99-cent store, where the goods include a grand piano, a chandelier, and a grandfather clock (2:44):
I wonder what the boys would think of Vail and Beaver Creek’s 2022-23 lift-ticket prices, which dropped online last week:
Five more Vail properties will beat the $200 mark on peak days this coming season, while Stowe really wants to be the first New England resort to cross the threshold:
Startling lift ticket prices, of course, are not strictly a Vail attribute – Alterra claims three of the top seven spots (Steamboat, Deer Valley, Winter Park) for next season, with Aspen, Jackson Hole, and Big Sky right behind:
And here’s what that list looked like last season (Palisades Tahoe lift tickets are not yet on sale for 2022-23, though I’m sure they will jump right into the mix):
Looping back to Vail and Beaver Creek here – the peak ticket price jumped 15 percent in one season, from $239 to $275. It’s almost as though Vail wanted them to be the most expensive ski resorts in America. Why would they do that? Because that puts the mountains in the headlines, which gives them a chance to talk about what a bitchin’ deal the Epic Day Pass is, which is what happens when you attempt to purchase a peak-day lift ticket:
It’s a risky strategy – one that will either leave skiers feeling very smart or very stupid. It’s “Hey I found a hack!” or “wait there Jimbo, you only paid $671 for your seven-day Christmas week lift ticket? Why was mine almost $1,400?”
It’s all a little bit stupid. Everybody hates this system and hates what it broadcasts about skiing. Half of you hate that I’m even writing this post. “Hey Pass Bro, why do you care about lift-ticket prices? What’s next, a dispatch about the soaring cost of mink scarves?”
It’s worth looking, though, at what Vail’s doing here. The company just said it would limit lift ticket sales every day of the season at every one of its mountains. Price increases make sense in that context. Vail has also long said its goal is to bump Epic Pass sales up to 75 percent of skier visits. An emphasis on Epic Day Pass sales, which count as Epic Passes in Vailworld, probably gets them closer to that goal.
Last season, 27 percent of Vail Resort’s skier visits (at all mountains) came from lift tickets – 22 percent advanced purchase, and five percent at the window. That five percent may all but disappear this year, particularly on weekends and holidays, as the company sells out of tickets for most peak days far in advance.
No one outside of Broomfield knows how Vail set their daily limits for this season, but a quick scan of the company’s peak properties dug up 11 sellouts already:
Northstar: Dec. 31, Jan. 1, Jan. 15
Park City: Dec. 28
Stowe: Jan. 15 and 21, Feb. 4
Okemo: Jan. 15, Feb. 25
Mount Sunapee: Jan. 15 and 21
I’ll continue to watch these numbers. I don’t know if these are final sellouts. Vail may finally be learning to lean conservative when considering New England terrain openings. If more lifts and runs open, they could release more tickets.
I’m not sure, though, how much these prices truly matter. More and more, skiing resembles another upper-middle-class pastime: college. The average annual tuition is like eight zillion dollars, but only four people in the country actually pay that. Or something. Most people get scholarships or grants or don’t go to Stanford. It’s a stupid number, perpetuated by the institutions themselves, that means nothing but that we all talk about.
The scholarship is called an Epic Pass, and it’s $859 for access to 1,000 resorts across 25 continents. You can buy it here but hurry because prices increase tomorrow. Which means prices increase Thursday.
Below the subscriber jump: a look at the Little Cottonwood gondola proposal, two new resorts for the Powder Alliance, Ski Cooper’s pass continues growing, details on the Sundance expansion, and much more.