North America Lift Pass Wars

The Epic pass has a new challenger. Can the Ikon pass knock Mr Epic off its perch? And is this the death of the one resort lift pass? This is 'North America Lift Pass Wars' (coming soon to video rental stores near you).

The current trend for North America is for groups of resorts to club together (be it they're owned by one company or just close by) to create a single multi-resort lift pass. Now, this may seem like a great idea but we're not entirely convinced. If it's another cost-effective way to purchase a pass on top of the existing resort passes, we see that as a positive. If it's a collective pass that replaces the original passes we're not so sure of its cost-effectiveness (unless you live out there or are planning on travelling out for multiple weeks). So here I will take you through the current lift pass offerings to try to simplify the jargon and make things easier for me and you.

The big two passes that you can now buy seem to have most major resorts covered (for better or for worse). These are the EPIC pass and the IKON pass. And this is what each has to offer:

 

EPIC pass

The EPIC pass is a collection of resorts including those run by Vail Resorts, Inc. where the epic passes have replaced the traditional single resort passes. This has pros and cons.

Pros
- If you are planning multiple trips or a multi-centre itinerary to numerous resorts then having a bunch of resorts covered on the same lift pass
- If you live around here so can ski on different mountains throughout the season
- If you like to be epic

Cons
- Generally makes single trip lift passes more expensive, due to its umbrella nature. Though this is now the new norm for these resorts so it's just the price of a lift ticket now
- It's far more confusing to get your head around which pass offers you the best value for what you want and where you are going on your ski trip.

Passes:

I've outlined the benefits of each pass when travelling with flexiski (we only go to a select few resorts in North America). For full pass information click here.

Epic Pass - Vail

Epic pass - US$899*

Unrestricted access to the North American offering and certain days in other resorts across the world. 

This does include 30 European resorts but for 2 or 3 days only and when certain conditions are met - more of a bonus than a reason to get the pass (unless you make about 8-weekend trips a year, in which case you are our favourite person in the world).

Unrestricted access to Vail, Beaver Creek, WhistlerBreckenridgeHeavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood.

Epic Pass - Whistler

Epic 7-day - US$669* 

7-day unrestricted access to Vail, Beaver Creek, WhistlerBreckenridgeHeavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood.

Epic Pass in Whistler

Epic 4-day - US$439*

4-day unrestricted access to the same resorts as the 7-day pass; Vail, Beaver Creek, WhistlerBreckenridgeHeavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood.

Epic Local Pass - Vail

Epic local pass - US$669*

Unlimited, unrestricted access to Breckenridge and date restricted access and a 10-day limit to Vail, Beaver Creek and Whistler.

Restriction Dates:

  • 23/11/18 - 24/11/18
  • 26/12/18 - 31/12/18
  • 19/01/19
  • 16/02/19 - 17/02/19
Summit Value Pass - Breckenridge

Summit value pass - US$549*

Date restricted access to Breckenridge.

Can ski all season outside these dates:

  • 23/11/18 - 24/11/18
  • 26/12/18 - 31/12/18
  • 19/01/19
  • 16/02/19 - 17/02/19

If you're skiing in Breckenridge outside of the above dates and for more than 4 days, this is the pass for you. If you are travelling within these dates, you should get the epic local pass.

Tahoe Value Pass - Heavenly

Tahoe value pass - US$489*

Date restricted access to Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood (The Lake Tahoe resorts).

You can't ski on Saturdays in Northstar or Kirkwood (if you want to ski Saturdays outside Heavenly then there is the Tahoe local pass for an additional US$80 approx. public price - date restrictions still apply)

Restriction Dates:

  • 23/11/18 - 24/11/18
  • 26/12/18 - 31/12/18
  • 19/01/19
  • 16/02/19 - 17/02/19

IKON pass

The big difference with the Ikon pass is that it doesn't replace each individual resort lift pass. Something we really like about it. Instead, it simply offers value to those looking at multiple week breaks or going on some mega-multi-resort itineraries. Whilst those looking for single resort breaks can get the normal pass without the inflated prices.

Ikon Pass - Banff

Ikon pass - US$999*

Unlimited access and no restricted dates to Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth and June Mountain.

You are limited to 7 days skiing in AspenBanff and Lake Louise.

Ikon Base Pass - Lake Louise

Ikon base pass - US$699*

Unlimited access and no restricted dates to June mountain and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows (excludes holiday dates).

You are limited to 5 days skiing with date restrictions in MammothAspenBanff and Lake Louise, each excluding the following dates: Dec 26-31, 2018; Jan 19-20, 2019; and Feb 16-17, 2019

*approximate public prices at the time of writing.

Who wins the war of the lift passes?

So in terms of which pass is better? There is no real winner, it all depends on where, when and for how long you are looking to go skiing. It does seem that the future is leaning towards the multi-resort mega pass, and maybe, one day, there'll be a sweeping pass that covers everything for bargain prices that we'll all marvel at and praise. But for now, we're stuck with a lot of sifting through which pass is best of each of us. I can only hope this made some of the decisions a little easier for you.

If you want some multi-resort ski itinerary inspiration, or just to see what's possible, take a look here. Otherwise, our ski specialists are always on hand should you have any questions. Give them a call on 0208 939 0862 or send an email to reservations@flexiski.com.

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