News Roundup: Pass Wars

  • The latest Wir highlights Doppelmayr Connect, various drive concepts and the Sweetwater Gondola.
  • U.S. skier visits climbed 3.7 percent last season to 54.7 million.  479 ski areas operated in 2016-17, up from 464.
  • Silverton Mountain is not a fan of the Epic Pass.
  • Royal Gorge Bridge & Park considers chairlift down to the Arkansas River.
  • Intrawest re-invested 8 percent of revenues at its resorts between 2013 and 2017 (compared with 11 percent across Vail Resorts.)  The company had 173 interested buyers, 16 of which were ski industry players.
  • Early summer update from the Magic Mountain rebirth and Green Chair project.
  • Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group buys Frey AG Stans, a leading global provider of ropeway control systems.
  • Lifts from the defunct Talisman Mountain Resort have been sold; one is headed to Sunridge, Alberta.
  • Granby Ranch investigation update.
  • LA mayor suggests gondola to the Hollywood sign from Universal Studios.
  • Ghost Town in Maggie Valley, NC goes up for sale, including Carlevaro-Savio chairlift that last operated in 2012.
  • Nonprofit nearing purchase of Frost Fire, ND, hopes to repair two chairlifts and reopen skiing next winter.
  • Government considers building world’s longest gondola into the world’s largest cave in Vietnam.
  • Here’s a recap of what we missed at Interalpin.
  • Lutsen Mountains’ six-lift expansion plan moves forward.
  • The Denver Post reports a joint Aspen/Intrawest/KSL/Mammoth pass is in the works for 2018-19, meaning the Mountain Collective could lose seven members and 43 percent of its lifts.  The MAX Pass might fare better, losing the six Intrawest resorts and 85 lifts (20 percent.)  I chart one scenario below.

17 thoughts on “News Roundup: Pass Wars

  1. pp492 May 11, 2017 / 12:24 pm

    Great chart Peter. A basin is included on the Epic pass.

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    • Peter Landsman May 11, 2017 / 12:28 pm

      Forgot about that, thanks. I also incorrectly labelled the chart 2017-18 when it should say 2018-19.

      Like

  2. Cameron Halmrast May 11, 2017 / 1:15 pm

    With the MAX Pass being owned by Intrawest since it has the same mailing address, it seems more logical for Aspen/KSL to switch over to the MAX Pass as their are no royalty fees. In addition, all the resorts with red backgrounds with a slash through their name are going to be participating in next year’s MAX Pass.

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    • Peter Landsman May 11, 2017 / 1:24 pm

      All this speculation is about 2018-19, not next year. MAX is run by an LLC called PassCo that presumably Boyne, Powdr, ORDA, etc. could continue after Intrawest leaves. My big question is whether Aspen and KSL’s new pass will include any resorts other than the ones they will own. With more mountains than Vail, I’m not sure they need to partner with anyone else. We’ll know next March.

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      • Collin Parsons May 16, 2017 / 4:17 pm

        Intrawest was one of the founding companies of the Max Pass while Mountain Collective is owned by Liftopia. If they are going to stay on one multi resort pass and not make their own, then it will be the Max Pass. I wouldn’t think that they’d keep resorts on their respective passes if they made their own combined pass, but it isn’t out of the question.

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    • Peter Landsman May 11, 2017 / 2:20 pm

      Added. Crazy that the two biggest members only have five lifts each!

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  3. Reed Lehto May 11, 2017 / 2:35 pm

    Lutsen Mountains has always had frustrating improvement priorities – they want to expand and add lifts, but are running primarily a fleet of Riblet center-pole doubles for most of their existing runs, aside from the new Doppelmayr gondola and LP six pack.

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    • RMurphy May 11, 2017 / 6:00 pm

      That’s not unusual in the midwest. The place where I learned to ski still hasn’t replaced a lift in my lifetime. Back then, I was just happy if the liftline was short. I didn’t care how fancy the chair was or how fast it was.

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      • Peter Landsman May 12, 2017 / 12:00 am

        So far Giants Ridge is building the only new lifts in the Midwest this year because they can do so with public money. Lack of infrastructure investment can’t go on forever. Unfortunately some of these places may eventually close rather than renewing their lift fleets. NSAA has been lobbying for publicly-backed low- or no-interest loans for ski resort infrastructure but I’m not holding my breath.

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  4. pp492 May 12, 2017 / 7:25 am

    The Peak Pass is another option.

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    • jaytrem May 12, 2017 / 8:48 am

      And it includes all their Mid-west areas even though they don’t advertise that at all.

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  5. RaflW May 13, 2017 / 9:38 am

    Aspen Skiing has said they will not include their four marquee resorts in the new KSL pass product. Yes, there is speculation that in 3 or 4 years that barrier will fall, but your spreadsheet (which is great) suggests they’ll be in the new pass. Any thoughts you’d like to share on that?
    I don’t know if Aspen or KSL are concerned about anti-trust so they’re claiming the separation? I assume it is because Aspen wants to keep their core product at around two grand, but to compete (for now…) against Epic, the new consolidated pass will probably have to be under $1,000.

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    • Peter Landsman May 13, 2017 / 10:28 am

      SkiCo said the new 50-50 venture will not own the Aspen mountains but that doesn’t mean they won’t participate in a joint pass product. To quote Jason Blevins: “A source close to the KSL-Aspen Skiing deal said a pass product involving all the Intrawest resorts, Squaw Alpine, Mammoth Resorts and Aspen Skiing’s four ski areas is planned and will rival the Epic Pass.” I don’t see antitrust concerns as a barrier in the current political climate. There are still hundreds of independent ski areas not on any of these passes.

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  6. Alex May 13, 2017 / 10:44 am

    Complete speculation on my part but I would not be surprised if the new Epic Pass competitor is simply called the Mountain Collective as Aspen owns that trademark.

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    • Peter Landsman May 13, 2017 / 12:27 pm

      A Mountain Collective Unlimited pass with Jackson Hole, Revelstoke and the others would really be epic.

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