Game-Changing Ikon Pass to Launch with 23 Mountain Resorts

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Alterra Mountain Company dropped a bomb at the Outdoor Retailer/SIA show this morning, announcing the forthcoming Ikon Pass will bring together its dozen North American resorts along with eleven other major mountains.  Aspen Skiing Company, Boyne Resorts, Powdr Co. and more have partnered with Alterra to add destinations such as Aspen Snowmass, Alta, Snowbird, Big Sky, Killington and Jackson Hole.  “The Ikon Pass is a collaboration of like-minded mountain destinations across North America where incredible terrain, unique character and local traditions are celebrated,” said Erik Forsell, Chief Marketing Officer for Alterra Mountain Company. “We’ve curated a community of iconic destinations. We believe this new pass offers tremendous opportunity and appeal to mountain enthusiasts who have a passion for outdoor adventure.”

Pass options will range from a set number of days at varying destinations to an ultimate, unlimited season pass.  I can’t stress enough how much this changes big mountain skiing in North America.  For years now, Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass has been the largest and most successful season pass product in the world, now offering access to 272 lifts and 44,000 acres at 15 mountains in North America and Australia to some 750,000 passholders.  Ikon will one-up Vail’s terrain offering with access to 23 top-tier North American resorts, a ridiculous 363 lifts and 48,840 acres (for both passes, I am counting gondolas, chairlifts and surface lifts with towers.  If carpets and rope tows are included, the Epic Pass offers 340 lifts while Ikon has 434.)

Ikon Pass resorts for 2018-19 will be:

  • Alta, Utah
  • Alpine Meadows, California
  • Aspen Highlands, Colorado
  • Aspen Mountain, Colorado
  • Bear Mountain, California
  • Blue Mountain, Ontario
  • Big Sky, Montana
  • Buttermilk, Colorado
  • Copper Mountain, Colorado
  • Deer Valley, Utah
  • Eldora, Colorado
  • Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  • June Mountain, California
  • Killington, Vermont
  • Loon Mountain, New Hampshire
  • Mammoth Mountain, California
  • Snowbird, Utah
  • Snowmass, Colorado
  • Snowshoe, West Virginia
  • Snow Summit, California
  • Squaw Valley, California
  • Steamboat, Colorado
  • Stratton, Vermont
  • Sugarloaf, Maine
  • Sunday River, Maine
  • Tremblant, Quebec
  • Winter Park, Colorado

Ikon passholders will also receive discounts and special offers at CMH heli-skiing in British Columbia.  Epic holders already enjoy limited access to 30 European resorts. The Liftopia-powered Mountain Collective Pass, which allows destination skiers to sample many large resorts, will remain an option in its current form and also go on sale in March.  The M.A.X. Pass, founded by Intrawest, Powdr and Boyne, will sunset.  Specific Ikon tiers and prices will be released in the coming weeks.

As an employee of one of the independent resorts on the MCP and now Ikon Pass, I watched first hand the worry of consolidation last spring turn to optimism in the fall.  Now I know why.

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55 thoughts on “Game-Changing Ikon Pass to Launch with 23 Mountain Resorts

  1. Collin January 25, 2018 / 9:36 am

    I’m a current Max Pass holder and there’s stuff I like and don’t like about this. I like how the still have the Powdr and Boyne mountains on it and unlimited access is an option. I’m dissapointed that not a max pass mountain that wasn’t under Powdr, Intrawest or Boyne is included. Also, I’m concerned the price will be way more than what the Max Pass cost.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Landsman January 25, 2018 / 9:44 am

      The MAX Pass resorts not included in Ikon are Alyeska, Mt. Bachelor, Boreal, Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain, Brighton, Buck Hill, Crested Butte, Crystal Mountain (WA), Cypress Mountain, Fernie, Kicking Horse, Kimberley, Lee Canyon, Mont Saint Anne, Mountain Creek, Mountain High, Nakiska, Mt. Sunapee, Okemo, Pico, The Summit at Snoqualmie, Solitude, Wachusett, Whiteface, Belleayre, Gore Mountain, Windham, Lutsen and Granite Peak. All mid-tier resorts that could come up with something new.

      The Mountain Collective resorts not included in Ikon are Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, Mt. Norquay, Revelstoke, Sun Valley, Taos, Telluride, Snowbasin and Sugarbush.

      Like

      • Collin January 25, 2018 / 9:49 am

        Pico is likely included because all Killington ticket and pass products are also valid at Pico. No way the remaining max pass mountains go at it alone because they will lose most of the “anchor resorts” they had before.

        Like

    • Dave O. February 9, 2018 / 9:17 am

      As an east coast skier from upstate NY I am not a fan of this. Max pass has much more to offer for NY and VT. Ikon appears to have nothing in NY and only 2-3 VT options.

      For the “east coast skier”, this appears to be an inferior product, and one that I will not consider next season.

      I’d love to hear some thoughts from Ikon on this….

      Like

      • Collin February 9, 2018 / 9:46 am

        Given the western centric nature of Alterra I don’t think they really care. My concern with Alterra is they’ll be just like Intrawest and Powdr and use the eastern resorts as cash cows for western investment and not replace lifts that have needed it for years. With no resorts even close to NYC there will be way fewer people buying the Ikon Pass than bought the Max Pass. I hope Vail does a massive buying spree of close to NYC ski areas and puts them all on Epic Pass and then Ikon has to add some to compete.

        Like

      • RDV February 25, 2018 / 12:54 pm

        I agree. This is an inferior product and does not provide the same value as the MAX Pass for East coasters. After two great seasons using the MAX Pass, I will not be purchasing the IKON Pass.

        Like

  2. Max Hart January 25, 2018 / 9:36 am

    I’m surprised Triple Peaks (Sunapee, NH, Crested Butte, CO, and Okemo, VT) didn’t get in on this, they were on the MAX pass before.

    This might not be popular among eastern NE (Boston & eastern Mass.) skiers because of the lack of NH mountains that are popular among Boston area skiers. I’m surprised that Bretton Woods, Waterville, and Sunapee aren’t a part of this. Boston area / eastern Mass skiers might as well stick with the New England Pass (Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Loon, Boyne’s eastern mountains) or the White Mtn. Superpass (Bretton Woods, Cannon, Waterville, and Cranmore). New Yorkers will love it with all of the Vermont mountains.

    Like

    • Mark January 25, 2018 / 12:27 pm

      Popularity will likely depend on price/access structure. EPIC’s unlimited access @$800 is a major draw for anyone content to “park” at Stowe for NE skiing and incorporate a few or more destination trips into their season. Currently Epic is the value play for that application. If IKON is similarly priced and also an unlimited-access pass it will be a formidable competitor, but if it is a “sampler pass” limited to 2-5 days per mtn (like MAX) it will have less appeal.

      As an add-on pass MAX provided destination options for NE pass holders, albeit at a higher total price and less choice than EPIC. My family tiered down (holiday restrictions) on our local pass and added the MAX add-on for holiday destination skiing. Pushed pricing over $1k but a few hundred less than a local pass + an EPIC pass.

      With KSL’s purchase of Intrawest properties I was planning on a restricted local pass + EPIC for 2018/19, but will now wait to see what IKON offers up. Losing PNW options is a personal negative.

      Like

  3. Cameron Halmrast January 25, 2018 / 9:37 am

    It’s interesting to see that only a handful of resorts from Powdr and Boyne will be featured in the IKON pass. From the looks of it, this pass is designed to have people go to major tourism locations and not your local ski hill such as Mt. Bachelor or Boyne Highlands.

    Like

  4. Max Hart January 25, 2018 / 9:40 am

    Also, where’s Pico? This is the first time I have seen a pass that has Killington on it without Pico (Killington and Pico are marketed together for EVERYTHING) since the American Skiing Co. bought Pico in 1996.

    Like

    • Collin January 25, 2018 / 9:50 am

      All Killington ticket and pass products are also valid at Pico, so IKON Pass will be valid there.

      Like

      • Peter Landsman January 26, 2018 / 10:04 am

        Per Killington’s Facebook page, Pico is not included. Reiterating Ikon is a pass for Alterra’s own resorts and a carefully selected group of partner resorts only. In many ways the opposite of MAX, which would take anybody.

        Like

  5. Scott January 25, 2018 / 10:23 am

    FYI: Loon is in New Hampshire, not Vermont.

    Like

    • Peter Landsman January 25, 2018 / 10:32 am

      Silly mistake since I have been there many times. Thanks.

      Like

  6. PETER January 25, 2018 / 10:29 am

    Unless they price it similar to Epic, this will not balance the advantage Vail Resorts has. I’m live in Park City and buy a pass every year. I’d be happy to buy the Ikon pass IF it is similarly priced to Epic. Otherwise, no way. I suspect this will be the case for others as well, including flat-landers, which only buy the Epic pass since they can get their money’s worth in ~5 days. If it’s more, they will instead buy multi-day passes. Simple as that.

    I hope I’m wrong – PCMR is so crowded these days (even in an off-snow season) that we could use some crowd relief.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Collin January 25, 2018 / 11:27 am

    With Max Pass toast, I think some of the max pass mountains that weren’t included in this could switch to Mountain Collective, especially the eastern ones. Sugarbush is currently the only Mountain Collective resort in the east. Okemo, Gore, and Whiteface are the largest eastern max pass mountains that didn’t make it on Ikon, and they could improve Mountain Collective’s eastern offerings significantly. And if Okemo joins, Sunapee and Crested Butte also join, and if Gore and Whiteface join, so does Belleayre.

    Like

  8. smacpats January 25, 2018 / 12:49 pm

    Has pricing been released yet? With JHMR, Aspen Highlands, Big sky and Alta-Bird, this actually might make me buy something other than the traditional stratton season pass for the first time in 10+ years.

    Like

    • Collin January 25, 2018 / 12:53 pm

      Hopefully Alterra buys a lift at Stratton. No new lifts since 2001, and Intrawest has been promising the Snow Bowl replacement for years and never has followed through. Tremblant also needs lift investment, mainly being the Duncan and Soleil lifts.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ryan January 26, 2018 / 9:32 pm

        What needs to be replaced at Stratton and why?

        Like

  9. Peter Landsman January 25, 2018 / 1:14 pm

    Liked by 1 person

    • PETER January 25, 2018 / 5:44 pm

      They have a war chest. Vail will buy mostly northern and ex-US resorts. This season proves some weakness in mostly mid-latitude Western locations. Possible acquisitions: JH, Bridger, Whitefish, Kicking Horse, Revelstoke. They will also partner or joint venture EU and SA resorts, but only colder/higher altitude resorts.

      Like

      • Ryan Murphy January 25, 2018 / 6:12 pm

        They’ll never get Bridger. It’s run by the locals and is consistently in the black every year. It’s also the complete antithesis of a Vail mountain.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Cvs January 25, 2018 / 6:33 pm

        Bridgerbowl is a not for profit run by a foundation and not ever going to be owned by a large conglomerate.

        Like

      • Peter Landsman January 26, 2018 / 10:14 am

        To quote from a recent interview with Jay Kemmerer, owner of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in the local paper:

        “Despite the industry trend of ski resorts being gobbled up by large corporations, Jackson Hole will remain independent, owner Jay Kemmerer said. ‘They all call me. We have nice chats. I thank them for the visit and life moves on. We want to be our own identity and remain neutral in this active acquisition period.'”

        Like

  10. Collin January 25, 2018 / 3:32 pm

    What’s odd is Okemo didn’t join. Since Killington and Stratton did they’d lose people to there. This means that Vail is probably negotiating to buy them and look for an announcement before they start selling passes. Windham, which just joined max this year will also likely sell to Vail.

    Like

    • Max Hart January 25, 2018 / 6:23 pm

      I don’t think Triple Peaks is going to sell to Vail. They are in a good financial situation, are continually investing in their mountains (mainly Okemo with the bubble chairs), and run two major eastern ski areas with good snowmaking, a loyal skier crowd from both New York and Boston, and both Sunapee and Okemo are in the best locations possible in terms of accessibility from the metropolitan areas. I could see Vail wanting in on that, but the Muellers have been in this business (at Okemo) for 38 years. Clearly they are doing something right and they are willing to continue to invest in their mountains and aren’t likely to sell out to Vail. [strictly my opinion]

      Like

  11. Andrew F. January 25, 2018 / 5:07 pm

    No Midwest footprint at all– neither the local resorts nor the weekend destinations.

    Not going to be a popular option around here. Epic will continue to gain a bigger share of the travel market in Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit, and Milkaukee. That’s tough for the local resorts here too, as Epic siphons traffic away from them as well.

    Hopefully there’s something planned that we just don’t know about yet. I’m sure Boyne has something in mind, since they’ve excluded their own Midwest properties from the pass.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Werner B. January 25, 2018 / 9:18 pm

    Any chance for Solitude and Snowbasin to be included anytime soon ? Would make a pass potentially very interesting for anybody living in SLC !

    Like

    • Peter Landsman January 26, 2018 / 10:06 am

      Per the Ikon site, “This is the current line-up for 2018-2019.” If Alterra bought another mountain before March, it would presumably get added.

      Like

  13. V12Tommy January 26, 2018 / 7:11 pm

    So jealous. I live in Vail, so I’m stuck forking over a ton of money to worthless Vail Resorts each winter. I would much rather give my money to their competition, but hopefully this is the first step in knocking Vail Resorts off of their high horse.

    Like

    • Collin January 26, 2018 / 7:26 pm

      What don’t you like about Vail? Personally I think it’s ridiculous how they charge extra for every little thing. Much more than other ski area.

      Like

      • Cvs January 26, 2018 / 8:00 pm

        Its their business model they charge less for the pass and make bank on everything else.

        Like

      • Collin January 26, 2018 / 9:13 pm

        Ah just like the airlines

        Like

      • Michael January 26, 2018 / 9:15 pm

        “Extra for every little thing”… Like what?

        Like

      • V12Tommy January 27, 2018 / 2:05 pm

        I did notice a price break this year over other years when it comes to day lift tickets. I’m not sure if that is our lack of snow, or if people finally had enough with their high prices and their numbers were down. Perhaps it was preemptive because of the new competition. I just hope people realize that the town of Vail and Vail Resorts are not the same thing. I love my town, but would also love to see Vail Resorts sell the mountain to someone else less douchey.

        Like

    • Michael January 26, 2018 / 9:13 pm

      I don’t understand your complaint. VR invests $50-100M a year to upgrade their Resorts. Broad choices of areas and a great price with the Epic Pass. I don’t think the IKON will be cheaper because there are multiple “Pie Owners” to get their share.

      Like

      • V12Tommy January 27, 2018 / 2:11 pm

        I rarely stop for lunch on the mountain to avoid giving VR more money, but the other day it was cold so I stopped. A cup of soup and a small soda cost me over $21!! They may buy a new lift every year, but they certainly haven’t invested in the manpower for grooming this year, as it has been horrible. Vail’s grooming used to be bar none, but they eliminated daytime grooming a few years ago, and with what they pay their employees, they certainly aren’t going to recruit the best people to work for them, and it shows. I love my town, and I love Vail Mountain, but VR could be driven to bankruptcy for all I care. I go out of my way not to give them any more money, and many locals feel the same way.

        Like

    • Peter Landsman January 29, 2018 / 11:40 am

      And it’s only January! Will be interesting to see what other announcements drop before sales start in March.

      Like

    • Collin January 29, 2018 / 12:14 pm

      I think we’ll see Vail do a massive buying spree of close to population center ski areas in the east since the Ikon Pass has nothing less than 4 hours from NYC.

      Like

      • Matt G. January 29, 2018 / 12:19 pm

        From Pittsburgh. Would love to see them buy 7 Springs, Hidden Valley, and Laurel Mountain in PA. They’re owned by the same owner, Bob Nutting, who owns MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates, and he is always looking for opportunities to do new business, as shown by Laurel Mountain reopening last year for the first time in a decade.

        Like

      • Collin January 29, 2018 / 8:11 pm

        Aspen said that they’re still going to participate in MCP, but nothing was said about the Alterra mountains although this means that one can be on Ikon and MCP at the same time. And Stowe and Whistler were bought by Vail while Telluride wasn’t. I think a bunch of the former max pass mountains could go to MCP.

        Like

  14. Eric January 30, 2018 / 7:20 am

    As someone whose “home” resort is the Killington / Pico area, my instinct is that the lack of Pico on this pass is a major bummer. PIco has always been included in any Killington pass for well over a decade and they promote this every day on their snow report. I’ll wait for details to come out before making final judgment, but it seems as if this will force people who spend most of their days in that area to decide between a Killington / Pico pass and a Killington / all these other resorts pass.

    Like

  15. robert lah February 2, 2018 / 3:20 pm

    This is very disappointing. The Max Pass was great for we New Yorkers because some of our “local” resorts were on it, as well as some great ones out west. With no Windham, Belleayre, Gore or Stratton, it doesn’t have the value. I really hope that Ikon tries to tap that market! There’s a lot of money in NYC.

    Like

    • Collin February 2, 2018 / 6:08 pm

      It still has Stratton. Losing Windham, Belleayre, and Mountain Creek means few New Yorkers will ever buy this since Stratton is over four hours away and requires an overnight trip.

      They didn’t include any of the more local ski areas on this pass (except Blue Mountain and Snowshoe which came from Intrawest). They want it to be only for the big destinations. I think the branding is a bit cheesy, but they just felt it had to be four letters because “Epic” works so well for Vail. Speaking of which, Vail bought a few urban feeder hills in the Midwest and they’re on the Epic Pass, so I don’t get why Alterra totally excluded those types of ski areas from being on the Ikon Pass.

      Also we’ll see what resorts end up being unlimited vs limited days. My guess is all of the Alterra mountains are going to be unlimited and the Ikon Pass is going to be the season pass at those mountains. The other resorts might be and might not be unlimited although my guess is Jackson Hole and the Aspen resorts will not be unlimited due to their very expensive pass prices.

      Like

  16. Max Passer February 9, 2018 / 12:37 am

    I think this blows. Max pass is amazing, especially with the Canadian resorts it includes. It was the perfect pass this year and the Collective was a nice compliment though at 2 days per resort the Collective isn’t anywhere near as good as the Max Pass.

    I’d been planning to get the Max Pass next year and everyone I run into at the Max Resorts has the Max Pass and loves it.

    I had all but quit skiing till the Max Pass came out. Vail Resorts are a total ripoff. Who cares if you ski cheap but have to spend $100 for a locker,parking, lunch and a beer. Add in the outrageous lodging prices and there is zero attraction to ever go to a Vail resort.

    Max is perfect. You can book lodging for 7 days at any of their resorts and pick the 5 best days to ski and do it most anywhere in the US and Canada.

    Like

  17. Sharon February 10, 2018 / 2:02 pm

    This is really limiting for East Coast skiers. Maxx pass rocked and of course a good thing has to come to an end, hopefully more will be added before march.

    Like

  18. Lauri Powers February 23, 2018 / 9:41 pm

    Super bummed that Mt Bachelor is not included in ikon pass. We have purchased and enjoyed the max pass for 3 years and looked forward to our annual trips to Colorado. The changes will definitely impact our decision to buy next season. Hope youd consider adding mt Bachelor.

    Like

  19. Tim S February 24, 2018 / 7:58 am

    Upstate NY – My 1st year with a Max Pass and enjoyed it. Had planned on purchasing the Max Pass for everyone in my family,… guess that won’t be happening

    Like

  20. Patty RM April 3, 2018 / 1:29 pm

    I will not be getting the Ikon pass. Us North Easterners aren’t getting the benefit we had with the Maxx pass. Okemo is out, Belleayre is out, Mountain creek is out. And there are block out dates for Killington. Sorry, no ikon pass for us. Shame, we really enjoyed our trips on the Maxx pass.

    Liked by 1 person

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