Ski areas like Steamboat, Jackson and Alta/Snowbird should expect an increase in visits from Aspen Skiing Co. pass holders next season, as locals on Tuesday learned they will receive Ikon Base Pass benefits, allowing for unlimited access to a dozen resorts and up to five days each at 25 other ski areas in the world.
The offer is good on 2019-2020 Premier Adult, Chamber, Senior and Parent Passes, and passes went on sale Tuesday for all pass products except for those taking advantage of the chamber of commerce discount. Pricing on chamber passes will be announced later this year.
The news was greeted positively throughout the local ski community.
“It’s nice the SkICo is listening to the pass holders and the locals in the valley,” said Ian Long of Snowmass Village, who has been critical of the additional bodies on the slopes this year believed connected to Ikon Pass visitation.
“It’s compensation for us having to put up with the increase of people and parking. Now we can leave and go to other ski areas and make them crowded,” Long said with a laugh. He said Jackson Hole, Alta/Snowbird and Steamboat would likely be tops on his travel list next season.
While neither SkiCo nor Alterra Mountain Co., the Denver-based company formed in 2017 by Henry Crown and Co. and private equity firm KSL Capital, have released numbers of Ikon Pass sales, The Colorado Sun reported in October 2018 that about 250,000 were expected to be sold.
SkiCo said last month that Ikon Passes accounted for about 9 percent of its skier visits through early March, but anecdotal evidence both on and off the mountains suggests that number may be higher, especially on mid-winter weekends. That has led to grumbling this year by locals and even some merchants who have decried the thrifty habits of Ikon Pass holders. Bumper stickers emerged with the slogan, “Stop Ikonisizing Aspen.”
Hanle allowed that, “We’ve been looking at a way to get reciprocity” for local pass holders. There are lot of moving pieces and partners. I think this is going to be good for local pass holders and the industry. I’m excited to see what year two [of the Ikon Pass] is going to be about. And year two is going to be different from years three and four.”
He also reiterated that the Ikon Base Pass that comes included with an Aspen Snowmass qualifying pass does not include any days at Aspen Snowmass.
“If you buy an Ikon Base Pass independently of an Aspen/Snowmass pass it includes five days here with blackouts,” Hanle said. Right now that pass is $649 for adults and comes with financing options. Specific details on areas, dates and restrictions are available atikonpass.com.
Hanle said the chamber pricing would be released closer to the date of when they go on sale, which is Aug. 12.
“The chamber price will continue to be the best deal for a season pass. There are significant discounts and similar benefits” to what are offered in the early season. Last year the earliest season chamber price was $1,389.
Hanle said the timing of the pass prices wasn’t in response to two stories in the April Fools Day edition of the Aspen Daily Planet poking fun at the Ikon Pass and its impact here and on other ski towns this winter.
“No, one had nothing to do with the other,” Hanle said of the timing.
The first spoof, which showed herds of skiers on the Cirque, said Snowmass would accept only the Ikon Pass next season. The other story reported that the 100-pin would be replaced by a 5-day Ikon Pass belt buckle.
On Tuesday, a 41-year local, who asked not to be identified, said in the wake of SkiCo’s Ikon-ic announcement, “I never thought it would happen.” Another local wag weighed in that it was wise for SkiCo to get locals on their side, because they are on the front lines and the ones who have been doing the complaining.
Pricing and details for passes that must be bought by May 31:
Premier Senior (65-69) $1,389
Premier Child/Teen (7-17) $679
Premier College (18-24) $679
Premier Silver (70-plus) $514
Premier Parent $1,899
Double Flex $1,539
Only Premier Adult, Chamber, Senior and Parent passes include an Ikon Base Pass. Double Flex and Flex Pass holders receive discounts on summer lift access. Passes purchased this spring will include additional benefits, including skiing at resorts open last for 2018-19. For more, go towww.aspensnowmass.com/seasonpass
What Ikon Base offers to Aspen pass holders
According toikonpass.com, the following are the benefits included with the Ikon Base Pass, which went on sale Tuesday and is included with certain SkiCo products. A chamber pass discounted version of the deal will be announced this summer, according to SkiCo.
Twelve “iconic” destinations allow unlimited access, though there are limited blackout dates that may apply at the following resorts: Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Eldora in Colorado; Solitude Mountain, Utah; Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain and Big Bear Mountain, Calif.; Snowshoe, W.V.; Crystal Mountain, Wash., Tremblant, Quebec and Blue Mountain, Ontario. Blackout dates are Dec. 26 – 31, 2019; Jan. 18–19, 2020; Feb. 15-16, 2020.
Pass holders may also enjoy up to five days each at the following areas: Aspen Snowmass and Steamboat in Colorado; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; Big Sky Resort, Mont.; Stratton, Killington-Pico and Sugarbush, Vermont; Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain, Mich.; Snoqualmie, Wash.; Revelstoke Mountain Resort and Cypress, in British Columbia; Skibig3, Alberta; Sunday River and Sugarloaf, Maine; Loon Mountain, N.H.; Taos, N.M.; Deer Valley Resort, Brighton and Alta Snowbird, Utah. “Global” areas include Thredbo, Australia, Coronet Peak, the Remarkables and Mt. Hutt, New Zealand, Niseko United, Japan and Valle Nevado, Chile.
Blackout days in the Northern Hemisphere areas are: Dec. 26-31, Jan. 18-19 and Feb. 15-16. In Thredbo, in the southern hemisphere, the blackout dates are July 4-19, 2020.