• Welcome to AlpineZone, the largest online community of skiers and snowboarders in the Northeast!

    You may have to REGISTER before you can post. Registering is FREE, gets rid of the majority of advertisements, and lets you participate in giveaways and other AlpineZone events!

Superpasses: more crowds?

Greg

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jul 1, 2001
Messages
31,158
Points
0
Wow. First thread I've started in I don't know how long! Been lurking a lot this preseason as I haven't been as pumped to ski as I've been this season in several for various reasons. Anyway, reading a lot of superpass hate...mostly about leading to more crowds, etc. Not sure I get all that. Have cheaper multi-mountain passes really lead to bigger crowds? Discuss!

I plan to ski Mount Snow this Saturday (day tickets bought; not an Epic pass holder) and fully expect it to be busy. Hello, there is early season snow in the 'burbs so it should be expected. I have a plan to ski the mountain in a way to make it an overall good experience so no real concerns here...
 

JimG.

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
Messages
10,969
Points
48
Location
Hopewell Jct., NY
Fully expecting it to be crowded is my strategy too.

Plus I try not to ski megapass mountains on weekends.

Killington early March last season:

31019.jpg

The line for the gondola at K1 stretches behind the lodge going towards SS.
 

KustyTheKlown

Active member
Joined
Mar 1, 2013
Messages
2,351
Points
38
Location
Brooklyn
^that's a pretty extreme example tho. as a m-f 9-5er, my new england skiing is exclusively weekends (vacation time is for airplane skiing), and is predominantly ikon. i tend to start my day at first chair and knock out around 2. its rare to see this kind of crowding at the ikon destinations in my experience over the past few years of ikon and max pass. the worst random saturday crowding ive experienced was actually at stowe last year when using my skiVT pack ticket. like 20+ min for the forerunner most of the day

as you said greg, its about how you approach the mountain. avoid heavily congested lifts and lodges. start early. get to more remote parts of the place. ski thru lunch. etc. 31000 is an awful lot of AZ posts.
 

Greg

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jul 1, 2001
Messages
31,158
Points
0
Plus I try not to ski megapass mountains on weekends.

Kind of my point in starting the thread. Do you avoid these mountains more now on weekends because of megapasses? Are these mountains really that much more crowded now as a result?

31000 is an awful lot of AZ posts.

Lol. Well, there was a time here when I felt like I was communicating with myself more than anyone else... :)
 

KustyTheKlown

Active member
Joined
Mar 1, 2013
Messages
2,351
Points
38
Location
Brooklyn
Select weekends. This weekend I would very intentionally avoid hunter and mount snow, and I’m going to magic Saturday bc it’s magic, but also because I think Stratton will be a nightmare Saturday after the big storm that also put snow down in people’s backyards. First week of December and snow in the Boston and nyc areas. Trouble.
 

JimG.

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
Messages
10,969
Points
48
Location
Hopewell Jct., NY
Kind of my point in starting the thread. Do you avoid these mountains more now on weekends because of megapasses? Are these mountains really that much more crowded now as a result?

Not really. That pic was taken on my youngest son's last high school skiing trip last season. And I'll bet people remember other weekends as bad or worse. For me at least it's about the attitude adjustment. And skiing until you drop on good or uncrowded days.

I don't like mega passes because there will inevitably be losers in this game and there will be a lot of eastern resorts lost because they just can't compete. To me that is totally unnecessary and undesirable.
 

cdskier

Active member
Joined
Mar 26, 2015
Messages
3,733
Points
38
Location
NJ
The line for the gondola at K1 stretches behind the lodge going towards SS.

To be completely fair...I remember being at K with lines like that years ago (I haven't skied at K since at least 2011 and it was sometime before that).

In all honesty, I don't think we have enough data to know whether the "crowding from megapass" phenomena is accurate or not. Ikon is exceptionally new to the scene. And you had a really good snow year last year. I think you need a good 3-5 years of having Epic and Ikon and any other megapasses compete to see how things ultimately shake out. If crowding becomes a valid concern, you'll inevitably see some people go elsewhere.

It is kind of funny/ironic. On one hand we continually complain that we don't have enough people in the sport and need to grow the sport. Then we go and complain that resorts are "too crowded". Which is it?
 

JimG.

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
Messages
10,969
Points
48
Location
Hopewell Jct., NY
To be completely fair...I remember being at K with lines like that years ago (I haven't skied at K since at least 2011 and it was sometime before that).

In all honesty, I don't think we have enough data to know whether the "crowding from megapass" phenomena is accurate or not. Ikon is exceptionally new to the scene. And you had a really good snow year last year. I think you need a good 3-5 years of having Epic and Ikon and any other megapasses compete to see how things ultimately shake out. If crowding becomes a valid concern, you'll inevitably see some people go elsewhere.

It is kind of funny/ironic. On one hand we continually complain that we don't have enough people in the sport and need to grow the sport. Then we go and complain that resorts are "too crowded". Which is it?

Again, in my way of thinking it's never too crowded. I'm glad to see folks out skiing and having fun. Path of least resistance. If my favorite trails or trees are busy I just go ski something else. I find a lot of fun lines I would never know about if I was skiing my usual stuff.
 

JimG.

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
Messages
10,969
Points
48
Location
Hopewell Jct., NY
It is kind of funny/ironic. On one hand we continually complain that we don't have enough people in the sport and need to grow the sport. Then we go and complain that resorts are "too crowded". Which is it?

I personally have never complained that there aren't enough people in the sport.
 

BenedictGomez

Active member
Joined
Jan 26, 2011
Messages
10,655
Points
38
Location
PRNJ
Have cheaper multi-mountain passes really lead to bigger crowds?

If you ask ski resort CEOs, the answer is, "no".

If you ask most anyone else, the answer is, "yes".

One aspect of this conversation that I do not believe is well-understood by many, is whatever level of "crowding" you perceive from these passes, BOTH are still ramping, IKON far more than EPIC due to its' younger age. In other words, it's likely getting worse, not better.
 

jimk

Active member
Joined
Sep 1, 2012
Messages
1,217
Points
38
Location
Wash DC area
To be completely fair...I remember being at K with lines like that years ago (I haven't skied at K since at least 2011 and it was sometime before that).

In all honesty, I don't think we have enough data to know whether the "crowding from megapass" phenomena is accurate or not. Ikon is exceptionally new to the scene. And you had a really good snow year last year. I think you need a good 3-5 years of having Epic and Ikon and any other megapasses compete to see how things ultimately shake out. If crowding becomes a valid concern, you'll inevitably see some people go elsewhere.

It is kind of funny/ironic. On one hand we continually complain that we don't have enough people in the sport and need to grow the sport. Then we go and complain that resorts are "too crowded". Which is it?

I kind of agree with above. I have memories of horrendous lift lines back in the 1970s skiing in the mid-Atlantic. Much worse than any lines today. In recent years I've mostly been skiing out west where the worst back-ups and lines are on powder days because all the eager locals come out. It's still hard for me to gauge whether crowds are due to mega-passes or just good snow conditions. Probably a combination of both, but mostly driven by good snow.

If you ask ski resort CEOs, the answer is, "no".

If you ask most anyone else, the answer is, "yes".

One aspect of this conversation that I do not believe is well-understood by many, is whatever level of "crowding" you perceive from these passes, BOTH are still ramping, IKON far more than EPIC due to its' younger age. In other words, it's likely getting worse, not better.
Yes skier visits is a fuzzy area, many resorts are very secretive about sharing their skier visits numbers for competition reasons. Makes it hard to come up with firm evidence that overall numbers are up or just reallocation from many small ski areas to fewer big ones. But for immediate selfish reasons gotta love the super passes. I do fear that the little ski areas will suffer...unless they get gobbled up by the big guys and become official feeder hills on same super pass.
 

VTKilarney

Active member
Joined
Feb 5, 2014
Messages
5,372
Points
38
Location
VT NEK
This is really two issues in regard to crowding.

First, have Superpasses increased the overall number of skiers in the northeast. I have yet to see evidence that they have done so in a meaningful way.

If they haven't increased the overall number of skiers, then the issue is whether or not skier patterns have changed. If skiers are crowding Superpass hills it stands to reason that other hills are LESS crowded.

One other thing to consider is that more northeast skiers are now going to be skiing outside of New England thanks to these Superpasses.

Short version: It's complicated.
 

drjeff

Active member
Joined
Jan 18, 2006
Messages
17,149
Points
38
Location
Brooklyn, CT
My anecdotal take from the Mount Snow perspective over the last dozen plus years where it's gone from an ASC property to a "restricted" Peak property (with limited days for Peak pass product holders unless you bought the top of the line pass) to an "unrestricted" Peak property (most any Peak pass product vaild the majority of the days each season) to now an EPIC property

Without a doubt, the crowds are noticeably larger, most any day of the season, than they were in the ASC and "restricted" Peak days era. While I don't have any hard data, as someone who has skied Mount Snow the majority of the weekends they're open for the season for close to the last 15 years now, currently, and for the last season or 2 when Peak removed the limited days a season for Mount Snow for most of their pass products, crowd wise it certainly feels like what used to be a "Holiday Week/Weekend crowd" is now a typical weekend crowd (especially if the weather is remotely decent), and a Holiday Week/Weekend crowd sure feels like its 10-15% above what used to be a BIG crowd. That's just me going by how long the lift lines are, how crowded the base lodges are, how crowded the parking lots are, etc.

Thus far this season, with EPIC now part of of the equation, I have seen some early season weekend days where there were cars in parts of the parking lots that typically don't get used until either the $12 ticket Founder's Day (next Friday the 13th this year) and/or Christmas week crowds, as well as I have already had more rides up the Bluebird this season where it was obvious it was someone who was on the chair with me, first ride on the Bluebird just based on them thinking that they had to lift the bubble up at the top to unload verses letting the chair lift the bubble for you as it does, than I typically have encountered in an entire season the last few years.

While nationally the reported annual skier/rider visits data hasn't fluctuated too much year to year over that time frame, with the fluctuations attributable more to whether it was a "good" or "bad" snow year in various regions of the country that year, I think what it going on is with the multi resort mega passes, you are seeing more and more people who used to spread their days around across a host of resorts, now primarily taking advantage of the resorts solely on their passes for the majority of the season's days on the hill, thus keeping the total annual skiers visits relatively level and at the same time making some resorts that are part of the "mega passes" more crowded.

It will be interesting to see how things are in a few years if the NSAA can accomplish it's goal of adding roughly 5 million annual skier/rider days across the country by 2025 and help grow the sport, as well as how the mega pass situation continues to play out...
 
Last edited:

skiur

Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2012
Messages
785
Points
18
Fully expecting it to be crowded is my strategy too.

Plus I try not to ski megapass mountains on weekends.

Killington early March last season:

View attachment 25727

The line for the gondola at K1 stretches behind the lodge going towards SS.


Yes, the line at K1 can get like that, but go to needles or canyon or north ridge or snowdon triple or lower skyeship or bear quad or south ridge on that day and there is pretty much no line. Only lifts that get like that are k1, snowdon bubble, ramshead and skye peak quad.
 

Greg

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jul 1, 2001
Messages
31,158
Points
0
This is really two issues in regard to crowding.

First, have Superpasses increased the overall number of skiers in the northeast. I have yet to see evidence that they have done so in a meaningful way.

If they haven't increased the overall number of skiers, then the issue is whether or not skier patterns have changed. If skiers are crowding Superpass hills it stands to reason that other hills are LESS crowded.

One other thing to consider is that more northeast skiers are now going to be skiing outside of New England thanks to these Superpasses.

Short version: It's complicated.

I think this post sums up the situation best. Although drjeff's observations are interesting.

I have an Ikon Base pass. The Vermont offerings are most attractive to me and I like having options if I can swing a trip out West. The early price was hard to beat. I guess we just have to accept the perceived larger crowds which I think it's an okay tradeoff for having such flexibility at a cheap price over the $1K+ single resort passes of the past. I think the well-run feeder hills will do just fine. I spent many years skiing local when the kids were small as they weren't patient enough to make the rides to Vermont regularly. Now that's where they want to go, thank god.

The Ikon also got me to Stratton for the first time already this season. Liked the hill and am looking forward to the trees once everything is fully open. I did buy a day ticket for Mount Snow tomorrow and I will likely ski Berkshire East, Magic, MRG, Snow, Sundown and maybe Hunter on day tickets this season in addition to the Ikon mountains. Perhaps other passholders simply stick to their pass mountains.
 

cdskier

Active member
Joined
Mar 26, 2015
Messages
3,733
Points
38
Location
NJ
This is really two issues in regard to crowding.

First, have Superpasses increased the overall number of skiers in the northeast. I have yet to see evidence that they have done so in a meaningful way.

If they haven't increased the overall number of skiers, then the issue is whether or not skier patterns have changed. If skiers are crowding Superpass hills it stands to reason that other hills are LESS crowded.

One other thing to consider is that more northeast skiers are now going to be skiing outside of New England thanks to these Superpasses.

Short version: It's complicated.

Excellent points that I agree very much with. And without a deep dive into the full data (which none of us have), it is really hard to know what the real story is.

Another point too to consider, how have superpasses impacted pass prices at independent resorts? If some independents lowered their pass prices to "compete", they may see more people buying passes. And if more people buy passes, then they may be more likely to ski more days because "they're already paid for". People that switch from daily tickets to some sort of pass product no longer need to be as selective with which days they ski.
 

farlep99

Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2010
Messages
266
Points
18
Location
VT
Here's my experience at Stowe- Stowe has always been very busy on holidays/weekend powder days. Like everywhere else it's ski on-off M-F. What has been noticeable to me since Epic is early and late season weekend crowds. Primarily late season, but it applies to early season (defining this as pre-Christmas).

I think a big part of this is that you can find really decent deals in the many Stowe hotels/inns + Airbnb in early and late season. Since ski cost is already covered, you can squeeze a relatively cheap weekend in coming from NY/Boston, etc. This is most notable in the Spring though. The Mansfield lot is now typically full right to the end of the season on weekends. I think Epic has definitely increased the number of crowded weekends. As far as holiday crowds & lift lines I avoid holidays like the plague. That's XC ski time for me.
 
Top