• 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!

The most recent Alta blog broke down skier traffic increases this year

Skrn

New member
Joined
Apr 24, 2018
Messages
98
Points
0
I think this makes sense. If the total number of skiers remain somewhat constant, as some resorts getting more crowded , there will be others resorts getting less crowded. As Ikon pass drove a lot of traffic to their resorts this year, someone must be losing. Won't be surprised if it's EPIC.

I also wonder if resorts like JH would get less Ikon crowd next year than this year. This year they got a lot of traffic because JH is one of the biggest names on Ikon and this is the first year people get to ski their at a cheap price. I'd think at least some of these Ikon crowds would want to visit different mountains in the future.


We don't have hard data to say one way or the other. But my friends who have had Epic pass for years said their mountain were less crowded this year despite good snow record.

And some of their friends who used to have Epic pass had gone over to Ikon.

That's part of my reason to consider an Epic pass next season: the reduced visitation to Vail Resort as a result of the Ikon pass. There're some really rad mountains in the Vail collection that I would love to ski again at some point anyway. And next year may be a good year to do so.
 

Skrn

New member
Joined
Apr 24, 2018
Messages
98
Points
0
Thanks for the insights.

I skied at BCC and LCC from for a week around Christmas and it was not crowded at all, even on the powder day Saturday. We normally entered the mouth of canyon a bit before 8am, there were times we hit traffic but and it was never too bad. The lift lines were not bad even for days after Christmas.

It sounds like the situation got really bad later in the season. I wonder what had changed. Is it because folks don't get out as much in early season? Or people only get out when there is massive amount of snow? It snowed a bunch during my trip but only had 8" or less per day.

Also, what is your thoughts on how much people may stop buying annual pass? I think this number will influence what Alta will do in the future.



I've been meaning to chime in because I'm the board's Alta/Bird local. It's not hard to see that his post was meant to address feedback about (1) traffic problems, and (2) the impacts of the Ikon pass. All you need to do is focus on his bold key points. As to the former, Alta has protested the recent "Mountain Accord" deal because, surprise, NOTHING was put out there to resolve the road issue. Now that we have snow, cheap(er) mega passes, and more people in the SLC area, are the pressures being felt. There are a lot of pissed of people with the road situation. I will be watching to see how the rest of the season fares with the road and, more importantly, how things shake out next season. Will less people buy passes to Alta or Snowbird based on the shit show? Will folks who regularly vacationed here now go elsewhere?

As to the Ikon Pass, there are some points that I want to make. First, comparing visits between this season and last is a complete waste of time. Last season SUCKED royally snow-wise and business-wise for ALL Utah resorts. So saying that this season is better leaves me saying, "no duh" to quote Bart Simpson. The bigger question is how do things stack when compared to the average over multiple seasons. Yes, the big reason for the success is because it is snowing. Second, his post certainly tries to downplay the criticisms over Ikon. Though he says Alta was a "limited" destination for the Ikon pass, I think that giving folks up to 7 days at Alta is certainly a lot. Compare that to Mountain Collective where you get only 2 free days at Alta/Snowbird. HUGE difference. We've had Mountain Collective for a long time and since it has rolled out there has NEVER been an issue with crowds. Nobody bitches about that program. Why? There are only 2 free days per resort, not as many as 7! I think that Alta needs to re-evaluate how many days they want to give away to Ikon if they want to keep that "local pass boom" he mentions. Personally, I think they gave too much probably to recoup from the terrible season that was 2017-2018. Now he is hearing it from locals who pay a premium to only buy an Alta pass. I don't blame them. Why pay Alta $999 for an adult pass when you could have bought a cheaper Ikon pass and skied many other places with your "limited" days? Hell, you could ski a total of 21 days at Deer Valley (of all places), Brighton, and Alta before even having to ski at Solitude!

Third, as to saying "3% of skier days isn't a lot", well, maybe not on the surface, but in a busy season that 3% represents a larger number of skier days than one might think. And probably during peak times when its impact can be more easily felt. And the bigger question we have all asked on here is, "how much more revenue are you making?" I would wager not much. They gave away the store and I think they are hearing it now.

So my reaction to the Blog Post is a big meh. In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of those locals who did pay a premium for an Alta/Snowbird Season Pass and do feel that Alta/Snowbird gave away the store this season to the Ikon Pass deal. I think they need to rein it back in before locals start leaving. Honestly, I didn't really consider Ikon because I don't really care much for what was an Unlimited Solitude Pass, but I can see why it works so well for locals here because you have a shit-ton of days at Brighton, Alta/Snowbird, and Deer Valley so that a weekend warrior can be happy with the variety.
 

BenedictGomez

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 26, 2011
Messages
10,765
Points
48
Location
PRNJ
Read skrm’s question. On the ground report is Epic resorts are less crowded this year than last despite record snow fall.

I don't know what "on the ground" means, but via MTN's 10Q released just the other day, their YoY skier visits are up 27%, so it's definitely not less crowded this year than last year.

Now that 27% includes Stevens' Pass and 1 other small acquisition, but that's pretty trivial. MTN doesnt break out same-store sales, and in my (former) professional opinion is way less transparent than the average publicly traded company, but you have to figure even with those few bolt-on acquisitions they're running > 20% more busy across their brands this year.
 

BenedictGomez

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 26, 2011
Messages
10,765
Points
48
Location
PRNJ
Why pay Alta $999 for an adult pass when you could have bought a cheaper Ikon pass and skied many other places with your "limited" days? Hell, you could ski a total of 21 days at Deer Valley (of all places), Brighton, and Alta before even having to ski at Solitude!

Yeah, if I lived in Utah, I would 100% have an IKON pass. Done.

If I wanted more days at Alta I'd just buy more tickets for $65 or $75 (or less) on Craigslist, etc...
 

BenedictGomez

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 26, 2011
Messages
10,765
Points
48
Location
PRNJ
Beaver mountain if you don't need super steep terrain!

In other news it was one of the bigger days of the season yesterday. Not super crazy at alta.

That place looks pretty cool, like the Utah version of Plattekill or Magic! I bet I'd love it.

Thing is, it looks like it's almost 5 hours roundtrip from the Wasatch ring, so if it's crowded days for BCC/LCC driving time you're looking to alleviate, that isnt going to help.

http://www.skithebeav.com/c/mountain/trail-map
 

BenedictGomez

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 26, 2011
Messages
10,765
Points
48
Location
PRNJ
Oh, one other detail speculated about here that is broken out in the MTN 10Q from the other day is breakout of vacationers (Vail calls them "destination" skiers) and locals.

Again, MTN doesn't release individual resort numbers (very non-transparent), but said the destination versus local skiers company-wide is 53:47 through 01/31/2019.

For the three months ended January 31,2019, Destination guests comprised approximately 53% of our North American mountain resort skier visits (excluding complimentary access), while Local guests comprised approximately 47% of our North American mountain resort skier visits (excluding complimentary access), which compares to 56% and 44%, respectively, for the three months ended January 31, 2018

EDIT: Note there's virtually 0 difference in YoY impact, which is another chit I'd put down calling bull**** on the, "locals are just skiing a lot more" defense being pumped-out by Alterra the last few weeks. I'm not buying it.

EDIT2: And as someone trained to inspect every word (literally) of a 10Q/10K like the world's most anal lawyer, the fact Vail does not perfectly define what a "local" skier entails intrigues me. We can infer it's anyone "in-state", but we are not privy to the diameter of a skier's abode to the resort that Vail considers local. Is it trivial, or is it unreasonably large versus a colloquial definition of "local" that most would assume? Hmmm....
 
Last edited:

AdironRider

Active member
Joined
Nov 27, 2005
Messages
3,210
Points
36
Thanks for the insights.

I skied at BCC and LCC from for a week around Christmas and it was not crowded at all, even on the powder day Saturday. We normally entered the mouth of canyon a bit before 8am, there were times we hit traffic but and it was never too bad. The lift lines were not bad even for days after Christmas.

It sounds like the situation got really bad later in the season. I wonder what had changed. Is it because folks don't get out as much in early season? Or people only get out when there is massive amount of snow? It snowed a bunch during my trip but only had 8" or less per day.

Also, what is your thoughts on how much people may stop buying annual pass? I think this number will influence what Alta will do in the future.


Holiday periods are blacked out on the Ikon base pass.

Presidents week was LESS crowded than the weeks before and after here in Jhole as a result. That was a first.
 

machski

Active member
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
2,173
Points
38
Location
Northwood, NH (Sunday River, ME)
It would be interesting to see the breakdown (which we never will so speculate all you want) of Ikon ful to Base passes sold and how many were sold in the big ski states. I can tell you my wife and I have bases to go along with our Gold NE passes. We used 1 day each at Solitude and Brighton, 2 at Alta/Bird and 2 at DV. The Solitude day was our only weekend day. That is the only midwinter chance we get to go west (wife is a teacher) though we are planning a late April over NH Vaca week trip to Mammoth. I doubt there will be much of a crowd then, though the front of that week is Easter weekend.

I will use up my 5 days at K, used 1 and hope to use a few more at SB and will likely burn out the 5 allotted at SR even though I have no need to. My wife may get one or 2 days at K and maybe a day at SB and hopefully burnnout her SR days too.

So from my life perspective, you can see why I'm reluctant to blame all the crowding on Ikon. I feel like a lot of the passes sold in the East have many folks following a similar pattern to us. The only other way for an Eastern person to do it is take the winter (or a good part of it) off or be retired. But if a ton of passes were sold in UT and CO, I can see the travel out of state for something different. Wonder if those same patterns would hold up next year.

Sent from my Pixel 3 using AlpineZone mobile app
 

abc

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 2, 2008
Messages
4,196
Points
48
Location
Lower Hudson Valley
I don't know what "on the ground" means, but via MTN's 10Q released just the other day, their YoY skier visits are up 27%, so it's definitely not less crowded this year than last year.
But what was YoY of last year vs the previous year? 27% increase on the worst snow year is some comparison.

But just to be unbiased, "on the ground" report last year was it's horribly crowded! Because for much of the season, 20+% of the terrain NEVER OPEN!

Now that 27% includes Stevens' Pass and 1 other small acquisition
What's that small acquisition? Telluride?
 

BenedictGomez

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 26, 2011
Messages
10,765
Points
48
Location
PRNJ
What's that small acquisition? Telluride?

Vail doesnt own Telluride. But it's not as small as I thought, it was a conglomerate name that I wasnt familiar with that comprises Crested Butte, Mount Sunapee, and Okemo. Okemo does about 600k skier visits, so not so small. Crested Butte's over 300k, so combined it's not tiny, which means MTN's 10Q is even less useful than I thought and that 27% tells us nothing either way.
 

BenedictGomez

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 26, 2011
Messages
10,765
Points
48
Location
PRNJ

thetrailboss

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jun 4, 2004
Messages
28,440
Points
48
Location
NEK by Birth; Alta/Snowbird by Choice
Yeah, if I lived in Utah, I would 100% have an IKON pass. Done.

If I wanted more days at Alta I'd just buy more tickets for $65 or $75 (or less) on Craigslist, etc...

Rode up the lift with a guy last night who had an IKON and that was what he did. Said he was pretty happy. And Brighton gives Ikon folks a full 9-9pm day pass for one of their days :blink:

FWIW Brighton folks have said it has been busier there too, but they attribute it to snow. Brighton has a 142" base and it showed last night!
 

thetrailboss

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jun 4, 2004
Messages
28,440
Points
48
Location
NEK by Birth; Alta/Snowbird by Choice
Thanks for the insights.

I skied at BCC and LCC from for a week around Christmas and it was not crowded at all, even on the powder day Saturday. We normally entered the mouth of canyon a bit before 8am, there were times we hit traffic but and it was never too bad. The lift lines were not bad even for days after Christmas.

It sounds like the situation got really bad later in the season. I wonder what had changed. Is it because folks don't get out as much in early season? Or people only get out when there is massive amount of snow? It snowed a bunch during my trip but only had 8" or less per day.

Also, what is your thoughts on how much people may stop buying annual pass? I think this number will influence what Alta will do in the future.

Yeah, as long as you were at the canyon by 8am you're usually OK. I do agree that the amazing season has people really stoked. Funny that you skied Christmas Week--we avoided it. :lol: I did do some nights at Brighton and saw a lot of cars leaving. Most locals avoid that week.
 

abc

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 2, 2008
Messages
4,196
Points
48
Location
Lower Hudson Valley
Funny that you skied Christmas Week--we avoided it. :lol:
Most locals avoid that week.
The landscape had changed. Ikon base pass is blackout for Christmas week. So it were LESS crowded in many mountains according to people who paid the extra to ski that week.

Also when I was planning my Big Sky trip, I noticed President’s week has more lodging availability than the week before and after!

Based on such reports from multiple sources (both Ikon & Epic), next year I’m considering getting a non-restricted full pass for a change.
 
Last edited:

Skrn

New member
Joined
Apr 24, 2018
Messages
98
Points
0
Busy is a relative term. We skied 12/20-12/27. 12/20-12/25 were less busier than a mid-winter non-holiday weekend in New England. 12/26 and 12/27 were as busy as New England weekends. So it wasn’t bad at all to us. It may be busy by local standard.

Yeah, as long as you were at the canyon by 8am you're usually OK. I do agree that the amazing season has people really stoked. Funny that you skied Christmas Week--we avoided it. :lol: I did do some nights at Brighton and saw a lot of cars leaving. Most locals avoid that week.
 

Skrn

New member
Joined
Apr 24, 2018
Messages
98
Points
0
Interesting theory. Just to add a data point, we skied during MLK weekend at steamboat and it wasn’t busy at all. I know steamboat has the reputation of not having crowd. But not busy on MLK Saturday after a lot of snow was unexpected

The landscape had changed. Ikon base pass is blackout for Christmas week. So it were LESS crowded in many mountains according to people who paid the extra to ski that week.

Also when I was planning my Big Sky trip, I noticed President’s week has more lodging availability than the week before and after!

Based on such reports from multiple sources (both Ikon & Epic), next year I’m considering getting a non-restricted full pass for a change.
 

abc

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 2, 2008
Messages
4,196
Points
48
Location
Lower Hudson Valley
16166D58-3960-4CE0-B947-A8F8D5646C7F.jpg

Guess the mountain. Breck peak 7? Stratton?

No, it’s Jackson, going from the main gondola to the Thunder chair. The only way to get to Sublet chair and the majority of advance terrain without waiting for the tram
 
Top