USA 2020-21 plans for limiting capacity

MarzNC

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For an overview of the skiing scene in Vermont, as well as details for three resorts, check out the blog entry by the award winning Ski Diva. She happens to live in Vermont. The resorts represented are independents Bromley and Smuggler's Notch, plus Alterra's Sugarbush. None of these resorts plan to require lift access reservations or parking reservations. However, reservations for renting gear will be required in advance.

In general, group lessons and childcare at a ski resort will be relatively uncommon in 2020-21.

Sept. 29, TheSkiDiva.com (USA)
SKIING AND SOCIAL DISTANCING: THREE VERMONT SKI AREAS LOOK AT THE SEASON AHEAD.
https://www.theskidiva.com/skiing-a...e-vermont-ski-areas-look-at-the-season-ahead/
 

oreo

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Alta announced their winter plan today.
https://www.alta.com/winter-2020-21

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As someone with an Alta-Bird pass, this is a gift. Didn't get your reserved spot at the bird, just check the alta parking status website and drive on up. Certainly makes life easier.

However, one big question - now that both alta and bird parking is going to be restricted in some way, I wonder how ski touring parking which is a big use case in LCC going to work. People could easily park in Whitepine parking lot and walk a short distance and be at snowbird but more of a concern is that ALOT of ski touring starts at alta upper lots, near the church or grizzly gulch. If Alta limit parking, they'll have to restrict alta skiers from using those areas which will likely result in ski tourers also being kept out of parking there. Big bummer if it works out that way.
 
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MarzNC

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However, one big question - now that both alta and bird parking is going to be restricted in some way, I wonder how ski touring parking which is a big use case in LCC going to work. People could easily park in Whitepine parking lot and walk a short distance and be at snowbird but more of a concern is that ALOT of ski touring starts at alta upper lots, near the church or grizzly gulch. If Alta limit parking, they'll have to restrict alta skiers from using those areas which will likely result in ski tourers also being kept out of parking there. Big bummer if it works out that way.
During Jan-Mar, how many people touring park in an Alta lot? If Alta starts requiring an Alta pass or lift ticket to park in Wildcat or Albion, that will certainly have an impact.

Not sure the number of people with Alta/Bird season passes is large enough to make that much difference. But I mostly ski Alta midweek even when I go midseason. It's pretty clear the seniors who ski Alta in the mornings don't bother with Snowbird.
 

oreo

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Not sure the number of people with Alta/Bird season passes is large enough to make that much difference. But I mostly ski Alta midweek even when I go midseason. It's pretty clear the seniors who ski Alta in the mornings don't bother with Snowbird.

Everyone with an ikon pass is an alta-bird user. Everyone with a snowbird pass gets 1 free day at alta + $40 / day upgrade pricing. If it's a big powder day, there will be people who just upgrade to get a parking spot at alta on first come first serve basis if snowbird is booked out.

As for ski touring
The wasatch is probably the most heavily trafficked backcountry zone in the lower 48. Alta carpark near the community center/library/church through to the grizzly gulch/albion basin road winter closure is the most common departure point in the wasatch. So, a lot? Hundred cars or more. They'll have control those parking spots because otherwise resort skiers would just park there and avoid the parking restrictions.
 
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MarzNC

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Everyone with an ikon pass is an alta-bird user. Everyone with a snowbird pass gets 1 free day at alta + $40 / day upgrade pricing. If it's a big powder day, there will be people who just upgrade to get a parking spot at alta on first come first serve basis if snowbird is booked out.
I was thinking about the actual Alta/Snowbird combo season pass.

My experience is based on being a traveler with friends who are lift-served skiers, not backcountry types. I have to fly to ski in the Rockies and have used both Ikon and the MCP in LCC in recent years. Had the MCP when it was a combo and when it went to 2 days separately for Alta and Snowbird. My sense is that relatively few out-of-state Ikon holders are true powder chasers who book last minute flights. May well be even fewer of those during a pandemic.

We'll certainly know more by mid-January. I don't think what happens for the first few powder storms in December will be that helpful for seeing if LCC/BCC plans work or not.
 

MarzNC

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Mt. Seymour is in BC, not the USA. But it's approach is so far unique enough to mention. Seymour is small, only 200 acres, 1100 ft vertical, and 5 lifts that use RFID for access. They are going to use 4-hour sessions. Arrival times for parking are tied to the time slot on a ticket. With RFID, once the time is up, access to a lift will be gone.

Mt. Baldy in California is a small mountain near Los Angeles that re-opened briefly in May 2020. They sold day tickets only for just under two weeks. Arrival time was stamped on a ticket. There was someone at entrance of the parking lot that would only let people in who were close to their start time. No announcement yet from Baldy about winter operations. Currently running lifts for viewing fall colors.

https://mtseymour.ca/weekend-and-holiday-reservations
Scroll to Lift Ticket Q&A

LIFT TICKET PURCHASERS Q&A
Can I turn up and buy a lift ticket?
No, all products will need to be purchased in advance so that we are able to manage the capacity of the mountain safely and effectively. This also includes tickets for snowshoeing, tubing and tobogganing. Lift tickets purchased in advance are cheaper than if purchased on the day, so we encourage our guests to book early.

Can I arrive early?
Parking, if selected when purchasing your lift ticket, will be available for you 30 minutes before your time slot begins so we ask than you do not plan on arriving earlier. No parking will be available for you before this time.

Why four hours?
Last season we introduced RFID gates, the data from the gates has shown us that the average time our guests spend skiing and snowboarding was up to four hours. You will be able to stay as long as you want during weekdays outside of holidays but you will still need to prepurchase you lift ticket.

How far in advance can I purchase a lift ticket?
Lift tickets can be purchased in advance for any point in the season once they become available online. Lift tickets purchased in advance are cheaper than if purchased on the day, so we encourage our guests to book early.

Parking?
Parking allocations will be available to season pass holders and lift ticket purchasers for their visit. Parking is allocated at the time of booking and once the parking spots are full for a time slot either a different time slot will need to be chosen or guests and season pass holders must use the shuttle. We recommend car sharing with your bubble to free up parking spaces for other people.

Stuck on the road?
With the reduction in capacity we are confident that time spent waiting on the road will be significantly reduced. Yes, even at 10:30 on a Sunday!

Can I continue to ski or snowboard after my time slot expires?
If there is availability for the next time slot you are more than welcome to purchase another timeslot online while you are on the mountain. Make sure you select the reload option! If there is no space available, you will be unable to book and your RFID pass will stop working at the end of the timeslot.

What if I have a child in a lesson?
Lesson times will match up with 4 hour ticket time slots. Parents/guardians of lesson participants will be able to book their tickets at the same time as booking their child's lesson. Parents/guardians of children in one of our multi-day camps or private lessons will eligible for our Parent Passes (50% off Area Pass).
 
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MarzNC

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Bridger Bowl is an independent ski area that mostly serves people who live in Bozeman, MT. Bozeman is a college town. It's about an hour from Big Sky. What makes Bridger unusual is that it's a very successful non-profit. Some people don't even consider it "old school" anymore because in the past decade they have been able to upgrade lifts and build nice base buildings and a mid-mountain lodge with a nice cafeteria. There is 2000 acres of terrain ranging from a separate beginner area to steeps that require hiking and expert level technique.

Bridger has clearly been working on winter plans since early July. Updates were posted that promised announcements by early Nov. A lot of info was posted in early Oct. Bridger will require lift access reservations. What's making that possible is the installation of RFID, which was planned for 2020-21 a while back.

I always ski a few days at Bridger when I go to Big Sky. As a ski area for locals, it gets pretty crowded on weekends. There is an active race program for all ages. Powder days can be pretty busy too, especially when the Ridge opens up. I talked with a grandfather in 2019 who had retired to Bozeman to be close to his son's family. He said he expected to have midweek powder days to himself. Turns out that employers in Bozeman are "powder friendly" as are the schools. Kids with good grades can skip school to go ski fresh powder with no consequences. There were a fair number of tweens and young teens out that day after a 9-inch dump overnight.

https://www.bridgerbowl.com/pdfs/covid/winter-operation

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MarzNC

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Jackson Hole has opened up advanced ticket sales for day tickets. Not sure exactly what the prices were last season, but here's what the prices are for Dec 2020. Remember that JH passholders and MCP holders won't need reservations but Ikon passholders will need lift access reservations. Apparently there will be an Ikon Reservation app, which has been mentioned on another resort's website. Ikon Reservations will be available on Nov. 9.

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As of Oct. 7 there is a note that there are "only 165 tickets left" for Jan. 30. The price starting Jan. 4 is $159.

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Jonathan_P

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Jackson Hole has opened up advanced ticket sales for day tickets. Not sure exactly what the prices were last season, but here's what the prices are for Dec 2020. Remember that JH passholders and MCP holders won't need reservations but Ikon passholders will need lift access reservations. Apparently there will be an Ikon Reservation app, which has been mentioned on another resort's website. Ikon Reservations will be available on Nov. 9.

Screen Shot 2020-10-07 at 1.38.02 PM.png


As of Oct. 7 there is a note that there are "only 165 tickets left" for Jan. 30. The price starting Jan. 4 is $159.

Screen Shot 2020-10-07 at 1.32.37 PM.png
Ouch considering these prices are in USD and I thought skiing in Australia was expensive:)
 

MarzNC

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Ouch considering these prices are in USD and I thought skiing in Australia was expensive:)
JH is a "destination resort" in the Rockies. Those are the most expensive places to ski in the USA. Day tickets went over US$100 about ten years ago. Note that the Epic pass was new in 2008. I think it was a couple years ago that the top prices went over US$200 for a few resorts. That's what can make the Epic Day Pass (1-7 days) a deal since the daily rate ends up around $100/day. This season being able to make a reservation well in advance is yet another reason to consider an Epic pass over Ikon or taking a chance that day tickets will be available for a trip that involves a small group and/or scheduling flights.

2010 Examples of Day Ticket Prices (US $)

Montana
Big Sky: $81
Bridger Bowl: $47

Vermont
Stowe: $89
Mad River Glen: $65

Colorado
Vail: $102
Beaver Creek: $102
Aspen/Snowmass: $97
Copper: $96
Loveland: $59
Crested Butte: $87
Wolf Creek: $52

Pacific Northwest
Whistler, BC: $94 (Canadian)
Mt. Baker, Wash. $51

California
Homewood: $57
Squaw Valley: $86
 
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MarzNC

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For context, my home hill in northern Virginia is 75 acres, 1100 ft vertical. Weekend day tickets for 8-hours will be US$82 with weekday at $55 and night skiing for $45. The chairlift rides take about 7 min and a run for an intermediate takes at most 5 min since the trails are pretty short. An advanced skier can go from the summit to the lodge in 3 min without really trying too hard. A season pass started around US$450 and will be $600 once all discount deadlines are passed. A Family Pass for a family of four is $1200 for the Value version (any time except Sat 9am-4pm) or $1600 for unlimited access.

That's pretty much standard pricing for the southeast (south of Washington DC) or mid-Atlantic (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, southern New York).

Reservations are likely to be required at least on weekends at most ski resorts in those regions. Typically lift lines on weekends 10:30am to 3:00pm run 15-30 minutes. People with a season pass who are working and don't have kids would often start skiing at 8:30am and leave by 11:30am. Some places give passholders an extra hour before non-passholders are allowed to load lifts.
 
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https://www.washingtonpost.com/life...e8a6d2-0719-11eb-859b-f9c27abe638d_story.html

Washington Post overview of measures across ski resorts for this season

Vail’s approach gets a full paragraph: “Social distancing will be enforced at ski resorts. To limit crowds, Vail Resorts, one of the world’s largest ski companies, is using a reservation system. Its top-tier Priority level Epic Pass ($999) offers exclusive early-bird booking at its 34 North American properties, including Vermont’s Stowe; Utah’s Park City; and Colorado’s Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Crested Butte and Keystone, which opens early on Nov. 6. From Nov. 6 to Dec. 7, priority pass holders can reserve seven “Priority Days,” and later as many week-of reservations as they want. Day lift tickets will go on sale Dec. 8. “This reservation system is a tool to help us manage the unpredictable peak days,” says Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz.”
 

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From Nov. 6 to Dec. 7, priority pass holders can reserve seven “Priority Days,” and later as many week-of reservations as they want. Day lift tickets will go on sale Dec. 8. “This reservation system is a tool to help us manage the unpredictable peak days,” says Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz.”
I will be online at midnight Nov. 6 to reserve my ski days for Vail/BC. I'm hoping the reservation system has been thoroughly tested when it goes live !!
 
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Chaeron

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I will be online at midnight Nov. 6 to reserve my ski days for Vail/BC. I'm hoping the reservation system has been thoroughly tested when it goes live !!
From their Australian experience Vail knows how bad it can be.... read through a bit of this thread...( more elsewhere) - Search Epic Reservations...

https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/p...tes-and-conditions.86652/page-76#post-4341232

Hopefully they’ve learnt from the Australian experiments- it was ugly at times.

Get on early, persist if the site hangs or freezes or kicks you out.... forumites shared tips with each other on how to manage the process....

Many website crashes, some cart anomalies, some failed reservations, many who missed out, and some very angry and upset people. Not universal, and they arguably did their best, but they burnt through a lot of goodwill in the process.

Once the website crashed their customer contact service was also overwhelmed...

Hopefully it works out. Good luck and happy skiing!
 

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From their Australian experience Vail knows how bad it can be.... read through a bit of this thread...( more elsewhere) - Search Epic Reservations...

https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/p...tes-and-conditions.86652/page-76#post-4341232

Hopefully they’ve learnt from the Australian experiments- it was ugly at times.

Get on early, persist if the site hangs or freezes or kicks you out.... forumites shared tips with each other on how to manage the process....

Many website crashes, some cart anomalies, some failed reservations, many who missed out, and some very angry and upset people. Not universal, and they arguably did their best, but they burnt through a lot of goodwill in the process.

Once the website crashed their customer contact service was also overwhelmed...

Hopefully it works out. Good luck and happy skiing!
Let’s hope they have invested in load testing.

Another resort tried bolting on virtual queue to existing system that in my opinion was even worse waiting hours to find it sold out or the website still crashed.
 

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Let’s hope they have invested in load testing.

Another resort tried bolting on virtual queue to existing system that in my opinion was even worse waiting hours to find it sold out or the website still crashed.
Thanks @Chaeron and @Jonathan_P - i'm really hoping they've learnt from the Southern Hemisphere experience. VR have copped a fair amount of criticism over the past six-months so you would like to think that the reservation system & the tech needed have been well considered.

I have a two-week trip booked so regardless i'm going to be short a few days and have to take the chance of additional reservations once in-situ. Not great....
I will certainly report back on the outcome!!
 

MarzNC

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From their Australian experience Vail knows how bad it can be.... read through a bit of this thread...( more elsewhere) - Search Epic Reservations...

https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/p...tes-and-conditions.86652/page-76#post-4341232

Hopefully they’ve learnt from the Australian experiments- it was ugly at times.
As I remember, when things opened up in June it was for both Epic holders and day tickets. Was there a limit on the number of days that Epic holders could pick?

For N. America Epic holders get a month before day tickets are available to pick at most 7 Priority Days. That's for 30-some locations in multiple regions, as opposed to three in Australia. Could still be messy the first day or two, but very hard to predict which locations will be the most popular in the early days. Will it be the destination resorts in Tahoe or the Rockies? Or the northeast locations where a lot of city people can drive for shorter trips?
 
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MarzNC

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The Ikon reservation system opens up on Nov. 9.

Jackson Hole is opening up advanced day tickets on Oct. 5. Hopefully the Ikon allotment is separate from day tickets. I plan to use Ikon in Dec for a few days. Going with a couple of friends but they have the MCP, which is not restricted. Since it's early season, I'm not particularly worried. But friends who are going a week later were nervous enough that they bought the MCP even though they already had Ikon. They are planning enough ski days to get good value out of both multi-resort passes.
 
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MarzNC

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Wachusett is a very successful family owned and operated mid-size ski area about an hour from Boston. It has a very loyal local following that includes seniors who ski midweek, kids who go after school, and adults in the night session race league. Wachusetts is a small mountain but invested in high speed lifts and RFID quite awhile ago. The long beginner trails even have a long high speed detachable quad. I had a good time skiing there a few days when my daughter was in school in the area. Instead of having her fly for school breaks, I'd drive up and ski for a few days around the northeast. Have a friend who has had a Wachusetts pass for a while.

About a week ago Wachusett announced that they would be limiting season pass numbers. If someone can't use a pass at all during 2020-21, they can get a full refund. It's not even mid-October yet and most types of passes are sold out. Only one left is the Senior 65+ Gold Pass for US$359. They had added a lower cost option (Steel Mon-Thu) to encourage people to avoid weekends. I think there are a fair number of K-12 schools in that area that are online only.

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MarzNC

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The flip side of capacity limits is that the slopes will be less crowded on traditionally crowded days like weekends. Especially true for ski areas/resorts near large population centers. Some people are starting to figure that out. Although others who normally only ski midweek are nervous that there will be too many people for them to feel comfortable because they are used to virtually empty slopes. Often those people only ski a few hours in the morning and live very close to their home mountain, meaning under 30 minutes.

The author of this article grew up skiing at Tahoe. Her father remembers when lifts were slow and slopes were uncrowded even after a powder storm. The Tahoe ski resorts held a "town hall" phone conference to start getting the word out that they will all be open with adjustments to limit capacity but expect those who make the effort to drive from the city will be rewarded.

October 9, SFGate in California (USA)
'Lifts won't be packed:' Could this be Tahoe's best winter ever?
https://www.sfgate.com/renotahoe/article/Lifts-won-t-be-packed-Tahoe-ski-resorts-15629317.php
" . . .
All of the ski resorts in Tahoe are creating a bunch of new levers that they can pull to regulate how many people will be on the slopes. And that sounds pretty good to me. Given the difficult year we’ve all experienced, the thought of standing on top of a ski hill with hardly anyone around makes me swoon. I am still anxious about the lines of traffic heading to the ski resort, but once we’re there and we’re skiing, might the slopes feel more relaxed? If so, and pending a lot of snowfall, this winter could be one of the best in Tahoe.
. . ."
 

MarzNC

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It's becoming clearer that Alterra resorts expect that simply limiting day tickets will be enough to stay within capacity limits during weekends and holiday periods. Presumably the resorts near cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, SLC, or Denver have plenty of data from the past few seasons about the split between day tickets and season passes for a given day. However, with fewer people willing to fly the situation could be quite different at some of the locations.

I wonder the most about Crystal, Solitude, and Blue Mountain. Although eliminating free parking last season at Solitude seemed to solve their problems from the previous season in terms of crowds on powder days or Saturdays. Although Snowshoe draws from Washington DC and states in the southeast, including as far away as Florida, relatively few people who drive more than 3 hours buy Ikon passes. Snowshoe sells a lot of day tickets to people who only take one ski vacation a year, which is often a long weekend or a short midweek trip for a couple days of skiing.

Vermont continues to have stringent travel restrictions for all but a few neighboring states in the northeast. That will naturally decrease the number of people interested in going to Stratton or Sugarbush. Even some people who live in the "low risk" states were put off by the attitude of Vermont locals during the summer that felt very unwelcoming.

Alterra Resorts for 2020-21

Washington: Crystal Mountain
California: ???/Alpine Valley; Mammoth, June, Big Bear
Utah: Deer Valley, Solitude
Colorado: Steamboat, Winter Park

Vermont: Stratton; Sugarbush

West Virginia: Snowshoe

Québec, Canada: Tremblant
Ontario, Canada: Blue Mountain
 

MarzNC

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One of my Top Five ski destinations is Big Sky. Consider going there this season but opted to head to Taos for another Private Ski Week with friends instead.

Boyne Resorts paused sales of season passes during the summer as they decided how to handle the 2020-21 season. In mid-September plans for Big Sky were posted on their website. In short, they are hoping to avoid limiting lift access for Ikon and MCP holders but will be using the Ikon Reservation system. The FAQ is pretty long.

Big Sky plans to have divide lift lines by whether or not someone is willing to share a chairlift with strangers. For the new extra wide chairlifts, some sharing will be required. Meaning no solo rides for the 8-pack that starts from the main base, which takes 4-min to reach the top.

An Early Access option (unguided first tracks) will be available for a fee to load Ramcharger 8 an hour before lifts normally open. That provides access to green, blue, black, and double-black terrain on Andesite Mountain. Andesite is big enough to be a separate ski area.

Given that the Big Sky tram is pretty small (max 15 people), there may be a new hiking option for Lone Peak terrain: "A new boot pack route is being considered, beginning from the top of Dakota lift to the Yeti Traverse, providing additional access to Lone Peak terrain." The Dakota lift is on the far side of Lone Peak. Hiking from there would allow skiing down Liberty, which is the easiest way down but still only for advanced/expert skiers. There is a lift on the Moonlight Basin side that provides access to that side of Lone Peak.

https://bigskyresort.com/winter-operations-update

Excerpt as of Sept. 15, 2020:

At this time, it is not our intention to limit access to the mountain. However, we may need to take some measures to maintain a safe and responsible experience for our guests by managing skier volume. Here's what we are committed to sharing today:
  • Big Sky Season Passholders are welcome to access the resort any day of the season their pass is valid, at any time during operating hours, and walk up to the lifts as usual. Season Passes are back on sale today for a limited time. Sales may be paused at a future date to continue assessing the number of skiers we can accommodate on the mountain. We hope that by monitoring the number of passes sold, we will avoid implementing a reservation system during the season. Every season pass purchase includes Worry-Free Winter Assurance, which provides a credit towards a 2021-22 season pass based on the number of days lost if the resort were to close due to unforeseen circumstances and operate fewer than 140 days. Passholders also have the option to roll over the value of an unused 2020-21 pass as a credit towards a 2021-22 pass for any reason through December 10, 2020, at no cost.
  • Ikon Passholders can ski when their passes permit access and must use Ikon's reservation system to let us know when they plan to visit. If we need to address volume, there may be a limit on how many Ikon passholders can access the mountain during specific days of the season.
  • Mountain Collective Passholders will also have access to Big Sky Resort when their passes permit access. Mountain Collective passholders may be required to make a reservation before their visit. More details are forthcoming. If we need to address volume, there may be a limit on how many Mountain Collective passholders can access the mountain during specific days of the season.
  • Lift Ticket holders can purchase their desired days of skiing at this time, with no anticipated restrictions. Purchasing your lift tickets online, and before the start of the season will assure access to the mountain for your desired days of skiing. If we need to address volume, availability for lift tickets on desired dates may be restricted for both online and same-day lift tickets sales. Please note, same-day lift ticket sales may be restricted at any time, so we highly recommend securing your winter lift access now.


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MarzNC

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Alterra is a privately held company but CEO Rusty Gregory is not being shy in terms of granting interviews. At least one of the people who asked questions for Yahoo! Finance is actually a skier. Gregory said the operations manual is over 200 pages. How food service was covered. He noted that there are also plans in progress to make sure people can have a place to warm up if needed. Heat lamps will be a bigger expenditure than usual for sure.

https://finance.yahoo.com/video/alterra-mountain-ceo-upcoming-ski-172851486.html
 

MarzNC

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Jackson Hole opened up day ticket sales in early Oct. JH passholders don't need reservations. Neither do folks with the MCP. Ikon holders will need to make a reservation, which will be possible starting Nov. 9. This season only Full Ikon included JH, up to 7 days. Someone who bought Ikon Base still needed to pay another $150 if they wanted to ski up to 5 days at JH (and Aspen).

I have Full Ikon and plan to ski JH for a couple days in early Dec. Going with two friends who don't have Ikon but have the MCP. A couple other friends will ski JH the following week for a few days. They have Full Ikon but opted to get the MCP too since they have other trips planned and can easily get value from both Ikon and MCP. One is over 65, so if he skis JH for three days, that will already more than cover the price of the MCP. I think day tickets in early Dec 2019 were $145, but lower prices were available for multi-day purchases. I don't expect many people will buy day tickets during early season. The local hill in town (400 acres, 1600 ft vertical) may be busier than usual this season. Snow King lift tickets still only US$59. It's also on the Indy Pass (US$199, 2 days at assorted locations), which I intend to use there for a day.

Jackson Hole day tickets, US dollars
Adult 19-64 : $93 Dec 1-4, $131 Dec 5-18, $164 Dec 19-31
Senior 65+: $74 Dec 1-4, $105 Dec 5-18, $131 Dec 19-31

The mid-Dec prices seem to be what applies to mid-season non-holiday days in Jan-Mar. As of Oct. 15, Jan. 30 shows as Sold Out and there were supposedly 248 tickets left for Jan. 31. No other dates had a warning. Although it's possible to buy multiple days, there is no discount. JH uses RFID so the card is re-usable and can be re-loaded. The season starts on Nov. 26, which is the American Thanksgiving Day.
 
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MarzNC

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Big Sky (Boyne Resorts) has day tickets available in the online store. Unlike JH, there is a slight discount for multi-day purchases. Adult age range is 15-69. After early season is over on Dec. 10, the price range starts at $97 and goes as high as $179 during the Christmas/New Year holiday period. Senior 70+ prices are $10-20 less. Midseason rates in Jan and Feb are $169 Mon-Fri and $173 on weekends.

Boyne limited the number of Big Sky passes they sold in the hope that no reservations will be needed. Ikon holders will need to using the Ikon reservation system, but other than holidays probably don't have much to worry about. The MCP access is unclear as of early October.

Big Sky Season Passholders are welcome to access the resort any day of the season their pass is valid, at any time during operating hours, and walk up to the lifts as usual. Season Passes are back on sale today for a limited time. Sales may be paused at a future date to continue assessing the number of skiers we can accommodate on the mountain. We hope that by monitoring the number of passes sold, we will avoid implementing a reservation system during the season. Every season pass purchase includes Worry-Free Winter Assurance, which provides a credit towards a 2021-22 season pass based on the number of days lost if the resort were to close due to unforeseen circumstances and operate fewer than 140 days. Passholders also have the option to roll over the value of an unused 2020-21 pass as a credit towards a 2021-22 pass for any reason through December 10, 2020, at no cost.

Ikon Passholders can ski when their passes permit access and must use Ikon's reservation system to let us know when they plan to visit. If we need to address volume, there may be a limit on how many Ikon passholders can access the mountain during specific days of the season.

Mountain Collective Passholders will also have access to Big Sky Resort when their passes permit access. Mountain Collective passholders may be required to make a reservation before their visit. More details are forthcoming. If we need to address volume, there may be a limit on how many Mountain Collective passholders can access the mountain during specific days of the season.

Lift Ticket holders can purchase their desired days of skiing at this time, with no anticipated restrictions. Purchasing your lift tickets online, and before the start of the season will assure access to the mountain for your desired days of skiing. If we need to address volume, availability for lift tickets on desired dates may be restricted for both online and same-day lift ticket sales. Please note, same-day lift ticket sales may be restricted at any time, so we highly recommend securing your winter lift access now.

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MarzNC

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Sun Valley is not planning on any reservations for season passholders. I didn't realize how expensive the passes are, with the unlimited going for US$2500 and the 15-day Plus Early/Late season at $1650. At least there is a pretty good Pass Protection Program. These passes are good at Sun Valley and Snowbasin, which have the same ownership. SV is a Partner for Epic. Epic holders will need to use the VR reservation system and are limited to a few days at SV.

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MarzNC

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For a comparison of a big mountain destination resort with a medium-size resort in the midwest, here are the prices in Dec for Boyne Mountain in northeast Michigan. It's a good half day drive from the closest population center. Boyne Resorts began at Boyne Mountain back in 1947. It became a 4-season resort decades ago with golf, soccer and lacrosse fields, and other summer time activities. Big Sky was bought Big Sky in the 1970s but it's taken a while to put together enough financial resources for major projects like the 8-pack bubble chair. Boyne Resorts owns and operates 9 ski resorts in multiple regions of the USA, plus golf resorts, and has 11,000 employees. Boyne is a major partner for Ikon.

Obviously the prices for Big Sky and Boyne Mountain are quite different. Big Sky has over 5000 acres while Boyne Mountain has just over 400 acres and not that much vertical, but plenty of lifts to spread people out. There is also an independent ski area right across the road called Nub's Nob. I noticed that there are Early Bird discounts for day tickets at Boyne Mountain. Boyne Resorts is clearly using the same software for all their resorts. I think that may be relatively new since Boyne only recently invested in RFID for lift access at the major mountains.

Be interesting to see how quickly the holiday period tickets sell out.

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MarzNC

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Some ski resorts have been waiting for guidelines from state government before they could finalize winter operations plans. Probably more of an issue in the northeast (NY, NJ, MA, CT, VT, NH, ME) than in the Rockies. That's the region that has travel restrictions that may well deter people who live within driving distance but would be subject to a 14-day quarantine. Obviously that makes a long weekend ski trip totally impossible.

Here's a summary of what New York recently released as the guidelines for ski resorts. Although NY doesn't have large destination resorts of the scale of Stowe or any Epic/Ikon resorts in the Rockies, it has about 50 ski areas/resorts. Whiteface in Lake Placid where the Winter Olympics have been held is probably the best known internationally. What's also unusual about NY is that Whiteface, Gore, and Belleayre are owned and operated by the state government. Perhaps less surprising for people who are aware of the history of the NY Adirondack Park, which is larger than many American National Parks and was created in the 19th century. The level of detail in the state guidance may reflect the unique history for skiing in NY.

https://www.saminfo.com/headline-news/9690-key-eastern-ski-regions-get-government-greenlights

New York

Beginning Nov. 6, New York ski areas will be allowed to operate with 50 percent indoor capacity. The interim guidelines put out by Gov. Cuomo and under review by the Ski New York Legislative Committee include relatively standard mandates: face coverings required unless eating or drinking; social distancing between parties at all times; ride-with-your-party lift protocols; and increased sanitization of rental equipment.

Lessons at New York areas will be limited to no more than 10 people, and transport, F&B, and retail services will be required to conform to additional state-issued guidance. Resorts are also being instructed to operate at 25-percent reduced outdoor capacity during peak periods or when terrain on offer is limited.

These restrictions are subject to change, and Ski NY is in the process of evaluating which guidelines are required and which are merely recommended. New York will be relying on a data-driven micro-cluster strategy to navigate a scientist-predicted spike in infections this fall. But, said Cuomo during a briefing, “Ski resorts will be allowed to reopen with limited indoor capacity, which will allow New Yorkers to have some outdoor activity this winter without having to quarantine when they come back."
 

MarzNC

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In the next few weeks, the ski resorts that haven't already announced their winter operations plans will be getting on board. Haven't heard yet about one that isn't planning to open. At the same time, there are plenty of people who are scared that ski resorts will end up shut down like they were in March virtually across the country. The level of pessimism depends a great deal by region.

Skiing in the southeast (NC, VA, WV, TN) has been around for 50+ years, much to the surprise of people who live in the northern states. The Appalachian Mountains go all the way into Georgia and there are quite a few areas that are over 5000 feet south of Washington DC. Only a few ski areas/resorts made the switch to snowmaking early enough back the 1980s to survive into the 1990s. But those that did have been doing pretty steady business for the last few decades. Fair to say the people who are managers at all the southeast ski areas/resorts are probably optimists.

The writer of the following article has been working for the West Virginia ski industry for quite a while. Snowshoe in WV is the only true destination ski resort in the region. It's owned by Alterra, was developed by Intrawest, and is on Ikon.

Oct. 19, Ski Southeast (USA)
MAKING PLANS NOW FOR LATER

https://www.skisoutheast.com/making-plans-now-for-later/
" . . .
Many of you know that my day job is serving as the Executive Director of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association. Due to that position I represent the West Virginia Ski Resorts during country wide meetings. In the past, a meeting or two would be held just so that we knew basically who the players were, so to speak.
. . .
I think we all have heard of the saying about that so-called silver lining to bad situations and the weekly meetings of the ski area associations is an example of a good thing coming out of adversity. Seriously the call includes folks from Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Vermont, California, etc. During the hour-long chats, nothing is held back when discussing a topic and everything is transparent, meaning everyone is helping everyone.
. . ."
 

MarzNC

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For context about U.S. skiing, here's how many places with slopes were open in 2019-20. Note that Big SNOW at American Dream is the first indoor snow facility in the USA. Two others are approved but hard to say when they might actually get built. All three are on the Atlantic coast.

New England combined with NY/NJ and the midwest have the most ski areas/resorts but the vertical for many is under 1300 ft (400 m).

Here's how I think of the regions that aren't along the Pacific coast or in the Rockies. Although there are some school groups from the UK that have a tradition of spring skiing in the New England, there isn't really much reason to fly across an ocean to ski in any of these regions. However, there are many people who start closer to home and then start flying west for big mountain skiing on soft snow later on. Or pick up and move west.

Northeast: NY, VT, NH, ME, CT, MA, RI
Mid-Atlantic: NJ, PA, MD, VA, also Catskills in NY for people in New York City
Southeast: AL, TN, WV, NC, also VA for some people
Midwest: WI, MN, MI, IN, OH, IA, MO; ND, SD

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MarzNC

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Not completely sure, but it seems as if Utah will not mandate capacity limits for the ski resorts. Recently face masks became a requirement statewide. Utah is looking at Percent Positive by county. Restrictions such as gathering maximums will be based on what "level" a county is in.

Ski Utah has a COVID-19 webpage. The standard safety precaution will be in place. There is a summary table about reservation requirements for all ski areas/resorts in Utah. All of them plan to open and most have announced opening dates already.

https://www.skiutah.com/resources/new-covid-winter-page

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MarzNC

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Grand Targhee is not expecting to need a reservation system. However, they are clearly trying to make sure there is better communication about the status of parking lots. The shuttle buses from Driggs and Victor will be running. In fact there will be three more buses. There will be a text messaging services for updates about parking.

The last time I was at GT was during the Feb holiday weekend. The Saturday was a powder day with blue sky. Except for the fwhen the main base lift (high speed quad) had a line before the lifts opened, I never waited more than 5 minutes. For the two lifts not at the main base, usually less than a 1 minute wait. Rode up with a couple of young men who drove over from Jackson. They were amazed at the relatively emptiness at GT.

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MarzNC

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Showshoe in West Virginia is owned by Alterra, on Ikon Base/Full, and also has a Snowshoe-only season passes. It's within a half day's drive from Washington DC, Pittsburgh, PA, Richmond, VA, Raleigh, NC, and cities in Tennessee or Ohio. People drive 8+ hours from Atlanta, GA or even Florida for annual family ski vacations. The last hour or so of driving is on 2-lane WV roads, which can be tricky when there is snow on the road. 2WD is risky during a snowstorm. The main area is an upside-down resort with a pretty large resort "village" built by Intrawest and multiple condo buildings at the top of the ridge, with lifts going down both sides. There is also a small area with short trails called Silver Creek that is a free 10-min shuttle bus ride away, which has lights for night skiing, and a pretty large condo building. Silver Creek was developed separately and was bought by Snowshoe at some point. There is no true "ski town" nearby and very little off-resort lodging less than an hour from Snowshoe.

The statements on the Snowshoe website about winter operations and limited lift ticket sales are pretty typical of what medium-size resorts east of the Mississippi river are posting on their website. In general, the states in the eastern half of the USA have had state-wide mask mandates for months and intend to continue requiring mask usage in public where keeping a safe distance is not possible. There are no travel restrictions in the southeast and mid-Atlantic (PA, DE, NJ).

https://www.snowshoemtn.com/discover-snowshoe/safety-and-responsibility/covid-19

WELCOME TO THE MOUNTAIN

As we look forward to welcoming you back to the mountain, please know that we will be implementing new policies and procedures in line with state, federal and industry guidelines.

The key facets of our COVID-19 plan involve daily employee health screening requirements, maintaining physical distancing, and increased sanitation and disinfecting efforts. You will notice some changes upon your visit, including but not limited to our employees wearing masks, physical barriers at point of sale locations, an increased quantity of personal sanitization stations, and alterations to our operational procedures and programming. For more on specific areas of the resort, please explore the drop-down menu below.

We kindly ask for your help by maintaining physical distancing, following directives from our staff and staying home if you feel ill or are at risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus. In accordance with an executive order signed by Governor Jim Justice on July 6th, all individuals age nine or above are required to wear adequate face coverings in public spaces (inside buildings, common areas, chairlift lines, etc.).
Be Safe. Be Kind. Have Fun.

WILL I BE ABLE TO WALK UP AND BUY A LIFT TICKET?
With firm capacity limits in place, walk-up access is not guaranteed. We strongly encourage our guests to purchase their tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

DO I NEED A RESERVATION TO SKI/RIDE AT SNOWSHOE?
At this time, Ikon Pass, Ikon Base Pass, Snowshoe Unlimited Pass, and Early Season Pass holders will not need reservations to ski and ride during the 2020/21 winter season at Snowshoe. Guests who advance purchase a package (including lift tickets/passes and lodging, etc.) are guaranteed mountain access for the dates of their booking.

WHAT ARE HOLIDAY AND PEAK PERIODS?
Christmas: December 26, 2020 - January 2, 2021
Martin Luther King Jr. Day: January 15 - 17, 2021
Presidents Day: February 12-14, 2021
Peak Periods: Friday - Sunday, December 18, 2020 - March 13, 2021

CAN I BUY A TICKET ON THE DAY I WANT TO SKI?
To ensure access to the mountain we strongly suggest purchasing a pass (either Ikon or Snowshoe specific). At this time, we anticipate limited availability of walk-up tickets during the winter season. Some single day lift tickets may be available for day of purchases based on last minute availability.

CAN I BUY A SINGLE DAY LIFT TICKET IN ADVANCE?
We will be offering online, advanced single and multi-day lift tickets in advance. These will be available in the coming weeks. Guests are encouraged to purchase in advance to guarantee mountain access.
 
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MarzNC

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The Powdr resorts that are using parking reservations will start up that system on Nov. 5. Includes Snowbird, Copper, Mt. Bachelor, as well as Killington/Pico in Vermont. Season passholders and Ikon holders will not need to get lift access reservations.
 

MarzNC

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Keystone Opening Day is Nov. 6. The Epic Reservation system will be opened up on Nov. 4 for "week of" reservations for Nov. 6-13 at Keystone. That will be the first time Americans get to use the system.

Took a while but I found where the "week of" dates are listed. It's part of the webpage with Opening Dates. Looks like the idea is to open up Week Of Reservations on Wed for the following Friday thru Friday. The start of Week Of reservations are listed for the Rockies. Most of the other regions were TBD as of Nov. 1.

https://www.epicpass.com/info/winter-experience.aspx

Epic passholders are getting reminder emails this week that the Epic Reservation system will be available on Nov. 6. They are being warned that it might be busy the first few days and that a queuing system with a virtual "waiting room" will be used.

 

MarzNC

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Killington is a major destination resort for the northeast. It's owned by Powdr and on Ikon. People normally drive from NYC, Boston, and other densely populated areas of NY/New England or even as far away as Washington DC. Below is from an email sent to people on the Killington email list late last week. That was just before the Vermont Guidelines for Ski Resorts was released on Nov. 3.

The 7-day concept that VR came up for the Epic Reservation system is clearly being used by the N. American ski industry as a way to avoid people trying to grab far more reservations than they could possibility know they could use.

From Killington Info on Nov. 3, 2020:

Parking reservations are an important part of us ensuring all at the resort are able to appropriately physically distance. The parking reservation system will be in place every day of the season and parking spaces  must be reserved before arriving to the resort to ensure availability. Starting Thursday, November 5, at 10:00 a.m. you  can book up to seven advance days throughout the season. Once the season begins, you will also be able to book an unlimited number of days in the immediate rolling 7-day window. As your advance days fall into the rolling 7-day window, you can book additional advance days, only reserving up to seven at any given time. See more details and examples to better explain how it works here.

We will continue to ask guests to treat your car like a base lodge and, if you can, boot up at your car. After further consideration and feedback from you – our core guests – we understand that for some access to the lodge to put boots on in the morning is needed. We will allow guests to boot up in a lodge (if building capacity allows); however, bags cannot be left in the lodge and bag check will be moved to a new location that can be accessed at the end of the day from outside.

Although we announced our anticipated opening dates at Killington and Pico this date continues to be dependent on having top-to-bottom skiing and riding with access to multiple base area lifts. If Mother Nature does not allow us to achieve this, we will delay our opening date. From Opening Day through Sunday, November 22, access to the mountain will be reserved for Killington Season Passholders and Ikon guests only. Express Card Holders, day tickets, buddy passes, vouchers etc. will be accepted starting Monday, November 23, and will be on-sale beginning Friday, November 6.
 

MarzNC

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As opening days in multiple regions approach in the USA, it's easy to understand why season pass sales, including multi-resort passes like Epic, Ikon, MCP, and Indy are way up for 2020-21. Quite a few small resorts have already stopped selling 1-location season passes because they don't want to implement any sort of reservation system for passholders. Folks who normally don't commit to buying a pass until November or December are starting to understand that they may not be able to get day tickets at all for weekends.

Indy pass sales were up more than 600% as of a few weeks ago. Granted not many people knew about Indy for 2019-20 in the first season, but there is no question that the US$199 price that allows 2 days at a long list of locations is perfect for a few day trips in multiple regions.

The MCP price went up US$100 last week, far more than the usual price increase in October. At $589 can still be a bargain if someone can get to two locations for at least two days each. Day tickets at MCP resorts will be scarce, there won't be any discounted options, and the prices are likely to be $150 and up. A few resorts are not requiring lift access reservations for MCP holders, but are requiring reservations for Ikon holders. Jackson Hole is one of those.
 
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Townsend

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Telluride used a different method to limit the number of people on the hill...they doubled the price of their over 65 years pass for non- locals!

I know of some grandparents who have suggested to their family that they ski elsewhere this winter!
 
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MarzNC

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Telluride used a different method to limit the number of people on the hill...they doubled the price of their over 65 years pass for non- locals!

I know of some grandparents who have suggested to their family that they ski elsewhere this winter!
Telluride is not the only resort to significantly increase season pass prices. Taos did something similar. But I haven't been paying that much attention to senior rates. Still another year before I qualify for Over 65. My ski buddy who is pushing 70 went for Full Ikon with an Alta Pass.

I can imagine that Telluride (the town) is skittish about encouraging out-of-state seniors to travel there for any reason. Their medical system is quite small. It's a long way to the nearest major hospital. Even though recent increases in cases are in the 20-49 age group, the deaths are still mostly among seniors 60+.

In the northeast, and perhaps the midwest and southeast as well, what's happening is that season pass sales are being cut off. The goal is to allow 1-location passholders to ski without requiring lift access reservations. Day tickets will only be sold online, so limiting the number available is pretty straightforward. In regions where a lot of people live within driving distance there is actually a large percentage who never buy a season pass. For those who are limited to skiing on weekends, I think there will be many families who don't ski at all this winter if they didn't plan ahead.
 

summit_32

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I just booked my days for BC & Vail - the system seemed to work quite well. The queue was 3.5hrs long but waited for their email to arrive and then logged straight into the system. Will be interesting to see how much availability there actually is beyond the 7-reserved days...
 
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MarzNC

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Apparently the pent up demand by locals meant the tickets for the first days at Keystone, Nov. 6-8, sold out in the morning they could be made. Opening up Epic Reservations for just Keystone Week Of reservations, Nov. 6-13, was delayed by a day because of last minute approvals needed from state public health. Wasn't clear until Thu evening that Keystone would open on Fri morning.

https://www.outtherecolorado.com/ne...28ea6ff2-1f97-11eb-8917-937ccbcb2241.amp.html
 
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MarzNC

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I just booked my days for BC & Vail - the system seemed to work quite well. The queue was 3.5hrs long but waited for their email to arrive and then logged straight into the system. Will be interesting to see how much availability there actually is beyond the 7-reserved days...
Have seen comments and a screen shot that the capacity for Queue-It is 50,000-150,000 per hour.

Here's a sample of comments on the Epic Pass FB page from this morning (Atlantic coast time). The bigger issue people were complaining about was phone or chat support because they had an account or a set of accounts that weren't set up properly.

Epic Pass: Our reservation system just launched and we anticipated demand would be high for the first few days. But there’s no need to rush. This exclusive month-long reservation window was designed so pass holders could lock in their Priority Reservation Days for the core season in advance. If you don’t feel like waiting, feel free to come back tomorrow.

HAPPY: We just booked our family's days through the reservation system. Took about 45 minutes to get in (I signed in to the waiting room at 7 a.m.) and the process was super easy. Wishing we could secure more than 7 days but also understand.

ANNOYED at 11am ET (9am MT): OMG - I am number 125,914 in the Epic Pass Lobby to reserve?!

ANNOYED: Login at 7am EST; #90,492 in line.

ANNOYED: Yeah so I was in the waiting room at 7:00:00. At 8:00:00 said I was 79,600 in line. Hour and a half later I’m still 45,000 in line.

HAPPY: Hey Epic Pass - well done this morning!! Smooth reservation process and already received confirmation email. Feel like you guys were well-prepped for this part so wanted to drop a kudos!

HAPPY at 11am ET (9am MT): Hey reservation system went smooth and easy today, got our days at Christmas and March break so can keep our accommodations.... great job .. was worried about system being overwhelmed but worked perfectly​
 
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summit_32

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yep, i logged in at 8am EST and was randomly allocated 85,000th place in the queue. In the Queue-It website you can see the numbers slowly reducing as it gets closer to your turn. Everything appeared to be available when i looked.
 
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MarzNC

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yep, i logged in at 8am EST and was randomly allocated 85,000th place in the queue. In the Queue-It website you can see the numbers slowly reducing as it gets closer to your turn. Everything appeared to be available when i looked.
Ah, a random spot? I saw mention of that in June but forgot about that aspect of the online queue. Sounds like the Epic Lobby opened before 7am MST. Not that it really matters.
 

dawooduck

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The problem you have is Covid19 is now so widespread that travelling to a resort will further exacerbate the spread of the virus.

Good luck with it all
 

MarzNC

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Bridger Bowl is an hour from Big Sky, but is a completely different type of place. Big Sky is a world class full service ski resort with lots of slopeside and other lodging within a 10 min drive. Boyne Resorts has been working hard to improve the 5000 acres that are now part of Big Sky. In contrast, Bridger is a 2000 acre non-profit snow playground mostly for locals who live in Bozeman, which is a 20-30 min drive away. There is virtually no lodging for out-of-state travelers near the base. Bridger is a ski area with terrain at all levels, from a separate kids teaching area to expert chutes that require hiking either up or along the Ridge.

Bozeman is a growing city that has a large state university. College students can take a physical education class to learn how to ski the Ridge. My favorite ski instructor who is also a Ridge Guide at Bridger has taught the course. For me, any trip to Big Sky includes at least a couple days skiing Bridger. Might even go up the Ridge some day.

The latest update related to Bridger winter operations was posted on Oct. 28. Bridger is going to require reservations. Season pass sales were cut off far earlier than usual, which probably took some people by surprise. They have created 3-5 Day Packs that can be used any day of the season . . . with a reservation. The prices offer a bit of a discount over buying day tickets.

They recently installed RFID gates. Don't know if that already in the works before 2020 or not, but it certainly will be helpful. For people with season passes, it's noted in the section about potential refunds if Bridger is forced to close due to COVID-19 that "Repeated no shows within the reservation system will count as days skied and will be applied to any pass credit as days skied."

https://bridgerbowl.com/covid

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dawooduck

relaxed and comfortable
Ski Pass
Oct 26, 2002
72,555
64,969
1,525
Mountains
Plans for limiting capacity is directly related to Covid -19 ...lets not let this get away from us and don't go down the political path :)

Which is why I mentioned the fact that Covid is largely uncontained in the USA, a very very different scenario to that which this southern winter operated within, a winter that many of the NA restrictions appear to be based on.

In Bozeman to pick one ski related town, covid19 is not under any resemblance of control.

If Aus/NZ ran the kinds of infection numbers the USA is currently running we would not have had a ski season.

Covid is not political, its a virus.
 

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
2,988
5,094
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
Jackson Hole has figured out how they are going to use the Tram. Going with 25 passengers, which is 25% of max capacity.

Nov. 5, Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Announces Winter Tram Operations and Rider Capacity
https://www.jacksonhole.com/latest-news-detail-7728.html
" . . .
For winter 2020-21, JHMR's tram capacity will be adjusted down to 25 people per cabin plus one operator to allow for physical distancing and to keep guests and staff safe. Under normal operating conditions, the maximum capacity of JHMR's Aerial Tram is 100 people per cabin. Average ride times for the 4,139 vertical foot ascent will continue to be under 10 minutes, pending weather conditions. Reduced capacity will also allow for greater loading efficiency. During tram travel, all windows and vents will remain open to maximize airflow within the cabin. Tram operators will be separated from guests with clear plexiglass barriers, and tram cabins will be cleaned and sanitized hourly with aerosolized disinfectant. All operations and number of people per cabin are subject to change pending mountain conditions and state, local and health guidance.
. . ."
 
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