Topics of a general nature regarding snowsports, which don't easily fit into one of our other Liftlines categories. This is also the place to post Letters to the Editor.
Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:32 pm
In the land of "not-a-surprise" Alterra is buying up yet another resort which seems likely to be added to the pass products, though not formally announced as such just yet.
In a span of a decade Utah went from off the radar for the big pass products to being nearly gobbled up by them essentially. Just a few resorts left in the whole state that are not part of one of them. Fascinating turn of events as it were. https://www.denverpost.com/2018/06/20/alterra-mountain-co-buys-solitude-mountain-resort/
Wed Jun 20, 2018 2:34 pm
Definitely not a surprise after buying Deer Valley (same former owners). Alterra needs an unlimited pass area in Utah, didn't do that with Deer Valley given the culture/clientele there. The big question: Is this enough to make Solitude no longer "solitudinous?"
Key players in Utah are still independently managed but choose to affiliate with big pass products. Those affiliations are subject to change, as in the example of Telluride.
I suspect Sun Valley/Snowbasin (estate of the late Earl Holding) is a tempting target. If Alterra gets Snowbasin, I think that tips the competitive balance for many Utah locals.
Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:20 pm
In 'sort of' related news Thredbo ski hill in Australia has been added to the Ikon pass.https://www.thredbo.com.au/
Tue Jun 26, 2018 6:31 pm
Obvious balance to Vail owning Perisher. Which do you like better?
Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:06 pm
Tony Crocker wrote:Obvious balance to Vail owning Perisher. Which do you like better?
As you know I'm an intermediate skier and Perisher is in the main way too flat even for me. Thredbo is smaller but a lot more interesting and the bowls on top (Karels and Basin T bars) nearly always have cold dry snow. Let's be clear - it's no Snowbird or Jackson. https://www.thredbo.com.au/wp-content/u ... il-Map.pdf
Thredbo is good for a 3 day weekend just so we can get ski legs back mid year. Perisher is better suited to skiers that are even more gaper than myself and my family. It's big enough to spend a week there - particularly if you've got beginners or early intermediates in your party.
Thredbo being included in Ikon makes a decision difficult for me for the 19/20 northern hemisphere season. We would like to get away in August next year and then ski Japan in December 2019/January 2020 and have a trip to the Nth America in March 2020 to celebrate (is that the right word) by 30 years working in the Real Estate game. The Epic Australia Pass would tick those boxes (5 days skiing in Hakuba Japan included). But now Thredbo is included in Ikon it is more tempting to disregard the free Japan days and revisit Alta, Snowbird and Aspen which we love or even try Big Sky. That would mean buying tickets in Japan but my research suggests that Myoko Kogen and Shiga Kogen may suit us better than Hakuba anyway.
To be honest I hope the Mountain Collective Pass remains in place as the $1 kid thing suits us as does the MC format of two days at each resort. I have significant doubts it will continue though. What are your thoughts on that?
I've over answered your question haven't I?
Interesting times for skiing patrons and businesses.
Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:05 pm
As sbooker may know I have a ski day at Thredbo July 18, 1997. I wasn't doing online reports then except on Southland Ski Server. So I only have these notes:
Tony Crocker wrote:Base thin but surface good from 8 in. snow 2 days ago. Light breeze on top T-bar. Lower mtn skiable on 2 snowmaking supertrails. Alpine T-bars rocky but a few good lines. Cool but calm & sunny.
Warmup E side, then High Noon & Anton/Sponars T-bars. First time up Karels T-bar followed lady under rope to Funnelweb, usually mogulled but smooth as few had skied it. PM on T-bars & Crackenback, then High Noon to car.
I had seen maps of Perisher and its claim of 3,000 acres, joining 4 formerly separate small areas. With just one day I was obviously lured by Thredbo's greater vertical. It's also quite likely that a smaller proportion of Perisher was open that day. I have read enough online reports from Australia to get the impression I was quite lucky with conditions, especially during that time frame. New Zealand two weeks later did not have much better coverage as 1997 like my first time in 1982 was a lean year in NZ.
Most of us would strongly recommend Hokkaido rather than Hakuba/Nagano for a dedicated ski trip to Japan, both for more reliable snow and that many Honshu areas restrict off-piste skiing. I violated those restrictions in Hakuba in 2011, but that was on my third and final day there so the downside risk of getting caught was relatively low. I have not really seen any lift served ski terrain in Japan that is beyond sbooker's comfort zone.
If I return to Japan for a third time, I'm tempted to follow the jamesdeluxe plan of going for under the radar places. I would target the Aomori region at the far north end of Honshu in search of uncontested lift served powder. Farther south Myoko is the other region that gets close to Hokkaido level snowfall, so I might want to check that out too.
Wed Jun 27, 2018 4:36 pm
I didn't know you've had the pleasure of sampling Aussie skiing.
We've found that the second and third week of August is the best time to visit. The base is at about it's peak and it's still cold enough not to get slushy on most of the mountain.
Funnelweb is about as serious as lift served terrain gets in Australia I believe. I remember sliding down on my ass as a third day beginner with an (ex) girlfriend not far behind. She was in tears. I skied it two years ago with my 9 year old son and I was disappointed as it didn't seem anywhere near as steep as I remembered. My lad didn't blink an eyelid.
Hokkaido is obviously legendary and I'll get there at some point. The longer cruising runs of Shiga and Myoko would appeal to my wife. She would be happy to ski nice long medium pitch groomers for the rest of her days. She does speak fondly of when you dragged her out of her comfort zone at Mammoth in January. (She bought a 'Chair 23' sticker later that day). :)
Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:29 pm
sbooker wrote:To be honest I hope the Mountain Collective Pass remains in place as the $1 kid thing suits us as does the MC format of two days at each resort. I have significant doubts it will continue though. What are your thoughts on that?
Ikon copied the old MaxPass format for affiliated areas, and when many of those areas (notably the ones controlled by Boyne and Powdr) opted to join Ikon, it's no surprise MaxPass died.
The MCP format is different, some people like you may prefer it to Ikon. Compared to base Ikon it's $190 cheaper, has the better kid's deal and no blackout dates. Some of our Iron Blosam group prefer it too, particularly those for whom that week is most or all of the skiing they do. Maybe they get in a weekend or two outside the timeshare week, but at Mammoth for example the first weekend is free on MCP too in addition to the 5 free days (with early purchase) at Alta/Snowbird. 7 free days for $409/$429 is a good deal and if there are couple more days those are half window price.
With RFID tracking, nearly all of the important areas on Ikon/MCP will know exactly how many skier days are on each pass. Each area can assess its options, but my guess is that the independent areas on both will get enough business on both to want to continue. Alterra could at some point decide to be more exclusive to push more sales to Ikon, but I don't see that likely in the short term. Vail is more on the exclusive model but for 2018-19 it is adding affiliates too.
sbooker wrote:The longer cruising runs of Shiga and Myoko would appeal to my wife. She would be happy to ski nice long medium pitch groomers for the rest of her days.
Niseko and Furano have as much vertical for skiing groomers as any Honshu area, and as noted before your wife is not going to be overmatched on terrain. There will be days it will be snowing so much that even the groomers will be mostly powder, but I saw that on one of my Happo One days too. Your kids OTOH may be put off the off trail restrictions at many Honshu areas, and dealing with that as a parent is different than my decision to poach as an individual.
Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:16 am
Niseko now on Ikon. I plan on heading to both Japan and US in winter of 19/20. Great deal.
I still hope Mountain Collective remains in place after this year. Any intelligence on that front from any of you well placed ski industry insiders?
Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:45 am
Sbooker wrote:I still hope Mountain Collective remains in place after this year. Any intelligence on that front from any of you well placed ski industry insiders?
Definitely not me for Mountain Collective.
Also wanted to note in this thread that Both Solitude and Brighton were added to Ikon in Utah. Taos was added in NM, Cypress in BC and Summit @ Snoqualamie added in WA. So the ski world seem to be consolidating very rapidly at this point. Perhaps not in ownership, but in season passes at least.
Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:00 pm
I'm not an industry insider, but one contact knows a little bit about Alterra and thinks we should not be drawing conclusions that they are mirroring Vail's Epic Pass as a long term strategy.
First is to draw a distinction between the areas Alterra owns vs. the ones who are on Ikon as affiliates. The latter can make decisions year-to-year on their pass affiliations. Telluride switched from MCP in 2018 to Epic in 2019.
Alterra bought Solitude so the Ikon is unlimited there.
Boyne affiliated all of their areas with Ikon whereas originally it was only Big Sky and Loon/Sugarloaf/Sunday River. The Boyne Michigan areas, Brighton, Snoqualmie and Cypress are the new additions.
Thredbo plus Niseko is great for Aussies like sbooker.
Taos is a new affiliate. That leaves Sun Valley/Snowbasin as the only MCP areas not on Ikon.
Ikon Utah is now unlimited Solitude + 5/7 days AltaBird + 5/7 Brighton + 5/7 Deer Valley. I think that's quite competitive with Epic unlimited Park City. Of course if I were a local I'd still go with season pass at Alta and/or Snowbird.
My contact thinks Alterra wants to concentrate on premium iconic areas and might unload some of the peripheral places. He says Jackson, Snowbird and Sun Valley are desired targets. I agree Sun Valley/Snowbasin post Earl Holding is an obvious sale candidate. I think Alta, Snowbird and Jackson are unique products that can survive just fine as independents if their owners so desire.
Personally, I think large "middle class" areas like Mammoth and Winter Park are valuable cash cows. Blue Mountain, Tremblant and Big Bear may not have world class skiing, but they are dominant in their local markets and sell lots of tickets. So I see Alterra hanging on to all of those.
I have no idea what the future of Mountain Collective is, but it still has value. Some of our Iron Blosam people are buying Ikon and some Mountain Collective.
We bought full Ikon for $899 but for only $100 more we could have bought base Ikon plus Mountain Collective. Why would we do that? Full Ikon gives us 7 AltaBird days, but we get no breaks beyond that. Base Ikon + MCP gives us 10 Altabird days + half price after that, so nearly break even on day 8 and the combo is better after that.
Admittedly this is an unusual situation where someone might surpass 7 days at more than one area. Since I've owned my own week at Iron Blosam I've skied the following number of days per season at Alta/Snowbird: 10, 12, 13, 11, 10, 15, 8, 6, 5, 9. The decline in recent years is due to overseas trips in January, which will be happening in 2019 also.
Mammoth days during those same seasons: 15, 12, 27, 9, 18, 3, 4, 21, 27, 14.
Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:32 am
The lastest news is that Ikon is acquiring Crystal. See https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/ ... ain-Resort
" for more info. This has been rumored for a couple of days and was posted on Crystal's website prematurely then removed. I only have one day lifetime at Crystal, but this may get to return someday although it is somewhat out of the way when traveling between Bend and Revelstoke as I plan to do in February.
Thu Sep 06, 2018 12:41 pm
Crystal is far and away the best ski area between Bend and Revelstoke unless you detour even farther to Whistler.
I believe this supports my thesis that Alterra is as interested in regionally dominant middle class areas as it is in high end destination resorts. Crystal has world class terrain and gets a lot of snow. But it has just a minimal lodging base and I'll bet 80+% of business is drive up day skiers from Seattle metro. Demographically it's more like Big Bear or Blue Mt. than any of the other Alterra resorts.
Tue Dec 04, 2018 3:49 pm
I'd be curious to hear from the people who visit Solitude this season to tell us if Solitude still remains uncrowded. My guess is it will be a bit more crowded but not AltaBird crowded.
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