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World's biggest ski pass.

Wed May 08, 2019 9:28 pm

Seems like the European version of Mountain Collective.
It appears most of the hills are pretty small and have a day rate of about 30 to 40 euro so the 'break even' would be about 12 days. Great for Euro locals but not so good for tourists from overseas.
It appears to work on a format similar to Mountain Collective which has a 'break even' of less than 4 days.

Re: World's biggest ski pass.

Wed May 08, 2019 11:49 pm

sbooker wrote:Great for Euro locals but not so good for tourists from overseas

Jamesdeluxe might disagree, though the 12 days to break even is probably not worth his trouble. And most of these places are probably fourth tier, highly obscure even James' standards I suspect. So not at all like Mountain Collective, maybe more like Powder Alliance.

James should review where he has skied on that list. Auron and Isola 2000 in the Maritime Alps. Galtur and Tschiertschen ring a bell from his TR's. Sierra Nevada in Spain is a substantial area when it has snow. I've read good things about Sella Nevea in Italy and its connection into Slovenia. But in the core 4 alpine countries a cursory click through to maps shows mainly quite small areas.

I don't see this pass being a big seller when the marquee Euro areas have walk up tickets in the $60 range.

Re: World's biggest ski pass.

Thu May 09, 2019 5:12 am

Snowpass was discussed briefly on NY Ski Blog last week and the Alpinforum crew, ostensibly Snowpass's core market, has been working it over since early March. They observed that it's composed predominantly of European lost-ski-area candidates and should be renamed the Starli Pass. If you recall, Starli is the Alpinforum road warrior who has skied all over eastern and western Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, the Balkans, Turkey, Caucasus, etc. -- he's the one from whom I steal most of my Euro third- and fourth-tier ski area ideas.

Tony noted that the only medium/large ski area (for European standards) on the pass is Sierra Nevada in Spain. All the rest are comparatively very small, small, or medium/small. What made me laugh is that St. Antönien along the Swiss/Austrian border is included. My guide and I stopped in that tiny village for a coffee break during our sidecountry tour between Gargellen and Klosters/Madrisa four years ago. It has a likewise tiny ski area with 4.6 km of trails served by a couple surface lifts.

Tony Crocker wrote:I don't see this pass being a big seller when the marquee Euro areas have walk up tickets in the $60 range.

Agreed. Snowpass is trying to shoehorn the Ikon/Epicpass formula (which is a huge success due to outrageous day-ticket prices at destination resorts in North America) onto Europe. Moreover, as mentioned in the NY Ski Blog link, there are already multi-region ski passes that work for the Alps, e.g. Ski Amade, the Joker Pass.

Snowpass is a good idea for under-the-radar ski areas to get some additional cash flow and visibility, similar to the Colorado Gems card, but of little interest to me just to potentially save a couple of shekels at the risk of flexibility (another "tail wagging the dog" situation). Of the current list, I've been to Auron, Isola, Galtür, Tschiertschen, and Riesneralm and would recommend all of 'em; however, they're not the type of places that typical fly-in ski tourists (or for that matter most Euros outside of a two-hour drive) would visit.

Re: World's biggest ski pass.

Thu May 09, 2019 12:45 pm

Ski Amade is a collection of 5 ski complexes in the same subregion of Austria, starting with Hochkonig east of Saalbach and extending farther east from there. So to me that's sort of like Louise/Norquay/Sunshine having a common pass for destination skiers despite having different owners and not having combined season passes for the local market.

A cursory search on Joker Pass pointed to the same region of Austria, but it seems to be mostly throwing in free lift tickets as part of lodging packages. So I think Snowpass Europe is the first true multiregion pass. But from James' comments, these areas are mostly even more marginal than I suspected.

But the whole multipass concept is less attractive in the Alps for their broad market that only skis a week or two each season. North America has a much narrower market with a higher proportion of us nutcases who ski a lot. So it makes more sense in North America to offer a product aimed at the most avid skiers even if we didn't have the ridiculous window ticket prices. And the nutcases aren't going to buy a product primarily composed of fourth tier areas.

Re: World's biggest ski pass.

Thu May 09, 2019 2:43 pm

To clarify -- if I lived all winter within driving distance of the Alps, I'd absolutely be the audience for a Colorado Gems-esque product like Snowpass assuming that a) it developed a larger and better curated collection of under-the-radar areas, and b) provided straight-to-lift access. As you're aware by now, even fourth-tier ski areas like Atzmännig, Hochstuckli, and Ebenalp have a place in my quiver. I'm reasonably certain that Tony draws the line at third-tier unless they feature mindblowing vistas like Rigi.

Update: Starli from Alpinforum just weighed in with his POV (somewhat similar to what I noted ^^ yesterday) --
"I went through the website again and could imagine myself getting more comfortable with this type of offering; still, I'm going to wait for Version 2.0 the following year/hopefully they'll have more small ski areas. As far as I'm concerned, Snowpass doesn't need the big interconnected circuits; they only increase costs and aren't my sweet spot." ("Bin die Website gestern nochmal durch, also ich könnte mich mit dem Angebot schon anfreunden, aber ich wart trotzdem mal auf Version 2 im Jahr darauf, vielleicht mit noch ein paar mehr Kleingebieten. Die großen können gerne draußen bleiben, die machen das Ding nur teuer und bringen mir nix")

Re: World's biggest ski pass.

Fri May 10, 2019 12:43 pm

The Powder Alliance areas are more high profile than Snowpass Europe IMHO. Freedom Pass is probably a closer analogy. Powder Alliance is not a multiresort pass; it offers reciprocal privileges for season passholders at the listed resorts.

I reread James' references. I'm drawing the conclusion that the moderately difficult weather days are perhaps the time to consider the lower profile places. At the big places closing the higher terrain results in excessive lift or slope congestion on what's open. This is what we experienced in Portes du Soleil and Mammoth is one of the the few places in North America that has this issue.

Re: World's biggest ski pass.

Fri May 10, 2019 4:12 pm

The Powder Alliance looks interesting. So one has to buy a season pass at one of the participating resorts? Which mountain has the least expensive season pass?
I'm eyeing off a BC (general area) road trip and the Powder Alliance would offer Silver Star, Whitewater, Castle and Schweitzer (just across the border). Are there any other passes that open up multi hill options in BC? (Obviously Revelstoke and Banff on Mountain Collective).

Re: World's biggest ski pass.

Sat May 11, 2019 12:14 pm

Sbooker wrote:Which mountain has the least expensive season pass? ...... Are there any other passes that open up multi hill options in BC? (Obviously Revelstoke and Banff on Mountain Collective).

Mt. High's season pass is $349. I only checked a couple of the other places, but it would not surprise me if Mt. High is the cheapest. Most places on that list are at least as expensive as a Mountain Collective.

Considering driving distances, I can argue that Silver Star, Whitewater, Castle and Schweitzer are in 4 different regions. Connect all of those and you are driving past or close to Apex, Big White, Fernie, Whitefish and a few other places in northern Idaho/NW Montana.

RCR (Fernie, Kicking Horse, Kimberley and Nakiska) affiliated with Epic starting last year. That's 7 days on the full Epic, but no RCR privileges on local Colorado and Tahoe Epic passes. A 7 or 4 day Epic Pass can be used at RCR locations but I doubt that makes sense vs. using it Whistler or the more expensive US areas.

In general day ticket prices in interior BC are less than at top tier US resorts, though still more expensive than in the Alps.

I am not in general a believer of locking in a narrow choice of resorts at the expense of flexibility. You need to do that for Vail or Alterra resorts because the window prices are so outrageous, and many of those places have enough scale to spend a whole week. The Powder Alliance resorts have reasonable day ticket prices and many probably have few-days-in-advance Liftopia discounts. So I don't see that as attractive to destination skiers. But for someone who lives within daytrip distance of one of those areas, it's an incentive to consider a season pass.

Re: World's biggest ski pass.

Sat May 11, 2019 2:55 pm

I’m a bit tight by nature and as I have to buy tickets x4 I’m always looking for a deal. The Aussie Peso hurts too. (Not so much in Canada or Japan but US and Euro is a big ouch).
That’s why Mountain Collective works so well for us. We get days here for our winter short break and if I can get 4 or 5 hills in at areas that have cheap lodging (SLC and Jackson for example) the pass cost becomes almost insignificant. And the $100 kid thing is just a giveaway.
Now if they would just add another BC mountain a road trip in Canada would be easy.

Re: World's biggest ski pass.

Sat May 11, 2019 11:58 pm

Lodging in interior BC is generally reasonable. And with the currency down some, it's a good quality for value destination even if you are buying day tickets.

And yes, Mountain Collective is the way to go if you have kids.

Re: World's biggest ski pass.

Thu May 16, 2019 12:21 pm

If I lived anywhere near the Geneva/western Switzerland region, I would hop on the Magic Pass in a second. For $460, it offers a mouth-watering collection of ski areas encompassing all of the great second-, third-, and fourth tier areas in the Valais region (Crans-Montana, Anzère, the Val d'Anniviers and Val d'Herens, Nax, Ovrannaz, Les Marecottes, Leukerbad, Saas-Fee), the Vaud region (Vallée de Joux, Leysin, Rochers de Naye, Les Pléiades, Les Mosses, Les Lécherettes, Les Diablerets/Glacier 3000, Villars/Gryon), and cool lower-elevation areas in the Fribourg Alps (Jaun, La Berra, Les Paccots, Moléson, Schwarzsee). This type of quality is what Snowpass would ideally provide, but on a more Alps-wide scale.

It's so good that even Starli -- based in Innsbruck 6+ hours away and who has over the years documented all of the above extensively, but is not a fan of multi-resort passes because they limit flexibility -- has one.

Re: World's biggest ski pass.

Thu May 16, 2019 1:16 pm

I only recognize some of these names because of TR's James has posted from them. I may investigate as options upon arrival or before departure from Geneva sometime.

Given Euro window prices, I'm guessing it takes 10-12 days to pay for a Magic Pass.

Re: World's biggest ski pass.

Fri May 17, 2019 8:50 am

Tony Crocker wrote:I only recognize some of these names because of TR's James has posted from them.

Here are recent half-day reports from Les Marécottes and Nax, two of the third-tier areas on the Magic Pass mentioned above. The lift-served terrain at Les Marécottes is the 1,500 verts off the chair at the top and you can see several tourers skinning further up from the top of lift. Starli mentions being able to cover all of the trails marked in blue on his map in two hours, including uploading and downloading on the tram: pretty efficient. Gorgeous scenery and I'm sure with off-piste, it'd be easy to spend a day there.

He had much better weather at Nax than I did in March 2017. From his map, you can see that there's a fair amount of groomed terrain to cover and in one of the pix across the Rhône Valley, south-facing Anzère and Crans-Montana are along the upper left and right. He says that this was his first time to Nax: a rare instance of me beating him to a ski area.
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