Maximise the Mountain Collective Pass with kids.

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Maximise the Mountain Collective Pass with kids.

Postby vanhanbr » Thu Mar 12, 2020 8:57 am

New member here, although I have some time studying bestsnow.net, I only recently discovered this forum.

Me:
Midwestern, expert level skier just shy of 40 years old who usually skis around 30 days/year (half at destination resorts, half at local hills) Areas visited include Alta, A-basin, Copper, Cooper, Deer Valley, Keystone, Lake Louise, Revelstoke, Snowbird, Winter Park and quite a few more. Also skied at Selkirk Tangiers Heli this year.

Wife:
Terminal intermediate, gets nervous on anything darker than blue although she has the required skillset for harder terrain. Skis almost as many days as myself.

Kids: Twin five-year-old's. Better skiers than mom (although she won't admit it). Capable of making beautiful, carved turns on almost any groomed run (although they get bounced around on some of the chopped up stuff.) They don't necessarily like to ski super steep stuff. Like most kids, they would prefer to ski in the trees all day and can ski around/over almost anything. They ski almost as many days as Mom.

The problem(s):
This was the last year of the "free" passes as they will be six next season. I'm not prepared to shell out almost $400 a kid for an epic pass. We've had the Ikon Pass and a local season pass the last 2 years.

I'm willing to take them out of school up to five days. Otherwise, we have to navigate around the usually Christmas, Valentine's (they don't have off presidents day) and Spring break (last week of March/ first week of April.

My plan so far:
I'm thinking we could break even with last year's pass costs by downgrading to the Mountain Collective Pass.

Christmas break or 2nd week of January. 2 days in Grand Targhee with an additional day or 2 at Jackson Hole. Looking for opinion on what to expect crowd-wise and snow-wise between the two dates. My favorite week of the season to ski is the second week of January. I realize Jackson Hole won't be prime, but we have 2 days on the pass. This year over Christmas break we skied at Whitecap, Indianhead, and Blackjack in Upper Michigan and it was a practical ghost town. I may consider doing that again.

Valentines - Either Lake Louise/ Sunshine or Aspen. Ski Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Last week of February - Adult trip to Panorama. Possibly RK Heli add-on. We were at Revelstoke this year, so might not want to double up. May also have a few more intermediate skiers along next year.

Spring break - Mammoth (but only 2-3 days on pass.) Considering adding a few days at Squaw to make the week. Not sure what to expect conditions wise. Would consider Alta/Snowbird, but recent crowds/traffic have scared me off.

I am also considering buying additional Cooper, Indy, Freedom, etc. pass to supplement lack of days on Mountain collective.

Looking for any opinions. Thanks.
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Re: Maximise the Mountain Collective Pass with kids.

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:48 am

All reasonable plans above.

It goes without saying that the second or perhaps third week of January is far preferable to Christmas. Third week is only 4 days off for kids and maybe you too due to MLK. Mid-January though early February IS prime time for expected Jackson Hole snow conditions. Jackson has had rapidly growing skier visits for 20 years. Its lift system is not efficient so I would avoid Christmas there if you have an alternative.

Either Valentine's option sounds good. Last week of February is when I'm usually in Canada with very favorable results most days.

Your spring break is prime time at Mammoth. Squaw's much lower altitude means far more likely spring conditions, not a bad thing if you can follow the sun appropriately. But if there's been a prolonged dry spell and/or not a huge snowpack, conditions at Squaw will deteriorate and some terrain will get closed, which essentially never happens at Mammoth through third week of April.

So be flexible and prepared to spend the whole week at Mammoth. You should probably choose Mammoth as the 3rd free day area. If you can afford a heli day at RK or Selkirk Tangiers, you can afford half price Mountain Collective days.

I get a bit frustrated with people who let the season pass tail wag the where-to-ski dog. Lift tickets are a modest fraction of total vacation costs when you consider lodging and transportation, especially by air. Once you have shelled out for the latter, it's worth being flexible to chase the best conditions or throw in a day here and there to an area not on your pass if you're in the neighborhood and it fits your snow/terrain preferences.

I like the Mountain Collective concept of half price after the free days, encourages more flexibility vs. the stronger deterrent once you have used up your Ikon/Epic allotment. I also know that Mountain Collective is the most kid-friendly of the multiarea passes. Many of us had some concern that it would not survive Ikon, but I'd say now it's fairly clear it will. Sbooker from Australia has also opted for Mountain Collective for his family.

I also think Mountain Collective might prove to be the eventual sole multipass option at some areas where Ikon is creating crowd problems that antagonize the local passholders.
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Re: Maximise the Mountain Collective Pass with kids.

Postby vanhanbr » Fri Mar 13, 2020 1:05 pm

Thanks for the response.

Mountain Collective Passes bought!

Our kids don't have off for MLK, so I will most likely stick to the second week of January to avoid the crowds as much as possible.

My wife has been wanting to go back to Aspen Snowmass, so I took the third day there. Will probably visit Sunlight while we are in the area.

That leaves 2 days at Mammoth, but I don't have a problem buying additional days. Maximizing the pass is more of a game than anything. An excursion to Squaw / Lake Tahoe is more about breaking the trip up a little for the rest of the family, but I wouldn't want to ski there if conditions were terrible. Closed terrain wouldn't be as bad as being caught on slow-moving slush. Although I wouldn't have expected it, we had excellent conditions skiing at Deer Valley last year during the same time frame (plan B was to head to LCC.)

Regarding the Ikon pass, I wish they would restrict all the resorts to 5/7 days. The Ikon base pass is a much better value than the Mountain Collective pass and I probably would have bought it again, but they removed Aspen and Jackson Hole (which happened to two of the resorts I wanted to visit next year.)
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Re: Maximise the Mountain Collective Pass with kids.

Postby jamesdeluxe » Fri Mar 13, 2020 1:43 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:I get a bit frustrated with people who let the season pass tail wag the where-to-ski dog. Lift tickets are a modest fraction of total vacation costs when you consider lodging and transportation, especially by air.

You're looking at it through your own fiscal prism, which ain't like most people's here. Without one of the major lift passes, you're talking about $120-160/day or whatever insane number they ask for a day ticket. I won't pay that out of principle. During my weekend warrior visits in Colorado this season, I was only able to afford to visit the indie joints: Cooper, Sunlight, Powderhorn, Monarch, and Loveland.

It's easy to play the "i wanna ski where I want" game in Europe, where the most you'll pay at all but the elite places for a walk-up lift ticket is in the high $50s and often less.
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Re: Maximise the Mountain Collective Pass with kids.

Postby flyover » Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:36 pm

Thought about Banff for spring break? If memory serves, Sunshine and Louise are Mountain Collective resorts.

Our family also has a late-March/early-April spring break. We've had good snow and enough sunshine to keep all of us happy there on trips in 2015, 2016 and 2018. The snow preservation in the backside chutes at Louise at that time of year is astonishingly great. There's also plenty of good intermediate skiing. Some reports from our trip in 2018:

http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards ... =3&t=12645
http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards ... =3&t=12647
http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards ... =3&t=12649
http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards ... =3&t=12662
http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards ... =3&t=12665

We found Banff to be a good value compared to many of the places we would want to be in the U.S. at that time of year, by (a) bundling out lift tickets with lodging through skibig3 and (b) benefiting from the exchange rate.

Calgary is an easy flight. Car rental is cheap and quick (in terminal). The drive to Banff is a painless 90 minutes. Crowds aren't much of an issue. There's lots to do when you're not skiing. The scenery is second to none.
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Re: Maximise the Mountain Collective Pass with kids.

Postby vanhanbr » Fri Mar 13, 2020 3:33 pm

Without one of the major lift passes, you're talking about $120-160/day or whatever insane number they ask for a day ticket. I won't pay that out of principle. During my weekend warrior visits in Colorado this season, I was only able to afford to visit the indie joints: Cooper, Sunlight, Powderhorn, Monarch, and Loveland.


That's why I am planning next years trip in March! But I can appreciate what was said regarding lift tickets only being a fraction of the total cost. Our local ski area pass included free days at Cooper, so we skied there for a day while staying at Copper. Signed the kids up for ski lessons and saved $100 kid versus Copper. Although, I might get a little bored skiing Cooper for a week straight, it worked great as a day trip. The daily prices at the indie joints are tolerable as well, but I have a hard time paying $100+ a day at the big resorts if I can avoid it. Last year I was down to around $30/day on the IKON pass, which I'm sure isn't even all that impressive to anyone living near an EPIC/IKON resort, but pretty good for me seeing as I had to travel from the Midwest and still work. I could see the benefit of buying both IKON/EPIC passes if you skied 50+ days/year.

Thought about Banff for spring break? If memory serves, Sunshine and Louise are Mountain Collective resorts.

Yes! If we ski at Aspen during Valentine's we would still have 4 days between Lake Louise/Sunshine which would work out quite well. I just got back from a Revelstoke/Louise/Heli trip a few weeks ago, very nice area. Exchange rate outstanding!

How bad are the crowds in Mammoth during the second week of March?
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Re: Maximise the Mountain Collective Pass with kids.

Postby Sbooker » Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:50 pm

flyover wrote:Thought about Banff for spring break? If memory serves, Sunshine and Louise are Mountain Collective resorts.

Our family also has a late-March/early-April spring break. We've had good snow and enough sunshine to keep all of us happy there on trips in 2015, 2016 and 2018. The snow preservation in the backside chutes at Louise at that time of year is astonishingly great. There's also plenty of good intermediate skiing. Some reports from our trip in 2018:

http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards ... =3&t=12645
http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards ... =3&t=12647
http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards ... =3&t=12649
http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards ... =3&t=12662
http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards ... =3&t=12665

We found Banff to be a good value compared to many of the places we would want to be in the U.S. at that time of year, by (a) bundling out lift tickets with lodging through skibig3 and (b) benefiting from the exchange rate.

Calgary is an easy flight. Car rental is cheap and quick (in terminal). The drive to Banff is a painless 90 minutes. Crowds aren't much of an issue. There's lots to do when you're not skiing. The scenery is second to none.


And Panorama which is on the pass and close by should ski nicely in spring I would think. I've not been there yet but it appears to have plenty of north facing terrain and goes to 8000 feet in a general area that is cooler than most.
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Re: Maximise the Mountain Collective Pass with kids.

Postby Sbooker » Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:54 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:All reasonable plans above.

It goes without saying that the second or perhaps third week of January is far preferable to Christmas. Third week is only 4 days off for kids and maybe you too due to MLK. Mid-January though early February IS prime time for expected Jackson Hole snow conditions. Jackson has had rapidly growing skier visits for 20 years. Its lift system is not efficient so I would avoid Christmas there if you have an alternative.

Either Valentine's option sounds good. Last week of February is when I'm usually in Canada with very favorable results most days.

Your spring break is prime time at Mammoth. Squaw's much lower altitude means far more likely spring conditions, not a bad thing if you can follow the sun appropriately. But if there's been a prolonged dry spell and/or not a huge snowpack, conditions at Squaw will deteriorate and some terrain will get closed, which essentially never happens at Mammoth through third week of April.

So be flexible and prepared to spend the whole week at Mammoth. You should probably choose Mammoth as the 3rd free day area. If you can afford a heli day at RK or Selkirk Tangiers, you can afford half price Mountain Collective days.

I get a bit frustrated with people who let the season pass tail wag the where-to-ski dog. Lift tickets are a modest fraction of total vacation costs when you consider lodging and transportation, especially by air. Once you have shelled out for the latter, it's worth being flexible to chase the best conditions or throw in a day here and there to an area not on your pass if you're in the neighborhood and it fits your snow/terrain preferences.

I like the Mountain Collective concept of half price after the free days, encourages more flexibility vs. the stronger deterrent once you have used up your Ikon/Epic allotment. I also know that Mountain Collective is the most kid-friendly of the multiarea passes. Many of us had some concern that it would not survive Ikon, but I'd say now it's fairly clear it will. Sbooker from Australia has also opted for Mountain Collective for his family.

I also think Mountain Collective might prove to be the eventual sole multipass option at some areas where Ikon is creating crowd problems that antagonize the local passholders.


I've come to the conclusion that the Mountain Collective Pass has saved me money on lift tickets but probably cost me overall because we travel between destinations which isn't efficient. It suits my group though because my wife likes to ski a couple of days and then have a break before skiing again. It also allows for other touristy things to happen and also keeps the kids keen. I want them to be begging for a ski day as opposed to them feeling a little "here we go again". So far it has been perfect.
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Re: Maximise the Mountain Collective Pass with kids.

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:35 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:You're looking at it through your own fiscal prism, which ain't like most people's here. Without one of the major lift passes, you're talking about $120-160/day or whatever insane number they ask for a day ticket. I won't pay that out of principle.

I doubt I've ever paid over $120 for a lift ticket and I don't even recall specifically when/where that might have been. But to cite a recent example I don't think a bit under $100US is unreasonable for a day ticket at an area with the scale and terrain quality of Fernie or Kicking Horse.

Of course advance planning should be done with one's pass in mind. And I also agree if you branch out for a day here and there I'd lean toward an independent or a Liftopia price vs. the Vail or Alterra pricing model.

Last year I skied 37 of my 70 days at 12 Ikon resorts, just under $25 per day.

I agree with all of the Banff spring recommendations except
flyover wrote:The scenery is second to none.

You won't say that after you ski Chamonix, Zermatt or the Dolomites.

sbooker wrote:And Panorama which is on the pass and close by should ski nicely in spring I would think. I've not been there yet but it appears to have plenty of north facing terrain and goes to 8000 feet in a general area that is cooler than most.

True on all points. Panorama does not get a lot of snow and can thus be sketchy anytime in a much below average season.
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Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
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