Alterra Mountain Company announced on Tuesday that it has officially closed its purchase of Vermont’s Sugarbush Mountain Resort, giving the company 15 year-round mountain destinations throughout North America.
One of those other resorts under the Alterra umbrella happens to be Crystal Mountain, which made some news of its own this week.
The ski area, located in Washington state, changed its lift ticket policy beginning this weekend, after overcrowding became an issue the last two weekends.
“We’re taking some pretty drastic measures … in a nutshell, we are going to stop selling day tickets at the resort at our ticket window” on weekends and holidays, Tiana Anderson, a spokesperson for Crystal Mountain, told the Seattle Times on Monday.
Ikon Passes, of course, will be honored as usual.
The resort will release a limited amount of day-use tickets to be purchased in advance online, but it’s a drastic measure for a resort to take, and a possible sign of things to come in an alpine world of multi-mountain passes.
Could we see the same sort of policy eventually put in place at spots like Sugarbush and Stratton — both under the Ikon Pass — or perhaps Stowe and Attitash — both under the Epic Pass?
It’s probably not entirely out of the question. The affordability of the multi-mountain pass has created the potential for overcrowding. One only has to experience the traffic on Mountain Road in Stowe on Saturday morning to get a similar feel for the problem.
“I’ve been going to Crystal Mountain for the last four years and have never seen crowds anywhere close to what I’ve seen so far this season,” skier Melanie Kneisel told the Seattle Times. “I find it hard to believe the similar and sudden crowding problems at Ikon Pass resorts is simply a coincidence.”
It probably isn’t.
Will it affect us the way it forced change of sales at Crystal? And will that really solve the problem when thousands of Ikon Pass holders descend on the mountain anyway?
There are more parameters like highway closures and avalanches that make it a bigger issue in Washington state (not to mention Colorado, California, and Utah) than it would be here. Still though, the more passes the likes of Ikon and Epic sell, the bigger the potential.
An MLK rebound for New England
In a recent blog post on Liftopia, noted skiing writer Jules Older asks what the ski industry is doing in order to combat climate change.
“Along with burning Australia and sinking Kiribati, snowsports are the most endangered by a heating planet,” Older writes. “We are the canaries in the cold mine.”
Well, that’s…not exactly uplifting.
Had you spent a portion of last weekend reading Older’s piece, it might have all been enough to drown you into a full-blown depression considering the circumstances. Saturday, of course, was warm and wet. Sunday was warmer.
Saturday gave some decent spring skiing conditions around New England, not something you’re necessarily looking for on Jan. 11.
Sunday brought a number of closures; Mad River Glen, Cannon Mountain, Magic Mountain, and Black Mountain among those who shuttered the lifts due to the disappearing trail coverage.
The good news was that temperatures dropped quickly enough Sunday night that snowmaking crews were able to get right back to work in limiting the amount of damage. Then, just like that, this week has kicked off what could be a rather significant snow pattern in the north with a few inches here, a few inches there, and perhaps something much bigger in store for Saturday night. There’s some talk about the potential for up to 16 inches of new snow.
That’s a sigh of relief for the industry with the pivotal, long weekend on tap. And after last the nightmare of last weekend, what we get over this Sunday and Monday should be well-deserved.
Steals and deals
Country Ski and Sport is clearing out its ski inventory from a year ago, offering up to 50 percent off last year’s skis. There’s also an online clearance special on the 2019 K2 Pinnacle (regularly $750, on sale for $409.95). Also, get your skis tuned for only $49.95, including both sharpening and waxing. Visit www.countryski.com for complete information.
Cars, trucks, buses
Pats Peak has resumed its direct bus service running from various locations in the Boston area on Saturday afternoons. The bus-and-lift ticket combo is $95 per person, including round-trip transportation, Saturday night Pay-One-Price (POP) Ticket, which includes a night lift ticket (3-10 p.m.), and snow tubing ticket (5-10 p.m.) Advanced reservations must be made by calling Boston Common Coach toll-free reservations at 1-877-723-3833 or www.bostoncommoncoach.com.
Buses leave from the South Shore Mall in Braintree at 11:45 a.m., Ruggles T station at noon, and Comm. Ave/Warren Towers at 12:30 p.m. Buses will depart the Henniker, N.H. ski area for the trip home at 9:30 p.m.
Buses will also pick up at any metro Boston location with 15-person minimum and 48 hours advance reservations.
New England Ski Journal on NESN
Tune into NESN on Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. and again on Jan. 30 at 2:30 p.m. for the latest edition of New England Ski Journal TV with a visit to Loon Mountain Resort and Lincoln, N.H. You can check out our earlier episode above where we took a trip to Black Mountain in Jackson, N.H.