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Epic, Ikon, or Mountain Collective? How To Choose The Right Ski Pass - Stay Slopeside

Epic, Ikon, or Mountain Collective? How To Choose The Right Ski Pass

For those wanting to ski more than a few days at different mountains this upcoming season, a multi-resort pass is a no brainer. Although the up-front investment can be steep, it is hard to find a better bang for your buck that will give you access to many of the world’s most prestigious resorts located in vacation-worthy destinations.
Today, three ski passes tower above the rest: the popular Epic Pass, the new Ikon Pass, and the adventurous Mountain Collective pass. All three offer incredible skiing around the world, but the pass that will serve you the best depends on your goals.
This article will help you understand the key features and benefits of each pass so that you can make the most out of your Winter 2018/19. And even if don’t pull the trigger this year, this summary will still be helpful for seasons to come.

EPIC PASS

Launched in 2008, Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass is one of the most well-known and widely used multi-resort passes today. Every season, new destinations are added to an already stacked lineup, making it an attractive pass to renew year-over-year.

What's Included?

Pass holders have unlimited access to 46k acres of terrain at 15 destinations, most of which are owned by Vail Resorts, and a fixed number of days at 50 partner resorts on four continents, including widespread access to Europe – an exclusive benefit to the Epic Pass.
The Epic Pass comes with unlimited access to several world-class resorts, including Whistler Blackcomb outside of Vancouver, Vail in the Colorado Rockies, and Vermont’s Stowe Mountain.
Partner resorts of the Epic Pass include Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, Japan’s Hakuba Valley, and 30 European mountains spread across Austria, France, Italy, and Switzerland.

How Much?

The full Epic Pass is $949 for the season. One step down is the $709 Epic Local pass which comes with unlimited skiing at six resorts and access to 21 partner mountains, but, unfortunately, does not include any European destinations.
Beyond the Epic and Epic Local passes, there are 17 other passes that vary in access and price and are better suited for skiers who plan to stick to narrow geographic regions where several Epic resorts are geographically clustered.

Who Should Get It?

The Epic Pass is a fantastic multi-resort option for skiers who want the best that Colorado and California have to offer, as well as any significant time on European mountains. Going Epic also makes sense for those who want a four or seven-day ski week at one, non-local destination.

With so many different pass variations, you can easily find something that will fit your needs.

IKON PASS

This year, the Alterra Mountain Company released the Ikon Pass, which many consider to be a worthy alternative to the Epic Pass. In its first season, the Ikon Pass features an equally impressive set of resorts and tens of thousands of skiable acres.

What's Included?

Ikon Pass holders get unlimited skiing at 14 resorts and up to 7 days at 20 partner resorts. The pass essentially absorbed the Rocky Mountain Super Pass which provided access to Colorado resorts, including Steamboat, Copper, and Winter Park, and then added a number of non-Colorado, U.S. destinations and international mountains.

Several of the more notable domestic destinations on this year’s Ikon Pass are Jackson Hole (WY), Big Sky (MT), Aspen (CO), and Deer Valley (UT). On the international front, the pass provides access to the four-resort mountain, Niseko United, in Japan, Thredbo in Australia, and several Canadian resorts, including Tremblant.

How Much?

The full Ikon Pass costs $1049 and the more limited Ikon Base Pass costs $749. The Base Pass provides unlimited, unrestricted access to 8 resorts and limited access to 26 others, which still includes the mountains in Australia and Japan.

Similarly to how Epic works, skiers can also purchase a number of local passes should they want to stick to their neighborhood mountains.

Who Should Get It?

The Ikon Pass is worth considering for anyone who is seeking an adventure outside of the Epic Pass. Alterra Mountain Company has brought together a number of iconic mountains previously not available on one pass, making it an exciting option for those needing a change.

Ikon Pass resorts aren’t as geographically clustered as those on the Epic Pass, making it a more attractive option for traveling skiers who want more days on each mountain than what is offered on the Mountain Collective pass.

MOUNTAIN COLLECTIVE

Founded in 2012, the Mountain Collective pass has been the best option for those who want to see the world on their skis. It is the go-to pass for the non-committal, adventurous soul and is worth a try at least once in a lifetime for serious skiers.

What's Included?

The Mountain Collective pass comes with 17 destinations with 2 days of skiing at each. The resorts span the U.S., Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, France, and Chile.

There is some overlap between the Mountain Collective pass and the Ikon Pass as both provide access to resorts such as Aspen (CO), Alta (WY), and Squaw Valley (CA), but the Mountain Collective also gets you Idaho’s Sun Valley, Banff / Lake Louise in the beautiful Canadian Rockies, and Chamonix in France. You also have access to New Zealand and Chile, two destinations not available on the other two passes.

How Much?

The Mountain Collective costs $469 for adults and only $99 for kids under 12. Although the pass itself is more affordable, keep in mind that skiers make up for it in airfare if they are, in fact, making the most of the pass.

Who Should Get It?

The Mountain Collective pass is best suited for those who are planning a heavy season of travel and want to check off a number of bucket-list resorts. Mountain Collective skiers can get a taste of nearly twenty dream destinations on five continents.

BREAKING IT DOWN

All three passes offer incredible opportunities to ski multiple resort destinations.  Choosing which pass is best is really up to you.  Here’s our simple recommendation you can use to find your pass:

  1. Determine which resort destinations you want to visit this winter. 
  2. See which passes offer access at those destinations.
  3. Divide the pass price by the number of days you’ll use it to see which gives you the best value.

If you still can’t decide, here’s a helpful breakdown:

EPIC PASS

$ 949
  • Total Resorts: 65
  • Unrestricted Access: 19 Resorts
  • Restricted Access: 41 Resorts
  • Add'l Pass Options Available
  • Bonus Discounted Tickets for Friends
  • Vail Resorts + MORE

IKON PASS

$ 1049
  • Total Resorts: 38
  • Unrestricted Access: 14 Resorts
  • Restricted Access: 25 Resorts
  • Add'l Pass Options Available
  • Bonus Discounted Tickets for Friends
  • Includes CMH Heli Ski

MOUNTAIN COLLECTIVE

$ 489
  • Total Resorts: 17
  • 2 Days at each resort
  • 50% off Add'L DAYS
  • NO BLACKOUT DATES

ULTIMATELY - YOU CAN'T GO WRONG

It’s true! If you plan to ski more than a few days, or just a few days at multiple resorts, each pass easily pays for itself and you will find yourself on top of some of the best mountains on the planet. What matters most is what you are trying to get out of your ski season. Our hope is that this brief summary will help you in your decision-making process this year and for many years to come.

Cover photo courtesy Mauro Paillex / Unsplash

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