Just as frequent fliers don't buy tickets at the airport on their way to the gate, savvy destination skiers don't buy their day and week passes when they arrive at a resort. Planning ahead is a crucial part of keeping the cost of skiing reasonable, but thanks to a new breed of passes that provide access to multiple mountains, it doesn't have to mean being locked into skiing the same runs day after day. Inter-mountain passes allow skiers to vary from the plan.
These programs' value is not limited to reduced costs and increased choices. The best passes allow skiers to be flexible about timing as well. The Mountain Collective pass, for instance, allows skiers to watch the weather and make scheduling and geographic choices based on the latest snowfall. Because they have no blackout dates, these passes allow holders to react to conditions rather than putting up with them.
Here are the best passes out there for serious and savvy skiers alike.
Best for weekend warriors: Mountain Collective
The Deal Two days of skiing each at Alta/Snowbird in Utah, Whistler-Blackcomb in B.C., Jackson Hole in Wyoming, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows and Mammoth in California, and Aspen/Snowmass in Colorado. Plus, there's a 50 percent discount on each additional day at any of these resorts and up to 25 percent off lodging.
Pros The list above represents six of the greatest mountains in the world and there are no blackout dates. The automatic lodging discount can also come in handy for those likely to book their ski trips at the last minute.
Cons If you live near one of these mountains, a mountain-specific pass is still a better deal than the MC Pass – even if you plan on visiting another MC resort during the season. The discounts also don't really kick in unless you visit at least two resorts in one winter. Some resorts also have blackout dates for lodging discounts.
Best for anyone who does not live near any of these mountains but does plan on visiting two or more of them during one season. If you've got a private jet, tend to leave the office early on Fridays, and view the West as one big powder buffet, then this is the pass for you. [$399; mountaincollective.com]
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