Vail Buys Whistler: How Your Epic Ski Pass Just Got a Whole Lot More Epic

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UPDATE: The Mountain Collective pass – main competitor of the Epic Pass – announced Wednesday that Telluride and Revelstoke would be added to its roster for the upcoming 2016-2017 ski season. Whistler Blackcomb will also honor the Mountain Collective pass this season before joining Epic Pass for 2017-2018. The Mountain Collective pass includes two days of skiing or riding at 14 resorts and is currently on sale for $409.

The industry-dominating Epic Pass from Vail Resorts is like the grand buffet of ski season passes, with a wide-ranging menu of 13 resorts to choose from spread across two continents. And if that’s not enough, it’s about to get even more tempting in 2017 with the addition of North America’s largest ski resort: Whistler Blackcomb.

Vail Resorts announced Monday that it had entered into a $1.06 billion deal to acquire Whistler Blackcomb, which lies about 75 miles north of Vancouver in British Columbia. This massive purchase means that the Colorado-based resort giant now owns half of the 10 busiest ski areas on the continent, including the top three: Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, and Breckenridge.

As part of the deal Vail said it would integrate Whistler Blackcomb into its popular multi-resort Epic Pass (and other season pass products) for the 2017–2018 season. This means a much higher value proposition for season pass holders who are willing to head north across the Canadian border to enjoy the lengthy ski season, which doesn’t end until mid-May.

CEO of Vail Resorts Rob Katz called Whistler Blackcomb, “one of the most iconic mountain resorts in the world, with an incredible history, passionate employees, and a strong community.” The combined mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb have 37 lifts and more than 200 trails, 80 percent of which are either intermediate or advanced. Both mountains claim runs as long as 7 miles, and you can play around on a combined 5 parks, complete with superpipe and snow-cross track.

A host destination for the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Canadian resort has weathered the higher winter temperatures of recent years better than its American counterparts. It averages about 462 inches of snow every season, boasting unparalleled high alpine terrain and glacier bowls spread across 8,000 acres.

Whistler Blackcomb announced in April that it was developing the largest investment plan in its 50-year history: A $345m Renaissance Project to include an indoor adventure center and action sports complex. Vail said it would continue developing the project to add additional four-seasons, weather-independent activities to its menu of offerings.

This latest purchase caps off a buying spree for Vail Resorts, which has gobbled up major ski industry players in the U.S. and Australia over the past five years, including Utah’s Park City Mountain Resort (which it purchased two years ago and combined with Canyons Resort). The company also acquired a trio of Midwestern resorts near major cities (Wilmot Mountain, Afton Alps, and Mt. Brighton), as well as the Southern Hemisphere’s largest ski field, Perisher, about 2.5 hours south of the Australian capital of Canberra.

All of these mountains are now available on the $809 Epic Pass.