A slopeside beach, new gondolas and more ski upgrades from the company behind Ikon Pass

Mar 5, 2022

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In recent years, the ski industry has seen a major shift toward mega passes, with the Alterra-owned Ikon and Vail-owned Epic passes being the two biggest players.

Day lift ticket pass prices have been skyrocketing, exceeding $200 at some resorts, giving skiers and riders almost no viable choice but to purchase a season pass if they plan on skiing more than a few days per season.

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Fortunately for skiers with Ikon passes in their pockets, Alterra Mountain Company recently announced it would be investing $344 million to improve five of its 15 North American destinations, including terrain expansion, base area redevelopments and new gondolas.

The announcement comes at the perfect time: The end of a season during which a number of Epic Passholders were dissatisfied with the reduced hours, overcrowding and limited terrain at many Vail-owned resorts.

While the issues likely stem from a variety of factors, like staffing shortages, low wages in costly resort towns and lack of affordable housing, one thing is for sure: Many skiers and riders will likely be looking for alternatives to the Epic Pass for next season.

For those who are exploring their options, here are a few things Alterra has planned for next year’s ski season.

In This Post

Palisades Tahoe

After years of anticipation, a gondola connecting the bases of the Village at Palisades Tahoe and Alpine Lodge will be completed, making it easier than ever to access more terrain in a single day.

Previously, skiers had to make the drive from one base area to the other, requiring more time in the car and less time on the slopes. The $65 million gondola will transport 1,400 people per hour in an eight-person gondola in 16 minutes, making it possible for skiers and riders to access 6,000 acres of terrain, pushing Palisades Tahoe into the third-largest ski area in North America.

Steamboat Ski Resort

Steamboat Springs (Photo by Zach Shortway/Getty Images)

As part of a multiphase redevelopment plan, $90 million will go toward relocating the lower terminal of the Christie Peak Express lift and the first leg of the Wild Blue Gondola, allowing guests to access a new learning center at mid-mountain. Redevelopment of Steamboat Square has also been ongoing and will continue with a new food hall, ice rink and guest amenities.

Crystal Mountain

As part of a $100 million investment in infrastructure over the next five years, Alterra will create additional parking and a new skier services facility at Crystal Mountain, a resort in Washington state.

The 25,000 square foot building, which will be called Mountain Commons, will include a new guest services and ticketing area as well as retail, dining and an expanded slopeside beach area. The project is anticipated to be ready for the 2023 to 2024 ski season.

Mammoth Mountain

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Replacement of two integral lifts at Mammoth Mountain, the Canyon Express at Canyon Lodge and Broadway Express at Main Lodge, will begin this summer.

The six-person high-speed lifts are slated to be up and running for the 2023 to 2024 ski season. The mountain will also begin upgrading Woolly’s Adventure Summit, which will include the building of expanded tubing runs and a summer tubing surface; the installation of one of the longest mountain coasters in North America; and the eventual addition of an adventure ropes course and a permanent base lodge. Mammoth will also be upgrading its snowmaking system in an attempt to offer more terrain earlier in the season.

Additional summer plans include a revamping of the Mill Cafe and continued planning for a redevelopment of the Main Lodge and Mammoth Mountain Inn.

Related: 7 ski resorts we can’t wait to visit again

Deer Valley Resort

New for the 2022 to 23 ski season, a chairlift will be built to access Deer Valley’s Wide West learning area. The lift will provide access to expanded beginner terrain, giving beginners the option to leave the main arrival area and experience more learning terrain for the ski school.

Plans for the Snow Park Village, which is currently in the permitting stage, are also continuing. The Village will include a new plaza and arrival area, including accommodations, food and beverage options, retail and a ski beach. It’s anticipated that the construction of the Snow Park Village will begin in 2023.

Related: Review of the St. Regis Deer Valley 

Bottom line

In addition to the aforementioned upgrades, skiers and riders should know that three new destinations are joining the Ikon Pass network: Chamonix in France, Sun Valley in Idaho and Snowbasin in Utah (both Sun Valley and Snowbasin are ditching Epic Pass in favor of Ikon).

Ikon passes for the 2022 to 2023 ski season will go on sale on March 10. New passholders will get instant spring skiing action at five resorts, and passes start at $249 for a two-day Ikon Session Pass. But travelers who want full access to all 50 ski destinations with no blackout dates should expect to spend $1,079.

Featured photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images.

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