As an owner of the ‘17/’18 M.A.X. Pass, I heard many people talking about a new Ikon Pass and guessing what resorts will be included. I was interested to learn more. The Ikon Pass was announced this month, and I’m not happy.

The M.A.X. Pass is ending

The M.A.X. Pass was an affordable add-on ($329) to my home resort of Crystal Mountain. It included five day passes at resorts around the United States. Since Crystal Mountain was on the M.A.X. Pass, I didn’t have to pay a portion to ski at a mountain I already had access to.

Areas being left off

I’m sure that Coloradans (even Californians) are happy with many resorts in the Rockies to choose from. California has four resorts and the eastern region of the U.S. has seven. Canada includes the Banff area resorts, along with three other resorts and early bookings for CMH heli-skiing.

While Utah resorts are included, Utahns only get limited passes and are afraid Coloradans will make their resorts busier.

M.A.X. Pass versus new Ikon Pass

The “X” resorts are the ones on the Ikon Pass.

Living in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, I’m not happy with the Ikon Pass as it doesn’t include any resorts in Washington or Oregon at this time (neither does the Epic Pass).

UPDATE September 2018: Since writing this post, Stevens Pass (part of the Epic Pass) was bought by Vail Resorts and Crystal Mountain was purchased by Alterra Mountain Company (part of the Ikon Pass).

The Northeastern region ski resorts have less mountains on the pass and reduced the amount of ski days you receive. If you live close to east coast resorts, you may be traveling more to make the most of the pass.

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Mix and match of benefits?

The pass also is a mix and match with nine resorts having unlimited ski days while others only have up to fix days. Sounds like it will be hard to keep track, not to mention blackout dates for some if you buy the Ikon Base Pass. The price point makes sense if you live within driving distance of the unlimited resorts.

Not to mention CMH Heli-skiing is on the list providing people early-access booking. Why is that even included?

Ikon Pass cannibalizes resorts on other passes

Mountain Collective Pass versus new Ikon Pass

The “X” resorts are the ones on the Ikon Pass. The Mountain Collective Pass hasn’t provided their list of ’18/’19 resorts. Telluride Ski Resort joins Epic Pass for the ’18/19′ season.

As mentioned, the M.A.X. Pass is being eliminated with the introduction of the Ikon Pass since being owned by Alterra Mountain Company. Will the Mountain Collective Pass (by Liftopia) still exist? Time will tell as they are established with international mountains and not just North American ones.

Mountain Collective ski pass for '18/'19 season

Update 3/1/18: Mountain Collective released their ’18/’19 passes.

I purchased the Mountain Collective Pass for ‘15/’16 ski season and took a few road trips. With the Mountain Collective Pass, I would get two days of skiing at a resort and every day after at 50% off. Revelstoke and two Banff resorts (Lake Louise and Banff Sunshine) are currently included with the Mountain Collective Pass.

Kicking Horse drops off the list, which is a shame because it is one of my favorites. Jackson Hole also partnered with the Ikon Pass, along with Snowbird and Alta which were on the Mountain Collective Pass. Again, good for those getting the Ikon Pass as they will have more than two days to ski at these mountains but they are hard to get to.

Why I won’t be buying one

UPDATE Sept. 2018: My favorite local mountain is now included. I’m now considering the Ikon Pass. Funny how things change.

Ski passes are becoming more and more expensive making it harder for those without an expendable income to access ski areas‒it’s one of the reasons I didn’t grow up skiing.

I’ve bought passes in the past to optimize my investment instead of paying per day at the resorts. It helps if you ski more than five to ten times a year. Buying passes has allowed me to travel to resorts I wouldn’t have considered skiing at in the past.

The Epic Pass and Ikon Pass are encouraging tourism in already high trafficked ski resorts. They are hoping that people buy the pass and only use a portion as most can only afford (money and vacation time) to take one to two ski trips a season. Is it really saving you any money? Maybe a little if you have friends to stay with and cook your own food.

I only get so many vacation days a year and flying and/or driving to areas have you chancing the weather gods, not to mention adding to the overall cost when factoring in travel expenses.

I hope I’m wrong as monopoly on ski resorts continues. Some resorts are being sold and bought by the ski resort investment companies (Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company) and are creating alliances. An example is Whistler-Blackcomb being bought by Vail Resorts and moving the the Epic Pass from the Mountain Collective Pass.

Epic Pass resorts

The resorts included on the Epic Pass.

My predictions

With the Ikon Pass taking many of the popular resorts, will other passes go away or be replaced like the M.A.X. Pass? The battle between the Epic and Ikon passes together make the Mountain Collective Pass a little less appealing. I foresee the Mountain Collective Pass going away or completely revamping in the next year or two.

I hope it opens a window for a better, more affordable Cascadia Pass, including resorts like, Crystal Mountain, Stevens Pass, Snoqualmie Pass, Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Hood Meadows, etc.