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How the Ikon and Epic Passes Came to Dominate Colorado Ski Hills

If you want to schuss multiple Colorado mountains this winter, you essentially have two primary options thanks to Alterra Mountain Co. and Vail Resorts. Here's what the ski pass evolution looked like.

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Over the years, Colorado ski resorts have been divvied up like middle schoolers preparing for a dodgeball game. Consequently, if you want a ski pass that includes multiple Centennial State mountains, adults now essentially have two options: Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass or Alterra Mountain Co.’s Ikon Pass. How’d we get to this duopoly? That slippery slope involved lots of moguls.

1946

Aspen offers Colorado’s first known ski pass. For $140, pass holders get unlimited days on the mountain (Buttermilk was added in 1963 after being bought by Aspen). Most other resorts don’t follow suit until the 1980s and ‘90s, and their passes cost about $1,000.

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2000-’01

Winter Park and Copper Mountain work together to launch the Rocky Mountain Super Pass, which gives slope aficionados unlimited days at both resorts for $349. It’s the first time resorts with different owners collaborate on a season pass.

2008-’09

Vail Resorts drops the  Epic Pass. Powderhounds get access to all of the company’s properties, and the local iteration features five Colorado resorts for just $579. (Before Epic came into existence, a pass to Vail alone ran
around $1,800.)
Colorado mountains included: A-Basin, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail

2012

The Mountain Collective pass debuts at $249 with access to ski areas around the nation, such as Jackson Hole in Wyoming. The Aspen properties are the only Colorado offerings, though, so it’s not the biggest threat the Epic Pass will face.
Colorado mountains included: Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Snowmass, Buttermilk

2015-’16

Vail Resorts’ main competitors—Intrawest, Powdr, and Boyne Resorts—finally respond with the M.A.X. Pass. For $699 a year, it includes limited days at 22 North American slopes, including three in Colorado.
Colorado mountains included: Copper Mountain, Steamboat, Winter Park

January 2018

Recently formed Alterra Mountain Co. teams up with industry partners to roll out the Ikon Pass. With 23 North American options (eight in Colorado) on the $599 base version, the newbie eliminates the M.A.X. and Rocky Mountain Super passes.
Colorado mountains included: Winter Park, Copper Mountain, Steamboat, Eldora, Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Snowmass, Buttermilk

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June 2018

Vail Resorts announces its acquisition of Crested Butte Mountain Resort, making it the seventh Colorado destination (after Telluride Ski Resort signed up in January) to join the local Epic Pass. New mountains, new price: $669.
Colorado mountains included: A-Basin, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail, Crested Butte, Telluride,

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