Vail Resorts announced on Wednesday that Crested Butte Mountain Resort will join the Epic Pass as part of a long-term alliance beginning with the 2018–19 season. The announcement comes just six weeks after Telluride Ski Resort made a similar move and ends speculation about whether Crested Butte would join one of the ski industry’s most powerful multi-mountain passes.

As part of the same deal, Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont and Mount Sunapee Resort in New Hampshire will both also join the Epic Pass, which now offers access to 64 mountain resorts in 11 states and provinces and eight countries, according to a Vail Resorts statement. Epic and Epic Local pass holders will receive seven days of skiing and snowboarding at Crested Butte with no blackout dates; if pass holders use all seven days, they will be able to purchase lift tickets for 50 percent off.

“As the ski industry evolves, pass alliances have become more and more important,” says Erica Rasmussen, senior marketing manager at Crested Butte. “This partnership will be a positive change for our community in many ways during our winter months.” In particular, she says the resort hopes this partnership will increase the number of destination skiers coming from all over the country and world.

By adding Telluride and now Crested Butte to the Epic Pass, Vail Resorts has tightened its hold on the ski industry in an attempt to outdo the Ikon Pass, which rival Alterra Mountain Co. (owner Aspen Ski. Co.) is launching for the first time next year. The Ikon Pass, announced in January, offers access to 26 resorts including Winter Park, Copper, Steamboat, Jackson Hole, and Big Sky. The Ikon pass is replacing two popular multi-mountain passes—the Rocky Mountain Super Pass and the M.A.X. Pass, both of which offered access to Crested Butte for the 2017–18 season.

Rasmussen noted that with Alterra Mountain Co. forming this year, Crested Butte knew that the potential to lose their previous pass partnerships was imminent. And after “strategizing for quite some time,” Crested Butte “feels that a partnership with Vail Resorts on the Epic Pass is the best business decision for us at this time.” However, she noted that “sentiments have been mixed” around town in reaction to the news. “Many local business owners understand the value this can bring to our community…And while there is some negative sentiment out there, we feel strongly that the benefits to our community will be very positive.”

(Read: Rob Katz Is the Most Powerful Man in the Ski Industry)

Jay Bouchard
Jay Bouchard
Jay Bouchard is a Denver-based writer and a former editor on 5280's digital team.