Outdoor Adventures: New ski year starts as old one ebbs

  • Skier Juan Darias rides the single chair at Mad River Glen. The Waitsfield, Vt., ski area is, like many resorts, rolling out pricing on 2019-20 season passes. (Jeb Wallace-Brodeur/Mad River Glen photograph)

Special to the Valley News
Published: 3/23/2019 10:00:38 PM
Modified: 3/23/2019 10:00:39 PM

With skiing and riding well into its spring phase, it’s time for the majority of ski areas to unveil season pass rates for the 2019-20 campaign.

Skiing and riding season passes come with an array of benefits depending on the pass purchased and ski area. Discounted lift tickets for family and friends, as well as retail, lodging and dining discounts, are some of the rewards. New pass holders can use next season’s now, while renewing pass holders may get a free ticket or two if done soon.

The key is locking in fees now, as prices will increase as spring moves on.

Options abound across northern New England ski areas, especially with opportunities to link skiing here with taking trips to the Rockies, the West and beyond through products like the Ikon Pass, Epic Pass and Mountain Collective.

But there’s value, too, for those who generally ski in New Hampshire and Vermont.

New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley is offering a fresh approach to family skiing with the Kids Ski Free Season Pass. Purchase an Adult Plus Pass for 2019-20, on sale now for $897, and get a voucher for a free Junior Pass that children ages 6-12 can use. The beauty is that the kids pass can be used by any child, not just your own, a benefit for cool aunts, uncles and grandparents.

“Today’s families are shaping the future of the ski industry, and it’s important that we provide easier access to the sport with a more affordable season pass option,” Waterville Valley marketing director Matt Hesser said.

Loon, linked to Maine’s Sunday River and Sugarloaf with its New England Passes, also has a unique new pass — the Access Pass. Designed to showcase the Lincoln, N.H., resort as a year-round playground, pass holders will take advantage of skiing and riding, plus ziplining, disc golf and other activities such as new downhill mountain biking during the spring, summer and fall.

“Construction on our downhill mountain biking trails will begin this May, with a projected opening in the fall of 2019,” Loon communications manager Greg Kwasnick said.

The price: $99 a month for 12 months.

Killington unveiled something similar last season, its Beast 365 All Seasons Pass. A membership pass with monthly payments, it offers year-round entry with unlimited winter lift access, bike park lift access, adventure center access, scenic gondola rides and golf course green fees.

“Think Netflix or Spotify, but for your outdoor adventures,” Killington communications manager Courtney DiFiore said.

Mad River Glen is selling season passes in the spring for the first time, according to marketing director Eric Friedman. He said it helps the Mad River Glen Cooperative, owners of the Mad River Valley ski area, with its cash flow. The mountain’s unveiling a new Youth Pass for skiers ages 19-29; it run $245 dollars, with a cost of $215 for Co-op shareholders.

At Sugarbush, the Value Pass looks like an interesting option. Adults get daily access to Mount Ellen, plus midweek, non-holiday access to Lincoln Peak and early- and late-season access to Lincoln Peak when Mount Ellen is not open. The cost is $569 for adults ages 40-79 and $259 for youths ages 7-18.

The Epic Pass provides unlimited skiing at Mount Sunapee, in Newbury, N.H., and Okemo, in Ludlow, Vt., for $939, with access to other Vail Resort areas, while the Epic Local Pass is $699. For a limited time, it’s $49 down for any Epic Pass product. Insider options for a limited time include some deals on combined passes for the two resorts that are available only by phone (802-228-1600) or in person at Mount Sunapee or Okemo. The combined Midweek Pass is $429 for adults, teens and seniors ages 65-69. Super seniors pay $279. The unlimited combined pass is $549 for seniors, $379 for super seniors and $39 for 80 years or age and older or those age 6 and under.

For those not needing to ski weekends, the midweek Judge Pass offered by Burke Mountain and Jay Peak is enticing. With no blackout dates, the early-bird price for any age to ski both Northeast Kingdom resorts is $509. A Burke Mountain-only pass is $309.

Cannon’s partial to Granite Staters, with its unlimited N.H. Resident Adult Pass at $546 and its new Young Adult N.H. Resident Pass for ages 18-29 at $374. Non-residents pay $729 and $499, respectively.

So be that early bird and take off for the slopes.

Marty Basch can be reached at marty.basch@gmail.com.

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