Increasing Cost of Lift Passes Creates Divisions on Campus

With Winterfest this weekend, skiers and snowboarders alike are readying themselves for the slopes. Yet for some, Winterfest is unattainable; while ski passes such as the Epic Pass seem to be more affordable than ever, day passes appear to be increasing in price. For those who can’t afford a ski pass, don’t own their own skis, or are at a beginner level, this increase in cost for day passes can present a barrier.

A ski lift on Peak 7 at Breckenridge Ski Resort. Lift tickets are now up to $161 at Breckenridge. Photo by Sarah Laico

One such example of a ski area with increased costs for day passes is Vail, where day passes cost $175, a 75 percent increase from last year. Compare this to online tickets priced at $159.

Why such a disparity in prices for walk-ins versus season passes? Perhaps because places such as Vail wish to ensure a high income even in years of light snowfall. With an online or season pass, skiers and boarders pay up-front instead of waiting to see conditions before deciding to go the mountain. While season and online passes are less expensive in the long run, the resorts end up making more money. In fact, Vail was expected to make $250 million in season passes before Thanksgiving.

While the price inflation and incentive of cheaper passes may benefit skiers who go up to the mountain almost every weekend, it also deters those who are learning to ski or only go occasionally from going. The investment is simply too large if one loses interest in skiing or doesn’t have the time or teachers to fully learn. After all, even with a season pass, renting equipment at resorts bears a heavy price on those who are looking to eventually acquire their own equipment but don’t have the means quite yet. At Colorado College, a place with a majority of seasoned skiers and snowboarders with their own equipment, this can create a divide between “those who shred” and those who both are not quite there yet, or have no desire to “get there.”

The school tries to bridge this divide by offering alternatives to Winterfest so that students don’t feel the monetary pressure behind Winterfest. This year, the ORC is offering some pretty cool alternatives including a rafting trip as well as a trip to Valley View Hot Springs. Despite these alternatives, it must not be ignored that Winterfest weekend still clearly highlights deep fissures in the student population, whether socio-economic or related to ability.

Without trying to ignore the divide Winterfest creates, there are still fun things to do on campus and around the Springs area this weekend for those not attending.

Here are just a few recommendations:

  • Catch up on sleep. Seriously, your friends going to Winterfest will be jealous when they all come back sick and you’re looking fresh and rested.
  • Go for a hike or lie out on the grass and read a book! There is supposed to be beautiful weather on campus. Try the Incline at sunrise (or sunset, if you’re not a morning person.) Go to Red Rocks Open Space and explore.
  • Watch a movie or catch up on the latest episode of your favorite show.
  • Enjoy the quiet of Rastall. Order a waffle and an omelette at brunch #treatyoself.
  • Enjoy the less-trafficked gym.
  • Go to The Mad Hatter event that is happening in Old Colorado City this Saturday! Enjoy scavenger hunts, sidewalk sales, prizes, a hat-making station, and window displays.
  • Go on an ORC outdoor trip, or plan a trip with your friends. There are plenty of alternatives out there!

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