By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
The best thing about having a ski pass like Alterra Mountain Company’s Ikon Pass, besides bringing the cost of a day lift ticket back down to earth, is that it incentivizes you to explore other places in the country and around the world. Ikon partners with more than 50 resorts from the Rockies to the White and Green Mountains, to Europe, Japan, Australia/New Zealand and South America. You can purchase a pass that allows unlimited access, or a number of days with which to discover new mountains and cultures; passes also afford discounts and deals on lodging, dining and services year-round. Conditions not perfect at your regular mountain? Seek out your ideal run. Ikon passholders also have exclusive access to a dedicated Ikon Travel desk, where specialists can help organize the entire trip.
This season, Ikon has added two new destinations: Alyeska (Alaska’s first Ikon partner resort), and Snow Valley in California, as well as Alterra’s newest acquisition, Idaho’s Schweitzer, in the Selkirk Mountains, 80 miles from Spokane, Washington. The largest ski area in Idaho and Washington, Schweitzer offers 2,900 acres of big mountain terrain with stunning views of Lake Pend Oreille, Washington, Montana, and Canada. This further expands Alterra’s portfolio in the Pacific Northwest by joining Crystal Mountain in Washington, bringing the company’s portfolio to 17 year-round mountain destinations throughout North America. Schweitzer.
This season, Ikon pass holders can experience $1 billion in new terrain, lifts, dining and skier services. Here’s a roundup:
This winter, skiers and riders will have access to more than 1,000 additional acres of terrain across multiple Ikon Pass destinations. Highlights:
- Steamboat’s new Mahogany Ridgeadds 650 acres of advanced and expert terrain, making Steamboat the second largest ski resort in Colorado.
- Aspen Mountain (Colorado) will see its largest expansion project in decades, adding a new lift serving 153 acres of new terrain, expanding intermediate, advanced and gladed runs.
- Loon Mountain, New Hampshire’s South Peak Expansion will add 30+ acres of new terrain, a new quad chairlift, with 50% more beginner terrain.
- Sugarloaf, Maine’s West Mountain expansion will add 120 new skiable acres, beginner and intermediate trails, transformational lift upgrades, including the new Bucksaw Express high-speed quad.
Ikon Pass destinations look to welcome new skiers and riders with a more accessible and comfortable experience. Highlights:
- New beginner and intermediate trails available at Loon’s South Peak and Sugarloaf’s West Mountain
- Revelstoke (British Columbia) is adding a centralized progressive zone.
- Stratton (Vermont) will offer a completely re-imagined Learning Zone with new surface lifts and terrain.
- Taos Ski Valley (New Mexico) is upgrading the Pioneers beginner area with a new lift and regraded terrain and offering deeply discounted first-timer packages.
- Copper Mountain (Colorado) continues to expand its Western Territory, with the introduction of new beginner trails and gladed areas.
- Steamboat’s Greenhorn Ranch, dedicated to beginner terrain, will open for its second season at the mid-station of the Wild Blue Gondola.
- Look for an enhanced beginner area also at Boyne Mountain (Michigan) and Revelstoke.
Ikon Pass holders will enjoy more than 25 new state-of-the-art lifts this upcoming season, significantly increasing uphill capacity at their favorite mountains and helping ease congestion to maximize time on the mountain. Across all Ikon Pass destinations, new and modernized lifts will also improve access to high-elevation beginner terrain, create better skier and rider circulation, and allow skiers and riders of all abilities to enjoy scenic vistas. Others will provide faster and easier connections between different skiing areas within a destination. Highlights:
- Big Sky Resort (Montana), is celebrating its 50th anniversary with the opening of the Lone Peak Tram, which will transform access to the highest scenic overlook in Montana presiding over the peaks of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, as well as Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.
- Steamboat’s second and final leg of its Wild Blue Gondola will open in December, becoming the longest and fastest 10-person gondola in North America, taking guests from bottom to top in 13 minutes.
- The Highlands in Michigan is installing a new six-person, high-speed Doppelmayr D-Line bubble chairlift, complete with heated seats – the first lift of its kind in the Midwest.
- Tremblant (Quebec), Stratton and Crystal Mountain (Washington), will begin offering direct-to-lift access with new RFID technology at all major lifts.
- New and upgraded lifts at Winter Park, Snowshoe (WV), Aspen Mountain, Mammoth Mountain (California), Solitude, Schweitzer, Taos Ski Valley, Sun Valley, Idaho, Brighton, Loon Mountain, Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Snowbasin, Mt. Bachelor (Oregon), Boyne Mountain, The Highlands (Michigan), The Summit at Snoqualmie (Washington), Dolomiti Superski, Kitzbühel, Thredbo (2024).
NEW LODGES & CULINARY OFFERINGS
Ikon Pass holders will also discover eight new lodges this winter season, from new and innovative on-mountain spots to redesigned mid-mountain lodges, all offering delicious new culinary offerings and comfortable yet fun spaces to recharge and relax. Highlights:
- Bear Mountain (California) is opening the redesigned Laybacks Bar and will add a 12,000 sq. ft. patio extension, stretching across the entire east end of the base area.
- Snow Valley (California) will boast fully remodeled food and beverage venues.
- Copper will debut its stunning 25,000-square-foot mid-mountain lodge, The Aerie, which includes a full-service on-mountain restaurant, “Forage and Feast.”
- A new 5,000 sq. ft. patio is coming to Snowbasin’s Strawberry side with heated cobblestones and over 180 seats with multiple dining options.
- On the lodging side, Sugarbush (Vermont) has completed over $1 million in renovations to the Sugar Lodge, now called The Lodge at Lincoln Peak, with 24 rooms including two suites, and The Black Sheep Pub.
- Steamboat will open The Range Food & Drink Hall, boasting a variety of offerings including Sunshine Bowl Ramen, Pioneer Pie, Twister Tacos, Why Not Sandwich Shop, plus a full bar and lounge experience with indoor and outdoor seating.
- Sundog Tap Room is a new dining and gathering space in the heart of the Winter Park Resort base-area village, complete with a new menu and a grand self-serve tap wall with 30 different taps of beer.
- Windham Mountain (New York) will offer an Italian Alps-style eatery with high-end dining service and an on-site sommelier.
- Deer Valley (Utah) will transform the second level of Royal Street Cafe into a new après destination.
- Brighton’s new hybrid Snake Creek Lodge is made of repurposed shipping containers and will offer two dining halls and expansive exterior seating areas on a heated concrete terrace.
- Crystal Mountain will open a new Midway Yurt, featuring grab and go snacks, drinks, and retail.
UPGRADED SKIER SERVICES
Ikon Pass holders will benefit from upgraded skier services and diversified offerings, all designed to create a seamless experience on- and off-the-mountain, with redesigned rental shops, updated locker rooms, more spacious base lodges, improved parking lots, re-imagined children’s facilities, and fun off-mountain activities. Highlights:
- Schweitzer, Idaho, Alterra’s latest acquisition, forges ahead with the new Schweitzer Creek Village project, creating a dedicated area for day guests, perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers and riders, as well as ample parking and additional rental and SnowSports school facilities.
- Windham is unveiling revamped facilities in its base lodge and private club.
- Creekside snow-front services is debuting at Steamboat, conveniently located adjacent to the slopes and Steamboat Square, with new guest lockers, ski valet, UCHealth Urgent Care Clinic, and additional restrooms.
- Winter Park, Colorado is introducing nighttime guided Head Lamp skiing (its only night skiing).
- Stratton Mountain, Vermont offers the Hampton Jitney bus service from NYC to Manchester and 6x/day shuttle service from Manchester to mountain – so if have ski house of Airbnb. Bus comes Friday and leaves Sunday afternoon, or can make it a week stay. (Pre-book with Hampton Jitney.)
- Snowbird, Utah, has introduced a Kids Freeloader Pass, where every pass purchased (adult, military, senior) comes with a free pass for a child 18 years old and under –it doesn’t have to be your own child.
- Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico, is restoring its Ski Week package with the option of booking immersive lessons, as well as accommodations at The Blake, demo skis, and breakfast each morning, at excellent value versus booking the offerings separately. The legendary Martini Tree Bar is set to return as its ultimate après-ski destination; and Taos offers a magical sleigh ride dinner to the famed Bavarian.
- A new Kids Ski School lunch center is debuting at Deer Valley.
Snowmaking upgrades allow Ikon Pass destinations to open terrain faster and more efficiently, helping to provide guests with an early season. Automated and energy-efficient snowmaking systems allow destinations to take advantage of shorter snowmaking windows and recover from weather events more quickly. Highlights:
- Look for upgrades at Eldora, Mammoth Mountain, Steamboat, Blue Mountain, Copper Mountain, Sugarbush, Dolomiti Superski, Sunday River (tripling its snowmaking across the resort), Panorama, Sun Peaks, Killington-Pico (expanding family skiing with 12 new beginner and intermediate trails), Sugarloaf, Windham Mountain, Boyne Mountain, Thredbo (Australia).
- Mammoth Mountain, California is adding a mountain coaster.
- Thredbo, one of Australia’s most popular mountain “adventure” resorts, is adding a mountain coaster in 2024, the first in Australia.
Alterra Mountain Company, headquartered in Denver, Colorado, is a family of year-round resorts which include: Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado; Palisades Tahoe, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Big Bear Mountain Resort and Snow Valley in California; Stratton Mountain and Sugarbush Resort in Vermont; Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia; Tremblant in Quebec and Blue Mountain in Ontario, Canada; Crystal Mountain in Washington; Deer Valley Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort in Utah; Schweitzer in Idaho. Alterra’s portfolio also includes the world’s largest heli-skiing operation, CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures in British Columbia; Alpine Aerotech, a worldwide helicopter support and maintenance service center in British Columbia, Canada; Aspenware, a ski industry leader in technology services and e-commerce, and Ski Butlers, a global leader in ski and snowboard rental delivery.
Through its owned resorts and partners, Alterra Mountain Company’s Ikon Pass gives passholders access to iconic and major destinations across the Americas, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. These include Aspen Snowmass, Steamboat, Winter Park, Copper Mountain Resort, Arapahoe Basin, and Eldora Mountain Resort in Colorado; Palisades Tahoe, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Big Bear Mountain Resort and Snow Valley in California; Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming; Big Sky Resort in Montana; Alyeska Resort in Alaska; Stratton, Sugarbush Resort, and Killington in Vermont; Windham Mountain in New York; Snowshoe in West Virginia; The Highlands and Boyne Mountain in Michigan; Crystal Mountain and The Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington; Mt. Bachelor in Oregon; Sun Valley and Schweitzer in Idaho; Tremblant in Quebec and Blue Mountain in Ontario, Canada; SkiBig3 in Alberta, Canada; Revelstoke Mountain Resort, RED Mountain, Cypress Mountain, Panorama Mountain Resort and Sun Peaks Resort in British Columbia, Canada; Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Maine; Loon Mountain in New Hampshire; Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico; Deer Valley Resort, Solitude Mountain Resort, Brighton Resort, Alta Ski Area, Snowbird and Snowbasin in Utah; Chamonix Mont-Blanc Valley in France, Dolomiti Superski in Italy, Grandvalira Resorts Andorra in Andorra, Kitzbühel in Austria, Zermatt in Switzerland; Thredbo and Mt Buller in Australia; Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Mt Hutt in New Zealand; Niseko United and Lotte Arai Resort in Japan, and Valle Nevado in Chile.
For more information, visit www.ikonpass.com.
CMH Offers Day Heli-Skiing, Early-Season Steals, April Powder
Celebrating more than 55 years of heli-adventures, CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures is the world’s first and largest heli-skiing and heli-accessed hiking operator. From its headquarters in Banff, Alberta, CMH operates in 11 destinations located in the Bugaboo, Purcell, Selkirk, Monashee and Cariboo ranges of British Columbia, Canada – amounting to more than 3 million acres, or one-third the size of Switzerland. Heli-skiing takes place each year from December through April, and CMH Summer Adventures take place from July to early-September.
How to Ski the Deepest First Tracks of the Season: Start the winter off with a bang, on a December heli-skiing trip. Get some of the first tracks of the season, during a month notorious for delivering big wins in the snow department. Early season also offers some of the best value heli-skiing, like a 7-day private trip for a group of 10 at CMH Monashees starting at $2,000 CAD/pp per day.
The Highlight of Your Powder Highway Road Trip: Located just two hours from Banff, Alberta, CMH Purcell makes heli-skiing accessible by being the closest major heli-skiing operation to Calgary, as well as CMH’s only day heli-skiing destination.
Powder in April Exists, Here’s Where to Find It: When the ski resorts are turning to heavy slush, deep in British Columbia’s interior, weightless powder turns and shouts of delight ripple through the snow-drenched bowls. With access to high alpine, glacier terrain and longer daylight hours, there’s no better time to find powder stashes and make winter last, than on an April heli-skiing trip at CMH.
Heli-Skiing on a Budget: Affordability meets iconic adventure at CMH Purcell. Rather than dropping thousands on a week at a backcountry lodge, Purcell guests can purchase single day heli-skiing experiences for $2,100 CAD per person, putting this once-in-a-lifetime experience of heli-skiing in reach for the average ski buff. Based in the thriving mountain town of Golden, BC, CMH Purcell is the definition of ‘choose your own adventure’. Accommodation is not included, so guests can choose where to stay – be it a luxurious hotel, mid-range or budget motel.
If Ski Touring and Heli-Skiing Had a Baby, This is What it Would Look Like: Explore untouched terrain but without the all-day ascent. On CMH’s Touring Fusion trips, a morning helicopter ride drops guests above bushwhacking territory, so they can spend the rest of the day exploring high alpine runs, glaciated landscapes and sub-alpine bowls. Truly the ‘best of both worlds’, and with two heli-assisted touring trips to choose from, there’s no shortage of opportunities to earn those turns.
The Most Private Heli-Skiing Experience You Can Get for $2,100 CAD Per Person: At CMH Purcell, groups are made up of eight guests, plus two guides. Translation? More snow, extra guide attention, added flexibility, and the chance to cruise big vertical feet each day.
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