Telluride ski resort will join the Mountain Collective for the 2016-17 ski season, adding to the growing family of ski areas allied to compete against Vail Resorts’ powerful Epic Pass.
The $409 Mountain Collective pass offers two days at 12 independently owned North American resorts: AltaSnowbird, Aspen Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Sun Valley, Mammoth, Stowe, Ski Banff, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Taos, Whistler Blackcomb, Revelstoke and now Telluride. Passholders also can ski two days at New Zealand’s Ski Queenstown, Australia’s Thredbo, Chile’s Valle Nevado, Japan’s Hakuba Valley and France’s famed Chamonix.
The Mountain Collective pass also provides 50 percent discounts for additional days, as well as lodging deals.
The Mountain Collective is a united front against Vail Resorts, the continent’s largest resort operator that sells a half million Epic Passes every year. (The 2016-17 season will be the last year Whistler Blackcomb — the largest and most visited ski resort in North America — will be part of the Mountain Collective. Vail Resorts said Monday it is buying the 8,171-acre area and will include it on the Epic Pass roster for 2017-18.
Aspen Skiing Co., the driving force behind the Mountain Collective, has been negotiating with Telluride and Revelstoke for more than six months. The Vail Resorts-Whistler news stole a bit of the thunder from the collective’s addition of Telluride and the steep-and-deep Revelstoke in British Columbia. But it amplified the Mountain Collective mission to enroll more independent resorts laboring in the shadow of the ever-expanding Vail Resorts, and persuade skiers to support ski hills outside its expanding empire.
“In the meantime, we’ll keep fighting the fight and use this news as a rallying cry to get behind independent resorts,” Aspen Skiing’s Christian Knapp said.
For Telluride ski area, the inclusion in the collective comes as the box-canyon valley community grows its airline service into nearby Montrose and the Telluride Airport. Last month, the valley’s regional flight program announced a deal with Great Lakes Airlines to revive commercial service into the Telluride Airport with year-round daily flights from Denver, up to 10 a week. The Colorado Flights program this year also increased non-stop service into nearby Montrose from Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Newark, La Guardia, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver. Allegiant Air in June said it will offer twice-weekly nonstop flights between Denver and Montrose during the ski season.
The airline program ferrying visitors into Telluride has never been so robust. That was a primary goal for Bill Jensen, a former Vail and Intrawest executive who joined Telluride ski area as ownership partner and chief executive last December.
“Look at the mountains in the collective. They are the mountains that everybody aspires to and wants to ski for sure,” he said.