Vail Resorts plans to limit lift passes to curb crowding, but some patrons suggest the company needs to go further |

Vail Resorts plans to limit lift passes to curb crowding, but some patrons suggest the company needs to go further

Scott Miller
Vail Daily
Opening day Nov. 6, 2020 at Keystone Resort. Vail Resorts Monday announced it will limit lift ticket sales on peak days for the 2022-2023 ski season, but some patrons say the company needs to do more to curb crowding on ski runs.
Liz Copan/For the Summit Daily News

Along with Monday’s announcement of opening dates for its Breckenridge and Keystone properties, Vail Resorts said it will limit lift tickets sold during peak days.

Keystone Resort announced a “mid-October” opening day, meaning the ski season could be less than 60 days away, and Breckenridge and Vail ski resorts both are set to open Nov. 11.

In an email, company spokesperson John Plack wrote that guests can buy tickets online or at a ticket window, if they’re available. People without tickets are being encouraged to check back online to see if more tickets are available.

Plack wrote that limiting ticket sales, in conjunction with capital improvements across the company’s resorts, “is the right move… This is just one strategy to enhance the guest experience this season.”

Plack said the company doesn’t expect lift tickets to sell out every day at every resort, adding that the limits are intended to “help manage the experience during popular times.”

Longtime Vail resident Merv Lapin said the resort company’s idea seems to be a good one. But, he added, that depends on how many skiers and snowboarders are being allowed on the mountain.

At Vail, the ski mountain has agreed with the U.S. Forest Service to “manage to” a maximum of 19,900 skiers per day.

Lapin said the town and resort company years ago agreed that about 14,000 skiers per day would be a comfortable number. The higher number is beyond the capacity of the town’s infrastructure, from water treatment to parking to housing, Lapin said.

Jackson Higgins is the general manager of the American Ski Exchange in Vail Village. Higgins, who grew up in Vail, said the mountain can get “crazy busy … I think it’s good they’re doing something.” 

Both Higgins and Lapin said they believe a pass to ski Vail should be more expensive than the base price of Vail Resorts’ various Epic Pass prices.

Higgins added he was hoping Vail Resorts would try to limit skiers from the Front Range. And, he noted, based on the experience with the reservation system two seasons ago, “there could be some very angry people.”

On the other hand, Higgins noted that not many people walk up to a ticket window these days. But, he added, those who do tend to be those who have come to Vail from far away. Many of those people are American Ski Exchange customers. Noting his experience with the reservation system, Higgins said those guests can make life difficult for him and his employees.

In a text message subsequent to a phone conversation, Lapin worried that limiting ticket sales, but not passes, will make the current situation worse, adding that Vail Mountain’s capacity per day should be closer to 14,000 than the current 19,900.

Over the phone, Lapin described the experience on peak days as “dangerous.”

Plack’s email noted that Vail Resorts is upgrading lifts across the company, as well as boosting employee pay. All those moves are aimed at “preserving the on-mountain experience,” he wrote.

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