What Does it Cost to Skip Long Liftlines? $49.

You don’t have to wait in long liftlines anymore. At least not if you are willing to fork over $49 for Killington’s Fast Track’s day pass add-on. Killington’s parent company, Powdr Corp. recently announced that Fast Tracks pass, which is also good at three of their other resorts, Mt. Bachelor in Oregon, Copper Mountain in Colorado and Snowbird in Utah, would be available on a limited basis.  At Killington, the $49 pass (which you can reserve ahead of time) is good at the following lifts: K-1 Express Gondola, Superstar Express Quad, Ramshead Express Quad, Snowshed Express Quad, Bear Mountain Quad, Skye Peak Express Quad, Skyeship Gondola Stage I, Skyeship Gondola Stage II, Snowdon Six Express, Needles Eye Express Quad. It goes on sale on Nov. 1 and can be pre-bought for reserved days. Note that you still need a regular pass.

The announcement sparked a predictable uproar at resorts around the country. Mt. Bachelor skier Dan Cochrane started a Change.org petition asking POWDRto “cease and desist,” its Fast Tracks pass. “Since POWDR Corp has taken over, it has become clear that profit over people is the new motto. It could not be more ironic and tone deaf that during a time of social and equitable justice awakening that this Corporation has decided to double down on this new motto and bring forth an elite system where individuals can pay an additional fee to effectively “cut in line” by way of a fast pass,” Cochrane wrote in the petition.

Oregon Senator  Ron Wyden (D-Ore) even got involved, writing in an open letter to POWDR founder John Cumming: “Given the serious concerns this policy raises about equitable access to the public lands on which Mt. Bachelor operates under its U.S. Forest Service Special Use permit, I request that POWDR abandon its plans to adopt this new pass system.”

The timing comes as there is a rising sense of elitism in skiing, as noted by Richard Solomon in his  VT Ski + Ride essay The Two Futures of Skiing,

In Vermont, the comments on social media ranged from irate accusations of elitism to “get over it.” On the Killington Locals Facebook page, one person noted “It’s also not about the cost of the cut-the-line pass. It’s about being the guy in line for 45 minutes then watching someone ski by and get right on. That’s just irritating.”  Another person, a disabled veteran, wrote that Killington should offer special access liftlines for those with other abilities.

POWDR Corp. responded with a letter from co-presidents Wade Martin and Justin Sibley noting: “The Fast Tracks concept has been in operation at our Copper Mountain, Colorado, resort for almost 20 years.  First introduced in January of 2002 for lodging guests only, the offer was made widely available to anyone skiing the following season, in February 2003.  Since that time, it has gone through a number of variations and optimizations informed through guest feedback.  Product and experiential enhancements were successfully implemented at Copper Mountain and the concept was expanded to other resorts and reintroduced as Fast Tracks. What we have learned through our recent experience with the product at Copper Mountain is that it is utilized by less than 2% of total daily skiers due in large part to our careful calibration and limiting access to ensure a quality experience for all guests.”

Killington president Mike Solimano also posted in an open letter.: “This reminds me of when we announced parking reservations. There was a lot of concern from season pass holders about how they might not get access to use their pass. I asked you then to trust that we had a solid plan for managing access in a way that didn’t have a significant impact on your ability to use your pass and we delivered. Last year we were able to manage our volume and never ended up having to restrict anyone from skiing (not all resorts can say that), so I ask that you give us the benefit of the doubt and judge us by our past actions.”

What many have failed to note is that there are many others who get first access to lifts. At most ski areas, anyone in ski school cuts the line, causing some wealthy individuals to hire private instructors as “guides” for the day. At Sugarbush, those who reserve ahead can catch a snowcat up for first tracks on powder days.

Perhaps the best comment was posted on the Killington Locals Facebook page: “Every single complainer here would happily cut the line on a powder day if: 1. Someone else pays for it and 2. Their friends somehow don’t see them and give them crap.”

Lisa Lynn

Editor of VT SKI + RIDE and Vermont Sports.