Ikon vs Epic ... Why Choose?

Discussion in 'General Resort Discussion' started by Philpug, Apr 5, 2018.

  1. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two wheels. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    The Epic Pass and its variations have been around for while. Options include the full Epic, Epic Local, Tahoe Local, Tahoe Value, Summit Value, Keystone A-Basin -- according to the website, 17 options in all, with access to 64 resorts all over the world. It's confusing to try to pick even one of these, and now there is a shiny new alternative in the very competitive Ikon Pass, which gives you two simpler options and 26 resorts primarily in the United States and Canada. So, which do you choose?

    I am going to take a different approach here and ask, "Why ask which one? Buy BOTH!" Sure, it's easy for me to spend your money: you have been letting me do it for years and rarely have I failed you, so we will continue with what works. I will not start with, "You can buy both for as little as …." No, I am saying you can have pretty much unlimited skiing at 90 world-class resorts for $1,898, which is less than a pass to just one resort used to cost.

    How much is it worth to basically double your pleasure, double your fun and not have to choose? Well, do you really need that fourth -- or fifth -- pair of skis? Will you really use one more 20k/20k Arc'teryx kit? But what about access to sooo many more ski areas? I gave you the high-water mark of almost $2,000, but in reality it could be a lot less. For the East, if you buy the Epic Local and Ikon Base passes, for $1,268* you would have unlimited skiing at Stowe and five to seven days at Okemo, Sunapee, Killington, Sugarbush, Stratton, and Loon/Sugarloaf/Sunday River (split between them). That is 30 days of skiing before you even add the unlimited access to Stowe, and it doesn't include other perks such as access to Breckenridge, A-Basin, Northstar, Heavenly, Park City, and many other western resorts. So, forget that pair of skis; most likely they will just sit in the corner until you unload them at the end of the season, anyway.

    If you ski Tahoe, your deal is even better. Again, for as low as $1,088* (if you don’t ski holidays), you can have access to Squaw/Alpine, Northstar, Heavenly, and Kirkwood -- plus, if you are amenable to the three-hour drive, Mammoth and June Mountain. We haven't even started with Utah, Colorado, and more. Again, it's a no-brainer. Do you really need to hit the swaps in the fall or stop three times at the Patagucci outlet. No!

    I would get into Colorado, but there are so many different options there that I don’t have the bandwidth (and quite frankly, I want to avoid the "yeah, buts ….").

    So maybe these passes aren't ideal for your exact situation, which is the case for us. We ski Mt Rose a lot; its pass costs almost as much as the Ikon Base Pass, and that is just for one area. Will we not buy a Rose past next year to go along with the Ikon? Hell yeah, we will. So the question I will lay out there: Why are you being pennywise and thousands-of-acres-of-awesome-skiing foolish? Really, what is more valuable, an extra pair of skis or the memories of hitting one resort on a powder day when its neighboring resort down the road got missed by the same storm?

    *Early purchase prices; will adjust when prices change.
     
  2. MarkP

    MarkP Getting off the lift Skier

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    Sweet Dreams are Made of This
    But my reality says choose one each year and use the cost of the other for apres.
    And until I retire (18.5 months to go!) I wouldn't have time to enjoy all those acres and elevations.

     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
  3. Pumba

    Pumba Out on the slopes Skier

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    I only wish! I think I’d have to wait until retirement, and hopefully one in which I still have funds to support this habit... For the common working person who doesn’t live in the immediate vicinity of these areas, it’s bit hard to fathom making good use of both passes...unless you were just wealthy and/or had unlimited vacation days from work....

    Why do we even have to work? ...and what is work??! I can go on forever...Omg!
    :crutches:
     
  4. jmills115

    jmills115 Getting on the lift Skier

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    Unlimited days at Park City with another 5 or 7 at Deer Valley doesn't make up for only 5 or 7 days at Alta and Snowbird. If the Ikon didn't combine those two resorts I might consider it
     
  5. MarkP

    MarkP Getting off the lift Skier

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    50 years ago the predictions were that because of automation we all would be working 2 days and enjoying 5 day weekends. Sigh.
     
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  6. fatbob

    fatbob Out on the slopes Skier Inactive

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    Wow advocating buying a VR product! I thought given the way the Gatherings had been chosen this forum now had Ikon 4Eva tramp stamped on its lower back ;)

    I think the point is solid if you are a Tahoe resident/ weekend warrior or Front ranger. No idea about NE. And the combo clearly affords some ultimate road trip opportunities if you're retired with a winterised RV etc. But the reality is even most weekend warriors will be picking a pass based on where they intend their "home" mtn to be and fly ins will have more than enough to handle with one pass.

    I do wonder whether all the locals at places like Copper and WP are ready for the flip ftom Epic to Ikon.

    Personally I'm still a bit disappointed Alterra hasn't announced any Euro reciprocity. It's not a biggie but it edges the decision for me if I can bag a couple of weekends on top of a NA trip.
     
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  7. John O

    John O Getting on the lift Skier

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    The logic only holds if you live in an area where you can day trip to enough areas on the passes to make it worthwhile (as you mentioned with Tahoe, NE or CO). If you have to travel though, the costs will rapidly increase, especially if you have to fly anywhere.

    Living in the PNW, I can't justify the cost of any of these passes once you factor in the travel, given the fact that an unlimited season pass to our various local mountains runs $550 - $800 depending on the mountain. I'd love to be diving into these passes, but it just doesn't fit into the vacation budget or the monetary budget.

    That said, I'm not disagreeing, I think you've got a valid point for people living or spending their winter in certain parts of the country.
     
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  8. fatbob

    fatbob Out on the slopes Skier Inactive

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    ^Even with WB within weekend range and Fernie/KH a possibility for a week's vacation? I think you're basically saying you don't have a travel budget for skiing. Which is fine and these passes are irrelevant for such people. You're just lucky to have skiing within drive up distance.
     
  9. surfsnowgirl

    surfsnowgirl Instructor, newbie Subaru driver and winter lover Skier

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    I don't think buying both passes makes sense. There's as so many resorts for each so why not pick one, maybe alternate and get the other one next year?. We have spring passes for Killington and regular season passes for mount snow which includes attitash and Wild cat. Plus we both work at Bromley and this also includes jiminy. Lots of skiing right there. Not to mention our ski club and the plethora of discounts we have through them including ski Council days and very affordable weekend and weeklong trips. We've opted for no epic or IKON this year. Maybe next season we will grab one..... Maybe we won't.
     
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  10. tromano

    tromano Goin' the way they're pointed... Skier

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    For this UT skier both of these passes feel like cable TV bundles.
     
  11. Drahtguy Kevin

    Drahtguy Kevin Après aficionado Pugski Ski Tester

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    I’ve had the Epic Local for years. I won’t next season. After the Ikon details were released it was a no-brainer pass for me. I’ll use the money saved by not getting the Epic (and Mountain Collective) to travel to Ikon areas.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2018
  12. tromano

    tromano Goin' the way they're pointed... Skier

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    Personally I moved to UT so I wouldnt have to travel to ski.
     
  13. surfsnowgirl

    surfsnowgirl Instructor, newbie Subaru driver and winter lover Skier

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    That is awesome. We stay in motels/hotels every weekend from mid november until about the end of April. Our friend has a house in southern vermont so we do stay up there quite a bit. However, even with that usually by this point I start to want to be around on the weekends but....must.....ski....... It'll be nice one day to ski and then come home to our own bed at night. I'm only about 2.5 hours from vermont but I get tired of the motel thing. I guess you could say I'm stuck in CT. I'm over moving back from California but now I have my SO and I don't regret meeting him. He's got a very good job now with great benefits and 5 weeks vacation and he's pretty close to retirement so we will wait. There's talk of his group being laid off but he's been there so long and will get a great package so it wouldn't be a bad thing if that happened. Until then we'll motel it..............
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2018
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  14. LKLA

    LKLA Out on the slopes Skier

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    We bought both. Still cheaper than a season pass at Stowe two years ago!
     
  15. Tony

    Tony tseeb Skier

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    As someone who has been buying some version of Vail pass and MCP the last 5 years, I like and agree with most of what @Philpug said, but think he left out (arguably) the no. 1 ski area in North America or included it in the "and more" as Epic Local gets you 10 days at Whistler Blackcomb and up to 12 Buddy/Ski With a Friend days which gets others with you into Whistler for under $100 Canadian.

    While I've bought a lot of passes, going back to $100 Heavenly high school pass my senior year that I got a lot of use from by graduating in December, I have never paid anything close to "$1,898, which is less than a pass to just one resort used to cost." This year was the first I spent over $1000 and that was for upgrading to Epic Local ($639) to get the Whistler days that I will use next week and MCP ($389 with $10 discount for buying in March 2017) which I only have 9 days on so far. 2016-17 was the first year my Tahoe Local pass was over $500 as it went up for $479 the previous year to $529.

    While I agree with @fatbob I think it should be clarified that Copper (where I've only stopped to use facilities while driving past by and never skied) and Winter Park (where I only have one day lifetime - a very cold powder day in Feb that drove us into warming huts often) are not moving from Epic to Ikon. I think he means that they will become much busier with people buying Ikon passes that include them instead of Epic passes that don't.

    I haven't found the right winterized RV, but have spent a few nights in the back on my SUV in the middle of a long drive and a lot of nights in Motel 6 and other inexpensive rooms that can be booked and canceled at the last minute. I'm still not sure what I'm doing pass-wise for next season, but have to decide soon. If I go to Ikon, I lose Snowbasin, Sun Valley and Taos, but pickup a lot of other places. And while it's only $180 more than MCP, I'm buying two of them.

    With a family cabin that is a (long) walk to Heavenly's gondola and a very short drive to Heavenly's tram and skiing Kirkwood a lot, I will be getting some version of a Vail pass. I will downgrade from Epic Local as I don't plan to return to Whistler (This year will make 3 years in a row going to WB and I already have a trip planned and partially booked to interior BC in Feb. 2019). And I don't need the unrestricted days in CO and should be able to get by with the 5 CO/UT days from Tahoe Local pass.

    And I want to get away from the pass creep which Vail has, always sucking you into more and more $:
    - Spend $80 extra (from $489 to $569) from Tahoe Value to Tahoe Local to get Saturdays at Kirkwood and Northstar plus 5 CO/UT days
    - Add another $100 (to $669 for Epic Local - up from $639) to get 10 restricted days at Vail, Beaver Creek and Whistler, 5 days at Hakuba (and no blackouts at Breck, Keystone or A-Basin
    - Add another $230 for full Epic which adds 7 days at Telluride and RCR plus some days with hoops to jump through at 30 European resorts
    It should be easier when I'm 65 (still a few years away) as the only Senior Deal is on Tahoe Value Pass.

    Many people who live in UT share your opinion.
     
  16. Seldomski

    Seldomski Paralysis by analysis Skier

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    Basically I am waiting on the ski club trip list before committing to one or the other. When you have to fly somewhere to ski and work full time, adding flexibility of 2 passes is not necessary and actually makes trip planning more complex with more options to consider. I cannot plan a trip with less than 1 week notice, so powder chasing is not a reality. On the other hand, the $ cost of the base passes are only a few nights in a hotel, so there is something to be said for just getting both to avoid an extended debate/mental energy on which is better through the summer.

    Epic was smart to offer the military discounts the year Ikon came out... many in the club have already bought the Epic...
     
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  17. Eric267

    Eric267 Gettin after it Skier

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    I've done both the squalpine and epic for the past 5 seasons. Comes out to about $1,150 which is about the same as the squaw only pass 15years ago.

    This season I did Tahoe local and bronze squalpine but will probably do cheap ikon and Tahoe value for next year. Can't not have a northstar pass for powder day access since its so close but also would be bored to death if it was my only pass. It's a nice bonus to be able to go to CO to visit friends when the Tahoe season is garbage like in 15".

    Going to be an awesome bonus even to just have 5 days mammoth,Jackson, snowbird, Tride. Problem with epic pass has always been that for a expert it's still hard to sell a vail resort for a trip even when the skiing is free
     
  18. David Chaus

    David Chaus Winter....winter is calling, can you hear it? Skier

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    Ah, but you see, residents of Washington and Oregon (and Canada) still have the option of the W/B Edge Card, which makes more sense if one does indeed take the occasional trip to W/B, but does not plan to travel to other Vail resorts. If the Edge Card were to be eliminated, I might consider an Epic Pass, which would also redirect my trip planning when I travel to UT or CO.

    As it stands right now, I’m still not convinced I need either an Ikon or MCP for next year, certainly not an Epic Pass. I am contemplating attending the Gathering in Big Sky, however there are multiple-day passes that can be purchased in advance that would cost less. OTOH, it’s true that the current MCP price is actually not that much more than advance purchase of a 5 day pass at Big Sky, so I’ll revisit my ongoing casual calculus after I finish my trip to the Banff Gathering (using my MCP :D). While this year I have used my MCP days at Snowbasin, Alta and Snowbird and will be adding Sunshine and Lake Louise, I’m not forseeing as many trips next year.

    Unless I change my mind. And the fact remains that if I purchase a pass, I make plans to use it, so........

    ......which comes first, the pass or the plans to use it?
     
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  19. wallyk

    wallyk Would rather be ski'n Skier

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    Epic pass all the way. You hear that Vail??? I'm talk'n to you...time to allocate some of that marketing budget and swing some $$$$ to the fine people here at PugSki

    What attracts me to the Epic pass is:
    1. 6 free "buddy" lift tickets. Will sell them to a friend(s) on my annual guys trip to Breck to help defray the cost.
    2. I primarily travel to ski Colorado. 1 trip to Breck with friends. 1 trip to Breck with family and family friends in Denver. Now can do a quick weekend to ski CB!!!!
    3. I normally manage a weekend or 2 skiing France/Switzerland when I travel to Geneva for work. Epic includes Verbier and Val D'sere!!!
    4. California/Canada here I come!!!! Have always wanted to ski Tahoe area.....or take the kids to Whistler for a quick weekend.
    5. Interest free monthly payments. Hello.....$50 a month. Why not??? Vail making this affordable
     
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  20. textrovert

    textrovert Reelin' in the years Skier

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    A decade+ ago, when I saw I was getting more days each season, the first Tahoe passes I started with was the Double Whammy Pass (Northstar & Sierra).
    Vail picked up NS and I kept Epic (Northstar + Heavenly at the time) and Sierra. Soon, Kirkwood got added on Epic and I kept the Epic/Sierra combo for many years. The Sierra pass used to also give 4 days at Squaw/Alpine for a while, so I got to go there too.

    However, this season, the days at Squaw deal on Sierra pass was gone. I decided I could not lose my Squaw/Alpine access and went with SquawAlpine + Sierra this season. I have been quite happy with this combo so far.

    For next season, Ikon only opens up more mountains (at lower cost) for me. So I am staying with Ikon Base ($599) + Sierra Unlimited ($349). Also, Powder Alliance just added Sugar Bowl to their list. This means that with the Sierra pass I get 3 days at SB too (mid-week free, weekends 50%).

    Even with the passes, I usually add in a few days at other Tahoe mountains with any deal I can get. For example, Diamond Peak has a 50% ticket deal with any other mountain pass. Mt. Rose if I get time for a Two-fer-Tuesday with a friend, or buddy ticket to NS/H/K if I have friends with passes going there.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2018
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