Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

So as much as I love to ski the four mountains here in our very own backyard, it is also great to get out amongst it and ski other mountains as well. And if I was to do such a thing you can bet that Whistler Blackcomb, Mammoth Mountain, Alta and Snowbird would be right at the top of my list of places to ski. And a trip to Jackson and Squaw wouldn’t be too bad either.

I mention this because Skico made the announcement this week that they were adding Whistler Blackcomb and Mammoth Mountain to their “Mountain Collective” ski pass program. Can you say “Road Trip”?

The Mountain Collective is a ski pass initiated last year that gives people the opportunity to ski two days at each of the six member resorts for just $349, which adds up to just around $30 per day. Also, if you have a premier pass here you’ll get 50 percent off of the other days that you want to ski as well. Pretty sweet deal.

The addition of Whistler Blackcomb and Mammoth are pretty huge deals, especially you define huge by the acreage. Whistler is about the size of Nebraska and Mammoth is about as big as Rhode Island. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but not by much. Skiable acres at Whistler Blackcomb? Try 8,171. That’s bigger than our four mountains put together, doubled. And Mammoth checks in with 3,500 acres. Add the two up and divide by $349 and you get all that extra territory for about thirty-three cents an acre.

Plus they are great resorts. I played a lot in the Sierra cement as a kid. Mammoth was the go-to place for Los Angeles high-schoolers who would pack ten to the van and head up Highway 385 on Friday nights for weekends of skiing. The cornice always loomed for those who dared drop in. And Whistler, still fresh from the last winter Olympics, provides spectacular skiing, plush amenities and outstanding views. It is truly one of the world’s sweetest spots.

For those who love powder, is there anyplace better than Alta? And Snowbird is a great place to stay on your Cottonwood Canyon adventure. In fact, with both being so close and connected you could take a four-day trip to Utah and just use the Collective pass while staying in the same location.

Bundled passes have become all the rage in the last few years and one cannot argue that they provide great value for skiers. The “Epic” Pass has changed the dynamic on I-70 on Sunday afternoons as urban skiers take advantage of cheap days at Vail and its sisters in Summit County.

But the Mountain Collective is a little more unique in that it encourages skiers to travel from resort to resort. Actually from great resort to great resort. Jeff Hanle of Skico said that a pair of Australians were the first to ski all of this year’s four resort offerings. I’ll bet there will more Aussies traveling next year to take advantage of the six resorts. Those Aussies, they do get around.

In any event, I’m intrigued. Maybe the Collective beckons.